Building a great construction business is not easy. It takes a burning desire to grow, make a profit, and continually improve by trying new ideas, installing systems, managing operational structure and hitting results. You must love what you do, love customers and not be afraid to hire people better than yourself. To build a profitable business, you must know how to price properly, track costs, know your numbers, understand contracts and do the paperwork required. To expand and grow, you have to market and sell, seek referrals and then present winning proposals. To take your business to the next level, you must learn how to trust people and delegate decisions to them so you can invest your time on high priority issues. This requires you to get organized and systemized so your people can do what you want them to do.
Where’s your business today?
Is it moving toward giving you what you expected when you started the entrepreneurial journey? Business owners had a vision of their perfect business when they started. As they began to grow, they hit the challenges and roadblocks of time, energy, money, people or customers. Many get stuck at the control lever and can’t let go of doing the work or delegating. Some have organization and time management problems. Some don’t like paperwork or accounting, and leave those for later. Others just like to do the work and don’t know how to run a business. In a survey of over 5,000 business owners I conducted at a large convention, the top reasons business owners fail are:
- Owner controls everything, doesn’t delegate and doesn’t change
- Owner doesn’t know the numbers and understand how to run a business
- No strong management team or systems
- Not enough money to grow
- Sell low price to win work and customers
Which of these factors are holding your company back from becoming a better business, growing or making a profit? Most businesses never get to the next level because the owner is not willing to make the necessary changes to make it happen. They get stuck in their “uncomfortable” zone doing the same things over and over, not hiring a strong team, delegating or putting written systems in place.
The perfect business?
Imagine owning a company 100 percent run by your management team. You only spend a few days a week in the office while your company makes an exceptional profit and generates lots of loyal repeat customers. The other three or four days you are free to do what you please-hunting, fishing, golfing, spending time with your family, seeking investment opportunities, giving back to your community, or just doing nothing. All while your company runs smoothly, makes money and you continue to get paid for being the owner.
Now imagine your company creates lots of other business opportunities to create a financial empire which gives you a generous positive cash flow every month. Does this sound good to you?
- Is your business where you really want it to be?
- Is your business headed in the right direction?
- What do you really want from your business?
- Am I willing to do what it takes to get my business on track?
Like many of you, I founded my construction company with only a pickup truck and a few dollars in the bank. With hard work, determination and drive, my business grew to $50 million annual volume. I hit my original goal of growing my company every year and became a “big” general contractor in my market. Along the way I struggled with the same problems all entrepreneurs face: not enough good help, not enough time in the day, not enough profit, not enough patience to get my people to do it right, few organizational systems and no freedom to do what I wanted to do.
Better is better!
In other words, my customers, employees and company were in control of my time. I had no life away from work. I was busy doing the wrong things. I was working too hard for the money. As my business grew I continued to work more and enjoy it less. Finally, at a crossroads, I realized bigger is not better. My business wasn’t working for me and I wasn’t getting what I wanted from my company. Finally I woke up and discovered better is better! But, how do you build a better business? Through trial and error, research, educational seminars, coaching, consultants and books, I discovered the step-by-step business success blueprint to get your business to work for you.
Step by step!
Most business owners start by trying to fix what is broken or urgently needed. For example, when you land more work than you can handle, your tendency is to hire anyone you can find to help you out. You don’t have enough time to interview and screen candidates properly. So you hire the wrong people, put them to work without training, and expect perfect results. To get good results, you need good systems before people can do good work. Great people are an asset, but when each of your employees does things their way, you end up with different and poor bottom-line results. This then makes you stress out about hiring people. It’s not your people, it’s the lack of systems and training that causes good people to do poor work.
When I started the process of building a better business, there was so much to fix. I didn’t know where to start or have the time to do what I knew it would take. I finally decided to dedicate four hours per week and figured it would take five years to get my business on track and the way I wanted it to be. Surprisingly, as I started to install systems, everything fell into place and we were able to improve much faster than anticipated. As we made fewer mistakes and had fewer emergencies I found more time to work on more the important issues.
Only you know what you want your business to do for you. Only you are holding it back from being what it can become. Take a look at where you are, decide where you want to be in five or 10 years, and then determine what steps to take. Start now by taking the first step out of your “un-comfortable” zone.
George Hedley is a licensed professional business coach, popular professional speaker and author of “Get Your Business to Work!” available at his online bookstore. He works with contractors to build profitable growing companies. To request your free copy of “Profit 101 For Contractors,” sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter, hire Hedley to speak, be part of his ongoing BIZCOACH program, or take a class at Hardhat BIZSCHOOL online university, visit www.hardhatpresentations.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.