Time – money – people

Have you ever noticed how there never seems to be enough of the three resources?
On 1 October 2008, I ended 22 years of self-employment and have been reflecting on my time as a ‘solopreneur’.
There has never been a moment during those 8,000-odd days that I haven’t bemoaned the fact that:
• I never had enough money to allow my business vision to reach its full potential. I started in 1987 with a £10,000 unsecured overdraft facility with HSBC and – by 2007 – that had grown to a £30,000 facility for The Dental Business School
• The businesses that I operated had good and bad years, just like everybody else, but even in the good years, although I usually reinvested some of the ‘fat’ in the business, mostly I just went shopping
• In the bad years (and there some very bad years), I battened down the hatches, stopped shopping and borrowed extra money to tide me through – but had to repay those loans with sheer effort on my own part – often selling time and thus damaging my work/life balance
• My support team were always talented, loyal, fun people – who were in a constant state of overwhelm with the sheer quantity of transactions they had to deal with – just to keep the status quo – never to expand. That’s why nobody ever stayed longer then four years – I burned them out

So I spent years dreaming a dream of a ‘proper’ super-sized company one in which I wasn’t responsible for 80-100% of the income generation. Plus, all the duties of finance, marketing, sales, operations and human resources head cook and bottle-washer.
But I never managed to build the dream into a reality – because I never had enough money, enough people and enough time.
Now, I have relinquished my ‘independence’ to become part of a big company, working with a very talented leader and team of executive directors.
I spent time in September with them, agreeing the three-year vision, 12-month plan and 90-day goals for the private sector division of Integrated Dental Holdings.
 I have had the pleasure to join forces with an operations director who has, until recently, been running the national sales division of one of the world’s top computer companies.
 I have interviewed for acquisitions manager and enjoyed meeting some very talented people.
We are building a team that is going to create a unique and pioneering new dental corporate.
I can see the money, the people and the time coming together.
It is very exciting. And there is a moral here for all readers of this article.
Don’t spend 22 years waiting for a self-employed miracle. Expecting you can somehow build a proper business from sheer effort and humungous sales. It won’t happen. Think deeply about what has to happen to get your business properly capitalised – supported by either private equity, institutional investors or private investors to get you operating at the right level.
 I’m beginning to realise that it’s going to be simpler to run a £50million company than it was to run a £500,000 consultancy.
And the real crunch moment is when you also understand that the market values a £500,000 business at three times earnings, a £2 million business at maybe six times earnings and a £50 million business at perhaps 10 times earnings. Why? Because there is more money, there are more people and they have the time. I rest my case.

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