Rem Oculee is the founder and CEO of 9Q enterprises and Trust Asset Management. He also wrote the upcoming book, The Exit Mindset.
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you dream of building a sustainable, scalable business that generates income and gives you freedom. Seeing that dream become a reality is absolutely possible and can be achieved with what I do exit mentality.
If you have an exit mindset, you’re building your business around one goal: to create a business that’s so attractive buyers will pay top dollar for it, but runs so smoothly you won’t want to leave.
One of the most important steps to achieving this goal (and one that I detail in my book, The exit mindset) builds the right infrastructure.
So, how do you create an infrastructure that increases the value of your company and makes it (almost) self-managing? The answer to that question starts with what I call the SLPP model: systems, location, people, process.
Start with systems
Let’s start with systems. Essentially, these are the parts of your business that perform a function. Systems can encompass a wide variety of things, including your technology, your departments, your divisions, and your teams.
What systems do you have? Are they somehow lacking? What do you need to do to create viable systems to accomplish each task? These are the kind of broad questions you need to ask yourself when you’re building and developing strong infrastructure.
Of course, systems don’t work in a vacuum; they need one place. Remember, your goal is to build an infrastructure that is highly attractive to buyers because that’s the kind of infrastructure that can lead to scalability, profitability, and freedom. A big part of that is making sure your company’s location, both physical and virtual, is optimal.
If you produce products in a factory, is that factory located in a place with a high labor force? If you sell services, are you in a geographic market with a sustainable customer base? These kinds of considerations are important to buyers, and they should be important to you too. So ask yourself from time to time if you are in the right location. If you’re not, what changes should you make to optimize your location?
Focus on processes and people
As important as systems and location are, they cannot stand alone. To work, they must be combined with processes. Processes are the key to creating the output of a given system. But to be effective, processes must deliver consistent results. In other words, if you have a system dedicated to building a particular widget, your process should take care of it every single widget produced by that system is identical. If not, you have an inefficient process and therefore an inefficient infrastructure.
Buyers of your business want streamlined processes that make it easy for them to take over without wasting a lot of time ramping up. If your processes are a mess, it not only lowers the value of your business with potential buyers, but can also lead to wasted time, energy, and money as you try to compensate for the poor processes. In The exit mindsetI call this one lose phantom— and they’re something you should avoid at all costs.
Processes start with you. You need to take the time to create processes around each individual system. With everything you have to do, it’s tempting to put this off, but that’s a mistake. By freeing up time to develop processes and ensuring that the output of one process flows seamlessly into the next, you maximize your efficiency and ultimately your productivity.
The last key to a strong infrastructure is people. To build a seamless, high-performance business, you must have human innovation and human leadership. At the same time, you cannot rely on one person to perform important tasks, as that can lead to an unstable infrastructure.
To build a strong people pillar, start by researching your culture. Then think about your hiring standards. Do they ensure you get the right people to support your infrastructure? Finally, consider what support you need to give your people to ensure they can move your systems and processes forward. Make the necessary changes to strengthen this pillar.
Fill in the gaps
Building a strong infrastructure is crucial to creating a scalable, efficient and profitable business. So, to recap: consider your systems. Take a broad look at your company, dissect each part and determine whether it is running optimally. If a system is missing elements that would increase its effectiveness, get to work!
Next, think about your location. Ask yourself if your current location creates maximum scale. Would a buyer of your company answer that question in the affirmative? Remember, what would appeal to a buyer of your business is usually good for the business (regardless of whether you’re selling or not).
Third, think about your processes. Write them all down, test them all and look for gaps. Do you have processes that lead to inconsistent results? Identify solutions to solve them and then test those solutions. Keep iterating until your processes are optimal.
Finally, think about your people. Do you have enough people to run your systems and processes? And will your people help you scale and grow, or will they hold you back in some way? Depending on your answers, you may need to change your hiring strategies or rethink your culture.
Creating a strong infrastructure is not always easy. However, if you build around these four pillars, you can create a business that is sustainable, profitable, gives you comfort and freedom, and can lead to a strong exit if and when you decide it’s time.