Last week's post on founders/CEOs hiring a President to aid in their succession and to make the acquisition transition smoother (more attractive to me the buyer) yielded a number of questions - all from founders/CEOs (isn't it great when this blogging stuff works). The good news is none seemed to be asking why, but rather who and how to hire. I really don't think it matters, as the process is more important than the person. I've reflected on the companies that I've witnessed go through this process and can't tell you that there are traits, qualities, skills, experiences or degrees that are common to success. The most important thing that this person brings to your company is process and discipline. Corporate buyers like both and tend to have too much of the former and very little of the latter.
For the companies that have done this well - largest increase in value since time of President hire to sale of company - here are the things that stand out:
- Hire someone from outside the company. It's better to have a little inoculation before the disease hits.
- Hire someone whose never done it before. Don't hire a big-named suit who has "done this kind of thing before." You'll clash, you employees will hate and it will cost you a lot of money. Find someone who is humble and hungry. You're not turning the whole company over, so you're better off with someone willing to risk, fail and learn.
- Hire someone who is different from, yet complimentary to you. No suits though.
- Don't hire someone just to "prepare the company for an acquisition," everyone should be doing that. Hire someone who will make the company better through processes and discipline.