Common Myths on Absentee Business Owners

By Aaron Muller
April 2007

“Most business owners believe that their employees can’t do a good job without them. The truth is exactly the opposite.”
When I mention the term “absentee business owner” to people, they either think of an owner that never has to worry about anything, or an owner that is very trusting (perhaps too trusting) of his or her employees. This month, I am going to dispel two major myths on absentee business owners, so you will know what being an absentee owner is really all about.

Myth #1: Your employees can’t do a good job without you.

Most business owners believe that their employees can’t do a good job without them. The truth is exactly the opposite. Your employees can do a great job without you – if you hire the right people, systemize your business, train your employees well, and trust them to do a good job. If you systemize your business and train your employees well, you will be surprised. Your employees are more capable than you might think.

Let’s take this even further. Sometimes, I find that my businesses run better when I am not there. Even though I own 4 profitable businesses as an absentee owner, I am not perfect. I have a tendency to control everyone, so when I am there, I sometimes make my employees upset. Everything is running smoothly until I get there. Once I realize this, I just let my businesses run. I do not need to come in, control everyone, and interrupt the flow of everything. I can just let my businesses run without me, monitor the numbers, and as long as the numbers are great, I am happy.

There is a time to control, and there is a time to let go. When things are going great, you let go. When things are in minor trouble, you let your manager handle it. When things are in major trouble, you step in and take control. By monitoring the numbers of your business and talking with your manager, you will know if things are going well or not. You don’t have to be there all the time and control everything. If things are fine, trust and let go! You only need to be a control freak when your business is in major trouble. Otherwise, trust that your employees can do a good job without you.

Myth #2: As an absentee owner, you will never have to deal with anything.

Some people have this vision of absentee owners being completely stress-free and never having to worry about their business ever again. Not true. As an absentee owner, you need to actively monitor your business by spending 5 hours a week. Part of these 5 hours might involve dealing with employee problems or handling something that causes you stress. Being an absentee owner doesn’t mean you are stress-free. You still have to watch your business and deal with things when they come up, because ultimately, you are the one responsible for maintaining the health of your business.

Being an absentee owner is definitely less stressful than being an owner operator, but it doesn’t mean being stress-free. You will have stress, and you will have to deal with things you don’t feel like dealing with. It’s simply the price you pay to have a healthy asset that generates cash for you month after month.

For more information on how you can become the absentee owner of a profitable business, check out our consulting program.

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Copyright © 2007 Aaron Muller and Oliver Wu