How’s your workload these days?
If the pandemic has forced you back into the weeds of your
business, you’re not alone. Many owners are again doing tasks they haven’t done
in years because they have had to lay off front-line staff or their employees
have fallen ill or are caring for someone in need.
Being back in the middle of things is neither healthy for you nor
your business long term. Personally, it’s a recipe for burnout, and
professionally, your business will be less valuable with you doing all the
Now is an excellent opportunity to retool your company so that
it can start running without you again. These three steps should help:
Step 1: Sell less stuff to more people.
Most companies become too dependent on their owner because they offer too many
products and services. With such a full breadth of offerings, it’s hard to find
and train employees that can deliver. The secret is to pick something that
makes you unique and focus on finding more customers, not more things to sell.
Take Gabriela Isturiz as an example. She cofounded Bellefield Systems, a company
offering a timekeeping application for lawyers. Over the next seven years,
Bellefield grew to 45 employees. Although many businesses bill by the hour,
Isturiz focused exclusively on timekeeping for lawyers, which is one of the
reasons she was able to integrate with 32 practice management platforms used by
lawyers—a big reason Bellefield's product was so sticky. It worked out
well for Isturiz as she was growing 50% a year with EBITDA margins of more than
25% when she sold her company in 2019.
Step 2: Systemize it.
Next, focus on creating systems and procedures for employees to follow. For example,
Nashville-based Bryan Clayton built Peachtree, a landscaping business. Most
lawn care companies are mom-and-pop operations, but Clayton built Peachtree up
to 150 employees before he sold it to LUSA for a seven-figure windfall.
What made Peachtree so unique? Clayton focused on documenting his processes. For example,
one of his customers was a McDonald’s franchisee who owned 40 locations. He was
frustrated by how many people discarded cigarette butts in his drive-through,
so Clayton offered to clear the debris from the lanes as part of his lawn care
process. He then trained his employees on the drive-through clean-up process he
had created so it was followed across all 40 of the customer’s locations.
Step 3: Outsource it.
Next, consider outsourcing what you’re not very good at. For example, David Lekach
started Dream Water, a natural sleep aid bottled in a five-ounce shot similar
to the famous 5-Hour Energy Drink.
Lekach built Dream Water to almost $10 million in annual revenue before selling it to Harvest One, a cannabis company, for $34.5 million in cash and Harvest One stock. Lekach saw his role
as “selling Dream Water, not making it.” That meant he outsourced the
manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of Dream Water to a co-packer, ensuring
Lekach and his team could focus on selling Dream Water.
It’s natural for a leader to step in during a crisis, but that’s
not sustainable for the long term. Pull yourself out of the doing, and you’ll
build a valuable company for the long term that’s a lot less stressful to run
along the way.