Harvey MacKay (motivational speaker and author of Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and several other best selling business books) recently wrote an article about the dangers of being too self important in the world of business. His message was focused on how arrogance interferes with the critical skill of listening to others and other dangers of hubris. Yet I had a different takeaway, especially after reading this quote which his parents used to keep his ego in check: “Stick your finger in a bowl of water and watch the hole it leaves when you pull it out.” Message: life – and business – will go on without you. If you are a solopreneur or owner of a small business, you had better hope this is exactly what happens when it’s your time to pull your finger out of the bowl. Start now to lay the groundwork to leave no hole. The only hole you want to have to fill is in your piggy bank.
First, you have to accept and believe that your business can exist and succeed, without you. So many small business owners believe that what they do is so integral to the business that there will be no business to pass on, or sell, when they want to exit, quit, retire, pack it in, go fishing or just sleep. I’m sure there are examples where this is true, but in the vast majority of cases, it need not be true. Very few of us are so uniquely skilled or so iconic (think Oprah) that no one can fill our shoes. Hubris and self-importance and the natural human desire to think otherwise may rob you of getting a return on the investment of your time and skills over many years. So, how can you build a business to have value, without you? There are many things that need to be done, but here are some key elements to creating value that can be passed down:
The good thing about all these tips is that they will help you run your business better even if you never do pursue selling your company. But why shouldn’t you cash in on the company brand, customers, good will, website visitors, Facebook & Twitter followers, trained employees, innovative business practices and the rest of the blood, sweat and tears that any entrepreneur endures. Telling yourself that what you are building has value and making it so will get you much farther than believing your business is nothing without you!
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