It may be time to decide whether to embrace your business, or exit it.
If you watch HGTV, then you’re likely familiar with the show “Love It or List It.” If you haven’t seen it, the show is about a home-owning couple who are very frustrated with their house after some number of years. They previously loved their house, but now they have a list of issues and challenges that are piling up and making life difficult. The show pairs the homeowners with a designer/remodeler and a real estate agent who work on parallel tracks to help the homeowners solve their problems. The designer/remodeler works to fix the current house, and the real estate agent searches for a new one that better suits what the homeowners really need now.
Miraculously, by the end of the show, the homeowners choose whether they’re going to stay in their newly redesigned space (“love it”) or head off to greener pastures (“list it”).
How This Applies to Your Business
Most business owners go through a stretch, or even multiple stretches, of being unhappy with their business. Perhaps the business isn’t performing as well as they’d like, or maybe they’re putting in more hours and effort than they would like to. Or, the day-to-day grind may be getting to be too much.
That’s the time to apply the concept of Love It or List It to your business, or as author John Warrilow refers to it, the Value Builder System. Warrilow, who wrote “Built to Sell” and “The Automatic Customer,” developed the Value Builder System after building up and selling a couple of businesses on his own. Through that experience and his research while writing “Built to Sell,” John recognized that most business owners might be great with their particular service or product, but they don’t have much insight into what it takes to build a truly healthy and valuable business.
John arrived at two key realizations.
First, John experienced first-hand that when you prepare to sell your business (list it), especially to private equity groups or large investors, you are at a big disadvantage as the seller. The buyers are experienced and have likely been through the buying process more than once, whereas you are likely selling your first business. Experience matters. It turns out that buyers are looking for very specific things in a business and if those aren’t clear in your business, you’re not going to get much for it, even if it’s generating revenue and growing.
The other key point John realized is that when your business is healthy and built the right way, it is a joy to own—you love it. As the owner, you can focus on your strengths, or if you have the right processes and personnel, you can even step back and mostly let the business run itself. A truly healthy, well-built business is not only a lot more valuable to potential buyers, it’s also more profitable and easier to run, which is a big part of what potential buyers are looking for.
The great news is that the Value Builder fundamentals aren’t complicated. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. to implement these ideas. You do have to be willing to learn and implement new things, and you have to be willing to acquire different perspectives. Still, the fundamentals are doable for most businesses.
Where Are You With Your Business?
If you’re completely thrilled with your business and its direction, congratulations! Enjoy it and keep doing whatever you’re doing.
If that’s not the case, then it’s a great time to start thinking differently about your business and looking for ways to make it easier to run and more profitable. If you’re looking for a place to start, I’d suggest taking the Value Builder Assessment. It only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, and it doesn’t cost anything to get your score. Typically, just taking the assessment is a good learning experience.
Every business can be improved, and the great thing about making that effort and investment is that it will pay off in multiple ways. Obviously, your business will be worth more should you decide to sell it sometime down the road, and it will start becoming easier to manage and more profitable in the meantime.