Driving Value With “Less Expensive Gophers”

Here is a seemingly strange topic for our blog -rodents- and not in a disparaging, disgusting, necessary to exterminate immediately context but rather taking stock in their redeeming qualities. They are persistent, hard working, focused on the task at hand and not afraid to get dirty doing the labor intensive jobs nor above accomplishing the reoccurring mundane tasks. Think about the drive and creativity of those furry critters in Caddyshack who keep Bill Murray’s character, Carl Spackler, gainfully employed. February began with the groundhog, who we have come to rely on for a spring weather prediction, so lets wrap up the month with talk of a gopher.

Many business owners spend a huge amount of time going out for this, picking up that, or doing tasks that should be done by a less expensive resource. This includes running errands, writing checks, or trying to develop the webpage. Think about how much more effective you would be if you did only the following:

  • You do what you do better than anyone else (cultivate new strategic relationships or sell new accounts)
  • You do what the company needs you to do (be the visionary, lead and talk with customers); and
  • You do what you love doing (developing new relationships, solving problems, inventing new offerings or developing staff to do all of the above.)

Wouldn’t that extra bit of revenues pay off much more than the cost of a “less expensive gopher?” “
— Jay Eastland, Engineered Solutions of Georgia

We like what Jay has to say. His words caught our eyes in the TAB Blog. Jay is a business owner who clearly has done some thinking about growth and sustainment and has been around long enough to know one person can not do it all alone. While it may be difficult, as a small business owner, to relinquish some of your day to day operations, which are the very things that launched your business and brought you to where you are today, the reality is that you have grown from those beginning days. Your business has become so valuable that you can and should now afford yourself the time to focus on the higher level tasks. It is time to hire some “less expensive gophers” to carry out some of your business sustainment strategies: creating newsletters, handling the social media, monitoring the website, running errands, whatever tasks are distracting you from keeping the focus on growing your business.

STEP 1-Create and define your business practices.

You need to be able to articulate and pass along how you run your business. Whether you know it or not, this action is actually adding value to your business. You are establishing precedence that someone other than you can keep the business running and turning in a profit. Beyond freeing up some personal time to be strategic and concentrate on the bigger picture agenda items, whether they be business related or personal, as you look toward retirement goals, documenting the systems and processes necessary to keep the business running smoothly focuses efforts and eliminates someone new from having to recreate what you’ve already created. Also, once the procedures are defined you will have a much easier time hiring your gophers because the expectations of what needs to be done will be clearly outlined.

STEP 2-Hire others.

Now that you have created and defined the expectations and requirements, hiring others to perform theses duties, that you have been handling, will be a much smoother process. The presence of a new hire employee(s) will build confidence in existing employees, distributors, and customers. They will see this progression as a sign that your business is growing and has real staying power beyond just your involvement. These two actions will alleviate some of the personal goodwill (which encompasses your personal ability, skills, experience, contacts, and reputation) that is tied up in your business and by diminishing the personal goodwill you will add value to the business.

Do some research, evaluate your options, and hire wisely. Find one or more “less expensive gophers” to get the work done that you no longer need to be doing. Be honest with yourself, at one point in time it was saving you money not to hire employees but now your time could be better used elsewhere. Gophers are indeed diligent and hard working, after all-you are one too, and it is time to find some “less expensive gophers” who can help sustain and grow your business so you can focus on what’s next.

Dan is the Founder of Quantive and Value Scout. He has two decades of experience in leading M&A transactions. Additionally oversees Quantive's valuation practice and has performed thousands of business valuations.



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