It's Nice to Have Options
You’ve worked hard to build a solid, diversified print communications business over the years. You’ve overcome the many technological changes and made the capital investments to keep up. You even made it through the Covid pandemic and while you may have suffered on the top line revenue number, your bottom line took a leap forward. Lately though, it hasn’t been much fun. The staffing issues – particularly in the skilled production areas, and the changes to how customers want to interact with their suppliers – are getting old.
It's nice to have options
All is not lost as you have options for your business. And while some options may be better than others, it comes down to making some difficult, strategic decisions about the direction you want to take the business.
You’ll have to evaluate your appetite for the changing landscape of the marketplace, the escalating risks of making the wrong CapEx investments, and the battle to keep your staff engaged, energized, and focused on your main thing – whatever that thing is.
If you decide that you’ve had enough, it’s time to plan for a transition of ownership. If you decide that you’re still in the game, there’s a different track to take. If you’re not sure – that’s a problem. The marketplace (and your staff) won’t tolerate a business that has one foot on the boat and on foot on the dock.
What will it take to make it fun again?
I see it all the time in great leaders. That entrepreneurial fire that burns like a rocket. It’s a glow that keeps them engaged and fired up to be their best every day. But the day to day and year to year grinds of running a business can take its toll. Before you know it, the fuel lines become obstructed, leaving those flames to sputter.
Uncover what it’ll take to make it fun again by doing a deep dive self-exam. What’s missing, what needs to change in order to re-ignite those flames? Turn to your most trusted advisors and family – what characteristics can they point to that may uncover the magic that needs to be reclaimed? Identifying even a few of these areas may be all you need to pivot back to your old self.
What do you want to do?
If your decision is to go forward and stay in the game, one of the first questions to answer is: What do you want to do? That is, what will be your role from a day-to-day standpoint? Start by picturing a left to right spectrum ranging from "not very" involved all the way to "extremely" involved. What role will you take? There’s no right or wrong answer but you do have to come to grips with this and firmly communicate it to your team.
What does your team look like?
Ok, so what does your team look like? Strengths, opportunities and concerns about their skill sets, leadership qualities, their desire to keep the fires burning and lastly, do they all play nicely in the sandbox together? Based on your level of involvement, do they possess the skills, curiosity, and intellect to fill in your gaps? Don’t leave this to chance. Now is the time to either hold extra practice sessions or visit the transfer portal should you discover any weak links.
If you’ve had enough, you’ll need to review the exit strategies available to you. One option is to transfer the ownership to a family member already in the business or a senior manager(s). There are a number of ways to finance this transaction, most though triggered by what your personal financial needs are.
Another option is to reach out to a friendly competitor. Present them with the opportunity to purchase or merge with your business in a private transaction. Your attorney and CPA can probably help you with the details of these first two options.
If you elect to go to market with your business, you’ll be best served by one of the handful of industry-specific M&A firms. They know how to market your company in a way that protects the integrity of the business yet yields the most shareholder value.
The printing industry is at a crossroads where embracing change and innovation is not merely an option; it's an absolute necessity. Technological advancements, shifting customer preferences, and sustainability concerns are driving the need for innovation in the industry. Evaluating your continued appetite for risk and whether it’s the right time for you to sell your business or stay the course is never a bad idea. Evaluate your options, they are nice to have. Good luck in your continued efforts, regardless of the path you choose.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at email@example.com.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.