“Dwelling” in Your Business

Whether they are entrepreneurs or an intrapreneurs, many business leaders and owners find themselves “dwelling” in their business. They get up every morning, go to work, and realize that they have either acquired a job or bought a job. They are performing tasks, hoping for outcomes, and waiting for the day to conclude. Recently I had the opportunity to speak to several groups of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, and I spoke about the idea of “dwelling.” Lots of smiles and lots of heads nodding up and down. More than half the individuals attending these presentations understood the idea and the meaning of “dwelling.” After the presentations, many of them came to me, requesting one-on-one meetings and hoping I could provide them with answers, directions, and motivation that would reinvigorate their interest and their passion for what they do. Whether you own a business that you’ve created or purchased, or you’re an upper level manager in an existing company, there is little chance of success if you’re not passionate and enthusiastic about what you are doing.

For many of these individuals, I’ve arranged one-on-one meetings that usually last just less than 90 minutes. During that time we discuss backgrounds, mutual interests, and then get down to the real nitty-gritty. Where is the business focused now? Where was it focused in the beginning? And then comes the big question: What’s your Exit Strategy? Because it’s very obvious that if you are “dwelling” in your business, if you’re not sure what you are doing or why you are doing it, it’s because you have no Exit Strategy. If you don’t know how you’re going to get out of the business, then what’s the sense of having plans or expectations? You’re in a vehicle, driving around without a map or a destination. Not only do you not know where you’re going, you don’t really care.

This is why Exit Strategy is one of the top three decisions every entrepreneur and intrapreneur must make. Exit Strategies drive all the decisions that pertain to either your business or your department or your division. If your Exit Strategy is to be promoted and get more responsibility, better pay, etc., then you had better know not only what it takes but how to get there, how to execute all the requirements to get there, and how to hold yourself and your team accountable for getting there. If you are an entrepreneur or business owner, your Exit Strategy could include a variety of things: being acquired, second generation ownership, employee ownership, or simply accumulating enough financial resources that you can liquidate your assets, terminate any leases, turn off the lights, and move on. Regardless, an Exit Strategy sets in place the final goal. All plans, policies, and procedures are then put in place to get you there. Acquisition is generally the most preferred Exit Strategy for entrepreneurs. This requires that you know who in your industry buys or acquires companies, and more importantly, what attributes these companies require when they consider making an acquisition. Then you have to make your business so attractive that it must be acquired by someone in your industry or interested in entering your industry. There is no “dwelling,” there is no passive commitment, and most of all, there is no distraction. Exit Strategy is the ultimate definition of a goal.

What I have found, however, in meeting with these “dwellers,” is that once the conversation gets to Exit Strategy, planning, execution, and accountability, they learn quickly or remember vividly how much work is involved and how difficult and challenging the process really is. “Dwelling” is often associated with “comfort,” and everyone likes to be comfortable. It is not easy to get to an Exit Strategy. It requires commitment, passion, and intellect. It requires financial stability. It requires the ability to hire, train, and manage good people. On its best days, it requires hard work. That is why “dwellers” are so commonplace. That is why “dwellers” are so interested in re-engaging but have so little interest or enthusiasm for the process. Everyone in business should have a Coach. Everyone. And that coach’s primary responsibility is to make sure that his/her client never becomes a “dweller.”

Ron Cocquyt
Hylander Management LLC

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