It’s simple: you can’t sell your business if it doesn’t run without you. There’s no value in a company that falls apart as soon as the seller leaves. If your business is over-reliant on you, you don’t have a saleable company. Some of the symptoms include:
- You can’t go on holiday without business grinding to a halt.
- You deal with all your clients directly.
- You don’t trust anyone else to deal with issues.
- It’s too much effort to train someone to do what you do.
- You really believe nobody else can do what you do.
- You’re not good at delegating anything and/or you tend to micromanage.
Setting aside the fact that it’s crazy to think you’re the best person to do everything, if you want a valuable business, it needs to run without you. That means having systems, so you’re not locked in a co-dependent relationship with your small business. Examples of systems are:
- Writing down the process for handling potential leads.
- Making a spreadsheet, with explanations, that works out your quotes.
- Creating a diagram that explains your sales process.
- Adopting CRM software and using it to track customer interactions.
- Setting up invoice payment reminders in Xero.
- Write down your rules for filing documents.
- Have a set of actions to be followed to deal with customer complaints.
These kinds of systems can also make your business more efficient and profitable. Having the day-to-day details of client interactions out of your head and into a piece of software, for instance, frees up your headspace to think about driving new business or growing the company.
And not only do these systems add value to your business, they allow you to get someone else to take over aspects of the work, like the accounts. Often the first contractor for any small business is a part-time accounts person and if you can create systems for your accounts you can hand that work off to someone else. With your directions in place, you can have confidence that they’ll do things the way you like them done.
Ultimately, once you put all these minor systems together, you have an operations manual. When you want to sell your business, an operations manual shows a prospective buyer how to run your company – suddenly your small business looks like a smart buy. Even if you never sell the business, at least you might be able to finally take a holiday.