5 October 2023

What is the crucial factor when building a valuable business?

If you aspire to build a valuable company, one crucial factor is to ensure your business can operate independently without your constant involvement!

Embarking on this journey can feel daunting. Let's explore three cost-effective, simple strategies to set your business on a path to autonomy and allowing it to thrive without your constant presence.

1. Replace yourself by niching down.  

The reason most owners can’t replace themselves is that a substitute would be too expensive. Trying to replace your breadth of experience would likely require a very high-salaried employee. If you can’t afford to replace all of what you do, niche down your core offering.  

For example, Chris Cavell’s cricket business, D-Bat Academy, could have catered to a broad range of players: professionals, slow-run beer leaguers, fast-pitch…but instead, he got specific about who his business was for: 5- to 10-year-old kids.  

Sure, he could have charged more per customer if he catered to aspiring pros—but those elite athletes would expect to get a batting coach with years of expertise, and Chris would have had to staff for that.  

On the other hand, when you have a business where one of its primary objectives is to give an 8-year-old an awesome birthday party, well, an entry-level employee can deliver on that.  

When you narrow down your offering, you can bypass the high salary that comes with someone with a wide breadth of experience.  

2. Create a question diary. 

When Jodie Cook was building her social media agency, she made a conscious choice every time an employee came to ask her a question. 

The easy thing to do would have been to answer the question, but she forced herself to write each question down. She turned that question diary into a business manual that documented how to do every single task required of her employees.  

Her manual came in the form of an Excel spreadsheet with 50 tabs, each one documenting a specific process, like payroll for example. 

Challenge yourself to do the same: When an employee asks you a question, resist the urge to just answer and move on. Document those queries, and turn them into a standard operating procedure (SOP) that enables your staff to develop expertise in their role. The go-to reference becomes the manual…instead of you.  

3. List your employees alphabetically on your site.

Most companies list their employees by seniority, with the owner and CEO as the top listing. However, this communicates that you are the most important person in your company, which will trigger everyone from salespeople to suppliers and prospective partners to want to go straight to the top by calling you.

An effective strategy to downplaying your role in your company (and getting others to step up and shoulder more) is to list employees alphabetically rather than by seniority on your company’s website. This approach can minimise the spotlight on you. Additionally, using titles like “Head of Culture” and “Head of Product” instead of “CEO” or “Owner” can further obscure your seniority, making it less likely customers will call you by default. 

Getting your business to thrive without you gives you the freedom to cherry pick the projects you want to work on or just own your business and collect passive income. A business that runs without you is also a valuable, sellable asset if you ever choose to move on to a new chapter in your life. Niching down, creating SOPs, and downplaying your role on your website are all tactical things you can do today to get your business running more independently in the future.


Michael Denehey, Business Coach


Freedom = Giving Gold

Michael loves the company of family, friends, work mates and clients. Weekends are spent with family — watching his boys play sport and enjoying life. He’s played table tennis and cricket at the top level locally, and these days spends plenty of time on a bike and at the gym. 

Michael works as a business coach for our clients, as well as growing our business in the SME advisor sector.

Bachelor of Commerce, CA, LinkedIn