EPISODE 30 – Success Comes From The Business Owner
Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Builders Business Success Podcast!
If this is the first time that you’ve listened to or watched an episode of this podcast, the purpose of it, is to really address a whole lot of building industry norms that create unnecessary pain. And there’s a lot of that with staffing, with money management, with finding clients, with managing clients, you name it, there are always challenges.
So, we’re looking to offer you suggestions and the big majority of the suggestions and the ideas that we put into this podcast come from, I guess what I could call a laboratory, which is Builders Business Blackbelt.
It’s a bunch of builders that, just like you, have been around the building industry for quite some time and experienced those issues. And, together over the years, we have been working on solutions to eliminate those issues and I’m gonna share those with you in each of these episodes.
So, in this particular episode of the podcast, I want to unpack this question that I ask quite regularly in our Facebook group.
So we’ve got a Facebook group and funnily enough it’s called Builders Business Success Forum. And, if you’re not a member, jump across answer a couple of questions, jump in there and you can ask as many questions as you like and consume other stuff that we put in that Facebook group.
But, I often ask this question, and the question is, which person, which human contributes most towards the success of the building businesses is it the customer, is it the team, or is it the owner?
Very rarely, in fact I can’t remember the last time someone answered it, what I would call correctly.
So, I want to unpack that and explain why it’s a one of those questions that most people get wrong and it can really change your business fortunes when you get the answer right.
Also, going to do a Q and A, the question that we get asked all of the time is, how do we find reliable staff? So I’m going to unpack that question and give you some answers as well.
And as usual going to have a personal productivity hack because if you’re like most builders, you work long hours, you can get quite distressed about the amount of work that you need to do and not being able to to do the things you really wanna do.
So, personal productivity is pretty important so I’m gonna give you a hack as we do in our episodes of recent weeks.
*Transcription of the show*
The question I ask a lot in the Builders Business Success Forum is, who contributes most towards the success of the building businesses?
Is it the customer? Is it the team or staff? Or is it the owner? The majority of answers that we get is, “It’s the customer, you idiot.”
I quite often get told, you can’t have a successful business without a customer and, strangely enough, I didn’t just land my spaceship yesterday and I don’t know what’s going on. I understand that a business can’t function without a customer, I get that.
But the question is really pointed towards, which of those three human contributors to a business contributes mostly to the success of the business? And I don’t believe it’s the customer.
A few people that answer that question think they smell a rat and go, it’s a loaded question.
Of course, it’s not the customer, it’s the staff. And yes, that the team that you put together can have a profound effect on the success of a business but the real answer is you, the business owner, so let me pose this to you, that if you had a best customer and many businesses have a best customer not so much in the building industry because it’s so long between drinks, it could be years and years, but some builders might have a developer or what have you.
But when we’re just talking about the normal custom home building business, it’s a long time between repeat customers. Particularly if you’re talking about new builds. But, if you were to lose, your best customer, if you lost a great customer, does it spell the end of the business?
I’d suggest to you, no it doesn’t, it can cause a great deal of angst, and a great deal of stress, and a great deal of pain financially, as well as well as emotionally but it doesn’t spell the end of the business.
If a customer decides they’re not gonna come to your business anymore, it’s not the end of the business. If you were to lose your best staff member, you’ve put a lot of time into them, you’ve trained them a lot, they’re very, very valuable to your business.
But they leave, for whatever reason, is that the end of your business?
The answer is no, but if the owner wakes up one day and decides that’s it I’m not coming in anymore, I kind of think that spells the end of the business. It might run for a little while until the staff figure out the owner is not coming in anymore.
But the, and I am being silly here, because what I’m really on about is that the energy, the mindset, the focus, the communication, the leadership, all of these things that come from the leader can have such a profound effect on where the business goes and how the business turns out.
So, I remember, it was that, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” if you haven’t got that book, get that book, the author was Stephen Covey.
We lost him some years ago he was an amazing mind. And, I’m not sure whether it’s in the book but I remember listening to it on the audio version of the book which was kind of him doing a multi-day seminar unpacking the principles of the seven habits.
And he was talking about when you’re on an airplane who would you prefer to have the most training? The crew, the cabin crew or the pilot?
When he tells it at he’s seminar, he gets a few laughs because obviously people would prefer that the pilot really knows what they’re doing.
And, if you’ve ever read the “E-Myth” by Michael Gerber, he outlines that the biggest cause of small business failure, so, he’s not talking specifically about builders obviously, it’s just small business.
The biggest cause of small business failure is this, he calls it the fatal assumption.
And that is the assumption that because you are good at doing the work, you’re good at doing that technical work so, if you’re a carpenter, you’re good at all of that sort of stuff.
