Does the Business Need You—Or Do You Need the Business?

February 17, 2020Insights

As we settle into 2020, there is a hint of urgency in the air for owners seeking to sell their businesses. The circumstances are not dire, and doom is not imminent. But basic economics tell us two things:

1) The market remains ripe for selling a business.

2) It may become overripe in the near future.

Rather than speculate about the dreaded R-word that many owners remember all too clearly from the turn of the previous decade, use this window of opportunity to position your business for a successful sale—whether in the near future or further down the line. It starts with either exposing or dispelling how much your business needs you to be involved in the day-to-day details.

 

The Humbling First Step of Exit Engineering

Make no mistake; your leadership in the business is crucial. Your employees trust you, your customers need you, and you know you will always do what it takes to succeed. However, having a strong team in place is crucial for transferability, meaning the business can be transferred from you to a new owner and continue to thrive.

Many owners (understandably) tend to have an extremely difficult time removing themselves from the center of the wagon wheel because they believe their business needs their presence at every waking moment. In reality, we often find that businesses with strong management teams can function just fine with less owner involvement. It’s more a matter of the owner needing the business and the feeling of control that comes with it. Before we can engineer your ideal exit, we need you to accept the exit itself and embrace the satisfaction of knowing that what you have built can live on.

 

Doing the Unthinkable

Take a vacation. Reducing the company need for you does not need to be a depressing exercise. In fact, it can and should be refreshing. You can imagine the looks on owners’ faces when we ask them if they have ever taken a month off from work. Most of them say, “Never. I couldn’t do that. My business needs me.”

We want you to seriously consider taking a one-month vacation. We have said it before. You have heard it before. But have you even considered doing it? This hiatus will allow you to spend time with your family and recharge. More importantly, you can begin to let go of control and see who steps up while you are away. Think of it as a warmup for designing your exit.

We’re not talking about a long weekend, or even taking one week off. People can defer decisions until your return during that time. It takes a month to uncover whether your business needs you or you need your business. If you need more convincing, read this article about why a month-long vacation is the best first step to engineering your exit.

 

What You Will Discover

A legitimate, extended vacation—not the kind where you are working in the mornings or answering emails in the evenings—sets the baseline for the salability of your business. It reveals where your business is strong, who can take on the work and what we need to improve. From there, we can begin to optimize your transition. If you feel the need to do something work-related during your month off, you can call us. We’ll talk you through that first hurdle of recognizing the emotional side of selling your business. You can do this; we can help.