Monday, January 23, 2017

Entrepreneurs: You Probably Think This Post (And Your Business) Is About You

As an entrepreneur, you might live in a world where your business completely revolves around you. After all, your expertise and hard work built the business to where it is today. Your capital likely went in to start the business in its infancy. You might even think the business is your baby (hint: the business is not your baby).

But what happens when you are no longer part of the business? Can the business survive without you? Can it continue to support your family if you are gone? Can you sell the business to someone else and have them successfully lead it? Your business has potential to grow bigger than you, so you can and should prepare for it. But how?

Get Help

If you run every single aspect of your business, then either you have not grown to the point to need to scale, or you work harder than you need to and should find avenues to sacrifice total control. Maybe both of those are true for you. But if your business has grown large enough that there are activities that you could get help with, then by all means do so. 

Beyond help with operating the business, though, you may need help with your strategy. No shortage of consultants exist for that very reason, but if you are a small business, you may find that all you need is a close friend or family member that you trust (and would trust with your family's financial future) to bounce your ideas off of. Either way, you can benefit from gaining additional perspective on how to create a plan that would allow you to separate yourself from your business, should the need arise.


For a lot of small businesses, the owner is part of  the product or service being sold. Authors, craftsmen and women, public speakers, and artists all have their personalities integrally tied with the value proposition being offered. If the owner were to disappear in many of these instances, the product would also cease to exist and the business would, as well. So how could these businesses diversify themselves to tie their success less to their own being?

The answer may require some creativity. But the end result has to be that some money-making portion of the business can and will be created by someone other than the owner. A public speaker may take some of their ideas and have workshops and handbooks based on those ideas that others could facilitate. Or perhaps she could manage other speakers and put together conventions around a central theme. Some successful authors, like Tom Clancy and James Patterson have created a sort of franchise, where they partner with co-writers or even just put their name as a brand on series written entirely by others. They may seed the ideas and help with structure, but other people create the actual product.

Brainstorm some ideas for products or product lines that you could license, franchise, or otherwise have others create on your behalf that ties in with your primary theme and purpose of your business. This can create different income streams that don't require you at the center to generate money for you and your business.

Plan Your Succession

In the days of monarchies and feudalism, when a king would die on the battlefield with no clear heir to take the throne, chaos would ensue as different sides fought over command or divided scraps of the kingdom. Without a clear successor and transition plan for your business, the same thing could happen in modern times, between your employees, family, and others. To prevent this, you need to develop succession and transition plans to transfer the business either to an heir in the event of your death (or retirement) or to another, should you sell the company.

The plan will fail if you are still the sole product being marketed, but if you are able to put people in charge of separate ideas and product lines and have them running them independently of you, then you can create plans that include exiting any product or service that requires you to operate them. You don't necessarily have to exit any of those before you are ready, after all, your central products may be the reason your business is successful in its current form, but you need the plans to be able to execute that exit strategy immediately if necessary and still pivot the business.

Once you have the plan in place, telegraph it transparently to everyone that you need to. Indicate when it will be executed and under what circumstances, and then walk everyone through your intent.

Be prepared to change. If your heir apparent doesn't want the role, or if the acquiring business wants you to stay on board as a consultant for a while, or for whatever the reason, circumstances may change. You need to maintain some of that flexibility that likely made your business a success to be able to transition effectively.


While you may be the center of your business's spokes currently, your business isn't completely about you. Others, whether customers, your family, or employees, depend on your business to operate, even if you have decided to move on. As such, you should develop a plan for a "post-you" company. The owner-as-brand-name companies that survive don't operate as single-person businesses. They diversify their offerings beyond those that require the founder at every single event. And they create and communicate a transition plan that shows how they can exit parts of the business (those requiring the owner) swiftly and painlessly while continuing to turn a profit.

Like this article? You might want to plug "Create Transition Plan" into my FREE downloadable planning guide for 2017. It's a simple spreadsheet with step-by-step instructions on how to break your goals down into achievable bite sized pieces this year. I'd love to hear how it is working for you. Download it today!