Benchmark Business Group

Is Your Business Too Dependent On You?

May 11, 2021

Is being too available hampering your growth?

When small business owners are too available to customers, salespeople or even their own employees, it ruins their ability to maximize their time. This makes it harder to grow the business because the owner keeps getting distracted or pulled into day-to-day fires that can, and should, be handled by their team. In the long term it’s a recipe for burn out and prevents business owners from increasing the market value of their business.

Since many small business owners start off doing the technical work of their business including sales and customer service, it’s understandable that they want to be easy to reach. In fact, as a selling point, business owners may even make promises to customers that they will be available to work directly with them. But as the business grows, being constantly available to the customers isn’t sustainable and can either stunt the business’s growth and market value, or lead to upset customers.

The “I’m always available to you” owner must shed the tactics that brought their business to where it is today and focus on the strategies that will grow their business beyond what they can personally control. While there are many examples of how a small business owner can be too easy to reach or too accessible, here are three to watch for in your business with tips on what to do about them:

  • It’s too easy to reach the owner because customers have easy access to their cell phones, direct office lines, or email. This includes making your email yourname@businessname.com, having your phone system give your direct line or extension, or listing your cell phone on your business card. These actions will allow every salesperson seeking your business to contact you directly and make it inviting for customers to bring you issues that your team can handle without you.
     
    • Consider: Putting up barriers to reach you. With the right systems in place the people that need to talk to you will be able to reach you, but salespeople and customer issues that should be taken care of by your team won’t be stealing your time.
       
  • Marketing materials promote working closely with the owner or focus too much on the owner. This includes having the about us or team bio sections of the website focus mainly on the owner, having a sales process that promotes that the business is “owner-operated,” or listing the business owner first in the team section. If you “sell” the owner to the customer, you will need to deliver on that promise. In addition, if the owner is always listed first, who do you think the customer will want to talk to?
     
    • Consider: Taking a hard look at your marketing. Does your language state, imply or even hint at the owner as the go-to expert in the business? Do pictures of the owner(s) dominate the website or brochures? Make sure that even unintentionally, you’re not putting yourself at the front of your business. While it may be a point of differentiation in the beginning, it easily becomes an obstacle to growing your business.
       
  • The business does not have defined management staff. At BBG, we believe that every employee should be empowered within guidelines to solve problems that arise. However, there will be times that customers want to talk to someone in charge. That someone does not need to be a business owner. Having a title behind their name such as shift leader, office manager, etc. communicates a sense of authority to both employees and customers. If your business doesn’t have a defined management role, expect to field more requests from customers to talk to the owner.
     
    • Consider: Is it time to put a layer of authority between you and the daily activities of your business? Establishing a defined management structure isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It takes time to establish roles and to define what the new roles mean in terms of authority, actions, reporting, and even pay. Having a management position to handle issues and questions from customers and employees will free up an owner’s time to focus on taking their business to the next level.

If being too available is starting to wear you out or stunt the growth of your business, it’s time to discover how to redesign your business to have value without relying on you. Find out how your business scores in the eight drivers of business value: Get Your Value Builder Score

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