Taking over an existing business presents its own unique set of challenges. As my husband and I debated purchasing an existing business focused primarily on law enforcement supplies, we weighed the potential costs and benefits.
One possible cost was the knowledge that the previous owners had not handled overhead expenses well. The business had begun to fail and customers were losing faith in the company. All prior issues would be inherited by us and would have to be dealt with directly upon purchase.
On the positive side, the company seemed like a natural fit for my background. Having started my law enforcement career as a dispatcher at the age of 17, the move to providing law enforcement supplies was an easy step because of my experience and exposure in the field and to the products. At the age of 19, I attended the police academy and became a patrol officer. Throughout the course of my career, I transferred into the patrol division and worked my way through the detective ranks before being promoted to Sergeant.
What also helped drive our decision was that fact that in 2003, I had completed my Masters’ program with Central Michigan University, exposing me to the strategies needed to run a business, the knowledge to develop a business plan, and a background in financial planning. With the convergence of my experience and education, I saw the potential and felt that with a clear plan and proper management, we could grow the company.
And we did.
We developed an organized business plan, created a strategy, and focused on specific goals, all of which allowed us to grow the company internally and externally.
Since the purchase of the company on June 9th, 2006, we’ve evolved from three full-time employees to 19 full-time employees and four part-time workers. The customer base has grown from 900 customers in 2006 to over 12,000 in 2012. My work has been primarily focused on providing a good product, reliable customer service and affordability. This change has helped accelerate the growth of the company at a rapid pace.
In 2009, I made the bold decision to pull all marketing so we could slow down and focus on building an infrastructure. Although I was excited for our acceleration, I knew if we did not create an infrastructure to support the massive growth of our sales operation through distribution, online sales, retail sales and training services, we would lose our “doing business right” mission by not having accountability.
In retrospect, I am so happy we decided to lean in and take over a failing business, which has since grown into a profitable and healthy company.