Create a Business that isn’t Dependent on You

Improve your business by taking a vacation.

In the first 2 emails we talked about making the commitment to sell and taking the time to setup professional financial reports.

Now it’s time to look at how to make you, the owner, less important to the business. On a weekly basis we speak to owners who would like to sell then add, “But I am the business. Everyone knows me and my personal relationships are a big reason customers keep coming back.”

If the business is only going to make money with you running it, you obviously don’t have a business to sell. If that’s you, you have a big problem. However, your business can make some simple changes to maximize its value.

  1. Stop using the term “owner” – Throw away every business card that says this. Train yourself to never respond as “owner” when someone asks. If your sales pitch includes, “and you get to deal directly with the owner if there’s a problem,” immediately stop saying that. Give yourself a new title like Team Leader, General Manager, President, or CEO and NEVER use the term owner again.
  2. Empower your employees to take ownership – If your employees know you’re the one to solve all problems, you need to start changing that immediately. Empower them to make decisions. Some decisions will be good and some will not. In the long run you’ll have less on your plate, your team will feel more involved, and your business will be more sellable. Later we’ll talk about developing systems to help your empowered team succeed.
  3. Train your customers to not rely on you – If your customers call and ask directly for you or for the owner, you need to stop that right away. No one should ever need to talk to the owner because the Team Leader (or whatever title you choose) should be able to take care of any problem. Train your employees to ask everyone, “What did you need help with today?” before transferring a call to you. If necessary, have your staff tell the customer, “Bryan will be tied up all afternoon. Give me a minute to direct you to someone else who can help.” If he still insists, when you do call him back, apologize for the delay and let him know the name of the person on your staff who can help him more quickly next time and that she will be expecting his call. For a big account, have your employee proactively call the customer and introduce herself.

The BEST way to accomplish #2 and #3 above is to take regular vacations. It forces your team to get used to solving problems on their own, however, more importantly, it forces you to NOT solve every problem. We entrepreneurs always want things done “our way” however, if you want to build a sellable business, it will be worth more if it can run without you.

One last suggestion. After you return from each vacation, make notes on exactly what was waiting for you when you returned. Then humanize or systematize every item on the list so someone else can take care of that task the next time you leave.

Your action items this week are to remove “owner” from your vocabulary, business cards, and everywhere else it’s written. Set a date right now for your next vacation and then plan to be out of the office AT LEAST a few days every quarter.

To your success,

Bryan Trilli

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