You’ve just acquired a new business. What’s more you want to make it a part of your existing operation. You’ve built a business before, but you’ve never had to make one business out of two before. Integrating a business into your operation is difficult and challenging, but essential to the proper running of your enterprise.
You don’t benefit anyone by putting off planning integration until the last minute. You should be kicking around ideas in your head about how integrate multiple businesses when you first start thinking about acquisition. The larger your new staff, the more complicated the integration will be. As this is a difficult task, the more advanced your planning is the greater are your chances for success.
Pay Extra Attention To Management and Leadership
Your leadership team is one of the most important components of your company. However, they might stand something to learn from the leadership team at your new acquisition. You might wish to take the management teams of both companies and put them through an appraisal period to see who will work best. Even those people who have been with you for some time might have difficulty in the new environment. Paying special attention to the management will help you to deal with the problems that happen when two companies and their different corporate cultures come together, one of the largest challenges for an entrepreneur integrating two businesses.
Get a Ground Level View
Look at things from the ground level. Talk to your entry-level employees and see what they have to say about integration. While you certainly aren’t going to use every piece of advice you get along the way, this “ants eye view” will provide you with fresh perspectives on integration that are literally impossible to get from the top of an organization. You can apply this to every level of the operation and get a very complete picture of the different needs of different departments and areas.
Keep Communication Lines Open
During a crucial time like integration you need to keep the lines of communication open throughout the organization. Let everyone know that your door is open and consider having an anonymous suggestion box. Have regular meetings with your management team and let them know what is on and what is off the table. While you always have to be in charge, due to the size of the project, having as many eyes as possible on the situation can only but benefit the organization as a whole.
Form a Transition Team
Put a team together that is in charge of the transition. Provide them with adequate resources. Remember that you will still have to run your business. Also remember that whoever you assign to the transition team will need his hands freed up to be able to do the work of integrating the two businesses. Don’t expect good results if you simply pile more work on people.
Integration and Growth
Integrating your new acquisition with your current business is a big sign that you’ve arrived as an entrepreneur. However, for the integration to be successful it must be treated with a great deal of seriousness and care. If you can manage that once you can manage it again. Pat yourself on the back -- your business is on the grow.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer kecl via Flickr