Your company is a reflection of you, but it does not define you.

Not too long ago, my lovely wife Christy gave me a card with a simple phrase on the front:

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about CREATING yourself.”

Obviously Christy knows me better than anyone on this planet and figured this phrase would resonate with me. She knows I am continuously working on improving myself, as well as helping my clients find their personal voice while refining their strategies and business models. This card just sums it up so well.

At this point you might be wondering what a simple little card has to do with our contracting businesses. It applies perfectly in the sense that we could easily replace the word “life” with “business” and say, “Business isn’t about finding yourself. Business is about creating yourself and your company.”

Based on the way I’ve structured my own contracting company, I’ve been called “The Life Design Guy for Business” by some of my clients. I believe we should be creating our businesses to serve our lives. This is why one of my recent teleseminars was titled “Who’s Serving Who: Life Design for your Business.” This topic is all about creating yourself and your unique company, while shaping your business to enhance your life.

Your business is a reflection of you, but it does not define you. Weaknesses that might show up at my own company, Peterson Plumbing, are nothing more than a reflection of the weaknesses I possess as a leader or business operator. The same holds true regarding strengths. This is a fact in my company, your company and about 50,000 other contracting businesses!

The pursuit of progress

Leadership comes with inherent challenges, but effective leaders step in and do what’s necessary when it’s necessary. They also create systems to effectively deal with recurring challenges, resulting in increased control over their time.

However, so many entrepreneurs and managers get lost in their day-to-day tasks and the daily grind that the last thing they end up controlling is their time. This is unfortunate because command of their schedule is often the primary thing they were initially hoping to achieve.

Lack of time control can hinder the overall progress of a company; as business leaders (and humans, for that matter) we desire progress more than anything in life. I’m a big fan of relentlessly pursuing progress with everything we have.

Let’s focus on three things we can do to improve our progress in building our contracting companies.

  • Clarity. When I ask most contractors what they need more of in their companies, it’s usually more money, more time and less competition. While this may be true, none of them are foundations you can build a precise plan around. You need to be more specific. Exactly how much money do you want to make? How many calls per day (by what trade source) do you want? What are you doing every day to drive the company forward?

    We can’t change our competition; we can only run our companies to be as efficient and effective for our own customers as possible. You must become clearer about what you want your business to be and to represent in your life. With clarity comes direction. It’s very hard to execute a plan when you lack purpose and clarity about what you’re creating.

  • Time management. I’ve written about the importance of time management in the past and I will continue to stress its significance. For now, however, I just want you to think about how you spend your time. Then I want you to realize whether you truly want to change how you spend your time. Be honest with yourself. Most contractors complain they don’t have enough time, but then continue to be inefficient even after simple business-improvement strategies have been laid out for them.

    Is your time spent “fire fighting” the same team member issues day after day? Then create a system and alter your management style! Is your time spent on technical management instead of training your people? Most of us came from the truck, myself included, and attached our identity to being the best technician that ever walked the planet. That had its place when you were a technician, but now as the leader of the company it must be addressed.

    Being a great technical coach is a wonderful talent, but you must expand your mindset and develop new strengths in order to effectively lead your company. It is going to take increased clarity coupled with consistent focus on business management and people development in order to gain control of your time.

  • Delegation. One of the most common challenges faced by small businesses is delegation. I recently had lunch with a general manager of a very successful HVAC business who had tremendous time management and delegation issues. When I asked him about the structure of his business, he told me he’s got a service manager, lead coordinator and dispatcher, but he can’t trust them to get things effectively organized and executed each day!

    Consider that statement for a moment. Why would we create these positions if we have to micro-manage the people in them? Are these individuals truly incapable? I don’t believe so. Will they make mistakes? Most certainly, because they’re human. We all make mistakes. If we’re not willing to train and delegate to people in those positions, holding them accountable to an agreed-upon outcome, we should never have created that specific role in our company.

    Keep in mind that your company doesn’t define you as a person. Our industry as a whole has had a very challenging time recently. If you’ve faced difficulties over the last year, you’re certainly not alone. It’s not about having challenges; it’s about how you respond to them.

    As you start taking a new approach to your business, remember to keep it simple. Examine your systems and daily challenges, and then structure them to better serve your life. As the great card that Christy gave me stated: Life (and business) is all about creating what you want.

    The better you can incorporate a successful strategy for your clarity, time management and delegation standards, the better positioned you are to create the company you desire in order to build the life you deserve.

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