Hands off or Hands On- What Type of Business Owner Are You?

What kind of business owner do you consider yourself-  Are you a Hands on Business Owner or do you consider yourself more of a big picture operator that consistently effort yourself to avoid the minutia of the business.  I think the majority of us are a hybrid of these 2 approaches.

When running a small business, or involved with a startup business,  on an almost daily basis you are faced with the question ” Do I do it myself or do I hire others to do it for me”.  Most all are aware of the concept Time is Money- but like so many other business concept we all draw the line in the sand at different places.  We are not always consistent with where we draw that line, and find that that line moves as or business moves or the economic climate around our business moves.

This question can be applied from basic business task of running to the post office to mail off some stuff  or calling some prospects to significant larger issues like hiring outside help to handle your marketing functions, doing my own website, or trying to do my own SEO .  I am a business broker and I help business owners and individuals in the process of buying or selling businesses.  Selling ones business is a very significant event and very often like so many other decisions a business owner will decide to try to sell the business themselves or hire someone to help sell their business.

Are You A Hands-On Person Like Me?

This decision is part of the never ending series of question a small business owner needs to answer. In my current profession as a business broker if Florida I am faced with these same similar questions on a daily basis.  Do I do it myself or subcontract out that task or role. ” Maybe someone else can do it better, but I can do it cheaper”, or “Maybe someone else can do it cheaper, but I can do it better…”    Relatively speaking I am a fairly hands-on person.

My previous business I had owned for 20 years I was fairly hands on as well.  I helped install our production equipment on day 1 of the business, I worked on the production line, I worked in the truck delivering product, helped troubleshoot our equipment, performed testing and so on. I also set our policies, accounting procedures, QC procedures and company philosophy.   I enjoy knowing and understanding as much detail about my business as possible. Ultimately I was able to build a team of 25+ employees that both allowed our business to grow and ultimately allowed me to run the business from 1500 miles away for 7 years.

Business Owner

Photo (c) stage2planning.com

While others may say “I don’t want to know the details- I just want it to work”.  People reach business success with both approaches.  I have a good friend that owns a Plumbing business and has very little plumbing knowledge- he doesn’t want to.  He is a very good businessman, with a very successful plumbing business – he  is a big picture, hands-off guy and I think his wife may call me to fix their  leaky faucet before she ask him. But again he is a successful business owner.

The real question that comes in is at what point does the hands on approach limit your business growth.  When does- “I have to do it myself or it wont get done right”  approach become business limiting?  So many businesses do not make a transition to “count on others” and the business remains a certain size.  If the company goal is to stay a certain size then this approach may be both applicable and appropriate.

Hands-On VS Hands-Off Business Owner

But as one desires to grow a business to a certain size- “letting go” a little control is needed.   As working as a business broker in Florida very often I have business owners ask me can I just sell my business myself.  Here is how I summarize my true beliefs on this very important question.

Most business owners I know have a fairly full day- to say the least.  If your day is full already how can you possibly take on the task of trying to sell your business.  And I truly believe this.  Assuming selling your business is a fairly involved process how do you squeeze that continuous task into to your already packed stream of work.  Maybe you say to yourself,  I am going to devote a lot of time and effort towards selling my business, but then what suffers?

Does the business you are trying to sell now have the person steering the ship significantly pre-occupied?  During a recent speaking engagement I compared the process of running a business to running a marathon and addressed the need to finish strong.  Why run the race hard for 23 years or 23 miles and then stumble in for the last year/mile?   It is important when one is selling their business to try to finish strong.

I beleive one of the most important decision a business owner makes its the decision to sell their business.  Like so many decisions a business owner has to “do it myself” or hire others to do it.  Can I do cheaper?  Can I do it better? Do I have the time to do it?  Do I want to do it?Some of the similar questions one faces every day waking up as a business owner, but when selling ones business the stakes are significantly higher.

About Scott

Scott M. Messinger is a former and current business owner that has personally purchased 8 + businesses. Former owner of successful production/manufacturing/distribution business of 20 years that was successfully sold and transitioned. Member of Gateway Business Advisors serving South Carolina Florida and Southeast USA. Member of the Business Broker of Florida Assn. For a FREE current listing of Businesses FOR sale see: www.SellaBusinessAdvisors.com call South Carolina (864) 210-8226 Florida (239) 770-2421
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5 Responses to Hands off or Hands On- What Type of Business Owner Are You?

  1. Arthur says:

    Hi Scott,
    Glad to see you on LinkedIn, Your article is right on…..I have owned a couple of businesses and being that I am an artist it is very hard to let go of some of the control. I managed to do this in my paint contracting buisness and my company grew from 5 employees to 20 when the times we’re good and it enabled me to further my education in the arts which is where my passion lies and has enabled me to start my decorative arts business several years ago. Now I do what I truly love to do…..

  2. Arthur- Thanks for reading and your comments. Great to hear you are able to pursue your passion. The process of letting go of some control is a little more of an Art than a Science :).
    Hope the venture in decorative arts business is going well. Regards Scott

  3. For sure I’m glad to hear that you are running a good brokerage helping people to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to selling their business. Keep up the good work man!

  4. Jord- thanks for reading and commenting. Optimizing value for both parties and being realisitic is certainly a balancing act. You know the drill- Sellers want to get as much and buyers want to pay as little. regards Scott

  5. thanks and thanks for reading

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