Life is high maintenance and capital intensive. Just for our bodies to survive we need to eat, stay hydrated, sleep, bathe, brush teeth, and maintain our shelter which includes household cleaning, paying rent or a mortgage, buying groceries, taking out trash, and other odds and ends. I spent 4 hours on such activities during the day I wrote this article, excluding sleep, just maintaining my existence.
Maintenance is everywhere. Our cars and homes need maintenance, computers and phones need to be charged, and relationships require shared experiences and energy to stay warm. Businesses are no different. Employees must be paid, customer orders need fulfillment, inventory of goods or equipment needs regular stocking, accounting and bookkeeping needs balancing. There’s so much work to be done just to stay in place.
Growth happens after these tasks are done with whatever time and energy we have left. I started Think Like an Owner during my spare time as a student, then as a full time employee, and only now have my full time availability to work on it. It took small amounts of consistent effort over a long period of time before clear evidence of growth emerged. Prospective searchers spend their evening and weekend hours reading, researching, and talking to professionals preparing themselves for the next growth stage of their lives. Many founders start companies in the evenings after their full time job and housekeeping tasks are done for the day.
Growing a business takes adding customers and employees, which can only be done after servicing existing customers and the maintenance needs of the business. And it can’t happen all at once so it must happen in consistent small efforts over time. When I think about the prospect of running a business (not sure I count the podcast as a business, although the IRS and my CPA say otherwise), this to me strikes me as the most challenging. Brent Beshore describes operating a business as a “knife fight” with your only goal to get back home at the end of the day without being wounded. So much of that work is keeping the existing ship afloat, let alone growth initiatives or changes.
This is also why I’m not sure growth is natural. It comes from willingness to dedicate our surplus time and energy towards building something new. We have to choose growth over stasis. I often feel I don’t have the time or energy available to work on new projects and need to push to make time for growth.
In my earlier conversations with business owners, I would be surprised to hear there hadn’t been sophisticated marketing and sales efforts developed. Today I empathize more with those owners and better understand how much work is involved in maintaining a company, let alone growing.
I’m curious, dear business owner reader, how do you manage to carve out time in your day to grow your company?
Think Like an Owner Sponsors
Live Oak Bank – Live Oak Bank is a seasoned SBA lender focused on search funds, independent sponsors, private equity firms, and individuals looking to acquire small companies. Live Oak has closed billions of dollars in SBA financing and is actively looking to help more small company investors across the country. If you are in the process of acquiring a company or thinking about starting a search, contact Live Oak directly to start a conversation at liveoakbank.com/contactus.
Hood & Strong, LLP – Hood & Strong is a CPA firm with a long history of working with search funds and private equity firms on diligence, assurance, tax services, and more. Hood & Strong is highly skilled in working with search funds, providing quality of earnings and due diligence services during the search, along with assurance and tax services post-acquisition. They offer a unique way to approach acquisition diligence and manage costs effectively. To learn more about how Hood & Strong can help your search, acquisition, and beyond, please email one of their partners Jerry Zhou at email@example.com.
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- Ryan Caldbeck, founder of CircleUp, wrote an incredibly in-depth and vulnerable article about his decision to step down as CEO and the heart-wrenching journey leading up to it. I highly recommend spending a few minutes to read it all the way through.
- Rich Jordan has become a favorite follow of mine on Twitter and he recently wrote about supporting your employees if they want to leave to start a business or grow professionally.
If you found an interesting article, podcast, or interview that I missed, please let me know, I’m always looking for interesting stuff.