By Byron Moore, posted April 17, 2017
Originally published in the News Star and the Shreveport Times on Sunday, April 16, 2017.
Q: I am just starting out owning my own business. We’re doing fine, but I’d like to grow over time and create something of value that I might sell one day. How do I do that?
A: Do you own a business or simply own your job?
There is a big difference between being self-employed (a.k.a., owning your job) and owning a business that has value apart from your direct involvement. One is not superior to the other, but they are very different creatures.
When a plumber retires, he may be able to sell his tools and equipment. But if he’s a solo plumber, it is doubtful an outsider would pay anything for “the business.”
However, things might be different if that plumber had hired another plumber. Then a second. And if he spent time developing a set of best practices that he made sure each plumber followed, so that the plumbing company’s customers had a similar (hopefully good!) experience. Maybe everyone wears smart looking uniforms, thank you calls are made after each appointment and maintenance contacts are offered to top-shelf customers.
After years of growth and refinement, the plumber finds that he spends zero time in the field doing plumbing, but all of his time making sure his staff is delivering the best plumbing service customers can experience in his market-place.
When the plumber decides it’s time to sell, he owns a company with a recognized name and standard of excellence within the community that is not dependent on him showing up on any particular plumbing job. In fact, he finds he can take weeks of vacation off, and customers had no idea he was out of town.
This guy has something to sell. Something of value. He built a real business. How?
Discover your value sweet spot. This is the intersection of your passions and the market’s pleasures.
What do you love to do that gives you energy and passion? Sure, it could be plumbing. Or web design. Or auto detailing. Or insurance services. Or graphic design. What do you love doing?
Equally, what does the market love for you to do? If I had a nickel for every person who said to me, “I want to open up a restaurant…” OK, fine. But does the market want you to open up a restaurant? Well, truthfully, neither you nor they will know until you do. But believe me, they will tell you – by patronizing your restaurant… or not.
The value sweet spot is you doing what you love and the marketplace happily paying you to do it.
Delegate everything else. If you’re a plumber, try to delegate everything but plumbing to someone else. You may have to take a step back to move forward, but delegation is an absolute necessity for any business to grow. Do what you do best. Hire and delegate the rest.
Duplicate yourself. Both above principles are true for the self-employed and for the business owner. This step begins the differentiation between owning your job and owning a business. It’s when you clone you. In our plumbing example, it’s when the plumber hires another plumber. At first, it is simply for assistance. Eventually, other plumbers are doing all the plumbing. This is where the old motto applies, “spend less time in your business and more time on your business.”
Multiply your markets. Or at least your market share. There are only so many stopped up toilets one plumber can fix in a day. But if you can add plumbers (via duplication), you can increase the capacity of your business to serve more customers. You can increase the number of households you serve in your local community. And if you wish, you can serve households in other communities.
You no doubt realize this is a high level, very simplified view of how to build a business. There are myriad details and success is anything but guaranteed. If you decide to go down this road, I cannot recommend strongly enough surrounding yourself with trusted advisors of every stripe to help you along the way.
Few will join you on your entrepreneurial journey and many will try to talk you out of it.
But if your heart longs to create something of lasting value, set your sights high and get ready for a long haul.
Above all, enjoy the journey.
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