The owner of Company A works 70 hours per week, works most weekends, and has never taken a vacation longer than a week. The owner of Company B works 20 hours per week at his company, is a leader of his professional trade organization, and volunteers in multiple community organizations. He is regularly off visiting his grown children and grandchildren in other cities around the country, spends a month every winter in the tropics, six weeks every summer at a cabin in the mountains, and plays golf or skis at least one day a week when he is in town.
Which business would you pay more to own? Which is most like your business and your life?
Chances are that Company A is so dependent on the owner's presence in the business to close sales, solve problems and make every-day decisions that most buyers will have great difficulty replicating the performance of the business once the owner has sailed off into the sunset.
Company B, on the other hand, likely has systems that control most day-to-day activities, long-term employees who are incented to support the vision that the owner developed for the business, and are empowered to make decisions for the business and take actions that are aligned with that vision. The owner simply provides guidance and monitors development of the business and his employees according to the plan, and works with his key staff to evolve that plan as business conditions change.
And business sale price and sale potential is not the only issue here. What would happen to each company if the owner suddenly died or became incapacitated? Not only may Company A be more difficult to sell at a good price, the entire company is at risk of quickly failing. Without the expertise of the owner, that business is probably unsellable.
If your business and the time you spend in it is more like that of Company A than that of Company B, then the time to develop and begin implementing a plan for change is now. One of the best ways to make that happen is to work with an experienced coach who can guide you through the planning and implementation process and connect you to an advisory group consisting of other owners and CEO's who meet in a peer coaching framework. As peers, other CEOs can offer you a "been there.... done that" perspective. There is a level of trust and belonging with these CEO peer groups such as TAB (The Alternative Board) that is difficult to gain in other ways.
Following is a short video that illustrates the value of a peer group.