Solving the "Rubik's Cube" of Business
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Solving the "Rubik's Cube" of Business

Solving the "Rubik's Cube" of Business

Have you ever attempted to solve a Rubik’s Cube? The three-dimensional multi-colored toy invented by Erno Rubick was never intended to be a “toy.” In fact, he developed it for the purpose of teaching students how to solve the structural problem of moving independent parts, without the entire cube falling apart. But the teaching tool became a wildly popular toy.

If you are like me, you have tried it and know that once you get one side right and try to figure out another side, you then have to mess with what you first thought you’d solved. A few know the secret but most, like me, become frustrated. When I ask clients if they’re able to solve it, I get responses such as “Sure, just unpeel the color stickers!”

When it comes to building enterprise value and long-term sustainable success, like the Rubik’s cube, there are ten interdependent “Sides of the Cube” with which multi-unit business owners must ensure are an asset to business value and are working in concert with each other. These ten factors must all be in alignment in order to increase the probability of success now and into the future.

Looking at the sides of the cube:

  1. Strategic planning – Plans may exist and probably live in the mind of the founder/owner/leader. Or they may exist in writing, but have not been evaluated in some time. Action can only be achieved when communicated with management, creating a sense of buy-in and tied to performance metrics, along with understanding the importance of re-evaluating over time.
  2. Business Performance – Organizational growth is often driven by the unique abilities, grit, tenacity, and experience of the owner/founder and are not always transferrable to the style or talents of the next generation.
  3. Partner/Family Dynamics – Family relationships can weigh heavily on a business, whether family is active in the business or not.
  4. Partner/Family Governance - Policies can create confusion and acrimony, especially if they do not exist, or if there is not consistent follow through.
  5. Successor Identification and Preparation - A purposeful process to develop leaders as bench strength for all key positions, including the owner’s, is essential for building a sustainable business.
  6. Management Synergy and Teamwork – The organization’s “team” culture is usually aligned with the current owner’s leadership style, but may not be a fit for the next generation’s perspective of team culture. Also, does the current team culture encourage collaboration, respect team members, and support growth?
  7. Leadership Management and Continuity – The value of the business is often associated with key leaders in the organization. Incentive compensation plans and key manager golden handcuffs motivate and retain top talent that drives performance
  8. Business Structuring - Structures may have been thought through when the business was started and business documents impeccably well done, but do they align with current situational choices and the opportunities and hopes of the next generation?
  9. Personal Financial Planning - Personal financial independence from the business and credit guarantees can impact an owner’s ability to implement an exit strategy; impacting the ability to develop successors and provide them greater responsibility.
  10. Owner Motivation and Perspective – Ownership involves a stewardship responsibility to all those who depend upon the business, does current and future ownership understand the greater impact of business success beyond their lifestyle?

The Rubik’s Cube is complex. In fact, it reveals there are 42 quintillion possibilities with only one correct solution. Like the Rubik’s Cube, planning for the growth, sustainability, and succession of the business is complex. Rather than trying to navigate the different areas on your own, engage your experts and bring them together to help you solve the longevity and sustainability puzzle. I’m sure you know that solving the puzzles that matter to your family, your business, and your finances are worth working on, sooner rather than later.

Doug Howe is a partner of The Rawls Group, a business succession planning firm. Doug specializes in dealing with the issues that must be resolved by multi-unit franchisee owners to implement succession strategies geared towards building business value. For additional information, visit or call 407-578-4455.

Published: June 27th, 2017

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