In a conversation with a builder today, I noticed huge similarities between the construction process and running a successful business.
This design/build contractor was stating that the best way to run a construction project was to take time to strategically outline the details and then execute the plan. He was explaining how costly and frustrating it can get when his customer makes big changes half way through the job. “Once the foundation is poured”, he said, “it can be very costly to change the design. Time spent planning will always pay off down the road”.
After a while we began to discuss his business and how he moves through his day. “I am constantly putting out fires and sometimes ask myself if I should be doing something else with my time, something more productive”
It hit me that the construction process is not unlike the business process itself.
Make a plan, then work the plan
When we think strategically about our business processes, we can be more effective, more efficient, and happier because we know the tasks that need to done. With a process in place our people then execute the system. Without the clarity of knowing what really works in our business, it’s not surprising that we wander day to day throwing stuff up on the walls of our business to see what sticks.
What specific activities generate new business? What percentage of business comes from the web/social media versus word of mouth referrals? Are you constantly changing course mid-stream? What is the most profitable part of your business? What’s the most productive use of your time and talents?
As the captain of the ship your people and your customers look to you for leadership and direction. Do you know how effective you are in the leadership role? Do you know what makes a good leader?
To successfully pour a foundation, for example, a specific process is followed. A plan is drawn up, general site work takes place, a survey is conducted and stakes positioned to mark the site. People and machinery are brought in to dig the hole, set the forms, pour the concrete, remove the forms, etc.
Do you have similar procedures in place for your business? How you market, answer the phone, take a customer through the sales process, and hold employees accountable?
Most of us come to business from the technical end. We are great carpenters, accountants, photographers, etc. The challenge is when we begin to grow and change our knowledge needs to change with it. Our job description changes from “carpenter” to leader. The activities and knowledge needed by a leader are completely different from that of a technician in the field.
In order to grow your business and have a sane life outside of work it’s necessary to have a solid strategic plan. A plan for your business, a strategic marketing plan, a road map for your people to follow and the desire to change.
The desire to change is the first and most important step. Often business owners don’t make a change until they are feeling the pain. The pain of 60 plus hour work weeks, strained relationships, dwindling check book balance.
Time to face reality.
What’s working in your business? What’s not? By taking time away from the day to day operations and getting a 30,000 ft. view of your business, you will find clarity and direction. Your people, health, relationships, and business depends on it.