Tag Archives: Business Planning

Me, Myself and I

The best advice you can get is from outside, unbiased professionals who know your business, can give you real opinions of how to improve, and are not afraid of telling you the truth and hurting your feelings. I founded my commercial construction company in 1977. After only seven years in business, I had built up to 150 employees and we were doing $50,000,000 in annual sales. I thought I was doing great (and knew everything there was to know about business) for a young thirty-five year old. A friend suggested that a company board of directors could help me take my company to the next level. So, I asked five very successful businessmen to be on my advisory board of directors. At our first meeting, I proudly presented my goals, financials, and plans for the future. I then asked for their input. One by one they proceeded to rip me apart and ask questions I couldn’t answer.

Their laser-like questions included: 

 “Is that all the money you make for the risk you take?”
“Why are you only doing that type of work?”
“Why is your employee turn-over so high?”
“Why do you do so much of the work yourself?”
“Who else on your management team do you review the financials with?
“What is your plan to improve profitability?”
“What new customers and markets have you tried in the last year?”
“Why are you afraid to let go of major decisions?”
“Do you have a strategic business plan?”

These questions and many more made me feel really stupid and about two feet tall. I couldn’t answer any of them with good answers. I thought I had done fairly well building a company with me as the leader. But my inner circle and executive management team consisted of just me, myself, and I. And, I had obviously missed the boat on many major issues required to become VERY successful and VERY profitable. Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Are you alone making most of your strategic decisions. Do you continue to do business the same way and expect better results if you work a little harder?

Get some help!
My advisory board recommended I hire a professional management consultant and coach who specialized in helping construction business owners grow and make a profit. They also recommended I quickly work with the coach and my management team to draft a strategic business plan before I made another dumb decision. After several days of mourning and shock from the reality of the board meeting, I took the advice and decided to invest in the future of my company and get some help. I hired a construction business management consultant and coach who helped me look at my leadership style to become a better leader and analyzed our management team to determine who were valuable assets to our long term growth. He also reviewed and improved our overall operational systems, standards, and procedures to help us get organized, systemized, and more in control.  In addition, he reviewed our numbers and give us advice on how to make more money. After getting to know our company, he then did a great job at facilitating our two day strategic business planning workshop. I could have never made the moves and changes I needed to make without the help, advice, and pushing of an outside person who had no agenda except to make me and our company better.

Think about some of the steps you can begin to take to improve your business.


Change Your View


Grand Canyon - View from the Skywalk

You can’t get better and improve by spending time and talking to same 5 to 10 people for 5 to 10 years in a row. You have to change your view. Get up, get out, and go see new people, markets, cities, customers, and companies. Your goal is to learn and experience new ideas and ways to do business. Read new books, different magazines and hang out with different people. A new outlook will get you moving.

When you are stuck in the same place, it’s hard to get unstuck. Most people don’t realize they are stuck. Are you stuck? Year after year you:

– Call on the same 10 customers.
– Bid the same project types.
– Use the same proposal format.
– Use the same subcontractors & suppliers.
– Use the same software.
– Keep making the same excuses for the same employees
– Use  the same tools & equipment.
– Use the same bonus & pay system.
– Use the same marketing program.
– Use the same sales system.
– See the same people in the same places.
– Drive to and from work the same way.
– Try to make a profit by selling low price.
– Listen to the same complaints, every day, over & over.

Treading water?
When you’re stuck, the problem with most people is they don’t know where to start. They continue to tread water, stay frustrated and paralyzed, and can’t make decisions about what to do first with their sinking situation. I played water polo in high school and college. In water polo, like most team sports, the team that wins usually takes the most shots, has the most unique plays and uses different ones often, has the best players and changes them often when they aren’t performing, has the best strategy and changes it often, outplays their opponents with different techniques, and always keeps moving. Winning teams don’t just tread water and wait for something to happen.

As long as I can remember, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always wanted to start my own company, be my own boss, and make it on my own. Entrepreneurs are different than most people. Entrepreneurs are builders, risk takers, and make things happen. They are creators, always growing, and looking for new opportunities. Entrepreneurs are always on the move, trying new things, and don’t get stuck in the same place doing the same things. They never tread water waiting for something to happen.

Entrepreneurs know what they want and have a clear picture of what they want to happen. They have written plans to achieve their goals. And they always track and make progress towards what they want. Say you want to build a house. You hire an architect to get the process started. What’s the first question the architect asks you? ‘What do you want?’ To build and grow your business over the next several years, what do you want and need to do to make it happen?

What will you have to do to make it happen?

Contact George