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THE QUESTION

My business provides me with an income that I am comfortable with. I don't work long hours and I like that.

Everyone keeps telling me that I need to put more time into the business and grow it. I really don't want to. I am happy with where I am. Am I missing something here?

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THE ANSWER

It's great that you are happy and comfortable. But remember what happened to the taxi and hotel industries? Think Uber and Airbnb. Competitors revolutionized those industries and yours could be next.

Most innovation experts seem to think that every industry can be turned upside down inside of five years. That is a scary thought if it applies to you.

You are in a position that many would envy, but I would caution you not to step away too far from your company. The most significant problems often occur when things seem to be going well.

You need a strong management team

I have found that owners like you succeed in the long run when they have a strong management team who is in tune with the market and customers. You need that. In a smaller organization, a capable and loyal No. 2 is what you need to keep things moving in the right direction. The value of having the right people to work with you is everything. That helps to keep your organization strong in your absence.

Growth is about more than just revenue

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Growth is never a bad thing and you need to be committed to it regardless of your success. Over time, it is likely that you will lose customers of all sizes. You will need to defend against that by continuously prospecting and bringing new ones online. Remember that your competition is constantly chasing your customers and sometimes they will succeed.

Growth is not just about revenue growth. Think more broadly about it. Employee skills, leadership development, process improvement, succession planning, etc., are important to the smooth operation of your company. If you are not continuously improving something, then you are likely losing ground. That will eventually erode your ability to generate the profits you will need to support your lifestyle. Your focus on growth will keep the organization profitable in the long run.

How much time should you put in?

There is no easy answer without knowing how efficient you are with the use of your time.

There are many people around who are so focused in their work that they really only need three or four days a week to accomplish what they need to. Again, that needs to be supported with a strong team. When you are absent from the business, I think that the likelihood of things going sideways will increase. You need to have mechanisms in place to help you monitor what is important. Focus your time on and not in the business.

When you distill this all down, what is most important is that you have measures in place that will help you sustain your organization's profitability with good people and business processes. Growth is always a necessity.

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Brian Brennan is a senior partner at MAX Potential, an organization committed to assisting clients with the successful growth of their businesses. He actively coaches small and medium-sized business owners in all aspects of their growing companies. He is also a chair at TEC Canada.

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