90 day business plan

August 11, 2022

90 Day Business Plan- 90 Days to Business Ownership Success

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90 Day Business Plan- 90 Days to Business Ownership Success

Unconventional Acquisitions

August 11, 2022

It’s official.

You’ve purchased a small business, and you’re ready for the cash to start flowing.

All the paperwork is signed. The deal is done. You’ve even started your search to find the perfect operator to manage the business.

But, now what?

You’re responsible for transitioning the ownership with a team of employees who may or may not be excited to have you as their new boss. This is one of the challenges that makes buying a business different from starting a business.

Cue the overwhelm.

Except it doesn’t have to feel that way. 

It’s your job to make this transition as smooth as possible, but this change can’t be sudden. It takes proper planning and will take time. Usually, all of the new ownership snafus will be over and done with after the first 90 days. 

A solid, structured plan for these initial 90 days after buying a business is crucial to setting the foundation for success and ensuring that everything gets done. This article is a resource to help you in your first 90 days as a business owner through the use of a business transition plan.

These lessons come from mistakes we have made in our own businesses as well as from the nearly two hundred members of our mastermind.

The 90 Day Business Plan

Here’s what you should focus on during the first 90 days, after purchasing a business through M&A:

In Your First 30 Days of the 90 Day Business Plan…

It all starts with relationships.

The first 30 days are critical. You don’t want to execute any massive changes to the business right out of the gate. Instead, take it slowly as you get to know the ins and outs of the business. 

First things first, you must take the time to collect as much data as possible. Dedicate these first 30 days to collecting important information while you familiarize yourself with the inner workings of the business. 

This will involve shadowing the person who knows the business the best: the previous CEO. Be an observer and a sponge as you absorb and scribble down every detail of each process. 

When it comes to documenting information, we love the Rule of 3. 

Anything you do more than three times that has more than three steps gets written down in a playbook. 

From there, you’ll want to create and/or update your SOPs (a.k.a. standard operating procedures) so you have something to reference in the future.

This is also the time to ask the previous owner as many questions as possible. Prepare a comprehensive list of everything you need to understand to run the business effectively.

You’ll also want to generate some buzz around your purchase during this first month. But again, remember that these employees may be nervous about a change in ownership and what that means for their job (could there be layoffs?) or the way things will work (will my job and what I do be changing?). 

So make it your goal to create excitement rather than apprehension amongst the team.

Think about every movie you’ve ever seen about business. The outside consultant comes in, and the first change is people get fired. Think “Office Space”.

You’ll also want to set up a meeting with the entire organization where you lay out what your vision for the company is and what that will look like moving forward. 

Focus on the opportunity and what you will look for in team members to promote from within. This can help the team feel at ease about their future at the company, and it allows you to get to know them deeper to ensure they are willing to grow with you.

When you share this, you’re also allowing current employees to assess if they’re into your vision. And if they’re not? Not everyone will be a perfect fit. They also have the opportunity to leave the company if they’d like. 

In Your First 60 Days of the 90 Day Business Plan…

The 30 to 60 day mark is the part of the race where the physical baton pass is happening. You’ll want to work alongside the previous CEO to strengthen your understanding of the business’s everyday operations.

You’ll still be getting comfortable at this stage as you learn more about the company. 

During this period of time, you’ll begin working on tasks and showing up in your leadership role for your inherited team and employees. 

Take this time to continue to get to know them and what makes them tick.

Some great questions to ask your new employees are…

  • What would you change if I could wave a magic wand and improve anything?
  • What’s working really well right now? What do you think needs to be worked on?
  • Do you have any suggestions or changes that you think I should make?

This is also the time to be scoping out talent for staffing new management positions or promoting employees internally. 

You should also avoid hosting complaining sessions about the previous owner. If you can, always try to direct the conversation toward the future and improvements that could be made instead of dwelling in the past. When you find employees leaning towards the negative past, ask them a question that shifts towards a positive future. Empower them to become the solution.

You will need to create the winning culture in most cases. 

This is one of the most powerful components of your 90 day business plan when employees are involved.

In Your First 90 Days of the 90 Day Business Plan…

You are officially two months into owning this business. Now it’s for you or the operator you hired to steer the ship as the previous CEO observes and gives you feedback.

During the final month of transition, you’ll want to iron out the SOPs (standard operating procedures) you’ve created and have any last questions answered before the previous owner exits the business.

Check-in with the goals you set at the beginning of your 90 day journey so you can stay on the right track and be fully prepared to take control of the business. 

At this point, you’ll also want to schedule weekly touch base meetings with your team to monitor their progress and ensure they continue to align with the new direction of the business. These meetings should take place at the same time every week and follow an agenda to increase productivity during meeting time. The focus should be on accountability and problem solving as a team. This is the place to discuss performance goals and learning goals.

This final trimester is also a good place to implement one of your big ideas.

  • Implement your new marketing plan.
  • Add a new product or service.
  • Establish a new target market.
  • Improve your customer service and retention program.
  • Launch a campaign to gather testimonials from past clients.

Remember to implement new strategies slowly over time. Consider one each month or quarter, depending on the size and impact of the change. Running a business after acquisition requires finesse. The goal is to create growth and establish your company culture while remembering humans don’t always like being shaken by their roots. Especially when it’s how they meet basic needs like paying for housing and putting food on their table.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into how to set yourself up for a successful first 90 days after purchasing a small business, we walk you through exactly what you need to do in our online course for small business buyers.

How to Buy a Small Business

Need more support during your M&A journey? Join our mastermind and ask other business owners and small biz buyers who have gone through their first 90 days in our private Facebook community. Click here to join the mastermind

Yours Unconventionally,

Codie & Ryan

Co-founder – Unconventional Acquisitions

If you want to learn more about how to find and buy businesses, check out these articles👇

You can also register for the course here OR if you are serious about buying a small business, join our Mastermind.

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