The top two reasons entrepreneurs go into business are for the pursuit of freedom and wealth. This includes freedom from working for someone else and the ability do business as they please; freedom to say no to bad customers, jobs, employees or contracts; and the freedom to go to work if and when they want.
Wealth creates financial security and a lifestyle that allows business owners to make decisions on how they spend their time and money. Wealth also allows owners to hire the best managers and invest in the right people, equipment and technology.
Unfortunately, freedom and wealth are not the norm for many smaller or growing companies. When owners work too many hours on details, contracts, purchasing, scheduling, estimating, project management or field supervision versus business strategy, coaching people and building customer relationships, they don’t make enough money or have enough time to reach their goals.
For owners who are working more and more, not making enough money for the time invested and enjoying it less and less, consider these questions:
- Does earning a living give you time to do any living?
- Do you ever stop and wish it would get better?
- What is it going to take to make your business work for you?
- Are you too busy working to make any money?
Do More, Make Less
When you spend all of your time doing small work, you aren’t spending time doing the important, strategic tasks that can move your company to the next level. When you are too busy to hire people, manage your money, grow your field crews or implement solid systems, you are stuck.
When you are overworked, you cannot create enough time to seek better opportunities, customers or project types with higher margins. And when you do too much yourself, you cannot build wealth, make money and have the freedom to enjoy the benefits of business ownership.
When I talk to business owners, many say they aren’t content or happy with their company, management team, customers or financial results.
Yet, they stay in business, doing what they know how to do, simply because they don’t know what else to do.
They aren’t sure what to fix first, hesitate to hire professional managers and don’t want to invest in major improvements to get their business to work.
They say, “I can’t afford to change right now, so I’ll just keep working harder, and maybe it will get better someday.” My conclusion is that most business owners become comfortable being uncomfortable. They are used to the pain.
Take Control of Your Future
Is your problem a lack of time, knowledge, ideas or commitment to stop doing the less important work yourself and delegate it to someone other than yourself? What are you afraid of? What is holding you back from making a decision to change, take a risk, hire, delegate, upgrade, let go or try a new way?
What are you doing that you should delegate instead? I recently spent a few days with several of my clients helping them draft plans to achieve better results.
Each client has 30 or more managers and employees on their teams who are competent, qualified people. But the biggest problem I observed was owners who were doing tasks they shouldn’t be doing.
For example, I observed one of them setting up his field superintendent’s computer, ordering snap ties for concrete forms, meeting all field workers daily at the shop at 6 a.m., going to Staples to pick up printer ink, dropping by Home Depot to get plywood for the field, scheduling the mechanic to repair a broken-down truck, meeting a concrete saw-cutter at a jobsite to lay out work and doing all of the projects receivable invoices for all the company’s jobs.
What I didn’t observe was the owner creating time to meet with a new, major customer who was willing to award the company a significant amount of work.
Do What You Should Do
To start enjoying the benefits of business ownership, begin doing what you should do, instead of what you are currently doing. Make a list of everything you can delegate to your current staff and give it to them to handle going forward.
Keep a list of these responsibilities, and check in with your team weekly to make sure these tasks are getting done. Next, decide what else you could do if you had more help.
For example, by hiring a project administrator and assistant, you could delegate numerous duties including: managing job setup, downloading plans, managing the submittal and shop drawing process, keeping track of the estimating schedule, filling out bid documents, doing cost coding and entering invoices for your review, updating your website and more.
For a small amount of money, one additional person would improve your time management enough to allow you to go out and build relationships with better customers or mentor your managers to accept more responsibility.
Create Freedom & Wealth
To create more freedom, you have to decide to put yourself first and take more time off. One of the best decisions I made as I grew my company to $50 million in annual sales was to leave the office early every Friday afternoon to play golf with a group of friends.
As a result, I gained lifelong friendships, and I forced myself to be more efficient at the office. Working less hours actually made me more focused on achieving my goals because I had to delegate tasks and concentrate on doing only the high-priority things.
To start building wealth, I worked to seek higher-margin customers and projects and spent time developing opportunities to invest our efforts into income producing properties. Start doing what gives you the highest return on your time. Let go of the small things that others are capable of handling as part of their jobs.
Fall Down to Improve
As a youngster, my dad took me snow skiing in the local mountains. As I watched experts racing quickly down the slopes with perfect form, he said, “You will never get better standing there watching and wishing you could ski as well as they do.”
With that advice, I tried to ski down the mountain as fast as I could. My goal was to fall down on every run. You don’t get better if you don’t fall down, take risks and try new ways of doing things.
What new tactics have you tried in your business lately to make more profit or start hitting your freedom and wealth goals? It’s time to take the next steps that can move your company forward.
Have you noticed successful people always get up when they fall down? Take note, in both business and skiing, the truly successful ones fall down a lot. What’s most important, though, is that they always get back up again.