I was reading another of Dan Holohan’s, fellow PM columnist and good friend’s, great eNewsletters.
This time what caught my eye was the headline of, “What Many Contractors Have in Common.”
So, I emailed him about how much I thought his identifying these 10 common key traits we, as contractors, tend to have was spot on:
- Most aren’t engineers
- Most contractors love stories
- Many are dyslectic
- Many hate math
- Most love challenges
- Most build knowledge like a brick wall
- Most make up their minds and stick with it
- Most are loyal to products
- Some will defend the problem product rather than be wrong about their decision
- Many let politics lead them
I also added in that email that having worked with contractors as a trainer and consultant for 15 years now that another set of common traits that many contractors have that tend to derail their success as business owners are:
- Never having a plan so tomorrow hits them like it’s the first day of their being in business
- Working on yesterday’s fires that they never proactively put out
- Thinking the next technical class they go to will fix a broken business because they work too much in the business and very little on it
- Resistance to learning how to properly delegate so they either do it themselves or they dump it on someone vs. delegating it properly
How do you get the train back on the tracks as a contractor?
Here are just 5 great steps to get your business headed in the right direction:
- Work on a business plan. It doesn’t have to be a 150 page novel. Just a few key pages that spell out what you want your business to be in the next 3 to 5 years and what are the steps to best make that goal a reality.
Note: There are great tools online for this such as Ellen Rohr’s “Weekend Biz Planner”
- Create an Organizational Chart with the boxes it takes to run your company. Even if your name will be in most of the boxes it will move you forward. The reason I say that is until you know what boxes [not titles like Vice President] it takes to run your company you’ll never be able to define the activities that must go on in that box so there’s no way you could ever properly hire someone to take that box away from you.
- Get all the business to-dos out of your head and pulled from your new business plan and put it down on either a Word document or better yet an Excel form. Then, prioritize that long list of projects, and as importantly habits, that need to be put in place to move your business to a better business foundation for sustainability and profitability.
- Edit that big list down to your Top 30 list which is what you’d hope to accomplish in a year
- And finally edit that Top 30 list down to your Top 5 list and every week make a vow to work on that list no matter how crazy the week is because this Top 5 is what you said to yourself is what you need to do to have the company you want and need to own.
And here are 5 more tips to help you, Mr. Contractor, overcome inertia:
- Lose the battle to win the war. You have to spend time training and empowering staff to help you even if they can’t do it as well as you. The temptation is to jump in and do it yourself and you will win the battle and lose the war.
- Stop thinking that meetings are wasting time. Good meetings are critical to the success of any size company and paradoxically even more important to small companies. If you are so busy, and I know you are, where are you going to find time to fix miscommunication mistakes? You won’t. Having short frequent meetings for everyone to get on the same page is the most valuable way to spend your time vs. wasting it.
- It will never be perfect! Get over it. You can drag your feet or you can act. More times than not, dragging your feet in business is a sure fire recipe for disaster. You can move faster once you have your plan and action steps. The way I describe it to clients is, “The perfect car you’re building will lose to my car that’s racing down the highway because your car will never leave the garage.”
- Use one calendar for all of your personal and business to-dos. The best calendars are Outlook or Google or any other type of software you like so you can better budget the most precious commodity you have….time.
- Take care of your health. It’s easy to be dashboard dining day after day and pumping down fast food one meal after another. Or, skipping meals because you’re too busy to eat and then find yourself late at night tying on the feed bag and piling on the food. No time for the gym? When are you planning to schedule time for being sick?
Start now by making a promise to yourself that you’ll be the contractor who makes success a reality!