eCommerce Marketing

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


Happy family posing on the couch together at home in the living room

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, your business would be considered highly scalable and would have increased value.


To understand business scalability, visualize a large airport like Chicago’s O’Hare or London’s Heathrow. These airports act as a centralized routing location for the airlines. This system works great, until a snowstorm shuts them down and the entire transportation system grinds to a halt. This is an example of operations that are NOT scalable.


As a business owner, imagine that you are the airport. You run your business, handle important issues, and route tasks out to your employees. This works great right up until you’re no longer there to run things (the proverbial ‘snowstorm’ hits you business). 


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 SCALABLE. 


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 PupBox. 


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 leave.

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