Book Club #20: The Lifestyle Business Owner, by Aaron Muller

Lifestyle BusinessThe subtitle of Aaron Muller’s book is “How to Buy a Business, Grow Your Profits, and Make it Run Without You.” While entrepreneurship has perhaps never been more in the public consciousness, the phrase “lifestyle business” is still not commonly known in the general public, and this book goes a long way to addressing that gap while sharing some important lessons along the way.

Let Your Business Be Your Business

For those who are considering buying a business, there’s often some soul-searching: is this my passion? Muller’s response to that query is one we tend to agree with: “Finding meaning and purpose in your life is hard enough. Finding a profitable business that also gives your life the unique meaning and purpose you are looking for is doubly hard.”

It’s a lot to ask of a business to offer meaning and purpose for your life. Rather, you should focus on:

  • Soundness of the business.  Are the taxes and paperwork in order? Are the financials up to date and do they show promising trends?
  • Role in the business.  Are you being asked to be an owner-operator (someone working on the business each day or at least each week) or an absentee owner (someone who only periodically checks in on the business or if there is a major decision to be made)? Do you think this role would suit your talents and current desire to work?
  • Growth potential.  Is this something that you can build on in the next 3-5 years to give yourself more options, i.e. build from owner-operator to absentee or from absentee to another exit.

Leverage Previous Mistakes

In a previous article we shared that a buyer of a business was able to more than double his income simply because he fulfilled the orders that the previous owner failed to do. The author shared a story about a business he once bought which had alienated many customers: “In fact, I even put up a banner on the building that read, “New Owner. Friendly Service.” Within one year, revenues increased by over 65 percent.”

Sometimes previous owners have made mistakes they haven’t told you about just because it’s too personally embarrassing. One of them might include poor attitudes with clients or times they simply could have done better on the customer service side of things. Never underestimate the power of a restart and the second chance a customer might give to a new owner.

Bring Your ‘A’ Game… and Teach It

Whatever it is that is causing your customers to come, you need to transfer that skill to your employee,” Muller opines. He’s right. Whenever you are able to bottle your value-adds into training and company manuals, you’ve created a better asset for a future customer.  

At the heart of a lifestyle business is the unique proposition of creating a schedule you determine and an income you’re responsible for. Don’t be beholden to a 9-5 office paradigm. You can work the hours you want on the days that you want… as long as you set up the proper systems to do so. While the lifestyle you build for yourself may limit scalability and growth for your company, this will be a conscious choice you make that will also make the business an attractive acquisition for someone in the future, who like you, wants a lifestyle business.

We offer businesses of all “speeds” here at Apex, including lifestyle businesses.  Learn more today!