If someone offered you the opportunity to buy your business, would you want it? To decide, you would first evaluate if it was a good investment. The business would need to run without taking all your time. It would need to be profitable, with positive cash flow and recurring revenue that comes from scalable solutions, instead of services. The business would be a leader in a clearly defined market. A business like this would be one you would love to own!
Unfortunately, for many entrepreneurs, that’s not the way your business runs now.
However, when you build your business the right way, you create an asset that you can sell in the future when you’re ready. Not only that, but your business will run so well you might not ever want to sell it. Either way, you win.
Most entrepreneurs own services businesses. Because you were the one who founded and built the business, you think of your company as an extension of yourself. Even though you understand intellectually that it’s a separate entity, subconsciously you don’t think about it that way. Because when something goes wrong in the business it feels like a reflection on you. I know that’s how I felt for many years with my technical services company. I was usually willing to do whatever it took to keep my clients happy.
The biggest problem with professional services firms is the amount of time spent understanding the client’s business, solving their problems and meeting the client’s needs. This generates revenue but does not build an asset. Instead, imagine developing standard solutions which solve the primary problems for a specific type of client – your precise target market. The solutions you develop become your company’s intellectual property, which you market and teach to the client.
Instead of each client explaining their business to you, you find a niche you understand very well and then show them how your solution solves their problems. Your team trains the client, rather than the client training you. Your company builds an asset, rather than just generating revenue.
I’ve seen the equivalent of contortionist acts performed in “service” to the client, which ends up being at the detriment of the business owner. They don’t want an important client to leave because they “need” them. The business owner even takes on clients and projects that aren’t a good fit because they have the capacity and they need the work. Again, this generates revenue but does not build an asset. Take that capacity and turn it into an investment in your company. Build solutions that you market like products.
Here’s the secret: make your business so valuable you would want to buy it.
The first thing to understand is that if your business can’t run without you, chances are you are exhausted and stressed. A buyer will not pay top dollar for a company when it’s obvious the owner is burned out. They will wonder why they should buy it at all since it took the life out of you. No one wants to take over your problem child. It will be clear to a prospective buyer that you don’t have a solid system or management team and that represents a risk to them. Ask yourself if you would buy your business—if not, start right now to change that answer. Every decision you make about your business from here on out should be based on whether it will increase the value of your company so much that you would buy it.
Most books and courses about growing a business focus on actions in the form of techniques to create results. But it takes more than just action to create results. You have to have the right strategy, you have to believe you can do it and be willing to never give up. You do this by using your thoughts, feelings, and actions together. The way to stop feeling trapped by your business is to think of your business as an asset, feel good about the value it creates, and then take action by managing it for growth. Otherwise, you will always be stuck in a lifestyle business, which is another word for a “job.” No one wants to buy a job, and you shouldn’t want to own one either. The way to regain the sense of freedom you had when you started your business is to make your company work for you.
So, how does this work from a practical perspective?
How do you combine strategy and execution with managing your mind? What does it mean to use thoughts, feelings, and actions? First, you clarify what you want, who you serve and why. Then you decide to change the way you feel about your business and create a healthy relationship with it by setting clear expectations.
Next, decide you’re willing to fail, and when you do, you won’t make it mean anything except what not to do next time. This means you commit to taking continuous action until you get the results you want. You take action while feeling inspired, motivated or determined, rather than doubtful, frustrated or resentful. It also means being willing to undertake the practical work of transforming how your business works, narrowing your focus, converting from services to solutions, and improving your cashflow. In my eBook, How to Grow Your Business Without Losing Your Mind I cover the process, outlining the steps that will make your business work for you, instead of you working for it.
Stop feeling trapped by your business.
You own the business and you can change it but, most of the time, instead it seems like the business owns you. In moments of clarity, you think, “That’s it, I’m going to get it together and scale this business” and you try to use willpower and grit to change external conditions. You hire a new manager or go to a seminar or buy a new software solution. You redesign your website or start a new digital marketing campaign. But you’re trying to solve the wrong problem. The reason you feel trapped is because you are working for your business, it’s not working for you. You are not treating your company like an asset and are not focused on building value in the business.
The reason your actions don’t result in permanent change is because of the underlying beliefs, thoughts, and feelings that fuel those actions. Before you change your actions, you must change your thoughts and beliefs first if you want a permanent change. Combine new beliefs with massive action and you will always succeed because the only way to fail is to quit. The first new belief you want to create is that your business is an asset that must work for you.
It’s time to evolve.
If your business makes you feel frustrated, overwhelmed and anxious, it simply means it’s time for both you and your business to evolve. Remember, you are an entrepreneur! A modern-day gladiator. If you are reading this, you have already done a lot of “inner” work whether you realize it or not! You overcame thoughts of doubt and worry, feelings of inadequacy and fear to start your business in the first place. This means you have courage and a desire to grow. The solution is to manage your mind and treat your business as an asset. Once you change how you think about your business and the way you run it, you’ll have a business you you would love to buy.