Freedom. I could stop my blog there, however I like to write too much… 🙂
Freedom to do what I want, when I want, how I want. If I find a motorcycle for sale 1500 miles from home (as I just did) and I want to take off a few days to go pick it up and ride it home (as I’m doing this week) then I want the freedom to do that. In other words, freedom with my time. Nothing is more important then that. You can always get more money, you can never get more time.
Financial freedom. This one should be simple to understand. After all I can only do the things I enjoy (traveling, photography, motorcycling, coaching, reading, writing, adventure-sports etc.) if I have the money to afford those things. Is there a better way to get both financial freedom and control of your own time than being a business owner?
So that explains the Buy and Build portion, but what about Selling? What does that have to do with freedom? Most businesses have a certain point at which they’re about to hit “critical mass”. Simply put, that business is ready to explode and just needs the right leader at the helm to guide it along. Rarely do businesses have 2 different points of critical mass, however. In other words, if you find a business that has a great need, is in a great market, and has the potential to double or triple in under 2 years, the chances of doing that again at the end of those 2 years is very slim. However, there are always other business’ available where that is true. You just have to find them before the point at which they hit that critical mass and then sell them at their peak (since the sale price will be based on that most recent sales history).
The other reason for selling is that it gives you complete freedom with your time once again. If you buy, build, and sell a business and cash out a short while later with a few hundred thousand dollars (which is very possible) now you can go buy another business, do the same thing all over again, and make more money… Or you can take a vacation. A trip around the world. A missions trip. Buy that car you always wanted, etc. etc. etc. As Timothy Ferriss points out in The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, the New Rich don’t save their whole lives so they can hopefully retire and, at 65-70 years of age, start enjoying life. The New Rich understand the goal isn’t a certain amount of money in your bank account, but the amount of freedom you have with the money you make. The New Rich don’t save up for retirement because they take mini-retirements all the time. It could be every year, every 6 months, or every other year. That mini-retirement could be for a month, a year, or 10 years. Now is the time to live your life. Not when you’ve saved up enough vacation days or have $1 million in the bank.
Since buying my 2 most recent businesses, I’ve taken trips to Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and am taking another cross-country trip this week. All of those trips required me to be out of the office for anywhere from a day to 7 days (the total will be about 3 weeks). They’re all within 5 months of me buying my first business. In the interest of full-disclosure, when I have been at the office, 7 day work-weeks with 14 hour work days are quite frequent.
So how does one setup their business and life to have those freedoms?
- You have to be willing to step away from a mistake.
- You must never lose track of your goal.
- You must be able to work remotely.
- You must empower your people.
- You can NOT be the expert at the product or service of your business.
In a bit more detail:
- If you buy a business, work 60-80 hours per week, and 6 months later haven’t made any significant progress, you need to get out. Take from that experience what you’ve learned and apply the lessons to the next one. Don’t toil for years. It doesn’t take that long to start seeing specific improvements (i.e. more cash in your pocket and more freedom with your time).
- For me this is easy. When I was 19 I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I went through chemo for 6 months and radiation for 3 weeks. It wasn’t fun, but I survived. It never felt to me like it was a near-death experience until 3 years later… My friend, Lindsey Popelas, was 17 at the time of her diagnosis which came within 2 weeks of me learning the same news. After battling for 5 years, it took her life. Why didn’t it take mine? For whatever reason, the Lord wants me here and I KNOW its not to work for 60-80 hours per week for the next 40 years to save up $2 million to retire. Lindsey reminds me of that every day. For that she may be the most influential person I have ever met. That’s a lesson I will never forget. My goal is to have freedom – not job security. Don’t wait till you acquire a deadly illness to resolve to start living your life.
- Blackberry’s, servers, ubiquitous internet, GPS tracking, Virtual Assistants, IP phones, etc. etc. etc. make working remotely on almost any business a reality. Start making it your reality.
- If your whole team must look to you to take care of every customer complaint and handle every supplier issue and tell them what to do every day, then you have no freedom. Empower your people to make decisions they can effectively make and then use technology to encourage and monitor them.
- If you’re the salesman, serviceman, customer service specialist, designer, engineer, doctor, lawyer etc. for your business then what happens when you’re not there? The goal is to leverage the talents of others so that you don’t have to be an expert at anything – except leading and leveraging the talents of others. 🙂
The only exception to selling your business is to keep it if your business is on auto-pilot and can work without you or with very minimal input from you. Neither of my businesses are at that point yet. However if I can’t get them to that point then you can be certain I will sell them, take a mini-retirement, and keep my eyes open for the next opportunity.
To your success, Bryan
P.S. In previous jobs of mine I have earned the ability to work remotely from my basement, take vacations when I want, travel extensively, and still make a considerable living. The hardest thing for every business owner is to find and rely on great quality team members. If you’re one of them, then you’ll be amazed at the freedoms your boss will be willing to provide for you.