4 Priorities for Business Leaders in the First 100 Days Following an Acquisition

October 27, 2022

At a glance

  • Main takeaway: The first 100 days are critical to the success of an acquisition. Business leaders need to have the right type of financial leadership in place to hit their objectives and secure projected returns. They must also focus on four fundamentals – strategy, people, cash management and infrastructure.
  • Impact on your business: Success is determined by what you get done during the first 100 days. The sooner you begin to set a path, the further you can advance what is possible post-acquisition.
  • Next steps: Aprio’s CFO Advisory and Private Equity advisors can help you win post-acquisition with support and strategic guidance to ensure you’re capitalizing upon deal momentum and all potential opportunities.

Schedule a consultation with our team to start building your plan!

The full story:

After months of hard work and negotiations, a deal successfully closed. But the work is not over. Now is the time to deliver the results you identified in your investment thesis.

The first 100 days are a crucial period for the success of an acquisition.

Knowing the critical initiatives to focus on, building a roadmap for the first 100 days to achieve those initiatives, and ensuring you have the expert support you need to stay on track during the early days of the new company will help you achieve your results faster and more effectively.

4 fundamentals for the first 100 days after acquisition

Focusing on four fundamentals during the first 100 days is key.

From day one, it’s important to create a sense of urgency among the members of your leadership team. Transition can be hard, so use the energy and motivation from the closing of the deal to move quickly through the following four steps.

Tackling these four critical areas, in order, will help business leaders and new ownership establish the trust and engagement necessary to hit essential targets.

#1: Establish a clear destination and build a roadmap to get there.

The faster you can provide clarity to everyone involved, the better.

The most important thing the business, customers, and third-party partners need to see and hear in the early days of an acquisition is that you have a clear destination in view and a business strategy for getting everyone to that goal.

Define where you want to be in three to five years and walk backwards to determine what is required to get there. Then, develop a business plan that includes key initiatives and goals for each team, as well as individual goals to support them. Be clear about the roles and responsibilities of departments and key leaders who will be responsible for implementing the plan.

Expect team members, suppliers and third parties to ask what the destination means for them.

The best way to sabotage a successful arrival at your destination is to leave people to fill-in the blanks on their own. Explain how the new strategy fits in with existing or previous organizational and individual goals. The last thing you want is to have people running in different directions due to a lack of clarity.

When you know your destination and communicate it clearly, everyone involved can get there more efficiently. Leverage the excitement of the acquisition with well-timed PR and marketing campaigns that communicate the expected growth, expansion and opportunity that lies ahead for the business and its team members.

Successfully integrating people, cultures, business strategies and technologies after an acquisition is a herculean task; make it less so by keeping everyone running on the same path, in the same direction, toward a clear destination.

#2: Take care of your people.

Team members must be your primary focus. They are your greatest resource to align and deploy. Avoid unnecessary worry or contempt by focusing on your people.

Spare no expense to be certain that proper payroll procedures are in place to ensure everyone is paid appropriately and on time. Get benefits in place and flowing to employees immediately. Losing good people and having to retrain while you are building can threaten both the growth plan and morale.

Recognize that people are already expecting change with a new owner or group. That expectation makes it easier to enact change than if it had been sprung on employees unexpectedly. Use the expectation for change to shift things faster in the new direction you want to move the business.

#3: Focus on cash management.

After communicating a clear destination and roadmap, and taking great care of your people, optimize cash management to ensure operations within the organization continue to run as usual and funds are available to make new investments.

Helpful actions to take include the following.

  • Review existing credit agreements.
  • Identify opportunities to improve supplier and accounts receivable terms.
  • Obtain proper cash cutoff at closing.
  • Open new bank accounts.
  • Implement new banking authorities.
  • Implement payment and approval controls.
  • Develop covenant compliance certificates and forecast tools.
  • Roll out budgeting and forecasting models that establish a clear business planning cycle for the upcoming year.

As you keep the financial wheels turning, you’ll place your new company on firm footing.

#4: Strengthen your infrastructure to scale.

While you don’t have to be exhaustive during the initial 100-day period after acquisition, you want to develop an organizational assessment that identifies the roles, talent, systems and technologies required to reach your destination.

Identify which infrastructure investments are required for expected growth and their proper timing.

Responsibilities and roles may need to change as a result of the acquisition. People will have a chance to stretch themselves, learn, and shift their careers. Additionally, there may be the need for changes or new leaders be put in place, whether on a fractional/interim basis or permanently.

Approaching your infrastructure creatively could ensure the right amount of hours are spent in the right roles.

Whenever possible, start early.

While other things will be equally important to tackle during your first 100 days, none are as critical or urgent as the four priorities outlined above.

Making the most of the time you have begins with starting early. The success of the first 100 days begins prior to even the letter of intent.

When you know an acquisition is coming, begin working on these four priorities as early as possible. The sooner you begin, the further you can advance what is possible during the first 100 days post-acquisition.

When you start early, progress thoughtfully and comprehensively, and involve the right strategic advisors along the way, you will accelerate growth and the outcomes you expect from the investment you have made.

The bottom line

Taking a company through an acquisition can be one of the most challenging and stressful events in a leader’s career. That’s why tackling these four critical priorities, in order, is essential to achieving successful outcomes.

Equally important is involving one or more strategic advisors with experience helping companies successfully navigate acquisitions. Aprio’s CFO Advisory and Private Equity advisors can help you balance running the business and meeting acquisition objectives.

We will be your partner, providing the support, guidance, and resources you need to lead and grow with confidence.

Aprio’s CFO Advisory and Private Equity advisors can help you achieve acquisition goals and navigate the first 100 days post-acquisition with confidence. Schedule a consultation today!

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About the Author

Eric Krucke

Eric, a former Berkshire Hathaway CFO, advises companies walking through transitions and transactions or seeking to accelerate growth. He has more than 25 years of financial leadership experience accelerating growth, navigating acquisitions, finding capital to fund growth, and facilitating successful exits for founders and investors, including a sale to Berkshire Hathaway. He’s seen time and again that the most important responsibility of a CEO or founder is to provide clarity, particularly during the first 100 days of an inflection point.

Brian Matthews

Brian advises and supports clients through pre-acquisition diligence, integration planning, and post- close integration activities of a business combination to archive lasting business results. He helps private equity firms and portfolio companies navigate large scale global transformations, connecting the dots between what has happened to date and the goals of the transaction to overcome challenges, realize synergies and enhance ROI.