Running a Company Is None of My Business

I don’t know how to run a business.

Yep, I said it. And it’s true.

Back in 2005, my business partner came to me and said he was leaving. He was leaving to pursue a lifelong passion and a new career.

At that time, he was the business manager, in charge of the books, the people, the taxes, and all the bullshit. I was in charge of creative direction, production and making sure the clients were happy.

I had some decisions to make.

I could just walk away from ABC, let him walk away and then form a completely new business and take all the existing clients who I had close relationships with already and fold them into my new venture.

Or, I could dust off my 10-year-old resume and go knocking on the doors of the local ad agencies and – gulp – ask my longtime competitors to hire me.

Or, I could do what I did and take over the company as is.

We had some great employees and solid clients. We had some brand equity and I had already busted my ass for 10 years growing this thing. I will not bore you with the year-long process of buying out my partner. That is a whole other story for another time.

In the fall of 2005, I signed the papers. I was now sole owner of ABC Creative Group and I now owned a business. I was 33 years old with a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old at home.

But, this is not about the trials and tribulations of ownership, however, or the fact that the stock market crash was looming only three years later or the fact that my partner had kept the books for years in a way even a seasoned CPA couldn’t understand.

This is more about the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.

I was a creative, a MacGyver. That is what I was good at – solving problems and creating kickass campaigns; not balancing the books, AR/AP reports, taxes, workmen’s comp and any of that HR crap that still makes my skin crawl.

I hate anything that requires an Excel spreadsheet.

Running a company is about common sense and surrounding yourself with people who actually know what they are doing. It’s about not being afraid or too pompous to say you don’t know something.

I have actually spoken with many very talented, mostly young entrepreneurs who have revealed the same thing – that they have no idea how to run a business.

They are good at what they do and they focus on that.

Hire people, create good partner relationships and let those other people do what they are good at – like HR and accounting and all that Excel spreadsheet nonsense.

So, fellow entrepreneurs and creatives who have no idea how to run a business, you stick to what you’re good at.

Go ahead start a business, buy a business, have fun and be passionate about what you know.

In my case, more than a decade after the fact, ABC has more than tripled in size and I am still having fun, most days. I haven’t opened an Excel sheet in years.

Of course, sometimes I still get sucked into some kind of business owner boredom. Unfortunately, you have to.

But, most of the time I get to create, think, do and collaborate with very talented people and clients. That is until I finally have enough money to buy that island, then I’m out of here.


About the Author

As ABC’s commander-in-chief, Travis Bort is involved with everything that goes on around here: creative direction, client consulting and, of course, running the company. He channels more than 20 years of experience in the business to continuously take ABC in bold new directions and build his team of creatives and account managers based on client need. Travis’ creative mind and high standards make him the gatekeeper, ensuring every ABC idea is the best one for the client.