If Entrepreneurs Can Make Themselves Obsolete, They See Passion Return

It seems paradoxical but you need to have the ability to remove yourself from the picture

Brent Rupnow
Jul 2, 2020 · 5 min read
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Image by wongpear from Pixabay

Could your business run without you?

If you can answer yes, you are in the minority.

It is maybe the most common issue for business owners. If there’s no way for another person to smoothly take over and run your business, it isn’t worth anything to anyone else.

This can and should be fixed.

I’ll use the example of a client who owned a specialty services business. I have changed names and some of the details to maintain privacy but the story is real.

Concerns Started With Taxes

His Company Achieved Extraordinary Success

Jim was still young enough to enjoy running his business at age 56. He had 17 employees and well over $6,000,000 in revenue.

Videographers tend to be either freelance or small organizations focused on weddings and smaller engagements.

Video Concepts found a niche serving business customers in music, publishing, and entertainment.

Video Concepts Found a Niche

By all accounts, things were going pretty well.

Tension Was Building

The process that the company developed was repeatable and, Jim felt, could deliver the high quality his company was known for.

But customers, most of them, expected Jim to personally visit during each project engagement and he was getting stretched way too thin.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I questioned Jim whether or not it was necessary for him to make these personal appearances on each and every project.

He was adamant that his customers would not work with Video Concepts if he was not involved. He felt that there was no way to transition away from direct face to face interactions with customers.

And if he could not make this transition, he knew he was at about the ceiling of his capacity and could not grow.

Burnout Was Around The Corner

Like many business owners, Jim had used the growth in his profits to reinvest in the business. If cash flow got lumpy, he still needed to make payroll so he would do without.

Over the years, funding the retirement accounts just never made it high enough on his priority list.

Jim Would Need to Harvest the Value of His Business to Retire

And the bad news, I told him, is that if you don’t find a way to make yourself obsolete, you will have a hard time selling this business for the money you will need to retire.

Obsolete?

This new goal necessitated some profound changes in Jim’s thinking and actions.

And it took time. We chose no more than three milestones every quarter for a couple of years centered around this new goal.

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Photo by David Sager on Unsplash

People and Processes

He intentionally developed staff into management. He incentivized the right people through equity shares over time. He moved people into different roles.

He let go of underperformers.

He invested in more training and empowered his people to innovate.

There were new ideas and Video Concepts developed recurring streams of revenue to go along with the core project-oriented work.

Strategic Work Reinvigorated Jim

He was not only not burned out anymore but actually reinvigorated with running his business.

He could step away and things could function without him.

Running Video Concepts was fun again and by having more time away, retirement didn’t seem so pressing.

The Business Must Be Ready for Transition Before The Owner

By making himself obsolete, Jim can transition his business in any number of ways going forward.

He can now sell to his management team, a third-party buyer, or even family.

Options = Freedom

And Video Concepts is a better company for developing its people.

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Photo by fauxels from Pexels

This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any significant financial decisions.

Brent Rupnow blog

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Brent Rupnow

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Keep moving forward every day! Certified Financial Planner, Certified Exit Planning Advisor, Christian, adventure lover, aesthetic

Making of a Millionaire

Stories about money, personal finance and the path to financial independence.

Brent Rupnow

Written by

Keep moving forward every day! Certified Financial Planner, Certified Exit Planning Advisor, Christian, adventure lover, aesthetic

Making of a Millionaire

Stories about money, personal finance and the path to financial independence.

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