Have you Built a Sellable Business or Just Maintained a Job?

No one wants to buy your job, but they might pay big bucks to buy your business.

There’s a big difference between the two and the key distinctions are in your role as the owner and the way you’ve structured your company.  Like most business owners you followed your entrepreneurial spirit, exchanging reliable paychecks and good health insurance for the freedom and control associated with self-employment. We’ve all been there — some of us more than once.

There may have been a day you remember waking up and realizing that things have changed. Now you have employees that depend on you, contracts to negotiate, cash flow to manage. The days are long and seem to be getting even longer. Just when you think you’re all caught up, it starts over again. Things aren’t as fun anymore and you can’t seem to get ahead of everything. What happened?!

Here’s my guess:  Somewhere along the line your job turned into an actual business and rather than evolve as your business has grown, you remain Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. If you are still controlling every decision for the business and have resisted delegating responsibilities to your staff, you may have just created a more demanding job rather than a valuable and sellable enterprise.

If your strategic intent is to create an entity that has value, then it goes without saying that the value must not be dependent on you. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you want to keep investing in a job or start building a sellable business. Here are eight ways to tell whether you’re building a sellable business or still stuck in job mode:

Sellable Business Job
Generates revenue whether you are there or not Requires you to show up at work to make money
Company has its own reputation/brand Owner’s reputation/relationships dictate success
Processes consistently drive results Results require Owner’s experience/expertise
Can take extended vacations without impacting company performance What vacation? I never go a day without checking messages and answering calls
Not dependent on just a few customers Few customers have the power to control your business’ success
The smarter you work, the more money you earn The harder you work, the more money you earn
Employees solve problems You are the problem solver
Customers don’t know who owns the company Most customers know your mobile #

So how do you make the leap from having a job to being CEO of your company?

  • Start building a level of management between yourself and frontline employees. Profitability may dip in the short-term, however, it’s worth the investment in capable managers to grow your business today and ensure that you can sell it when you’re ready to move on.
  • Start focusing on work -life balance. Ask yourself a difficult question: Does the business revolve around you because it has to, or because you want it to? If too much of your ego and identity are wrapped up in your business, you may have become a hindrance rather than a help.
  • Develop a support system.  Join a peer support group or develop an advisory board of executives that will give you solid advice and hold you accountable. You’ll be surrounded by other business owners who are either experiencing the same growing pains, or have been there/done that. Either way, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel or go it alone.
  • Make yourself operationally irrelevant. Measure your progress by the length of vacation you can take, with four weeks being the goal.
  • Build recurring revenue streams into your business model. The more reliable your revenue is, the more you can focus on higher level strategy and long-term planning at your business.

If you’d like to get more enjoyment out of your business today — and have a sellable asset in the future — you’re going to have to leave job-mode behind and start acting like a CEO. It’s time to step away from the shop floor, the loading dock and the assembly line and take your seat in the corner office.

Build value today for an exit tomorrow

Build value today for an exit tomorrow

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