When you run a business, you face a lot of pressure from many directions. This is even more so when you are making changes, especially the kind that are designed to make your company more saleable.
Learning how to counter these pressures is critical to ensuring your business does not get derailed.
Creating a process
Selling your business – or indeed, trying to leverage more time for yourself an owner – involves reorganising the enterprise so that it is able to grow without your direct input. The path towards that is to specialise your business to a single product or service that you are excellent at.
Once you have identified the speciality of your business, then you need to focus on creating a process around that niche. You probably already know the way you want to do things in your head – so it is time to write it down. As soon as you formalise the process required, you are beginning the process of leveraging your business, where you do work once but reap the rewards over and over again in the future.
You need to get really granular with this – explain step by step how to achieve every part of the process. Remember, the idea here is that you will be able to step out of your business and leave it to run itself. For that to happen, you need to be writing this process for someone else to follow, not yourself.
Once you have documented the template for future success, you might think it is simply a matter of plugging it into your business and you are done. However, it is at this point where the pressure will mount and you will need to learn how to say "No."
There are two main directions the pressure will come from:
1) Pressure from clients
No matter what kind of product or service you specialise in, there are likely to be a number of other, related products and services that you can offer to complement your main product. For example, if you are really good at building websites, you could probably also provide content creation and graphic design services.
In some instances, especially if you are trying to grow an empire, you may want to branch out into these other areas and provide these services for your clients. Your clients will, of course, want you to provide these other bits: if they can source all their needs from one place it is a lot more convenient for them.
However, just because you can do it, and because the client wants it, does not mean that you always should. In the case where you are trying to create a business that can operate independently from you, it actually makes more sense not to broaden your offering.
You may think that when a client actually asks you to provide these services, that you cannot say no because you are turning down money. However, here it is really important to learn to say no to these projects.
You see, while your client may put pressure on you to provide these other things, when you turn down a project outside the purview of your specialisation, you get them to take your business, and it's focus, seriously. You cannot think of yourself as "kind of" a specialist, because that will provide an unclear message.
The huge benefit of having a clear message and specialisations is that not only do you start to gain authority as an "expert" in your offering, but you also become more referable. That is, your clients now know exactly how to explain what you do to others, and will immediately think of you when making a recommendation.
Learn to say no to projects that are requested of you outside of your specialisation, and you are likely to find yourself naturally expanding your client base with referrals.
2) Pressure from employees
Human beings are naturally uncomfortable with change. Altering your business towards a specialisation will obviously require a shift in the things your employees are working on, and may even require a reshuffle of their positions and responsibilities.
This has potential to cause disharmony in the workplace. You could be accused of stifling creativity when you specialise: by providing just one thing and creating a process for your employees to follow, many people may feel they are not being allowed to explore other areas of their discipline.
One thing you need to remember is that your business is a business first and foremost. Its primary purpose is to survive and thrive. To do that, it needs to make money.
Some of your employees will understand this, and will seek out the creativity that is still available within the process you have laid out. Others will push back because they like the way things are.
This is where you need to learn to say no – to your employees. You are the head of the company and you need to steer the ship. If in reorganising, systemising and growing your business, some of your employees can no longer add value to the organisation, then you will need to either guide them to a path that does, or let them go if they no longer fit.
In these 5 Tips to Manage Your Team Effectively, one of them is to ensure you have a "round peg for a round hole" – which means make sure you have the right team members in the positions that are right for them. Make sure you have employees that who can understand and can work with the systemised version of your business.
When you learn how to deal with these pressures quickly and in the right way, you are then set on the path towards a systemised business. And once you have your business systemised, it becomes a much more attractive purchase.
Written by The London Coaching Group, top business coaches in London who help businesses improve their valuation. If you would like to work with them to establish your current and potential valuation, click here to request it.