Based on my years of operating, coaching and training in the in-home service industry, if I had to name the top five struggles contractors face, one of them would be failure to grow at the desired speed.
You’ve probably experienced the frustrating feeling of being stuck at a certain number of trucks or team members at some point in your career, and you might even feel that way right now.
In the early days of operating my service company in Colorado, I had that stuck feeling; I was working and trying so hard, yet felt like I couldn’t quite break through to the next level. When I figured out what the problem was, it was simple yet profound, easy to overlook, yet too important to ignore: The problem was me. I started attending personal and professional growth events, realizing more and more that if I wanted my business to change, I needed to change first.
A few insights
This hit me like a ton of bricks. Until that point, I was living the life of a typical entrepreneur in the contracting world, hoping for better team members, better attitudes, more calls and increased profit. I wanted all these things, but I was missing the crucial understanding of the fact that my own attitude and leadership style were the issues, not external influences.
The striking realization that I was completely responsible for my company’s shortcomings was both freeing and intimidating at the same time. After all, I only saw myself as a contractor, not a leadership expert. I didn’t think I knew how to motivate people. Heck, most of the time, it was hard enough to motivate myself to get out of bed and put in another exhausting week. Then, I started to practice a very powerful exercise that I encourage you to perform as well.
I began to see myself and my company through the eyes of my team members, setting aside the limited vision I’d been operating with. What does the company look like to them? What does it feel like to come to work here? An even bigger challenge was: Why do people choose to work for me and my company? I had to honestly analyze and objectively respond to these questions, even if I was uncomfortable with the reality of the responses.
The insight that I gained from this questioning and impartial observation began to open my mind to new possibilities in the contracting realm. I realized how often we accept undesirable results simply because “that’s the way things are,” and I refused to accept the norm any longer. I had always wanted to be a business owner, but what I had actually created in the beginning was a full-time job with long hours and few benefits. I was doing things in the business that I didn’t love instead of delegating them to people who did love to do those things.
All I knew was the situation had to change, and the change started with me. I began seeking targeted business education, modeling great companies and building relationships with successful contractors. The truth is, we don’t know what we don’t know. It is only when we embrace our lack of knowledge that we can open ourselves to the education that is essential to our leadership careers. You are in control of your destiny, my friends. We might not have a roadmap for every journey, which I’m sure you’ve noticed during the recent uncertain circumstances, but we can always modify our direction. Simply put, when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, figure out what you can do to transform the reflection.
You are your company. The size of your company, your product offerings and how long you’ve been in business are irrelevant. The fact is this: As you are, so is your company.
I often coach leaders to contemplate how their companies appear from the outside looking in. Many leaders allow themselves to become victimized by the tough times, focusing on external challenges and factors beyond their control. Remember, you are leading the company. You have the opportunity and ability to guide the vision in the direction of your choice. You earn the most money (or at least you should), so if you aren’t enjoying your position, how pleasant can it be for your other team members? Sometimes, we need to take a step back in order to realize how our personal behavior affects our business and individual team members.
If your company isn’t growing at the rate you desire, ask yourself how you can personally grow more. This is different for every person, so only you know the answer to that question. Your growth opportunities could lie in improving your communication skills, gaining a new perspective by talking to fellow business owners, consuming information (via books, podcasts, etc.) about leadership, hiring a personal coach or even becoming more physically fit. Just start somewhere that feels good to you.
It’s an easy time for any of us to blame our displeasing results on external conditions, but it’s also the ideal time to look at what we could be doing differently. Some leaders I’ve spoken with are experiencing difficulties right now, but many are thriving and having record months.
Trust me, I understand that today’s business climate is rapidly changing and can be challenging. However, the environment remains as it is, so as a leader, what are you going to do about it? One of the most impactful things you can do is to realize that your company is a direct reflection of your own beliefs, actions, motivation and implementation.
This is a profound realization, because it grants us the awareness of our ability to change direction moving forward. When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Take a good, hard look. If it’s not what you want, immediately begin rethinking the way you’ve always done things, making the changes necessary to propel you in the right direction.
Your personal growth might not be an item on your company’s balance sheet, but I can promise you it shows up there. When you improve yourself, you improve your company, period.
Once you recognize this and start taking new actions, you will begin experiencing the business growth you desire because you are focusing on growing yourself and your abilities first.