As September comes to a close and we head towards winter Approved Index marks its first year as a child of acquisition. From the moment we were told we were moving from Holborn (the epicentre of corporate London) to Camden (the land of men with beards) Approved Index has been transformed, revolutionised and injected with some serious energy. The result has been spectacular growth and a heavy basket of learning. So, as we celebrate our anniversary as a family it seemed like a good time to reflect on the past year and provide our top 5 tips for a successful SME acquisition.

1.       Bring on the Fanfare

Aside from the fact that staff tend to be in favour of anything free, if you organise a few social affairs they may just be forced to interact and communicate! Luckily the benefits of communication and the establishment of brilliant working relationships are practically priceless. So shell out a little for some food and drink (perhaps even some activities) and bring everyone together. Make the newbies feel special and valued by providing a couple of relaxed evenings with the covert aim of encouraging mingling.

2.       Avoid Culture Shock

Culture clash has taken the blame for some of the world’s most infamous acquisition failures, including the disastrous duo that was Time Warner & AOL. Culture is a complex and delicate piece of the puzzle which needs to be aligned with sensitivity. It is important to uphold the newcomers unique corporate identity, take the time to learn how they operate and make sure you respect their ethos.

3.       Break some Habits

It may be cliché, but humans are creatures of habit. And sometimes we get into routines of working ineffectively just because we’ve been doing something a particular way for so long. The greatest thing about fresh staff is they come with new perspectives. The acquisition of a company can lead to improved processes simply by throwing some disruption in the mix. Look to question the way things are done on both sides of the merger, to beak bad habits and to build something timeless.

4.       Be flexible

It is a wonderful thing to have goals and plans and to achieve them comes with a great sense of smugness, but in the case of SME acquisitions you must be prepared to go off plan. Have an open strategy toward integration, listen and adjust as you go along. If integration is taking longer than expected give it some breathing room rather than forcing teams apart and causing staff to fret.

5.       Some staff will leave. It will be sad

An acquisition can signal huge change, especially for the staff of an SME. Perhaps the location is not as convenient or maybe the mere fact that change is inevitable can spur staff to look elsewhere. Retention is not easy in these situations and unfortunately one key member of staff can cause a snowball effect especially in a close knit team. The best you can do is bear in mind these first 4 tips and showcase your company as the great employer you are!

The result of all this frenzy can truly be a beautiful thing! In fact, we’re being flown to Ibiza this Friday to celebrate all the glorious target-hitting we’ve achieved in the last year.