I recently spent some time with a builder who has a staff of six and is doing some pretty cool projects.
He contacted me to have a chat about business and, in particular, how to grow his business in a controlled way.
It was a great opportunity to reflect on the lessons I had learned in our own business journey to date, and how we dealt with some of them.
The first thing for me was to understand what we wanted our business to do for us, what level of income we wanted, and what do to when we had had enough — such as an exit plan.
As I’ve mentioned before, you can’t build a house without a plan, and you can’t run a business without a plan. I use a simple business plan tool from the MBIE web site: www.business.govt.nz/getting-started/business-planning-tools-and-tips/how-to-write-a-business-plan.
What this did for me was crystalise where we are at currently, and what we need to do to get to the next step in our journey. I update it every year and break it down into quarterly chunks of actions towards the bigger picture.
Each month I have to do something on mindset, sales, marketing, team, strategy, systems and time. I have found that exercise great for clearing up the stuff in my head and setting out simple steps to follow.
DO WHAT YOU ENJOY
Part of the business plan template is an Org chart mapping out the roles within your business now and in the future.
So what will your business look like in the future and what people and roles will you need to successfully manage that business?
The main part of it though is to understand what role you enjoy, and fill the other roles with people over time.
A great read is The Emyth Contractor, which sets out how, when we start out, we are the technician doing the work on site, the manager organising the work, and the entrepreneur running and growing the business.
As your business grows over time, these roles become more defined and separate. You need to understand what you enjoy the most and fill the other roles with expert people. You must be across all roles, but not doing them all!
GET THE BEST PEOPLE
As your business grows and you need people for these new roles, the best advice I can give is to be clear about the position description, and then seek out the best people you can find.
There are plenty of ways to find staff, including employing an organisation to do the work for you and to present candidates.
Sometimes there is a concern around how you will pay for someone who is off the tools — essentially, an overhead to the business.
Every time we’ve had these concerns we were at a stage where we couldn’t afford to do it, and we couldn’t afford not to do it. So we just did it and it worked out!
MAKE TIME FOR SELF
One of the most important things we have done in our business is to programme all of our projects for five-day weeks.
This is to ensure ourselves and our team get to enjoy the weekend with family, and have a break away from the site or office.
There may be times when you have to spend a couple of hours meeting a client on the weekend, but it should be the exception not the rule.
It is also important to do some sort of exercise in a form that you enjoy, whether it is bike riding, surfing, the gym or anything in between.
Investing in your own health is the best investment you will make, and it is cool to spend the time doing stuff with family and/or friends.
IT’S NOT EASY!
As the saying goes — “if it was easy everyone would be doing it”. I think the best advice I can give is that it is not easy, and there will be times when it seems everything is caving in.
Talk to other people and keep following your plan. When you fall over get back up — there will be great times and some tough times, but that is the excitement of business.
There are plenty of tools out there to help you in your business journey, so there is no need to run your business by way of the “school of hard knocks”.
Enjoy the challenge of the next step!
Written by RMBA president Darrell Trigg and originally published in the Building Today Magazine