Howard Mann’s journey began as the owner of a freight and logistics business. After he tried to sell his business during the recession, he reflected on all of the things he wished investors, consultants and professionals had told him. Now, he shares what he learned to help others build and sell awesome businesses.
When the reality of being a business owner is constantly playing defense and struggling to stay afloat, your experience becomes drudgery. Howard’s argument is that if it is meant to be slog all the time, and then someday maybe you’ll get a big break, there’s something fundamentally wrong. What happens when you don’t get the big break?
Instead of watching what others are doing, and watching your competitors, focus on who you are and decide who you do and don’t want to work with. Your marketing materials should always be about how you solve your client’s problem – not every client, but the ideal client that you want to work with.
Time frame is a key component of Howard’s vision for healthy companies, and his advice is to focus on your end state and give yourself time. Building takes time.
Think about the decisions you need to meet that goal, and take long-term bets with incremental checkpoints. This will enable you to create cadence and patience.
“Give yourself a much longer horizon.”
Rather than trying to impress others, make sure that what you are doing is valuable to you. If you know you’ll ultimately make it to your end goal, does it really matter what next year looks like as long as your business is still running?
“If you can’t take a step back out of your business and go on a weekend away or do something where you can say what do I really want, what do I want this business to do for my life? If you can define this, then you can reverse engineer it.”
Look Outside Yourself
Howard’s belief that business owners can harness their own mojo lies in the concept of looking outside of your business are rather than constantly looking within.
In doing so, you will understand where your true value lies, rather than continually adding products and services that don’t reflect the core of your business.
If you can define who your favorite customers are, Howard says that the reason they chose to work with you lies there.
“Find the awesome in what you do… and the way to discover that is not by looking within but going out to the market and asking the customers who value you why they value you.”
A sellable business is honest in itself. Howard’s final thoughts were quick-fire gems that are packed with wisdom.
- Be straight about who you are and who you aren’t.
- Do what makes you feel good.
- Be self-aware.
- If you don’t like it, then you shouldn’t be in that business.
- Love what you do and prove it, or get out because it will never be fulfilling.
- Businesses should be fun to run.
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