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Start: Mark Evans

Run the company better than the boss Add to ...

A lot of employees think they could run their businesses better than their bosses if they were given the chance.

But what would happen if you were given the opportunity to actually do it, by purchasing the company that employs you? Some people would seize it in a heartbeat, particularly if they have worked at the company for a long time and feel they have made a major contribution toward its success.

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For Sheri Moore and Anita Carlyle, the opportunity materialized last year when they were able to buy MCC Planners, a Toronto-based event planning business that does work for a conference I help organize. As they come up to the first anniversary of being owners, I asked Ms. Moore and Ms. Carlyle for advice on how to buy your boss' business.

The first step - and probably most important - is to determine whether the owner wants to sell. Ms. Carlyle says neither she nor Ms. Moore knew the owner was interested in selling until a casual lunchtime conversation when she mentioned she wanted to sell to someone who would care about it as much as she did.

"That's when I said, 'What if we bought the business?'" Ms. Carlyle says.

"[The owner]smiled and said she'd like that. Then we looked into how to make that type of purchase happen."

Ms. Moore says a potential deal was helped by the fact she and Ms. Carlyle respected the business and its owner, and that it would continue to reflect the hard work the owner had put into it over the years. That said, Ms. Moore added the business would clearly change under new ownership.

"Everyone knew that we would change the business and take a different approach, but that's only because we are different people managing the direction of the business," she says. "Our vision is a reflection of who we are and where we want to go with no disrespect to the previous owner's vision."

While a deal can appear to be on its way to being consummated, Ms. Carlyle says it is also good to remember that negotiations can always fall apart so it is important to be aware of what could happen.

"Think about all of the possible scenarios and have contingencies," she says. "We had discussed what we'd do if she said no or the deal didn't work out. We had to be confident that we wanted this enough to risk our future with the company. At any point, it could have gone off the rails and we would have been the ones on the street."

Friday: Ms. Moore and Ms. Carlyle provide insight into how to manage the transition after a deal has been completed.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting, a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences .

 

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