When the founder knows everyone, it’s not good for business
For all of you who heard John Warrillow’s riveting webinar last week, this won’t come as any surprise. However, I learned that one of the factors that influence the value of a company – or rather the amount that someone might pay for company (value can mean many different things to different people) is how much “touch” the founder and other key employees have with customers.
To my surprise, the more interaction that key employees (including founder/owners like me) have with customers, like you, the lower the value.
Oh golly! This is a hard message for me. I gotta tell ya… I love reaching out to each and every one of you. I consider all of those in the network and beyond to be my friends. I envision us, working together, arm in arm, to solve the family business issues of the day. I look forward to your stories, I feel motivated by your success and sometimes I pick up the phone just to say hello.
It is rare that someone joins our national network without direct involvement from me. I can’t think of anyone that is attending our National Gathering that hasn’t received my personal invitation. I make new pals with each training program and every regional meeting.
We do this work because we love this work … But on the other hand, we want to be shrewd and successful business people.
So, what is a person like me to do? Such is the conundrum that many of us who own our own businesses face – everyday. We do this work because we love this work. We enjoy our customers. We live to provide service, solve problems and be a resource for those we care about. In fact, many of us would do this whether it was profitable or not. We are focused more on relationships than we are on money, recurring income streams or bottom-line profit.
But on the other hand, we want to be shrewd and successful business people. So how do we blend our love of people, our desire for connection and joy of serving with the cold and more calculated emphasis on automation and self-serve systems?
I am not sure that I have any exciting or motivating answers. However, there are a few things that I am going to explore. Maybe I can focus on building a smaller, core group who really thrive on the connection and see how we can work more closely together. And, at the same time, maybe we can create more automated, self-serve systems that can also do a great job of reaching a broader audience. Maybe I can turn my own experience of weaning myself from the constant connection with my ‘peeps’ into a learning opportunity for the many executives and owners who share my same addiction to friendship building! Perhaps we can identify new ways to blend high touch and high tech – so I can hear and learn from you, while simultaneously, sharing your learning/news/views with a larger, more anonymous audience.
Right now, honestly, it feels like lonely and unchartered territory. But, I can’t think of a greater group of friends to take the journey with… My company value may be low, but the value of my friendships, in fact, my life, feels very high.