My name is Scott Jacobs and I am the founder of Business Vision.
I also own and run another successful business. Let’s call it Scottco. I started the business over 20 years ago, after working hard for others in my field for 15 years. For the first seven or eight years I worked ten to fourteen 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 come apart.
But things at Scottco have changed in the last ten years. Here is my story, or how I went from this…
After seven years in business, Scottco was successful, and I was making a good living. The business had grown from just me and a computer, with little money and no outside investment, to an extremely busy company with over forty employees. A core of good employees were in place, but I still worked my customary ten to twelve hours and more. I thought of myself as a “can-do” guy and was proud that my “hands on” approach had 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 why I was putting in 10 or 12 hours 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. Where was I headed? What was the end game? My wife Kathy and I had for some time been interested in moving from the big city where we lived to a smaller and more relaxed community. I thought it 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 direction stayed in the background of my mind.
Back then I really did need to be around all the time because I had built the business around myself. The business was not ready to 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 more freedom and independence, and the idea that I could remake my business took seed and grew. I read, thought, and planned for a year or two and became convinced that it could be done. My core of good employees had the potential for growth. I started to concentrate on delegating responsibility and getting my people used to being more independent.
After working on it for a year or two, I told Kathy that I was ready to take the leap. My business was ready to survive without me being on-site ten hours a day. As a backup, the internet had made it so much easier to work remotely. I would not be far out of touch wherever I was.
After another year of planning, both personally and professionally, Kathy, myself, and our two children made a 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 so much to remain in charge of the office and everything else, but to see clients and help where I could contribute.
Good things happened. My core staff naturally took on more responsibility. Since it was harder to go to me for a decision, they had to make them. And as they got more used to making decisions, they asked me less. After a few years of living a thousand miles from the office, my workload was significantly reduced, not by anything revolutionary I did, but by the natural inclination of my people to fill the void that I had opened. I started to spend 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 three or four 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 life I was looking for, with no more ten to twelve hour days. I am free to pursue other business ventures and volunteer opportunities that interest me. 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 the vast majority of business owners would gladly trade in the fancy paycheck and the ten to twelve hour days for less money and a more balanced life. But many of them don’t know how, or just don’t have the time to figure out how, to get there.
That’s where Business Vision comes in. Call us and let’s talk about your situation.