If you’re a hairdresser, you’re great at cutting hair. If you’re a motor mechanic, you’re an absolute wizard tuning up the cars, and making them perform because you are brilliant at doing that technical work, and you assume that because you are good at doing that technical work, you will be good at running a business that does that technical work, you’re delusional.
That’s what Michael Gerber says. He says that, that is the cause of the biggest majority of small business failure because you think you’re good at doing the work and you may well be good at doing the work, and I hope you are good at doing the work.
It doesn’t necessarily correlate to be good at running a business because business skills and mindset are very, very different to the technical skills and mindset of getting the work done.
And so, to build a successful building business if you’ve been in that industry and I’ve come through that industry as an apprentice and then you’re a tradesman, and then you start your own business, please understand that, that number one fatal assumption is I will be good at running a business because I’m good at doing the technical work.
We’ve gotta start thinking about the power that we have as a business owner to influence the people and the direction and the culture of our business.
So, the owner of a business, of a building business powerfully influences the direction and it’s so important, it’s critical for the business owner to be very, very clear on the direction or the purpose of the business.
If the business owner is kind of directionless, we just take on anything and everything. We don’t have a direction, we don’t have a purpose. And therefore that energy, that non-focus I suppose, spreads through the business.
And when we start to talk about staff and we’ll talk about that in a little minute, the certainty of the business owner is transferred into the staff.
If the business owner has direction, clarity, and certainty, that is transferred into the team, I was about to say staff and then I said team so I said tough, but you know what I mean.
So, when they feel that there is clarity and certainty, it changes the energy within a business.
You’ve got to get very, very clear. A fantastic business book.
I guess it’s a business book, but I book, I’ve talked about it before on the podcast is, “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek and he talks about businesses needing have, or people, people who are business owners, need to have clarity on their just cause, a cause that they can contribute to.
And that’s either with their business or the time and financial freedom they gain from running a successful business.
But you have this clarity because you know why you’re doing things and being able to have that conversation with your team is absolutely transformational in a building business so that the business owner powerfully influences the business through clarity of direction and purpose of this business.
An example of that might be understanding and constantly and continuously communicating to your team that the purpose of our business is to deliver high quality experiences for our customers. It’s not about the work and the workmanship. It’s about the experiences that our customers have.
That is our product, and if you understand that that is your purpose and communicate it, that changes the focus and it changes the priority for you and your team members. And guess what?
It powerfully influences the experience that the customer has, which comes around in a big circle back to the front-end of your business through referrals, and great testimonial for your business that gives future clients a great sense certainty about the quality of your business.
Another thing that the owner powerfully influences is the culture of the business. How are we do things, constantly communicating what below the line and above the line behavior looks like.
You need to have that these conversations regularly and something I would wanna do in a future episode of the podcast, is to talk about the various meetings that we encourage our Builders Business Blackbelt members to have, one of which is, a daily direction meeting.
The secret is in the name daily. And I want to unpack the agenda and the purpose of that meeting.
Other meetings we suggest is the weekly team meeting and the monthly one-on-one. All very different types of meetings with very different purposes, but man, oh man, can they impact the productivity and the culture of your business?
Increasing teamwork and team support and that team behavior and focus it’s super powerful. So, probably each one of us are those meetings is a separate episode on their own.
So, look forward to that in a couple of episodes in the future. Another powerful influence that the owner is over morale.
Just the energy, and if the owner is constantly showing up and they’re pissed off or they’re stressed, or they’re worried, that also transmits into the energy of the team.
If there is a problem, people look to the owner, look to the leadership and see how they are responding to that problem. And they get their energy from it.
So if you’re constantly pissed off and you’re constantly worried and stressed about things, it’s not doing much for the team because they are looking to you for that positive energy.
Everything’s okay, I’ve got this, we know how to handle this. And particularly when they see that there is a problem, they’re involved in the problem perhaps they bring the problem to you and how handle that is absolutely profound in how it affects your team and how they deal with problems their own problems that they can make decisions on fixing, on site and so forth and in the office.
I mean, how many of you have been frustrated because people keep coming to you coming to you all of the time with these little problems and you’ve said, “Well, I’ve told you how to do this before, can’t you make the decision?”
That might be what you’re thinking. Well, the bottom line is you have trained your team to be like that, because in the past you’ve probably just answered their questions every time they come to you with an issue, you’ve answered their questions and you’ve created what’s called learned helplessness.
And so, you have to take the time to ask them to come up with some solutions and you can have a conversation with them and unpack their solution so they can figure out which is the best solution. Giving them confidence, giving them certainty in their own judgment. And after a while, they leave you alone and make great decisions. And they feel good when you give them more responsibility and you support them with their decisions.
