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Do you own a business or does it own you?


One of the reasons that business owners go into business is to have a greater control over their own destiny.  However, the reality of business ownership is often the opposite – rather than owning the business, the business ends up owning you.


The business can own you by

  • Demanding excessive workloads
  • Preventing you from taking vacations
  • Providing you with an inadequate return on investment and effort
  • Requiring you to provide external security for the business’ borrowings
  • Being essentially worthless without you


Is 2017 the year you are going to take back ownership of your business?


Here are ten ideas to make the business less about you.


  • Recognise that you have a problem

The first step in solving any problem is to recognise that there is a problem to solve.  Many business owners, especially small business owners, are control freaks.


  • Delegate or drown

The inability to effectively delegate is one of the major growth limitations for a business, as a business cannot grow beyond what the business owner can do themselves.  In their opinion, nobody could possibly do the job as good as them.  They tried it once and it didn’t work, so won’t try again.  The better you can delegate and return to your core focus, the easier your workload and the more efficient use of your time.


  • Get it out of your head and on to paper

I am a fan of the book The Checklist Manifesto, which is based on the transition of one of the worst performing US hospitals into one of the best, largely based on having effective checklists.  These checklists are not the 200-page employee manual which no one reads.  They are short, efficient, practical and enforced.


McDonalds has developed systems and processes, so that new restaurants can be opened quickly and largely operated by teenagers.  What can you learn from McDonalds approach to systems?


  • Be a leader not a dictator

If you want to own the business rather than the other way around, you will need to have people that can run much of the business for you.  Invest in your people and empower them to succeed.  Spend the time initially so that they have the skills, knowledge and tools to perform their role.


It may take more time initially, however over the longer term the upfront and ongoing time and investment will pay off.


  • Learn to say No, politely

Many of us are not good enough at saying no, because of loyalty or fear of missing opportunities.  The result is that we are dragged in too many directions and not able to control our own diary.  Saying no to some requests will give you the capacity to say yes to more important things in your business and personal life.  Be honest and polite, but be determined and explain your decision where possible.


  • Get a life!

If you have a busy, meaningful life outside your business, you are more likely to take the actions to remove yourself from the minutiae of the business.


  • Put a value on your time

I recall hearing a speaker talking to a group of CEOs and he opened with a deliberately provocative statement that we were all over paid.  He then explained that CEOs of SMEs typically do tasks that are well below their pay grade.  How much of your time is spent doing things that can be effectively be undertaken by a less expensive person?  If you put an hourly value on your time you are less likely to do mundane tasks.


  • Run your business like you want to sell it in a year

Every business owner must face the fact that they will leave their business someday.  There are two choices – to plan for it on your terms, or let someone else plan it for you.  If you run your business with a plan to maximise its selling price in a year, you will address the issues that let the business control you.


  • Measure the outcomes

Are you correctly measuring the success of your business?  It goes beyond just whether the profits have increased, what about return on capital employed, has the business value increased and has your quality of life improved.


  • Have someone hold you accountable

Many successful CEOs have someone to hold them accountable to their goals.  The Executive Connection (TEC), has been placing CEOs, executives and business owners into professionally facilitated, private group meetings lead by expert executive coaches and mentors (TEC Chairs) for close to 30 year.  The Executive Connection is part of the world’s leading CEO leadership mentoring organisation with more than 21,000 members.



Peter Wallace is Managing Director of Endeavour Capital and Endeavour Valuations.  Endeavour assists smaller and medium sized businesses with business sales & acquisition, business valuations and exit planning.  He is a Chartered Accountant Business Valuation Specialist, a Registered Business Valuer of Australian Institute of Business Brokers and is licenced to sell businesses in New South Wales and Victoria.  He is also a director of The Executive Connection.

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