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Are you a D.U.M.B business owner?

It’s not that I was unintelligent, it’s just that I got distracted.  I was wrapped up in the thousands of details that made up my daily business life, and neglected the results I was creating.  I got caught up in the day to day tasks of running my business, without knowing if I was successful or not.  I felt busy.  I felt important.  I just didn’t feel satisfied about progressing towards my dream of being financially comfortable.  I had what others considered as a great business, but when it came to the true purpose of my business; I was D.U.M.B.

DUMB stands for Don't Understand My Business
Don't Understand My Business

I Didn’t Understand My Business.  Not true anymore.  After building eleven businesses in the last 20 years, an MBA, and consulting several hundred other small businesses; I realized that businesses were tamable.  A small business gravitates towards order.  Either the one you create or the one your customers and employees create.  Preferably, the one you create.  #tamethebeast

Once your business has escaped your control, it takes a lot of work to get it back.  Trust me, I have lived through turn-arounds; and they are complex and demanding.  When you move through the “fog” of a chaotic business, the reward is a healthy business that generates transferrable value.  Additionally, under your control, a business just needs small adjustments to stay on course.  

In this blog, I wanted to try and help others “tame the beast” by sharing some of the lessons I learned.  It starts with understanding your business and the “levers” you have as an owner.  Levers that control the direction of the company and move it in the direction you intend.  Quite simply, running a small business begins with “taming” the beast.

You obviously don’t want to be a D.U.M.B. business owner.  Those are the people who tell the stories about how they once owned a business, but ran out of money, or the market soured, or had a bad location, or, or….  You get the gist.  Running a business can be like learning to ride a horse.  A little scary at first, but with a few maneuvers and time, can be second nature.

It all starts with WHY.  Why did you start your business to begin with?  Most of us thought one of the following:

  • I want to be in complete control of my life – my career, my retirement, my schedule, etc.

  • I can do it better than my current employer, and be more successful.

  • I want to build something my family can live off of and be proud of being a part of.

  • I am following my dream and doing the thing that I love.

If you notice, very few of the reasons listed above address making a lot of money.  Making money is a result.  Making money happens to the entrepreneurs who create a business that doesn’t need them to be successful.  Remember, small businesses love order.  They thrive in a process driven environment, where every part contributes to the creation of a result.  Since business is an economic entity, results are usually measured in dollars.  A business with poor or misguided order usually has poor results.  Our goal is to create an orderly process the produces the highest amount of dollars, while satisfying our reason for doing it.

Spending your working life doing something that inspires you is one thing, but building an asset that supports your lifestyle beyond your working years is another.  Our ultimate goals is to build transferrable value.  Transferrable value means something different to each of us, and it starts with answering a simple question.  That question is: do I have enough money to do whatever it is I want to do when I leave this company behind.  If the answer is yes, then you have built transferrable value.

If the answer is no: you have built yourself a job.  Too many small business owners sit down of the table to sign the closing documents to sell or transfer their companies, only to find out that they don’t have as much money as they thought they would have.  Their next step is to buy or build another company, or find a job.  This is the situation we want to avoid.  When you leave; it should be on your terms to do the thing you want to do next. 

So that is where we start, with the end in mind.

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