Justification for Your Next Vacation

Its a fact, companies that perform well without their owner for a period of three months are 50 percent more likely to get an offer to be acquired when compared to more owner-dependent businesses.

There is no better justification for taking a blissful, uninterrupted holiday than to see how your company performs in your absence. The better your company runs on autopilot, the more valuable it will be when you’re ready to sell.

To gauge your company’s ability to handle your absence, start by taking a vacation. Leave your computer at home and switch off your mobile. Upon your return, you’ll probably discover that your employees got resourceful and found answers to a lot of the questions they would have asked you if you had been just down the hall. That’s a good thing and a sign you should start planning an even longer vacation.

You’ll also likely come back to an inbox full of issues that need your personal attention. Instead of busily finding answers to each problem in a frenzied attempt to clean up your inbox, slow down and look at each issue through the lens of a possible problem with your people, systems or authorizations.

People

Start with your people and answer the following questions:

  • Why did this problem end up on my desk?
  • Who else is qualified to answer this question and why was that person not consulted?
  • If nobody else is qualified, who can be trained to answer this question in the future?

Systems

Next, look at your systems and procedures. Could the issue have been dealt with if you had a system or a set of rules in place? The best systems are hardwired and do not require human interpretation; but if you’re not able to lock down a technical fix, then at least give employees a set of rules to follow in the future.

Authorizations

You may be a bottleneck in your own company if you’re trying to control spending too much. Employees may know what to do but do not have any means of paying for the fix they know you would want.

For example, you could put a customer service rule in place that gives your front line staff the authority to make a customer happy in any way they see fit provided it could be done for under $100.

You might allow an employee to spend a specific amount with a specific supplier each month without coming to you first.  Or you might give an employee an annual budget, an amount they can spend without seeking your approval.

Given the fires that may need to be extinguished after the fact, taking a vacation may seem more of a hassle than it’s worth. But if you transform the aftermath of a holiday into systems and training that allow employees to act on their own, you’ll find the vacation is worth what you paid for it many times over: your company will increase in value as it becomes less dependent on you personally.

Do you own a business you could sell? Find out by taking the 13-minute Sellability Score questionnaire: Is My Business Saleable?

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The Curator: How to Thrive as a Middleman

Being a middleman (or woman) has become risky business

When was the last time you used a travel agent? Agencies have largely become irrelevant given the rise of online travel booking companies.

How about a record/CD store? iTunes and online music subscription services have gotten rid of the middleman between you and your music.

Think back to the last time you rented a movie – did you get in your car to visit the local movie rental store?

Travel agents, record/CD stores and movie rental businesses have all fallen victim to the curse of the middleman. When all you do is move other people’s product, the only value you have is your location. But in a world where content can be streamed and containers can be shipped overnight, being the local guy or gal is becoming irrelevant. Even if you have a protected geographic territory, near perfect pricing information available to your customers through the Internet will eventually grind down your margins.

Dragging Down your Value

Not only do you risk losing sales and margin to online competitors; being a middleman drags down the value of your company.

We have access to a tool that measures your business along eight dimensions that drive the value of your business. One factor is called The Switzerland Structure, which measures your reliance on any one customer, employee or supplier.

If you’re reliant on a single supplier who provides the goods you resell, you could be in trouble. Having one or two suppliers means you could be at risk of an industry change (like the one that hit record stores a few years ago) or at risk of your supplier choosing to build his own sales force and start competing directly with you.

Henry Schein: a Valuable Middleman

If you’re a middleman, the solution is to rethink the value you provide your customers. Instead of assuming it is your location that counts, consider yourself a curator of great products for your customers. Your job is no longer to be the local guy or gal but to be the person who sifts through all the noise, tests and evaluates what’s available, and supplies just the very best for customers who value – and are willing to pay for – your services as a curator.

