As a next-generation advisor, pursuing ownership as part of your career path is an important decision. Business ownership requires a variety of skill sets and comes with both benefits and responsibilities that go beyond the role of advisor. Before you consider asking for ownership from the existing owners of your firm, you need to demonstrate that it is not only something you are capable of, but something you have earned.
Starting with these four steps as early as possible will help you build a strong case for ownership:
Engage in the Day-to-Day
Firstly, establish your commitment and dedication. Take interest in the ins and outs of running a business (as far as is appropriate) and offer to take on responsibility in these areas. Seize every opportunity to enhance your managerial and business operational knowledge and skills. Not only will this allow you to build up experience to support ownership, it will also help YOU be better equipped to take on ownership.
You must be willing to do more than just produce revenue. By assuming operational obligations, you are investing in the future of your career and contributing to the overall efficiency and profitability of the firm. Adapt a leadership mindset and work for the good of the team rather than your individual interests and advancement.
Honor the Journey
It is important to acknowledge the priorities and goals of the existing owner(s) of the business. It’s helpful to get to know your future fellow owners on a personal level, to be sure, but you must dig deeper. Take time to learn about their journey in building the business. Consider how they envision their own careers, including their plans for eventual retirement.
A big part of this step is recognizing the time, energy, and money the founding owners have invested in building the business. You should acknowledge that your goal of ownership is meant to build upon and to work alongside them until they’re ready to fully hand over the reins. Keep in mind that a well-crafted succession plan means business growth for the entire company. If you help to make the company grow, everyone involved–including the founding owners–will reap the rewards of a sustainable business.
As you develop your own ideas for the business, directly address the ownership team’s largest business concerns and demonstrate how you can contribute. By ensuring that your objectives align with the other owners’, you will avoid undermining your proposal of ownership.
Establish Your Value Proposition
Look back at all you’ve accomplished, invested, and taken responsibility for. Look to the future, think about the growth of the business, and identify contributions you can make. From there you can establish your value proposition:
- Refer to your achievements with examples and measurable contributions to growth.
- Present your goals and ideas for the future.
- Research the business’s position in the industry.
- Identify challenges and improvement opportunities and outline your plans for addressing them.
- Be as specific as possible.
In order to take your place amongst the ownership of the business you will need to convince the existing ownership team that you add value. You can do this by demonstrating expertise and showing evidence of your contributions thus far. Prove that you are prepared to make a long-term commitment to the business.
Understand the Next Steps
In addition to presenting your case for why you have earned ownership, you can help make the choice easier by researching the process of internal ownership transition ahead of time.
Facilitating the addition of a new owner in a financial services business has many moving parts and requires careful consideration and planning. The more you understand the process yourself, the more effective your conversation will be. You can do some of the legwork in advance by:
- Exploring effective strategies for internal succession, especially in the context of this unique, relationship-based and regulated industry;
- Understanding the logistics and mechanics of modifying the ownership structure and considering the best way for the business to move forward down that path;
- Considering the business’s organizational, cash flow, and compensation structures;
- Examining financing options and how they could integrate with and alleviate hesitancy during the transition process; and
- Knowing where to access tools and support to help develop and execute a smooth transition plan.
Be proactive about addressing questions and concerns that might arise and show how your proposal can be accomplished, including how you will pay for your share of ownership and how long the process could take. By having some of these answers at the ready, you will show your commitment to the role and your respect of their time and consideration.
The road to gaining ownership in an existing business starts far ahead of asking for it. You must earn the privilege, responsibility, and rewards. And you cannot expect that ownership will be granted without evidence of your value as an advisor and as a leader. Once you’re able to demonstrate your initiative, ingenuity, and commitment to the long-term success of the enterprise, you are ready to step into the next phase of your career: business owner.
Finally, formulate your request and find the right time to speak to your boss about your ownership options. Read our post “Asking Your Boss for Ownership” to help execute the next step in realizing ownership.