One of the first things I try to find out when I meet with a business owner is “Are you the hub in your business?” Many of the business owners I’ve met over the last 10-15 years are the hub in their business.
Imagine a business is like a bicycle wheel where the employees, customers and suppliers are the spokes and the owner is the hub. Take out the hub and the wheel fails.
In business terms, if the business can’t survive without the owner it is on the way to be worthless!
The Hub And Spoke Value Driver
I think all the problems that business owners tell me about could be summarised in 3 core problems:
- money: not making enough as a business or personally – not enough sales, profits, dividends;
- people: staff aren’t good enough, don’t do their job properly, don’t think for themselves, or just don’t care enough;
- time: never having enough time for themselves, always rushing around for customers, suppliers or with staff issues.
Naturally these 3 types of problem are inter-related. When the owner does the sales on their own, they usually don’t have sales processes or don’t trust their staff to sell. When the owner is busy with other things, they don’t sell so sales turnover falls and their income suffers.
If there is one value driver that magnifies those 3 problems, it’s the Hub and Spoke.
How To Get Out Of The Hub Role
You know you’re not a hub in your business if you can go away on holiday for 3 months and the business can carry on without you!
That sounds like Mission Impossible when even your 2 week summer break can be disrupted by emails or phone calls. But if you want a valuable business you should aim for improving your Hub and Spoke score within the Value Builder Assessment.
From our research getting yourself out of the Hub role can move your multiple from 2.5 times to 4 times. At £100k pre-tax profit that equates to £150k extra value in the business!
Here’s what you should be working on:
Standard Operating Procedures: yes, that sounds boring and bureaucratic. But if you want your business to be scalable, be top quality and efficient then put in the effort to process map and write down basic procedures. Remember, you don’t have to do it all. The more your staff contribute, the more they will follow the procedures. Also don’t forget the obvious: organisation charts and simple job descriptions.
Automation: another way to standardise and also be efficient, which will vary considerably by the type of industry you are in. Regardless of your industry think about improving how your different systems are integrated. Try to automate your workflows.
Clarity & Focus: none of us are mind-readers so if you want your staff to do what’s right for the business and think for themselves, then share with them the following:
- a summary of the growth plan for the business;
- what major improvements are planned for the year ahead;
- where they fit into that growth and improvement.
If that sounds scary to do or you don’t like the idea of giving away secret stuff, then consider the pain of being the Hub. The upside of clarity and focus always beats the pain of the Hub.
Daily Management: for many businesses the heartbeat of the business is daily management. That means staff and operations have daily tasks to do, customers are in contact most days, etc. When the boss is the hub then they drive the heartbeat. Unfortunately, when the boss is distracted by a host of things the heartbeat can be irregular – not good for the health of the business. The answer is to have daily management led by your managers or supervisors. That means visual KPI boards (see above) and action lists, plus daily briefing with staff (no need to do the full American huddle!).
Employee Engagement: probably the activity that pulls together the other 4 activities. Your staff will never care for the business as much as you. But it’s worth helping them act more like an owner. Employee engagement is very much in the news. You should try to do some form of staff survey, maybe an employee Net Promoter Score. Also look to use the Gallup 12 questions to find out what your staff think. Of course, a survey on its own does very little, you need to take action!
Working On Your Hub and Spoke Score
Working on improving your Hub and Spoke score can add £150k to a £250k valuation. That feels like a worthwhile effort. Before you leap into chasing the money, here are some pieces of advice to help you get there:
- be prepared to put in at least 1day for month of effort;
- use a method or system to do your improvement work – check out the Value Builder System;
- measure your progress;
- get help, whether that’s a colleague, business coach, peer group or your accountant;
- be open to changing your thinking as you are the one who created the hub.