Time Is Money: Value Vs. Values

Posted on July 6, 2012 by Spencer Tenney

If you began your company with dreams of short hours and long vacations, you probably received a rude reality check rather quickly. It’s a myth that all business owners enjoy complete freedom and flexibility.

However, owning a transportation business certainly comes with rewards — for example, a sense of independence and the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Perhaps the most difficult task of a business owner is determining whether the time needed to run a business is worth the eventual payoff. Of course, that answer may change over time. Many businesses begin with a passion and end with a burnout. Is your transportation business worth your time? Only you can answer that question.

1. Is your business in a growth phase?

Beginning a business from scratch — or expanding by merging with a competitor or complementary company — takes time. The idea, of course, is that the extra effort will pay off in the form of greater profits. However, just because you can grow a business doesn’t mean it’s the right decision — just look at the dot-com crash. Doubling your customer base doesn’t necessarily mean doubling profits. If your company doesn’t have the organizational efficiency to keep a larger business afloat, you may not be able to leverage benefits such as economies of scale. Growth can take your business to the next level or price you out of the market. Before you put in the time, make sure returns are possible.

2. Can you achieve balance?

No amount of money or success is worth missing every one of your child’s baseball games or sleeping just four hours a night. It’s easy for business owners to get caught up in the trap of trying to manage every little detail of their companies. However, it’s essential to your well-being — and, ultimately, the well-being of your business — to take a step back. A business needs a strong team, not a single owner, to grow effectively.

Competent management also will be necessary to attract buyers should you need to put your limo or charter bus business up for sale in the future. If you can wean your company off full dependency, you can reduce your work hours — and thus raise your wage. If your company is too small or weak to survive without your constant involvement, you will eventually burn out. Selling sooner rather than later may be your best bet.

3. Can you imagine doing something else?

If your job doesn’t make you happy, it’s not worth it — plain and simple. Most self-employed people stick to a business because it’s something they love. Whether you have a passion for the industry or you thrive off the excitement of entrepreneurship, working a few hours more than you would in a corporate office may be well worth it. But if you’re constantly dreaming of the day you can take the kids to the park, get eight hours of sleep, and take an annual vacation, your heart may not be in it anymore. Whether you decide to stay in the game or cash in your chips, you should get the help you need to develop an exit plan that maximizes the value — and potential sale price — of your business.

Spencer Tenney, vice president of The Tenney Group (www.thetenneygroup.com), is a member of the International Business Brokers Association and a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI). The Tenney Group is focused on business sales, acquisitions, business valuations and exit planning exclusively in the transportation industry. Spencer can be reached at (817) 274-0054 or [email protected]

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