Raising Your Business Like a Child 

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? 

If you’re like most owners, your answer is likely to at least touch on a desire for the freedom that comes from owning your own business: 

  • The freedom to decide how you spend your time.
  • The freedom to choose who you work with.
  • The freedom to earn something more than just a paycheck.

This desire for freedom often leads owners to aspire for a bigger business, which they think will give them what they want. Unfortunately, owners who strive for more revenue or profit as their primary goal often wind up with: 

  • Less time - because it’s spent managing an ever-expanding set of offerings.
  • Less freedom - because complexity inevitably leads to conflict.
  • Less money - because any available cash is reinvested in growth.
In many ways, growing a larger business moves you away from your ultimate goal of freedom. 

Instead of thinking of your business as something to push harder and faster, there’s an alternative that may get you closer to what you want. Imagine that your business is a child, and your role is to guide her into becoming an independent, thriving adult. 

If your goal is to create a business that can thrive without you, you will start to make different decisions. That demanding customer who wants your direct attention on their project no longer looks so attractive. That exciting new product that’s going to require you, personally, to sell no longer looks worth it. 

By stepping into the role of parent rather than business driver, the demands on your time lessen as your employees pick up more of the load. You may find your business selling more as you build a team of salespeople rather than relying only on your personal sales to drive the top line. The ultimate irony is that your business may end up being more valuable than a larger peer, where the owner is still the primary driving force behind sales. 

Acquirers want businesses that will survive the loss of their owner. In many cases, they will pay a premium for companies where the owner is in the background. 

Consider the case of Damian James, who sold his network of mobile podiatry clinics generating $11 million in revenue for $13.2 million. He credits much of the sale to the fact that he was no longer running the business day-to-day and had reduced his time commitment to just one or two days per week. 

David Hauser started Grasshopper, an Internet-based phone system he built to $30 million in annual revenue before he sold it to Citrix for $165 million in cash and $8.6 million in stock. Hauser was down to working just one day per week at the time of the sale of his company. 

Growing revenue and profits will be valuable to an acquirer, but if you make them your only goal, you may find yourself with less of what you want. Treat your business like a child who needs guidance to become a thriving adult; revenue, profits, and ultimate value will come as a by-product. 

Looking for more resources on this topic? Check out 5 Ways to Get Your Business to Run Without You, and consider joining the Acumen community to keep the conversation – and growth – rolling! 

Jennifer Miller
Post by Jennifer Miller
March 30, 2023
As an experienced marketing leader, Jennifer Miller has managed and built both sales and marketing teams from the ground up. She believes that at the core of all organizations and processes, people are what drive change and growth in a company. Her passion for supporting companies to build scalable processes has impacted many organizations over the years, one of which received the honor of the #1 Fastest-Growing Technology company in Austin and #86 on the 2019 Inc 5000 list. The range of experience Jennifer holds in both small startup and Fortune 100 companies have given her both scalable and strategic insight into how to build an organization’s brand. Through her organization, Strategically Connected, a Marketing Consulting Agency, she has thrived in supporting organizations find their purpose and growth path. She served as President of the Austin American Marketing Association Board (a national organization focused on connecting and developing marketers) during the 2020-2021 Board Year and continues to be a part of the organization. Seeing impact, both large and small, is something that Jennifer thrives on. Being a part of Acumen drives a path for strengthening not only organizations but the leaders that are a part of it. Her mission at Acumen is to support the organization through strategy and scalable growth paths to build a community of leaders that drive change.