Summer Vacation and the Hub and Spoke…


If you’re into bike riding or cycling you know the importance of a well maintained hub and properly tensioned spokes connected to the outer wheel.  Both are critical components, though one is clearly more significant than the other. If one spoke breaks the bike will still function, but if the hub fails it’s all over.  The ability for the wheel to spin is entirely dependent on the hub, not on the individual spokes.

Another simple analogy is a major airport, it is the hub and spokes connect to other cities.  If there is a weather delay at one of the smaller airports it has little impact on the hub or the overall traffic.  But if weather shuts down the hub, it usually creates chaos.

One of our Aspire Clients is currently on a 2 week family vacation in an RV touring the Northwest.   Yeah, you’re thinking the same thing we are….Robin Williams Movie  “RV”? 🙂     The last update had them somewhere on Hwy 101 along the Oregon Coast, arguably one of the most scenic drives in the country!  We hope they are enjoying the family time and creating some great memories.

So what does a 2 week Summer Vacation trip have to do with Hub & Spoke?

When it comes to business, the answer is a lot more than you might think!   But first you need to understand the Hub and Spoke and how it pertains to your Business.

Hub = You – Business owner/Leadership Team

Spokes = Connection to Employees, Customers, Vendors

End of each Spoke = Employees, Customers, Vendors.

One of the biggest drivers in the value of your business is how dependent your business is on you (or a very small number of individuals) in the daily operations.  If you think about the hub being you with your employees, customers, and vendors all being at the end of the spokes;  do most of the decisions travel back and forth on the spokes to the hub (through You) or do they travel along the outer wheel by-passing the hub (around You)?

If you ever think you might want to sell your business, one of the first things a prospective buyer is going to want to know is how well the business will run without you, even if your business is generating a ton of cash.  If it turns out “you are the business”, what you have is more accurately a really good paying job, not a business someone wants to buy, unless they want to buy your job.

As much as most business owners hate to admit it, the reality is that more often than not, way too much of the business travels through them at the hub. And just like the hub failing on a bicycle or a major airport shutting down due to weather, what comes next is never good. And even if it doesn’t outright fail, the hub becomes the limiting point for growth and volume. For an individual owner, there are only so many hours in the day…and you’re probably already working most of them!

Three Simple ways to reduce dependency on the “Hub”      

  1. Start by documenting processes you currently do.
  2. What can you delegate to others? What can you automate or outsource?
  3. What suppliers or vendors are you talking to that could be handled by someone else?


Finally….The Test

This is the best part.  If you honestly want to know how your business will run without you, you need to conduct a test, you need to take a Vacation!  And that’s where our Aspire client’s 2 week vacation ties into the Hub and Spoke.   The rest of the leadership team and employees have been empowered to make decisions on their own, everything isn’t passing through the single hub for the business to operate.   And the owners are not just providing jobs for themselves and their employees, but they are building a business with value.

What about your business?  Are you more of a hub than you want to be?  Do you have a favorite vacation spot to suggest for someone wanting to test how their business will run without them?  As always we value your comments in the space below.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach