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5 Risky Signs Your Business is too Reliant on You
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When we think of our place in the organisation, we generally visualise an organisational chart with ourselves as the owner sitting right at the top.

But let’s be honest, if you were to really think about a picture that visually represents your role in your business, what would it look like?

Would you really be at the top of an organisational chart, or stuck in the middle of your business like a hub in a bicycle wheel? 

Most business owners fall into the latter option – it’s called the Hub & Spoke model.

The Hub & Spoke model tells us how dependent your business is on you for survival. When you operate with this model, your business can only as strong as the hub.

The moment the hub is overwhelmed, the entire system fails.

Not only does this pose a great risk to your business, but if you are ever thinking of selling your business, you can think again. Acquirers generally avoid these types of owner reliant businesses because they understand the dangers of buying a company too dependent on the owner.

Here’s a list of the 5 top warning signs that show your business could be too dependent on you.

1. You have to sign off on everything

Most business owners give themselves final authority… all the time. But what happens if you’re away for a couple of days and an important supplier needs to be paid? Consider giving an employee signing authority for an amount you’re comfortable with, and then change the mailing address on your bank statements so they are mailed to your home (not the office). That way, you can review everything coming out of your account and make sure the privilege isn’t being abused. 

2. Your revenue has plateaued

Flat revenue from one year to the next can be a sign you are a hub in a hub-and-spoke model. Like forcing water through a hose, you have only so much capacity. No matter how efficient you are, every business dependent on its owner reaches capacity at some point. Consider narrowing your product and service line by eliminating technically complex offers that require your personal involvement, and instead focus on selling fewer things to more people. 

3. Going on holiday… doesn’t really feel like a true holiday

If you spend your vacations dispatching orders from your mobile, it’s time to cut the tether. Start by taking one day off and seeing how your company does without you. Build systems for failure points. Work up to a point where you can take a few weeks off without affecting your business. 

4. You know all of your customers by first name

It’s good to have the pulse of your market, but knowing every single customer by first name can be a sign that you’re relying too heavily on your personal relationships being the glue that holds your business together. Consider replacing yourself as a rain maker by hiring a sales team, and as inefficient as it seems, have a trusted employee shadow you when you meet customers so over time your customers get used to dealing with someone else. 

5. Your inbox is full of emails that you are cc’d on 

Employees, customers and suppliers constantly cc’ing you on e-mails can be a sign that they are looking for your tacit approval or that you have not made clear when you want to be involved in their work. Start by asking your employees to stop using the cc line in an e-mail; ask them to add you to the “to” line if you really must be made aware of something – and only if they need a specific action from you. 


If you can relate to these warning signs, it’s time to make a change. Remember, you most likely started your business to be the boss and call the shots, you wanted flexibility and fulfillment. But somehow, you’ve fallen into something we call the ‘Owners Trap’.

Of course, there is a time in every business where the owner needs to be on top of everything, you really can’t escape this in the start-up phase. But this should not go on forever.

So how do you change? You need to think about making yourself redundant. With the right team and systems in place then you will be able to exit from the day-to-day.

Of course, you won’t be able to do it overnight. These things take time and require a plan.

The key is to begin with the end in mind, and the best time to start is right NOW.

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This information is provided as a guide only and is not intended to constitute professional advice. You should obtain appropriate advice concerning your particular circumstances.

The firm disclaims all liability for any loss or damage to any person or organisation, whether a user of this site or not, for the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person relying on this information.

Kellow Parbery & Associates Pty Ltd is a CPA Practice

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