Run Your Business Like You’re Going on Maternity (or Paternity) Leave

How well does your company run when you don’t show up for work?

The answer to this question has a significant impact on the value of your business. Suppose your
company could survive your absence for a while. In that case, you will score well on something
referred to as “Hub & Spoke,” a driver in increasing your company’s value.

To understand the Hub & Spoke value driver, visualize a big airport like Chicago’s O’Hare or
London’s Heathrow. They act as a centralized routing location for the airlines that rely on them.
The system works efficiently enough until a snowstorm shuts down a hub and the entire
transportation system grinds to a halt.

Now imagine you’re the hub, and you run your business with important issues coming through
you. It’s efficient right up until the point you are no longer there to run things, which is why
anyone valuing your business will levy a steep discount.

The trick to removing yourself is to document your standard operating procedures so your
employees have instructions for how you want things done when you’re not around.

How a Maternity Leave Created a Business That Was Built to Sell

Just like many young couples, Ben and Ariel Zvaifler got a puppy and found themselves trying
to figure out how to train their new dog. They also wanted to understand what toys and food they
needed. The couple figured they weren’t alone and decided to launch PupBox, a subscription box
for new puppy owners.

Ariel Zvaifler was responsible for operations, among other things. She took great care in
selecting products and merchandising them inside each PupBox. She even considered details
around how each package would be shipped and how it felt when the customer received their


When Ariel found out she was pregnant with the couple’s second child, she set to work
documenting her standard operating procedures. She put together instructions for her staff
describing how to order products, merchandise each item, and ship boxes. It took Ariel six
months to document everything, but by the time she was ready to give birth, PupBox was
prepared to run without her.

These standard operating procedures were a big part of how PupBox grew and why the giant pet
retailer, Petco, acquired PupBox in 2017.

How to Get Your Company to Run Without You

Start by breaking down your job into tasks, and then prepare instructions for your team so that
they can follow your standard operating procedures when you’re not there.

Test your team’s knowledge by taking a couple of vacation days to see where your processes
have holes. Plug the gaps with more details, and then take a more extended vacation. Keep
lengthening your time away from work and tweaking things upon your return so that by the time
you’re done, your company can handle your extended absence, similar to a maternity or paternity


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