Steve Jobs Has One -- Why Don't You?

Last Updated Jan 25, 2011 2:27 PM EST

On Tuesday of last week, Apple stock was trading 5% lower on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as America woke up to the news that Steve Jobs was taking another medical leave from Apple.

Five percent may sound like a lot, but how much less would your business be worth without you? For many business owners who are too involved in day-to-day operations, the answer would be a lot more than 5%. In fact, a business dependent on its founder is worthless if the owner leaves.

One of the reasons for the relatively mild hit on Apple's stock (it dropped only 2.3% on the Nasdaq that Tuesday) was that the market knows Jobs has Tim Cook, his chief operating officer and second-in-command, to run things. While arguably not the product visionary that Jobs is, Cook presided over Apple during Jobs's previous medical leaves, and the company continued to grow.

Like the Leo McGarry character in "The West Wing," your second-in-command has the role of running your operation and thereby protecting your time to make strategic decisions. And you don't have to be the leader of the free world or Steve Jobs (sometimes I wonder if they are the same person) to hire a second-in-command.

I think a five-employee company can benefit from a 2iC just as much as a giant can. The question you need to ask is "What is the opportunity cost of not hiring a second-in-command?"

Let's say, for example, you can hire a second-in-command for $200,000 a year. A lot of money, I know, but how quickly could you make that salary up if you were freed from the day-to-day operations of your business? Could you generate $500,000 in sales? About another million in sales? How about two million?

If you could dedicate all of your time and energy to growing your business, instead of dealing with the minutiae of running it, what kind of return could you get on $200,000 invested per year? Only you can be the judge, but asking yourself the question is worthwhile.

I'm curious -- have you hired a second-in-command?

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John Warrillow is the author of Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell. He has started and exited four companies and was named one of America's most influential marketers by BtoB Magazine in 2008. Think you can sell your business? Take the Sellability Index Quiz. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/dfarber)
  • John Warrillow

    John Warrillow is the author of Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell. He has started and exited four companies. Most recently, he transformed Warrillow & Co. from a boutique consultancy into a recurring revenue model subscription business, which was acquired by The Corporate Executive Board. Watch this video to hear John's thoughts on starting and growing a business you can sell.

    John and his book "Built to Sell" have been featured in CNN, MSNBC, Time magazine and ABC News. John was recognized by BtoB Magazine's "Who's Who" list as one of America's most influential business-to-business marketers.

    John now divides his time between homes in Toronto, Canada, and Aix-en-Provence, France. He is a husband and father of two rambunctious boys.