Changing jobs brings challenges you probably wouldn’t imagine. Many people operate with a head full…
John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC
Stuck in the middle? On the one hand, you spend so much time thinking about how you would run things if only you were in charge that you figure you might as well be running your own practice. On the other, a variety of practical considerations mean you can’t just leave where you are and open your own shop the next day.
There’s a different job you might want to consider. It’s called “successor”.
This route to having your own shop can make so much more sense.
Business valuation has been around long enough that practitioners in many markets around the country face the successorship issue. You might represent their best opportunity to secure a little more value from the practice before it’s time to shut off the lights and lock the door for the last time.
This isn’t as easy as applying for a new job, however. Hooking up with someone whose practice you may one day run involves a symbiotic relationship. Here are some points to keep in mind if you think you might be interested in going down this road.
- Be prepared to pull your own weight. You must be prepared to generate enough business from your own contacts that you can pretty much cover your own comp, even if it means lowering your expectations. It’s true that you may add some production capacity which allows the current owner to bring in more work. This isn’t likely to amount to very many chargeable hours, however, meaning that you’ll still need to be a revenue generator. Only if one plus one equals two (or maybe more) will an owner be interested in you as a possible successor.
- Be prepared to contribute to a plan for handing off clients. Many sole practitioners have had their clients’ allegiance for so long they’ve forgotten what it will take to transfer that allegiance to a new owner. Their success in doing that is critical to leaving behind a solid enterprise that will produce the extra income that makes the whole effort worthwhile. Move past mere discussions and “lip service” to agreeing on specific goals and timelines.
- Be prepared to roll up your sleeves. You may be accustomed to a hierarchical organization where you can hand work off to junior staff. Fuhgeddaboutit! Chances are you’ll end up in a situation where if you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. The stronger the admin and analytical support the practitioner has, the more you can thank your lucky stars.
- Be prepared to tap some funding. This is not an absolute, given the spectrum of financial arrangements that might be devised to transfer ownership. Some owners might prefer to have an infusion of cash, either sooner or later. Others might be willing to work with a salary “hold-back” that would accomplish much the same thing. The greater your flexibility, the more options you give yourself.
The “successor” job isn’t for everyone. It could be just the ticket that allows you to transition from where you are to the owner’s shoes, however.