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What Should Be Covered in a Good SME Ownership Strategy?

The purpose of an ownership strategy is to define the long-term goals, plans, and expectations of the owners regarding the company. Additionally, an ownership strategy aims to unify the perspectives of the owners and ensure a common understanding of objectives and contributions. It also serves as a foundation for the company’s strategy and guides its decision-making. Every company should have an ownership strategy.

An Ownership Strategy Should Address Finances, But Also Softer Values

Financial questions are a natural part of an ownership strategy. These include the desired financial benefit from the company, such as salary, dividends, or income from selling the business. The strategy should also define the types of resource investments, such as labor, financial investments, or the use of personal relationships, that are desired for the business. Emphasizing financial questions is natural, as the general goal of business activity is often to pursue financial gain.
However, it’s important to ensure that “softer values” and related questions are not overlooked. For many entrepreneurs, the motivation to own or run a business can relate to more than just money, such as personal development, fulfillment, or promoting social and ecological values. An ownership strategy should therefore consider ethical and value-based questions, as well as indirectly financial matters, such as issues related to hiring relatives.

The ethical and value-based questions in an ownership strategy concern the moral and ethical foundation of the company’s operations. Such questions might include responsibility towards the environment, respect for human rights, adherence to fair competition principles, and transparency with stakeholders.

Additionally, an ownership strategy can address issues indirectly related to finances, such as hiring relatives or issues related to preferential treatment. This may include principles and guidelines on how recruitments and advancement opportunities in the company are approached objectively and fairly. The breadth and diverse perspectives of an ownership strategy are good reasons to use an external facilitator for developing an ownership strategy.

Example Questions Related to an Ownership Strategy

Each company and group of owners is unique, but here are some examples of concrete questions that can be addressed in developing an ownership strategy:

  • Is the shareholders’ agreement content aligned with the ownership strategy?
  • What kind of dividend strategy is desired? What salaries will be paid?
  • Is there a plan to sell the company? Over what timeframe and at what price?
  • Is there a plan for the owners to invest more of their wealth in the company in the future?
  • Can an owner sell their share of the company?
  • What are the roles of the owners in the company?
  • Is it acceptable if one owner becomes a passive owner in 2-3 years while another continues with 50-hour work weeks?
  • Is it planned to hire relatives of the owners to work in the company?
  • Do company shares get inherited, or do other owners have a right of first refusal?
  • What ethical values should be considered in the company’s operations? Is there a plan for an ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) metric and strategy?

Aamu Partners’ Ownership Strategy Clarification service is tailored to suit each of our clients.

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