Business Lessons From Bonsai - Learning to Let Go

Valuation Consulting and Appraisal > News > Uncategorized > Business Lessons From Bonsai – Learning to Let Go
  • Anthony Cardiel
  • Uncategorized, Valuation
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One of the most common struggles that I see with business owners is giving up control.

I don’t mean selling some large percentage of the company. I mean making someone else in the company responsible for various aspects of the businessn. . Whether the owner is a “control freak”, super passionate about the customer experience, or how the product or service is delivered, we all have aspects of our business that we can improve if we get out of the way.

This issue is widespread and something that I struggle with myself.

Recently, I cut off a branch from a jade plant. The jade plant is cool to use in bonsai because it will quickly grow roots from a limb. I took the freshly severed branch, stuck it in the dirt, put a stake in the pot, and let the plant lean on the stake. I should have tied the plant to the stake, but I was in a hurry. I figured if it was standing up straight, it was just fine.

Recently, I discovered that the plant had fallen off the stake. But the result is that even though the plant has “gone off the rails” or stake in this case, it actually looks better (from a Bonsai perspective)! Who needs another typical-looking plant?

I’m still a little afraid of watering the plant, but I need to trust that it is ready to stand on its own, even if it isn’t quite upright. I know that I need to be patient and that with time, the plant’s roots will grow deep, and its trunk will grow strong.

If your business can’t stand without your constant support or attention, who will buy it from you? If you haven’t been able to delegate essential tasks, the value of your business will be negatively impacted. In valuation, this is called a “key man” or “thin management” discount—and it can reduce the value of your company by up to 20%!

If you are struggling with this aspect of your business, start small.

First steps in letting go:

  1. Build trust. Handoff something small. Know that it won’t be perfect. At least the task or project will be done and can be improved later.
  2. Communicate clearly. With your employee, vendor, consultant, whomever. There will be some back and forth, make sure that expectations are known, think back to the journalism questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why & How.  This will help make sure you’ve covered what they need to know. The more you practice, the less detail you will need to give.
  3. Review & re-perform. Once the task or project is complete, review it. Make sure you understand the challenges, both anticipated and unanticipated. Have it reperformed or revised if need be.

Congratulations! You’ve just taken the first steps in making your business more valuable AND giving yourself back some time to do something you enjoy. What’s the point of running a successful business if you aren’t having any fun?

Repeat this process as many times as you can because turnkey businesses command the highest prices.  Interested to see what the value of your business is?  Still a couple of years out but want to make sure you are on target for a strong value?  I’d love to talk. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

Author: Anthony Cardiel

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