Choosing A Business

So, what did you do for your summer vacation?

I rebuilt my business and learned an incredible amount in the process.

Since launching our online publishing business in 2001, we have utilized a backend platform (what drives the website) that was, in its time, quite exceptional. Unfortunately, software becomes antiquated at an incredible pace. Over the years, the support we received from the provider kept diminishing. It was frustrating because we were at their mercy. Further, whenever we wished to introduce a new product, service or functionality, it was really like bolting on another piece versus integrating it seamlessly.

In the spring we decided to make a massive investment in the platform. We redesigned all five of our websites and we built a complete operating system of our own. For those who may not be to tech-savvy, a Website is like the shell of a car. The “backend” are all of the parts that make it go.

It was critical for us to eliminate every piece of third party software and so we would now have a platform which has been entirely developed for us. It’s truly a “stealth bomber” – an amazing piece of architecture. Although an enormous amount of work went into the project, and my usual four weeks of summer vacation became a short six-day trip, we are all done now.

One of the main objectives was to eliminate ninety percent of our tech outsourcing and except for any complicated maintenance, the system had to allow the most tech- challenged individual to maintain the website.

The point of all of this is that I learned a number of incredible business lessons that align with the notion of buying and owning a business:

Lesson # 1 – Automate Everything!

Many people are intimidated by technology but the fact is that it’s not overly difficult.

For years I have been compiling a wish list of everything I wanted the website to do from a functionality standpoint. Implementing all of it reinforced the notion that technology exists to accomplish automation of almost an entire business. We literally eliminated every single manual function we performed before.

The Lesson Learned:

The more vertical you can make your business, and the more you can automate, the more time you will have to work on revenue and profit generating initiatives.

When you can free yourself and employees from having to perform manual or ineffective, time-consuming tasks, the more you can all work on the business.

Lesson # 2 – Hire The Best!

We hired an incredible team of programmers. The company, JJCO Hosting, is lead by Jon Slinker. Their company motto is “Exceeding Expectations” and did they ever live up to it. No matter what issue came up, his standard response was: “don’t worry, there’s nothing we can’t do”. The project came in on time, on budget and was released with almost zero bugs. That is an insane accomplishment. If you ever need web work done, you have to call these folks.

The Lesson Learned:

Surround yourself with the absolute best possible people you can afford.

This goes for the accountant, attorneys and business brokers you will use while buying a business. It’s clear testimony to the fact that

with the right information and advice, you can always make the right decisions.

Lesson # 3 – If You Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

No matter how great the task, and regardless of the number of moving parts, it all comes down to organization. Internally, we spent four full weeks walking through every single facet of our business. We outlined what the “dream” system would do, how it would functions, and what manual functions we could eliminate. We evaluated how all of our third party software worked and how we would improve it if we had to build a like module. We then committed it to paper. We articulated every point on our wish list. Then, we organized it into a scope of work. Once the first BETA sites were up, we became a testing machine. Every single function was put through the rigors. We maintained daily to do lists. We did not leave anything to our memory and we did not miss a thing.

The Lesson Learned: Every project is manageable.

It’s simply a matter of breaking it down into bite-sized pieces and following up on every detail.

Buying a business is a process.

There is a lot involved. It can become overwhelming if you’re not prepared. It certainly will knock you down if you are not informed. However, with the right information and a step-by-step action plan, you can successfully navigate your way through.

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