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Don't be a hero: If your business revolves around you, you won't sell

14th April 2015 -

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a business owner so involved in their empire that they’ve lost all check on reality, walking around the office in superhero spandex and mystery mask. Your powers may have taken you this far, but one day you’ll have to hang up the cape and look to the future.

However, investors won’t be making offers if the company’s success is solely reliant upon you, so it’s important to put processes in place to ensure your heroic vision is future-proof. You may even find that it thrives when handing responsibilities down to those mere mortals beneath you.


Do you find yourself working 60+ hours per week? Omnipresence is a common phenomenon amongst owners who feel the need to be involved in every move the business makes, but if management systems aren’t in place to take care of things in your absence, potential buyers will walk away.

New owners are prepared to put a certain amount of effort in when purchasing and transitioning companies, but the most attractive propositions are those which already run smoothly without the principal person.

Michael Cera at Comic-Con 2010

If you can show that your organisation is profitable without your full-time commitment, takeover bids will come flying in. The aim should be to make yourself useless, and you’ll achieve this by empowering staff to take control. Having a strong team in place is a great foundation for future success, and you’ll get the best out of them if the right people are rewarded.

Removing yourself from the day-to-day running of things makes the business more investable, and it’ll also free up time for you to focus on the bigger pictures: How can the company grow? Where shall I holiday this year? How much is a Batmobile?

From Me to We

If the business has been built on personal branding, it’s time to shift to a more corporate mindset, otherwise buyers will be wary of what happens when that individual disappears. Developing relationships with clients and suppliers is the core to any business success, but those pre-existing links are at threat if there’s no handover period to other people within the organisation.

You reduce the risk of losing clients by ensuring that employees are well-versed in maintaining relationships without you, and all company literature should talk about ‘We’ rather than ‘I’. The power of ‘We’ makes the company much stronger in terms of sell-ability, ensuring stakeholders don’t think of the business as a one-man band.

It’s also crucial that you share your expertise with employees: knowledge may be power, but your company will be weak if they constantly have to refer to you.

If you take time to streamline your processes, write guidelines for best practice, and properly train staff to deal with any given situation, your empire will run much more efficiently.

Option Planning

It doesn’t always have to be about retiring, but there should be a focus on putting your business in the best possible position to cover all eventualities, such as long-term absence, crisis management, a change in personal circumstances, or even unsolicited approaches from business brokers.

Ironically, putting these ideas into practice may feel like you’re relinquishing power, but by working fewer hours and making staff less dependent, you’ll actually be making the business more valuable in the long run.

Feeling the need to micromanage can be all-consuming at times, but every Superman has their kryptonite, and this could be preventing you from realising your true worth.

At Isis Business Brokers, we know what sells. If you’re looking to put your business on the market, please contact us online or call 01865 784462.

Photo credit:

Michael Cera as Captain America - By Gage Skidmore from United States of America (Michael Cera) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons