By Andrew Houston
December 11, 2018 – Think about this for a minute: why did you get into owning your business? Over time, we tend to forget our answer to this very important question. Take a moment to pause and reflect on this, as your answer is a bit like a compass: either it will lead you to your goals or you will eventually get lost.
My experience has taught me there are three core reasons contractors decide to own their business:
• More control—Perhaps so you can have things run the way you want them to run.
• More freedom—Perhaps so you can do things you want to do, when you want to do them.
• More money—Perhaps so you can enjoy the lifestyle you want.
The specifics of each of these reasons will be different for everyone, but in all cases, the reality is that to obtain more control, freedom and money, you will need to scale up your business beyond yourself.
If you can’t get your business to grow beyond you, then all you really have is a job—which I like to say is an acronym for ‘just over broke.’ You see, with a job, you get paid so long as you show up; but if you don’t show up, you don’t get paid and, eventually, you’ll run out of money and go broke.
Ideally, a business owner is paid for being the CEO, the leader, the goal-setter and the one who focuses on building the business with high-value tasks. The biggest difference in having a job and being a business owner is the shift that is needed in your mind set, so you can transition from being on the tools to making profitable moves and decisions as only a CEO can.
So, how do you scale your business up? How do you get it to grow beyond you? The answer is to build the right structure for your business. Having a solid structure is important to prevent everything from crashing down.
To do this requires a four-step process:
1. Draw up an accountability chart
This is a picture of each role in the business, arranged in order of who reports to whom, from the bottom to the top. If you don’t identify the hierarchy of the roles in your company, you will never achieve the level of communication necessary to scale your business up further.
Get your team in involved in developing this chart to best fit your company. Then print off your chart and stick it up on a wall.
2. Define the roles
Don’t try to break down all of the various roles at once or it will become too overwhelming and take up too much of your time. Instead, start by outlining all of the tasks the business handles; this will help you define the corresponding roles. Define the results that are needed for each of these tasks and the rules that need to be followed. These are the three Rs: roles, results and rules.
Again, get your team involved in the process. One of your own core roles as CEO is to leverage other people’s help!
3. Identify room for improvement
Once you have defined all of the roles, it will be easier to see at a glance which department offers the biggest opportunity for improvement. Where there is an issue, 90% of the time, it is because that department is not being led properly.
4. Build on your progress
Work to optimize each department, one at a time with laser focus. This will involve getting the right people into the right roles and creating systems so they have the proper tools and support to do their jobs.
“Is this going to take a lot of time?” you might ask—and the answer is yes, it is, but these exercises in continual improvement of the structure of your business are just part of your own journey to become a champion CEO. Either you put in the time now or you pay the price of having your business depend on you fully, constantly and forever.
Andrew Houston is owner and founder of Profit for Contractors, an industrial controls licensed electrician and an electronics engineering technologist. He helps entrepreneurs with trades-related companies improve their business skills, so they can enjoy more control, freedom and money. If you have any questions about this column’s topic, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘EBMag Accountability.’
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Electrical Business Magazine.