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Keep Your Strengths From Becoming Liabilities

I’ve dedicated over thirty years of my career to advising business owners. In that time I’ve come to recognize the qualities that entrepreneurs share – qualities that are often the key to their success, but can also become liabilities if misused.

There are three qualities in particular that have a significant impact on the success of not only building and running a business, but also on the success of all Ownership Conversion and monetization strategies. These three qualities are Autonomy, Self-Confidence and Conscientiousness. You might recognize these characteristics in yourself, but let’s have a closer look at what they mean here:

Autonomy: Independent and free to control our futures.

Self-Confidence:Belief in ourselves and what we are capable of doing.

Conscientiousness: Always having a backup plan of action to reach an outcome.

I’m sure by now it’s pretty clear how these traits can positively impact your business, but consider the following question, which I always pose to my clients.

If you were at the casino playing the roulette wheel, would you risk your whole business on the single turn of that wheel?

The answer, understandably, has universally been a great, big NO! But as I mentioned before, if you misuse the very strengths that have contributed to your success as a business owner, you can jeopardize the future of your business. Autonomy can turn to inflexibility, your self-confidence to overconfidence, and your conscientiousness may not have shown up for Ownership Conversion planning. Though it may have happened over the course of many years, you may have just bet your entire business on that single roulette spin.

Many owners of mature businesses have an unrealistic vision of how they will ultimately exit their business. Really, there are three different scenarios to choose from: selling to an outside buyer, engaging with inside buyers, or transferring among family members. A fourth scenario exists, although no business owner I’ve worked with has ever wanted this one, and that is the ultimate liquidation of the company. The definitive benchmark of a mature business is its longevity, which extends beyond you as your business creates financial security for your life and your family over generations. It’s up to you and your planning to make the business a monetizable asset and leave that longevity to someone else.

Fortunately, you can take steps to stay out of your own way, and keep yourself from becoming your greatest liability. First, it’s important to never overestimate the amount of time you have. Your hypothetical fifteen year plan may actually only have five years to play out in real life.  Second, you have to get more than serious, you have get realistic. If you postpone your planning you won’t have the same options tomorrow that you may have today. It’s important to understand what is possible and what is required of you. Finally, apply your biggest strengths in a constructive way. Put the same skills that helped you stay in control and manage your risk while growing your business to work on designing a destination for the business.

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