The Promise of Wally World

Posted on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

We’ve made it past the unofficial midpoint of summer and on every freeway in America is a steady stream of mini-vans torturing, I mean taking, families across our great nation seeking out a little slice of Americana on their summer vacations. It’s a rite of passage for so many of us. Or as one famous father said – "This is no longer a vacation.  It’s a quest.” 

With this backdrop, I find myself in a conversation with Founder Frank. You have probably met him. He started a small company and has now grown it to 62 employees strong. He puts in 80 hour weeks and wears it on his sleeve as a badge of honor. Today’s conversation is about the frustrations of covering vacation time for his employees. 

“They’re all taking a week or 2 off to head to Wally World and who knows where else. Not me, I’ve got to stay here and keep the ship on course. If I took off, even for a couple days, this place would fall apart!”

Even if it’s true, and boy do I hope it isn’t, what a frightful position to be in. Have you really built a company - or a job? A job that has the look and feel of a bear trap apparently. 

I understand the desire to feel important/integral/irreplaceable and whatever other “I” words you want to throw in there. But at the same time, if you are in business to make a profit (and I hope you are), your business will be far better off with you functioning as a spoke within it, rather than the eventual bottleneck you may be resembling right about now. 

To say nothing of the current status of things, if we take a minute to look at the future of your business, how many hands are going to go into the air when it comes time to sell? Younger generations of possible buyers aren’t interested in your “job” – most already have one. Third party investors are looking for turnkey opportunities – the ones where the owner isn’t all that valuable and things will continue to function as a pseudo-ATM machine long after you are gone.

Food for thought this summer as Frank watches his employees head out on the open road, shaking his head at how impossible that would be for himself.

Just don’t forget to take the dog off the bumper….