5 Ways to Get Your Business to Run Without You

get your business to run without you
In  my financial work with business owners, one of  the first questions I ask is  – “Can your company run without you?”  I almost always get a funny look followed by a pause. The thought that initially crosses their mind is  probably along the lines of  wondering why their business would ever need to  run without them. Unfortunately, however, this is  something that must be considered as  a central part of  their business and personal financial planning. This is  due to  the fact that someday every business owner will step away from their company. This is  inevitable and unavoidable. The only question is  – will the eventual exit from their company occur according to  a plan or  by some occurrence that may or  may not be expected or  even prepared for?
What I try to  convey to  the business owner is  that their company must be self-sufficient and able to  operate without them. That’s not to  suggest their company would be better off without them, but only that it  should be able to  function, grow, and hopefully even thrive without them.
As  an  owner of  a martial arts business, your desire to  own your own company most likely originated from your passion for the disciplines and life lessons you learned from the self-defense and fighting style your business is  founded upon. Martial arts teaches, among many other things, self-reliance, and confidence in  being independent, traits required to  be a successful business owner. It  can also be the ultimate liberator to  be able to  call all  the shots with your own company. But any business, including a martial arts company, can seemingly trap you, as  the owner, into devoting so much time and energy to  growing and maintaining your company that other parts of  your life can be a challenge to  manage, even to  the point of  feeling like you’re neglecting important things outside your business.
In  any case, a business not dependent on you as  the owner is  the ultimate asset to  own. It  bestows upon you complete control over your life so you can choose how best to  spend your time for both the benefit of  your company and everything and everyone else in  your life.
To the degree this is  a concern of  yours, you may want to  consider some ways to  bring your business to  the point it  can run without you. A company that can run without its  owner offers that owner a multitude of  benefits having to  do with enjoying a more independent lifestyle. Probably the best aspect of  an owner-independent business is  with respect to  its  value.   A company independent of  its  owner has better, more measurable market value that can be leveraged for Net Worth purposes, seeking loans to  operate and expand, understanding what insurances are needed and proper amounts, and for the purpose of  someday leveraging the company equity to  retire or  move on to  another venture. This last point is  important because a business independent of  its  owner is  worth a lot more than an  owner-dependent company.  Any person or  entity that may desire to  acquire your company at  the point you may want to  sell will have a greater interest in  and assign a higher value to  companies that, in  essence, run themselves or  at  least can be run interchangeably with a person or  people chosen by the acquiring owner.
Here are five ways to  set up your business so that it  can succeed without you:
1. Give your employees a stake in the outcome
Jack Stack, the author of  The Great Game of Business and A Stake in The Outcome, wrote the book on creating an ownership culture inside your company. The premise is  for you to  be transparent about your company’s financial results, allowing your employees to  participate in  your financial success. This results in  employees who act like owners when you’re not around. This can also be addressed by way of  company retirement savings plan programs that incentivize employees by sharing some of  the profits with them.
2. Get Them to Walk in Your Shoes
If  you’re not quite comfortable opening the books to  your employees, consider a simple management technique where you respond to  every question your staff brings you with the same answer, “If  you owned the company, what would you do?” By  forcing your employees to  walk in  your shoes, you get them thinking about their question as  you would, and it  builds the habit of  starting to  think like an owner. Pretty soon, employees are able to  solve their own problems.
3. Vet Your Offerings
Identify the products and services which require your personal involvement in  either making, delivering, or  selling them. Make a list of  everything you sell and score each on a scale of  0 to  10 on how easy they are to  teach an employee to  handle. Assign a 10 to  offerings that are easy to  teach employees and give a lower score to  anything that requires your personal attention. Commit to  stopping to  sell the lowest-scoring product or  service on your list. Repeat this exercise every quarter.
4. Create Automatic Customers
Are you the company’s best salesperson? If  so, you’ll need to  fire yourself as  your company’s rainmaker in  order to  get it  to  run without you. As  a martial arts company, your revenue is  probably based primarily on a subscription model that produces recurring income, but to  what extent are renewals automatic and done without your intervention? Be certain your company operates according to  a highly developed and efficient subscription model.
5. Write an Instruction Manual for Your Business
Finally, make sure your company comes with instructions included. Write an employee manual or  what MBA-types called Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These are a set of  rules employees can follow for repetitive tasks in  your company. This will ensure employees have a rule book they can follow when you’re not around, and when an employee leaves, you can quickly swap them out with a replacement to  take on duties of  the job.
You-proofing your business has enormous benefits. It  will allow you to  create a valuable company and have a life. Your business will be free to  scale up because it  is  no longer dependent on you, which can actually serve as  a bottleneck. Best of  all, it  will be worth a lot more to  a buyer whenever you are ready to  step away from your company to  retire or  seek your next venture.