So, by doing that, productivity goes up, which can profoundly and positively affect your business. People turnover goes down which profoundly improves profitability again by not losing people and having to pay to find new people and trying them and so on and so forth.
So here’s a question, what should the business owner prioritize?
Well, the answer to that is a bit funny. You should learn how to prioritize. You should prioritizing learning how to prioritize that’s one thing, so you can have this certainty and consistency in your communication about what is most important in this business. I’ve seen many businesses where they don’t really know what the priorities of the business are.
So it changes from week to month and the team get confused, I thought that was important and now this is important. You’ve gotta know what your priorities.
They’re constantly communicating creating that consistency and certainty for your team member. Another thing that a business owner should prioritize is communication and their ability to constantly improve their communication skills. It’s so powerful. Communication is so, so powerful.
I would suggest to you, as a leader, as a business owner, it is the number one skill that you should prioritize improving.
We do this so much in blackbelt and the results and the feedback that we get is overwhelming in some cases where it is just simply changed how customers perceive the business, how the team so much more productive, so much happier, and all of the financial and success indicators show that by increasing the quality of communication, the people feel like they’re understood and there are less mistakes and less miscommunications all of the success indicators go through the roof.
So, please, give time and effort into improving communication skills.
And then there’s leadership. Communication is part of leadership but leadership, as we’ve talked about before is knowing exactly where we’re going. You’re out the front, encouraging people to follow, and they have certainty and confidence because you are consistent.
You’re not changing from time to time. You’re not showing that you crack under pressure in getting stressed, in getting pissed off, and all this sort of thing.
So, leadership skills super, super important, they are all of the things that, I think that a business owner needs to prioritize. How to prioritize communication and leadership.
So, the answer to the question is you are the most important contributor to the success of your business. And I hope you understand that that’s good news. You don’t need to blame the team, the staff anymore. You definitely don’t need to blame the marketplace or the customer anymore.
If you wanna have a much, much more successful business, make sure all of the focus is on you and your abilities, your skills, your focus, all of the things that we talked about. So, I hope that’s helpful.
Q & A
So Q and A time, the question that, and this kind of ties into what we’ve been talking about as well, but we get asked this a lot and where do you find reliable staff?
How do you find reliable staff? Well, it’s really two questions.
There’s two parts to it at least. The recruiting process is one part of it. And then when they are on board, the nurturing and growing process can really change whether your staff is high quality, productive, and reliable or not.
And again, I think both of these parts to this question, the recruiting and the nurturing growing parts are probably worthy of an episode on their own. But I’m going to do my very best just to give you a quick pricey of both of them.
When you are recruiting, recruiting is really all about identifying who you really need. And, I think that the mistake that most small businesses in particular builders make is that they’re not looking to recruit for the future of their business, they’re looking to recruit for the present.
And what that means is, I’ve got all of this extra work, I need to get somebody to do this extra work so I can then go do these other things, work on the business. And that would be true in the present.
But, what I would suggest that you do is design the business of the future. Literally get a pencil and a paper out and design the map of the business.
All of the area– I call them areas of responsibility, some people call them roles or whatever, of the business that would need to exist for you to get the results, as far as financial and time freedom that you desire for this business.
And so, how many people in what areas would be ideal to get you the results that you wanna get to? Then you look at the current team that you’ve got and the strengths and weaknesses of each of those team members.
Don’t worry about where they are now on this flow chart or this map of the business put them where you think they would best fit due to their strengths and weaknesses.
Then you can say, “Hang on, there’s a couple of areas here where we don’t have anybody that would be able to take care of that area.”
And, when you’re recruiting in the future, start to look for the characteristics that would be ideal to fill the holes in your business in the future.
They can obviously do the work that you need done right now but characteristics, it doesn’t have to– This isn’t about skill.
This is about character, the type of person that would be perfect for that hole you’ve got in your business currently and start to refine your focus with who you’re recruiting so they fit or can move into that space in the future. So your business can grow.
You’ve gotta have, and this is for, when you’ve found somebody bringing them on board, you’ve got to have very clear what I call purpose statements, rather than job descriptions. There’s a big difference between a purpose statement and a job description.
A job description basically just tells them what to do, a purpose statement tells them why they should do it. What the purpose is. And you watch what happens when somebody understands the purpose, because then they come and they contribute their whole self, their imagination from the neck up.
But, what I find is when you bring somebody on board and you just have a roll description or a job description, it’s just telling them what to do.
So, they wanna contribute, but after a while, they’re just being told what to do. The job description is dictating what they do.
They just show up from the neck down they do the physical stuff and they check out mentally. And most of the value is left behind. You’re not getting the whole value of the person.
