Making the Jump From Employee to Owner

How do you all of sudden handle the responsibilities of leading after buying the company you work for?

learn more about Holly Mason

By Holly Mason

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every person who ever clocked in at work has had this thought: "If this were my business, I would run things differently."

But what happens when you actually have the chance to buy the business you work for? I found out in 2006 when I purchased GroupBaronet, the marketing company where I'd been working for eight years. I was only 31 years old, and I transitioned from manager to owner almost overnight.

The lessons I learned as I drastically changed roles helped me honor the business I valued enough to purchase, bond with a core team of star players and take the rebranded company, MasonBaronet, to the next level of success I dreamed of.

Related: 3 Things You Must Do Before Becoming Your Own Boss

Here are five takeaways from my experience:

1. Don't leave a vacuum behind when you transition. Becoming the owner means you'll have tons of new responsibilities, from customer relationship management to business development, marketing, accounting and human resources oversight. Before you step out of your previous role, have a plan in place to cover your former responsibilities so vital tasks don't fall through the cracks.

It's not realistic to expect to do both your former job and your new one, especially since ownership will keep throwing you curve balls. You may miss certain aspects of your previous job, but you'll discover the importance of your new role as owner and CEO -- to work on the business as opposed to in the business

2. Don't be afraid to redefine the status quo. I had a lot in common with my company's previous owner and respected the business he built enough to invest in and make it my own. However, my personality, style and goals were different. Taking ownership presented a delicate balance between nourishing the successful practices people were used to and leaning toward the vision I outlined for the evolution of the company.

Related: How to Acquire a Small Business (and Keep Employees Happy)

3. Don't be shocked if everyone doesn't get with the program. When things change, some people won't want to go with the flow. They may choose to hop off the train at various stops. That's not the end of the world. You don't have time to waste on stragglers or stubborn people. Instead, invest in those who share your ideals and want to be part of the team that carries the company forward.

4. Find someone to lean on. A major role shift is going to be stressful, no matter how positive it may be. Finding a mentor, business coach or trade organization of fellow professionals can be invaluable. Having a support system will give you perspective and lead to stronger choices earlier in your transition.

5. Be honest with employees and clients. When change comes, it's natural for people to feel nervous. Set aside time to reassure both employees and clients. Be open about why you acquired the business and what you envision for the future. Projecting confidence and being positive will help your employees and clients feel more secure.

No matter what kind of company you're considering buying, whether it's a law firm or restaurant, it's important to consider all the angles of life as a future owner before you make the sacrifice to sign on the dotted line.

Transforming from an employee to the owner is a huge step, but if you have stellar ideas and the will to make the business your own, the rewards and unlimited potential of becoming an owner are worth every challenge.

Related: 9 Awesome Ways to Inspire Others

Holly Mason

President and Owner, MasonBaronet

Holly Mason is president and owner of MasonBaronet, a Dallas advertising firm specializing in branding. She provides the collaborative work environment that is essential to producing the highly creative and strategic work that is the agency's hallmark. Under her leadership, the agency has won numerous awards from Communication Arts, Telly Awards, Communicator Awards, AIGA Graphic Design Annual, Dallas Society of Visual Communications, the Dallas Ad League and The Houston Art Directors Show. 

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This 61-Year-Old Grandma Who Made $35,000 in the Medical Field Now Earns 7 Figures in Retirement
A 'Quiet Promotion' Will Cost You a Lot — Use This Expert's 4-Step Strategy to Avoid It
3 Red Flags on Your LinkedIn Profile That Scare Clients Away
'Everyone Is Freaking Out.' What's Going On With Silicon Valley Bank? Federal Government Takes Control.

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Starting a Business

Daymond John: Money Mastery Playbook for Entrepreneurs

Daymond John reveals the secrets of mastering money and achieving entrepreneurial success at any age!


Are Co-Working Spaces Worth the Money?

Here's how to determine if a co-working membership is right for you.

Growing a Business

André Moraes of PepsiCo Foodservice Digital Lab on Helping Restaurants Be Future-Proof

Interview with the head of PepsiCo Foodservice Digital Lab André Moraes about using digital tools effectively, technology being an enabler, and the positive culture at PepsiCo.

Celebrity Entrepreneurs

'I Dreaded Falling in Love.' Rupert Murdoch Is Getting Hitched for the Fifth Time.

The 92-year-old media tycoon announces he will wed former San Francisco police chaplain Ann Lesley Smith.


Get the Best Price Online for This Dog Health Test

This simple test includes insights into 20 areas of a dog's health.