MYTOP is an acronym I created to describe a key strategy business strategy.  I’ll explain what it means and how it works momentarily. But first, I need to preface why the MYTOP theory is a critical element for business success and sustainability.

With unemployment rates at unprecedented levels, more and more Americans are finding the best path to a new job is creating it themselves. As a result, we’re seeing an increase in the number of self-employed individuals. Whether you label them as consultants, independent contractors, or freelancers, they are in business for themselves and by themselves.

But I ask, “Have these people really started a business?” I would argue that they have not. There is a difference between creating a job for yourself and starting a business. When you create a job for yourself, once you stop doing what you are doing, the business — or income — stops too. By contrast, when you establish a business, the company eventually becomes bigger than you alone and can survive without your daily contributions.

Now to explain the MYTOP theory. MYTOP stands for Multiply Yourself Through Other People. In order to build a sustainable business, your service or product offering needs to be easily taught to and followed by others. Otherwise, you will always be “the business.”

At this point in my life, I own and operate two companies: Susan Solovic Media and  Susan Solovic Media is all about me. It’s a business I launched because I have certain business initiatives that are personal to me. While I have three part-time employees working with me in the company, it will never be a sustainable business model because without me, there is no product.

However, is a company I helped launch that has the operational processes in place to become a sustainable business with a clear exit strategy. My partners and I wanted to build something with value beyond the three of us. So today, is a strong organization supported by a team of talented individuals who know how to provide a consistently quality product to our market — without my day-to-day operational involvement.

Why is this distinction so critical? Because building a business is hard work. It’s a major commitment of your time, financial resources, and intellectual capital. If you are “the business,” when you want to retire or sell the company, it will have little if any value. Without you, there is no business.

Conversely, a business organization that’s functional without you has ongoing value. Your exit strategy may be to pass your company on to your heirs. I’m seeing many businesses continuing with second- and third-generation ownership. Another possible exit strategy is to give your employees an opportunity to buy you out. Finally, you can always sell to an unrelated third-party or competitor.

There’s no right or wrong answer to these business scenarios. Some people are happy with a consistent income stream and don’t want to grow their business beyond that point. However, it’s important to recognize the limitations of that decision early in your business development. I’ve met many dissatisfied entrepreneurs who were unable to sell their businesses or practices because they allowed themselves to become the business.


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AvatarSusan Solovic

Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney.