My name is Scott Jacobs I own and partly run a successful business. Let’s call it Scottco. I started the business around 22 years ago, after working hard for others in my field for 15 years before that. For the first 7 or 8 years I worked 10 to 14 hour days and most weekends. The company grew fast and there was always too much to do. I had to be there or I thought the company would fall apart.

But things at Scottco have changed in the last 12 years. Here is what happened:

Seven years in, Scottco was successful, and I was making good money. The business had grown from just me and a computer, with hardly any money, to an extremely busy company with over forty employees. A core of good employees was in place, but I still worked my customary 10 to 12 hours and more.  I thought of myself as a “can-do” guy and was proud that my “hands on” approach has created and built a nice business. My clients always seemed to like it when they could get me on the phone any time of the day or night.

At about that seven-year mark, the faintest hint of disillusion crept in. I started to wonder more about why I was putting in 10 or 12 hour days at the office and then coming home and working more at night, leaving before my kids woke up and coming home after they ate dinner. What was the end game? Around the same time my wife Kathy got interested in moving from the big city where we lived to a smaller and more relaxed community. I thought that was a fine idea in theory, but couldn’t see how it would ever work in the real world.

I let himself think about what might be for a while, but still kept cranking out the long days. After all, my clients needed me and I had to be in the office to “keep an eye on things”. Yet the thought of a different way stayed in the background of my mind.

The way the business functioned then, I was right. I did need to be there because I had built the business around myself. At that time the business could not have run successfully without me there to make every decision, approve every proposal, manage every crisis, and hold the hand of every unhappy employee. My employees were not so much employees of Scottco as they were working directly for me.

Still, I kept thinking about freedom and independence, and the idea that it would be possible to remake my business grew. I read, thought, and planned for a year or two and became convinced that it could work. My core of good employees had the potential for growth. So I started to concentrate on delegating responsibility and getting my people used to being more independent.

After working on it for another year or two, I told Kathy that I believed I could make it work. My business could be rebuilt to survive and thrive without me being on site 10 hours a day. As a backup, the electronics revolution had made it much easier to work remotely so I would not be far out of touch wherever I was.

After planning for another year, both personally and professionally, Kathy, myself, and our two children made the one thousand mile move to a smaller community. I continued to work remotely, less hours than before, but still regularly. I commuted back to my office one or two weeks a month, not to remain in charge of the office, but to see clients and help where I could contribute.

Good things happened. My core staff naturally took on more responsibility. Since they could not easily go to me for a decision, they had to make them. And as they got more used to making decisions, they asked less of me. After a few years of living a thousand miles from the office, my workload was significantly reduced, not by anything special I did, but by the natural inclination of my people to fill the void that I had opened. I spent most of my time designing and refining systems to make the company run better, not micromanaging what my people were doing.

That was ten years ago.  I still own Scottco, and still work in the company, but I spend at most a couple of hours a day on it, and usually far less. I still travel back to the office once in a while, mostly to keep up with old friends who also happen to be clients. These days I can take a 4-week vacation and the office barely notices.

When I left the company full time, I made the conscious decision to let the company to become smaller and more efficient. Our sales are half of what they were at the peak of the company ten or eleven years ago. But our profits are about the same. We concentrated heavily on growing our recurring revenue, on giving the best possible service to our good customers, and on weeding out the bad customers.

I am now able to live the lifestyle I was looking for, with no more 10 to 12 hour days, and am free to pursue other business ventures and volunteer opportunities that interest me. But everything is never perfect. Had I stayed at Scottco full time it would probably be more successful than it is and I would probably be making more money from it. But I decided that doing that was not worth the personal cost. I concluded that having a balanced lifestyle was far more important than making the most money I possibly could.

I believe that 90 percent of business owners would gladly trade in the 10 to 12 hour days for a more balanced lifestyle. But many of them don’t know how to get there, or just do not have the time to figure out how to get there.

That’s where The Exceptional Business comes in. I now have a calling to help other business owners and managers who are where I was 10 or 15 years ago.