A recent survey by The Sellability Score found that companies able to perform well without their owner present for a period of three months are 50% more likely to receive an offer of acquisition when compared to an owner-dependent businesses. In today’s Exit to Success Blog, we’ll look at why taking a long-earned break right now is a terrific opportunity to ‘test case’ the independence and sales-value of your business.
There is no better justification for taking a blissful, uninterrupted holiday than to see how your company performs in your absence. The better your company runs on autopilot, the more valuable it will prove itself to be when you’re ready to sell. To gauge your company’s ability to handle your absence, start by taking a short vacation. This means leaving your computer at home and switching off your mobile. (If the mere thought of doing this gives you a rising sense of anxiety, it’s probably a sign that you really need that holiday.)
This is you. Or a version of you. On holiday for three months!
In your absence, you’ll likely discover that your employees became resourceful and found answers to a lot of the questions they would normally have asked you if you had been down the hall. This is true progress, independence and the assumption of responsibility on their behalves. That’s a good thing and a sign you should start planning an even longer holiday next time!
You’ll also likely come back to an inbox full of issues that need resolution. Pay attention to this moment very carefully. Instead of busily finding answers to each problem in a frenzied attempt to clean up your inbox, slow down and look at each issue through a critical lens. Here, you’ll find clues to discovering a possible problem with your team, a breakdown in your business systems or a lack of relevant authorsation given to key staff.
Start the process by looking at your team’s performance and ponder the following questions:
- Why did this problem end up on my desk?
- Who else is qualified to answer this question and why was that person not consulted?
- If nobody else is qualified, who can be trained to answer this question in the future?
Next time you take a sabbatical, you’ll have already improved the ability of your business to be nimble in your absence by training staff to have new skills and levels of responsibility.
Next, address the systems and procedures which failed during your absence.
- Could the issue at hand have been dealt with if you had a system or a set of rules in place?
The best systems and processes are hardwired into your team via both values and training given to them in the first instance. Of course, not all problems have a routinized answer – so in your absence, employees should have a set of rules or best practice actions to help them solve the problem and take full responsibility in their role. Taking time to build these hardcopy systems will prove very valuable when it comes to selling your business to an enthusiastic new owner.
You may discover that your own inability to delegate responsibility has become a business bottleneck – particularly if you’re trying to control spending too much. Employees may know the actions to take in your absence, but do not have the means to pay for the fix necessary. Some ideas for improving authorisation within your business:
- You could put a customer service rule in place that gives your frontline staff the authority to make a customer happy in any way they see fit provided it could be done for under $100.
- You might allow an employee to spend a specific amount with a specific supplier each month without coming to you first.
- Or you might give an employee an annual budget, an amount they can spend without seeking your approval.
Given the fires that may need to be extinguished after the fact, taking a holiday may seem more of a hassle than it’s worth initially. But if you transform the aftermath of holiday problem-solving into systems and training that allow employees to act on their own, you’ll find the vacation is worth what you paid for it many times over: your business will increase in value as it becomes less dependent on you personally.