I talked to a fellow contractor recently and when I asked him how long he’s been in business, his reply was “20 years, but I think I repeated the same year over and over for the first 15.” 😳 😂 If you’re nodding your head and thinking “been there, done that,” I’ve got some good news for you…. almost every business goes through a Natural Evolution. The trick to successfully navigating it however, lies in your ability to:
1. Identify what phase you’re in
2. Make the needed adjustments to move into the next phase
Here are the phases:
Common Sense –> Brute Force –> Best Practices
The Common Sense phase is just what it sounds like. You’re good at something, or interested in a specific trade and decide to make a go of it, so you do what “makes sense.” In the world of painting (which I know best as far as the trades go), this might mean buying tools and equipment, learning the basics, spreading the word that you’re now providing painting services and taking on one job at a time for a price that allows you to pay your bills with a little left over. With no major overhead expenses yet, you can work IN your business during the day, work ON your business after hours or on the weekends, and you can maintain this for a while as you continue to build your brand and establish a reputation…
But … as I like to say … if you’re good at what you do, your business will grow naturally, and to meet the new demands and increase your profitability, you will need to add more people to your team. Finding a few guys and gals to join you will allow you to produce more work and generate more revenue, but it will also mean additional business expenses to accommodate your new structure. This inevitably leads to the Brute Force phase, which is very easy to move into (often times without even realizing it), but more difficult to move out of.
In the Brute Force phase, you’re still operating on the principles of Common Sense, but by now your business has most likely outgrown the ability to “just do what makes sense” anymore. Multiple projects and multiple crews often lead to inconsistency from job to job without a more formalized approach to HOW you do WHAT you do (i.e. – written systems and processes). You might deliver 5 star service on one job only to turn around and have a major callback on the next. And you may struggle to identify WHY, in your mad dash to keep up with the new demands on your time both IN and ON the business. If you’re working 60+ hours a week and still don’t feel like you’ll ever get caught up, then you’re most likely in the Brute Force phase and “just pushing through.” No one wants to stay here, but many business owners struggle with determining HOW to move out of Brute Force and into the Best Practices phase….
Getting to Best Practices requires you as the owner to spend more time ON your business than IN your business, and to do so effectively you will need additional overhead to support this shift. This could include people, technology, and infrastructure, and should be looked at as an investment and planned for in your overall budget. I like to call them “step changes,” and while you should plan out a few at a time, you may not be able to execute them all at the same time without causing too much of a dip in your overall profitability.
The first “step” is often hiring someone to help out in the office, which will be a new overhead cost for your business. If done well, after a slight dip in your productivity (during training and on-boarding) having a dedicated person to handle your administrative tasks should result in more efficiency overall and more time for you to focus on selling and continuing to build your brand. Hiring this person will also require you to get the “common sense” systems you’ve been operating on out of your head and onto paper. To successfully onboard and delegate, you’ll need clear procedures to train this new hire. This is also a great time to add procedures for the field as well to ensure a consistent experience on each and every project.
The Best Practices phase is where you truly formalize your business. The goal is having the day to day operations of your business run smoothly without you needing to oversee every little thing yourself. While this may seem like a daunting task, consider the alternative – staying in the struggle that is Brute Force for yet another year. Mapping out the path to move you into Best Practices phase is the starting point for it all. While business growth is often organic and unplanned in the early phases, successful and sustainable growth is intentional.
Need or want more help? Sign up for my free Business Assessment Webinar or schedule a free discovery call and let’s chat about mapping out the best plan for you to reach your business goals and life dreams. 🤩 🤩