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Management Lessons From a Public Company Gone Private

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My executive team and I recently led a management buyout of IgnitionOne, our marketing technology firm from Dentsu, the Japan-based, global holding company. While this type of ownership can offer both scale and resources, at the end of the day, we knew as an independent force we'd be able to better attract and retain talent, innovate product offering and more aggressively grow the business.

As a serial entrepreneur, I am thrilled to be returning to my roots of unfettered entrepreneurship, but this excitement doesn't come without concerns. We had grown considerably in all aspects of the business during our three and a half years as part of the holding company.

What happens to a business when it extracts itself from the sphere of publicly-traded global monolith and refashions itself as a private company? What happens to culture, process and ultimately the product?

Here are some important lessons I've learned in the process:

1. Do good things for your clients and good things will happen to you.

Often, when a business operates within a large, publicly-traded global holding company structure, there are many stakeholders who can distract a company from its clientele. When you are independent, you are free to focus on your clients as the number one priority.

A "clients first" mentality is the winning formula. By focusing on what's best for your clients, you'll create a culture that will maximize success.

Related: Want Loyal Customers? Do This.

2. With ownership come responsibilities and rewards.

Now that we are independent, each of our full-time employees is also an owner. We are each empowered to make decisions in the best-interest of the company and our clients. Ownership helps reinforce our goal of operating with urgency. If we want to succeed, we must work hard. And when we succeed, we all benefit. Being out from under a holding company structure will also allow us to be more creative in terms of compensation and cultural perks.

3. Independence means innovation.

You cannot succeed as a technology company without innovation, and as an independent company, Caldwellyour hardest decisions will be what not to work on. There is no time for bureaucracy or petty politics when the team has a unified freedom to dare and execute. As masters of your own destiny, you also open the doors for infinite possibilities. What will you focus your energies on next? What new capabilities will you be first to the market with next?

Related: How to Turn Your Business Idea into a Business Model


Will Margiloff

Written By

Will Margiloff is CEO of IgnitionOne, a cloud-based digital marketing technology company headquartered in New York with 14 offices globally. He is a serial entrepreneur and has lead three management buyouts of businesses he started and sold for over $400 million.