Why did you choose to make Akiri Consultants an employee-owned company?
I believe that employee ownership is the model of the future. In today’s capitalist society, the gap between the rich and the rest of the population continues to widen. I wanted to adopt a more equitable approach to wealth distribution.
Employee ownership allows individuals to have a stake in the company’s success, which fosters a sense of responsibility and dedication. When employees own something, they take care of it and work to make it prosper because they have a direct interest in its growth.
It’s a win-win situation for the employees, the business, and the economy as a whole. To me, it’s a powerful tool for creating a sustainable and prosperous future for everyone.
What inspired you to pursue employee ownership for your company?
My inspiration for employee ownership came from my experience working for an employee-owned company during my formative years. Observing the benefits of this model and how it positively impacted the employees motivated me to implement the same approach at Akiri Consultants. I wanted my employees to partake in the growth and prosperity of the company and have a vested interest in its success.
Was it challenging to implement the employee ownership model?
The process of implementing employee ownership took approximately six months from start to finish. Before initiating it, I spent about two years contemplating the idea, seeking advice from my network, and attending conferences and webinars.
Initially, I was told that employee ownership could be expensive, especially for small businesses. Most advisors suggest that employee ownership isn’t feasible for companies with fewer than ten employees. However, with expert advice from our lawyers and tax professionals, the actual costs turned out to be less prohibitive than expected. In my opinion, it was a worthwhile investment for the long-term benefits it brought to the company and its employees.
What were the primary challenges you encountered during the implementation process?
Besides the challenge related to the relative cost of implementing employee ownership for a small business, finding the right service providers who understood the concept and could effectively support the transition was crucial. That said, with perseverance, education and networking, we were able to overcome these challenges.
What advice do you have for companies considering employee ownership?
My advice is to take action and start the process, even if it seems daunting at first. Begin with a model you believe has a good chance of working and iterate from there if necessary. Many companies try different approaches, such as profit sharing, before settling on the best fit.
Trustworthy service providers are essential, so collaborate with consultants, lawyers, tax professionals, accountants, and financial advisors who understand your goals and can work together effectively.
Building confidence through networking and learning is crucial. Joining associations, such as the ESOP Association Canada or attending conferences related to employee ownership can provide valuable insights and references. Lastly, remember that the long-term benefits of employee ownership far outweigh the initial costs, making it a worthwhile endeavour for sustainable growth and prosperity.
Overall, my advice is to start, trust your partners, and build confidence through networking and learning before making the transition to employee ownership, but it will all be worth it in the end as the benefits far outweigh the costs.