Is your business really sustainable?

Is your business sustainable? And I don’t mean are you eco-friendly and “green”; I mean, would your business carry on if you weren’t there, working in it day after day?

So, you’re the owner of a business.  You might have started it from nothing or you could have bought it from someone else.  But often we are really self-employed, maybe with a few staff to help us out. The customers are our customers, they only want to see us and they believe we do all their work ourselves. Our staff rely on us to feed them tasks you end up doing nearly everything yourself, picking up all the bits that the staff didn’t get to. Or maybe you have to correct their work and, rather than coaching them to develop their skills, you just do it yourself because it’s quicker and easier.  You think you’re the only one that can get it right. This is the proverbial working IN the business rather than ON it.

Your social life is non-existent; you work long hours, every day.  And when you’re not at work, you’re thinking about work.  It’s a busy life and you’re exhausted. But it’s ok- your family realise that this is your dream, owning this business and turning it into something bigger that one day you can sell and reap the financial rewards. But to get to that point you’ve got to put in the hours and the effort. So you’re busy and important and necessary in order to be successful and, to achieve your early retirement goal, that’s just what you’ve got to do.

Sound familiar?

The reality is that if something happens to you, the business would not survive. The years of hard work and effort you’ve put in would essentially be in vain, because without you the business would grind to a halt.  Because you are the business, if you wanted to sell it, it has limited or no value.  Can you sell yourself as a going concern?  No.

This is a common story.  I was like this, and I nearly burnt myself out. I’d like to say I changed overnight, saw the light, waved a magic wand and it all came right. But that’s not the way real life works.  Eventually I did see the light.  I engaged a Business Coach, and started the process to ensure the business was a stand-alone, sustainable entity.

The goal which we achieved was essentially streamlining processes and making everyone accountable for their part of it. I still maintain the relationships with my key clients. But now, our team have relationships with our clients for the work that they do and they love it.

If something happens to me, when I go away, or even decide to sell the business I now have every faith that it would continue as a strong business without me. It has a value of its own, that’s not dependent on me. It is sustainable.

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