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Five Reasons Open-Book Companies Should Consider an ESOP

Oct 21, 2021 by Victor Aspengren 1 Comment
Liquidity options are plentiful for business owners: strategic sale, private equity, management buyout, family transfer, and leveraged recapitalization. Which path should you take? We know that 42% of the 2021 Great Game™ All-Star companies and many others walked a different path—implementing an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Apart from the fact that ESOPs can be a great exit strategy for open-book companies, here are the top five reasons why open-book management companies should consider an ESOP.
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Are ESOPs Really More Complex and Costly Than Other Ways to Sell a Business?

Using an ESOP for Business Transition Can Be Complicated, But Selling to an Outside Buyer Is Often Uncertain and Even More Complicated with Less Flexibility and Fewer Tax Benefits When people describe the pros and cons of ESOPs, often they note that the plans are complex. ESOPs are somewhat more complex than 401(k) and similar retirement plans and do cost substantially more to install and somewhat more to operate, mostly because an annual appraisal is required for closely held companies. But ESOPs are not more complex than selling to a third party. The table below compares what issues come up in the sale of a company to an ESOP compared to a sale to a third party. It was prepared with the advice of professionals who have done both kinds of transactions. The table indicates that the overall level of complexity is similar, but ESOPs are much less risky in terms of the likelihood of finding a buyer. They are also considerably less costly, mostly because in the case of a sale to a third party, in addition to substantial legal, accounting, and sometimes other fees, the price paid to the seller is usually reduced by brokerage commissions paid by the buyer.  Sales to third parties also do not qualify for special tax benefits, as is the case with ESOPs.
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How One SRC Associate Pursued His Version of the American Dream

Aug 4, 2021 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
    In October 2019, Rick Hedden retired from SRC after 36 years. He was 59 years old. At the time, his shares in the company’s ESOP plan were worth seven figures. But the lessons he learned from playing the Great Game of Business over his career at SRC might be even more valuable. It helped him live his version of the American Dream. Here is his story.
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It’s Going To Take More Than Sign-On Bonuses To Win The War For Talent

Jul 13, 2021 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
The War for Talent is now in full swing. As the economy continues to reopen, companies have begun hiring again in earnest—driving the unemployment rate closer to pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, the number of open jobs in the U.S.—an estimated 9.2 million—is now breaking records. It’s one of those rare times in recent history where the number of job openings exceeds the number of unemployed people actually looking for a job.
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How Ownership Can Power The Pursuit Of The American Dream

  The Company's Largest Shareholder Think about how most people you encounter daily don’t really enjoy waking up and going to work every day if they go at all. When many (or most) people reach a certain age, they find it more comforting to think ahead to retirement than focus on what they might need to do that day at work. And yet there is an associate at our company, SRC, who still chooses to come to work even though he’s seventy-one. His job on the factory floor pays him about $31,000 a year. He doesn’t continue working for the pay; he shows up every day because he sincerely loves his job.
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What is Democracy in Business?

We run SRC with a lot of participation, but it is not a democracy in the political sense of the word. A political democracy derives its authority from the consent of the governed. A company derives its authority from the consent of the marketplace. The people who work for a company may think it’s just terrific, but they’ll have to work somewhere else if the company doesn’t make money or runs out of cash. So the market tells us what a lot of our decisions have to be. Often the trick is to recognize what it’s saying.
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Valuations Through the Pandemic

Apr 8, 2021 by Tom DeSimone 0 Comments
  During March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S., it not only impacted the health of many Americans but also quickly resulted in economic instability: thousands of businesses were shuttered, the unemployment rate spiked, there was a significant drop in personal consumption expenditures and GDP plummeted. However, the U.S. government intervened, helping to stem further declines by offering unemployment and stimulus payments to eligible individuals as well as programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program to assist businesses in continuing their operations. As a result, the U.S. economy began to recover; still, it has lost ground since early 2020.
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Why Choose an ESOP?

Mar 30, 2021 by Tim Jamison 0 Comments
When it comes to deciding upon an exit strategy, owners of closely-held businesses have a lot to think about. Faced with the frightening prospect of turning over the business they have worked so hard to build to new ownership, they might worry about what will happen to the company – and their employees – once they’re gone. Selling the business to a third party isn’t always a welcome or viable option. But if there isn’t a qualified management team or successor in mind, what’s a business owner to do?
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Why Isn’t The Front Line Treated Like The CEO?

      A company is only as good as its people. Everyone knows that. So why is that in so many companies the vast majority of the information-hoarding and decision-making happens only at the top? Why have we been holding onto a managerial system invented decades ago to fit an industrial society that tells us that only the CEO and the rest of the C-Suite are smart and capable enough to drive the company forward?
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And The Winner Is…

Mar 2, 2021 by Jack Stack 2 Comments
How Healthy Competition Drives Continuous Creativity And Productivity At SRC By Jack Stack   I’m a big believer in the positive power of competition. I believe it’s a universal truth that all people like to win—and hate to lose. But as I’ve written about before, losing is also an opportunity to learn and to improve. So, why wouldn’t we try to build in some of that healthy competition into the workplace? To take some of the drudgery out of our day-to-day routines and spice things up with some competition? At a fundamental level, that’s what The Great Game of Business® is all about.
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How The Great Game Gave One Business Hope At Its Darkest Time

Dec 17, 2020 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
Back in mid-March 2020, Chris Hurley, the co-owner and CEO of Russell & Abbott Heating and Cooling in Maryville, TN, was in a dark place. The COVID-19 pandemic had begun its rampage and the country was beginning to shut down in response.
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The Job That Built Me - An Employee's Story

Dec 8, 2020 by Cassie Potts 1 Comment
My GGOB Story  The year was 2011, and I was living it up as a young single 20-something in Springfield, MO. I was a proud community college graduate holding an associates degree in ‘electronic media production’ with a slight obsession with attending large-scale music festivals.  You know the ones, Coachella, Bonnaroo, The HangOut Music Fest. I lived for them and I was always planning out which one I would attend next, always keeping in mind what my small hourly call center wage would support. 
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About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.