I spent the day at church today going through some classes I needed to take. One of the things we talked about was the seasons and how to everything there is a season, you know, like the song.
This year is the “season” to grow…for all of us
It’s been 10 years now since the market shit the bed in 07–08’, and those of us who lived through it will always remember it. My business was just a few years old and I didn’t know if we were going to make it, but I was going to die trying.
We actually grew and expanded during that time. We added services, I added people to the team, it was a great time to expand. All the people who came on board back then are still with me, and I probably don’t thank them enough for all they do!
But this isn’t about me, it’s about you and your growth and your year and how we can help you.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself thinking a lot more about my business this time of year. Maybe it goes along with change of season, maybe it’s looking for change in general, but a lot of time is spent reflecting, and sooner or later, growth, or scaling, is going to pop into my head.
The trouble with scaling is it’s scary
Scaling or growing is when businesses make mistakes. A lot of contractors I know are fantastic at running one project at a time, but add another truck, another crew or another team, and all hell breaks loose.
I spend a lot of time talking to contractors and trying to help them scale. Scale their marketing, scale their businesses, scale their thinking, and the best way to sum it up is like this:
Growing isn’t an accident, it’s the result of last year’s labor bearing fruit today, and next year’s growth will be from what you do today.
Know that because it is true!
The act of growing or scaling is broken down into a few distinct components, or the 3 P’s;
Let’s talk about the bodies first. Just adding people to your business doesn’t give you growth or scale, it just adds an expense. That’s why you have to be absolutely bursting at the seams before you add someone to your team. That way, you are taking some of the edge off of something that was already at capacity, not trying to fill someone’s day with something to do.
If are just now starting to realize that there’s been so much shit that’s fallen through the cracks that you just can’t go on like this anymore, good for you. Your life is actually about to get easier…and your business is about to get better.
Adding the right people to the team frees you up to do the things that will help you scale. Adding the wrong people will be a noose around your neck.
That’s why you have to be committed to growing and scaling. A few bad hires up front (and there are going to be bad hires) usually sends the faint of heart scrambling back to their comfort zone. While this may make you feel comfortable, over the long haul, things will fall through the cracks if they haven’t already.
Hire right, train right, get out of their way and let them do the job you hired them to do. Empowering your team means trusting them with your brand, your business, your name, and it is hard, but it is so worthwhile!
But before you have good people, you better have Good Processes!
If you run your business from your head, you are screwed, you just don’t know it. You have no shot at growing or scaling if you don’t have any processes or systems in place.
I can already hear your question…But if it’s been just me, why do I need a process or a list when flying by the seat of my pants has worked so far?
I will answer you this way; by having processes in place as soon as possible, your job as a manager (even if you are managing just you) gets really easy. Here’s what I mean.
There’s a popular book that’s been around for a number of years now called The Checklist Manifesto, go get that. In it, the author describes the countless hours an airline pilot trains to become not just proficient at flying his aircraft, but a downright expert in his field.
Pilots train for every possible contingency imaginable and yet, what’s the first thing they do when they put their asses in their seats? They get a pre-flight checklist.
Because regardless how much training they’ve had, they could never be expected to remember EVERYTHING that is involved with making sure their aircraft is flight-worthy. That’s why they need a checklist.
Same thing for your business. A checklist is the first step to a process, and a process is a proper step you take when you want to scale your construction business.
Processes help the plumber go from one truck to two, systems help the remodeler go from one project at a time to multiple teams.
Instead of wasting your time or blowing opportunities, apply simple systems you can manage and then monitor the outcomes, rinse and repeat until it all just works.
You will find the opportunity to add a checklist or a process or a system to almost everything you do, and doing so will give your new team the ability to scale and grow.
Finally, don’t just let people do whatever works for them. Give them the checklist or the guidelines or the template you want them to follow and make sure your business is functioning properly and the way you want it to, not someone else.
Last but not least…Punting
When I say punting, you probably thought I was talking about football, but it also means to stop doing something, to give up, and I DON’T mean giving up your business.
For example, over at the agency, we are punting direct mail, and without going into all the reasons, I am perfectly fine with it.
- You could punt a service or a product.
- You could punt a person.
- You could punt an expense.
Steve Jobs famously said he is prouder of the things he said no to than any of the things he said yes to.
By punting certain aspects of your business, you remove dead weight that makes it hard for you to scale. Lean businesses grow lean businesses scale. Business with lots of extra weight just keeps adding weight.
Spend the next month or so evaluating what in your business is weighing you down. Is there a vendor who has been a pain that you’d like to replace? A sub who can’t get their act together? Maybe that Dodge pickup you thought would be a good idea last year is actually killing your budget…punt the thing. Punt it all!
So that’s it…that’s my 3 keys to scaling. People, Process and Punting
You can’t make everyone happy. You have to feel good in your own skin, you have to feel good in your own business. But you need to grow. It’s time to stop dicking around and just get by.
Make time for growth right now. Remember, the company you are next year is based on the decisions you make right now! What do you want to be next year? Still in business isn’t a good answer!
Like I said, growing is tough, but maybe your growth is coming from being stuck in a rut? You’re doing the same things, getting the same results.