When meeting with clients looking to start a business, one of the first things we uncover is their vision for their business. There is a difference between creating a business with value to sell and creating a professional services business to provide a specific income. Your approach to your business, your investment into your systems and the time you devote to growth rather than on delivering services will differ. Therefore, the most important question I ask people when starting a business is always, what is your end goal?
Growing a business to scale and sell
Owning your own business is hard work, you’ll start a business because of your passion for what you do. Like all of us, you’ll stick to your comfort zone and do what you do well because you love it. When we speak of entrepreneurs in business, this is the space they’ll usually sit. An entrepreneur will look to innovate, grow, scale, seek investors, and ultimately privately sell or float their company as their end goal.
To grow, scale and sell, you need to think about more than just what you do well, you need to build equity in your business so buyers can easily determine its value and its potential. When growing a business to sell I always recommend you have an end in mind. That is, how do you see yourself exiting the business? Who will be the buyer, what aspects of your business have value and using this knowledge to strategically invest your time and money on technology and efficiency to get the maximum return?
Prioritising the time to create a viable business can be challenging when your income depends on fulfilling a service for your clients. The payoff for doing this work in the early stages of your business is you’ll have an efficient, successful business that you can put on the market at any time.
If selling is your goal the investment in time to create an efficient business will pay off in the long term. Allocate some time and money into efficiency, your systems, building a product around your service, market positioning, and your client service and satisfaction. You can do this on your own but I’d recommend a business coach, short or long term, to help you with the execution of things that are outside of the tasks you love and do well.
Are you looking to be self-employed?
Being self-employed is certainly a different thing. There are similarities, you always want to be as efficient as possible but your goal in self-employment will change from scaling to sell, to wanting to earn the most amount of money possible while you’re in business.
Your business is focussed entirely on you delivering your service. It’s still important to productise your service and to deliver it well to ensure you’re making the best use of your time. You still need to tick off the day to day tasks of running a business such as sales, marketing and your financials but overall, you can spend more time on your service and sales and less time creating systems and a strong team to create value to sell.
Regardless of your end goal, preparation is key. Do the work early to understand your strategy and what you’re aiming to achieve, then ensure you spend time working on that on top of working on your service delivery. If you don’t engage with a coach, seek a clear and external opinion in a friend or mentor who understands business. Ensure you have someone to support and guide you to do the things you need to do on top of the things you love to do.
In building a strong and efficient business, with or without a view to sell, will allow you to be prepared for the uncontrollable. It’s always better to be ahead of disruption so working on your business to ensure it is equitable puts you in the best position to sell or leave if it comes to that.