Is your business dependent on you? You rightly answer, “Of course it is you idiot, I’m a small business owner.”
It’s completely understandable. You started the business from nothing. In the beginning it was only you. You made the difference. 1,000 times the only reason the business survived was because you tackled the problem. You closed the new client. You found the money. You stayed at work until 3 a.m. to make it happen.
You’ve learned to rely on yourself, but if you don’t change, that self-reliance is what will keep you from ever selling your business.
I recently heard a panel of mergers and acquisitions experts asked the question, “what one thing makes a business easier to sell?” The answer:
“Make your business less reliant on you.”
They thought it was more important than high profits, clean financials, or any of a long list of things that make a business sell-able. Why? Because if the results of the business are dependent on you, the owner, then as a potential buyer I must assume the positive results go away when you do.
You must change the way your business uses you.
Some will tell you that you should have built your business that way from the start, but I have no idea how to do that. If you don’t have the money to hire other people to do the work, you rely on the resource you do have – your own time. So, you give 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the business grows. And it grows because of you.
The problem is that we as owners don’t change that. We change everything else in our business as we grow it: people, systems, location, etc. But we view our sacrifice, our time resource, as core to the business.
We start to repeat to ourselves “I am the business.” And as we repeat it, it becomes true.
—“Things get screwed up when I’m not there” – but you forget the times things got screwed up when you were there.
—“I have to solve the problem myself” – yet you fail to look sideways to see the people standing right by you as “you” solve the problem.
Is your business dependent on you? You need to be able to answer that question, “Less today than it was yesterday.” Make the change. Start today.
Learn to leave.