Take, for example, the case of Henry Schein, Inc., a FORTUNE 500 company and a member of the NASDAQ 100 Index. Henry Schein is the world’s largest provider of health care products and services to medical, dental, and veterinary office-based practitioners. The company is one of Fortune Magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” and all it does is hawk other people’s stuff.

The difference is that they see their job as sifting through all of the suppliers who want to provide products to dentists (or doctors, vets, etc.) and picking only the very best to recommend to their clients. They are the uber gatekeepers.

Dentists would prefer to spend their time billing patients rather than meeting with suppliers, so they value the role Henry Schein plays in helping them minimize the number of sales people they need to see.

Dentists’ loyalty to Henry Schein means that if a supplier wants to sell to dentists, they need to go through Henry Schein. The balance of power has been turned on its head because customers would prefer to buy from Henry Schein rather than directly from the end supplier. And that’s the acid test of any middleman: given the choice, would your customers rather buy from you or go direct?

If you’re curious to see how your business would perform on The Switzerland Structure and the other seven drivers of the value of your company, take The Sellability Score here: Is My Business Salable?

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Hidden Goal of Smart Business Owners

Building a Sellable Business | Hidden Goal of Business Owner - Business Brokers New YorkWhat are your business goals for the year? If you’re like most owners, you have a profit goal you want to hit. You may also have a top line revenue number that’s important to you. While those goals are important, there is another objective that may have an even bigger payoff: building a sellable business.

But what if you don’t want to sell? That’s irrelevant. Here are five reasons why building a sellable business should be your most important goal, regardless of when you plan to push the eject button:

1. If Your Business is Salable you Have Freedom

One of the fundamental tenants of sellability is how well your company would perform if you were unable to work for a while. As long as your business is dependent on you personally, there’s not much to sell. Making your company less dependent on you by building a management team and creating just-add-water systems for employees to follow means you have the ability to spend time away from your business. Think of the world of possibilities that would open up if you could choose not to go into the office tomorrow.

2. Working on the Business and NOT in the Business

Running a business would be fun if you were able to spend your days on strategic thinking and big picture ideas. Instead, most business owners spend the majority of their day on the minutia: the government forms, the employee performance reviews, bank reconciliations, customer issues, auditing expenses. The boring details of company ownership suck the enjoyment out of owning a business—and it is exactly these tasks you need to get into someone else’s job description if you’re ever going to sell.

3. A Salable Business is Financial Freedom

Each month you open your brokerage statement to see how your portfolio is doing. Not because you want to sell your portfolio, but because you want to know where you stand on the journey to financial freedom. Creating a sellable business also allows you peace of mind, knowing that you’re building something that—just like your stock portfolio—has value you could choose to make liquid one day.

4. A Salable Business is a Gift

Imagine that your first-born graduates from college and as a gift you give him your prized 1967 Shelby Ford Mustang. Your heavily indebted child takes it on the road, but after a few miles, the engine starts smoking. The mechanic takes one look under the hood and declares that the engine needs a rebuild.

You thought you were giving your child an incredible asset, but instead it’s an expensive liability he can’t afford to keep, and nor can he sell it without feeling guilty.

You may be planning to pass your business on to your kids or let your young managers buy into your company over time. These are both admirable exit options, but if your business is too dependent on you, and it hasn’t been tuned up to run without you, you may be passing along a jalopy.

5. Nine Women can’t make a Baby in a Month

There are some things in life that take time, no matter how much you want to rush them. Making your business sellable often requires significant changes; and a prospective buyer is going to want to see how your business has performed for the three years after you have made the changes required to make your business sellable. Therefore, if you want to sell in five years, you need to start making your business sellable now so the changes have time to gestate.

Are you curious about how sellable your company is and what you would need to tweak to sell it when you’re ready? Then it’s time to get your Sellability Score via the questionnaire on our website. It takes about thirteen minutes and your responses are kept confidential. You can complete the questionnaire here: Is My Business Saleable?

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