Putting your business on autopilot means that it can thrive without you the owner needing to show up to work in the business every day. I call this building a “Level Three business,” a business that thrives with less than 10 hours per month of the owner’s time working in the business.
Here are five questions to start you on your way to setting your business up to run independent of you.
Question One: What is the single most important “driver” in your business? A driver is the thing your business does that “drives” new business in the door. It could be a direct mail letter you mail to rented lists. It could be a website that has huge traffic. It could be your key word ad campaign. It could be your syndicated articles that you write for industry newsletters. It could be your referral base from past clients. It could be walk in traffic from a mall your store is situated in. It could be a display ad you run in your local paper.
What is the single most important driver in your business? When you get very clear on exactly what it is, then you can look for ways to systematize and automate it. Even better, you can look for ways you can expand or leverage it.
Question Two: What is the biggest bottleneck in your business? A bottleneck is a limiting factor. In your business, what (or who) is the biggest limiting factor in your business’s growth and success?
One way to spot a bottleneck is to ask yourself, if I could have more of any one thing, what one thing would I want more of to expand my business?
It could be more prospective customers walking into your store, in which case your lead generation activities are your biggest bottleneck.
It could be more sales people to process and close all the leads you already have, in which case your lack of trained sales staff is your biggest bottleneck.
It could be more production capacity to handle more business in a quality manner, in which case your current production capacity is your biggest bottleneck.
Whenever you determine your biggest bottleneck, you can then focus your energies on how to push back that limiting factor so that it no longer limits your business. One way to look at growing your business is as a game of continually finding and pushing back bottlenecks.
Now in the context of creating a true Level Three business, you need to build the systems, team, technology, and outsourced solutions to help you push back your bottlenecks long term.
By the way, what do you think is the single most overlooked bottleneck in most entrepreneurial companies? YOU! That’s right; you the business owner are most often the real bottleneck. Look at your business; are you the root of your company’s bottlenecks?
Question Three: Imagine you found out that you had one year left to work before you would be forced to stop working for the rest of your life (you could only check in for a MAXIMUM of ten hours per month.) You have 12 months to establish and grow your business to the place that at the end of those 12 months you couldn’t work in your business ever again (just check in for up to 10 hours per month), but you would be dependent on the business to provide you with steady cash flow to support yourself. What are the first three areas that immediately call out to you that you must focus on first?
In essence what this question is saying is how can you take your business to Level Three in the next 12 months. This is a very ambitious target for most business owners, but it’s a question that engages you. If it’s too much for you to imagine, change the time frame to 24 months, or 36 months.
Question Four: What three steps could you take in the next 30 days that would have the greatest impact on you hitting your goal of having a Level Three business by years end?
Question Five: Who can you mastermind with to give you feedback and hold you accountable on your goal of building a Level Three business?
Too many entrepreneurs think they are all alone. Building a business in isolation is hard, grueling work. Building a business in association with a highly functioning mastermind team of other business owners in non-competitive businesses is fun, engaging, and infinitely more powerful.
I am not suggesting that you partner with these other business owners, just that you mastermind together and help each other reach your goal of Level Three. Truly there is power when you create a focused mastermind team to mutually support each other in your business aspirations.
David Finkel is the best-selling author of over 40 books and courses, including The Maui Millionaires for Business. He is a successful business owner who has bought, built, and sold several multimillion companies over the past 10 years. To learn more about his tools for business owners, visit him on the Web at www.MauiMillionaires.com.