So, make sure that the purpose of each area of your business is clearly articulated to the person coming in to fill that area of responsibility because they love it. They’d love to contribute, they’d love to take more responsibility. They wanna use their imagination and creativity to make things better for how their environment in the workplace operates.
You then need to have planned or scheduled communications about their ideas. So, this is the the weekly team meeting and the daily one-on-one, we’ll talk about that in future episodes. And you need to have reporting and accountability. Reporting isn’t, how’s it going?
We’ve got a member that’s been with us for, I don’t know, 13 years or 14 years and some years back that member had a, I suppose an operations manager coming into their business that was just looking after all of the various sites. And we used to talk about this reporting and accountability.
Eventually, that guy left and our member had to step in and take up that role until they were able to replace that person, only defined that it was an absolute disaster there is so much miscommunication, mistakes and errors, very, very costly. Put a lot of pressure and stress on our member.
But the one thing that he realized that he didn’t do was he didn’t really have reporting and accountability in place. His reporting was this, “How’s everything going?” And the project manager would go, “Good.” And that was the reporting.
There was no figures, there was no measurement, there was no reliable reporting and there was no accountability since learned from that to to put more serious conversations in place with numbers and proof, so there is accountability. Super important to have that.
As far as nurturing and growing internally, a lot of people are always looking for new people, new people, we can’t get enough stuff done but there is a lot of potential in your current crew. What you need to do is figure out how to get the potential out of them. There’s potential in productivity. There’s potential in creativity.
There’s a story or a book called “Acres of Diamonds” and it’s kind of what I’m talking about and the short version is a guy sold his property so he could travel the world to find diamonds so he could become wealthy only to find that the people he sold the land to put a diamond mine on his own property and it was, they become very, very wealthy.
That’s the short version you don’t need to read the book now. But that’s kind of what it’s like in a lot of businesses, building businesses, is that there are diamonds already in that business, what you need to do is figure out how to become the diamond miner. And that’s pretty much everything that we’ve being talking about in this episode.
So, I hope that answers that question if you’ve got more questions about that, jump into Builders Business Success Forum, the Facebook group, and you can ask all the questions you like about that and I’d be happy to answer them.
Personal Productivity Hack
Time for a personal productivity hack.
And this is just a small idea on how to become more personally productive and in the vein of what we’re being talking about here, when you become more personally productive, the team see that and it starts to rub off and you can start to share your knowledge and share your experience.
And you’ll start to get a better productivity with your team, but if you’re not productive, how can you expect them to become more productive and you can constantly and consistently improve your productivity.
So here’s one little hack that I want you to implement if you’re interested in improving your product, your personal productivity, and that is, create a new plan daily, right? Might sound very simple and it is, it is very simple.
But what you will see a lot of people they don’t have a plan at all it’s all in their head and they just get up and think working hard today is the secret. Some people think that they have a to-do list but they have this big to-do list and they just keep adding to it and crossing things out and it’s the same to-do list being added to and having things crossed out everyday.
Stop, start afresh everyday and go, what is the number one purpose and priority of today?
Build a list and then apply priorities to each of the events, and work at that plan, put it aside, and start a new plan the next day. Don’t keep using the same old plan. Start afresh every single day.
Another tip with that is,,when you are prioritizing or deciding what to do next is please, please, please, learn and understand the difference between urgent and important.
We are driven by our emotions and all urgent is as an emotion. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just an emotion. Whereas important is all about consequences so, if you ask this question, what will happen if I don’t do this today?
That gives you an insight on as to whether this is just urgent and I’m being driven by this feeling in my gut, or whether it’s actually important. Ask that question, what will happen if I don’t do this today? Always had the today on there because I’m saying do it everyday, a new list everyday.
And if you don’t get this thing done today there are very few things that if you don’t get them done today, it’s the end of the world.
But, we treat lots of these other things like if we don’t get them done that’s the end of the world, it creates this level of urgency upon level of urgency and layer upon layer. And you just get stressed out.
So unpack it, spend a few minutes each day figuring out your plan for the day and apply the priorities. And then the next part of this to make it work is stick to those priorities. It’s all well and good to create the plan.
But if you don’t read the plan and build your day according to the plan, it doesn’t work so well. So build your plan and follow that plan.
So, I hope that makes sense. Personal productivity hack.
Takeaway & Jump On A Call
So, what’s the takeaway for this episode?
Well, to me, the big takeaway is, in relation to the success of your business and this is good news, this is great news.
It’s not outside forces or circumstances that dictate whether your business is successful or not, it’s all you, if you invest more time on you, on your skills, on your mindset, your ability to think differently to get rid of your self-imposed limitations, things can change and things can change big time. Jim Rhon, again like Stephen Covey, we lost in the same year, two great minds we lost in the same year.
His quote used to be, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Very few people do that. “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” That means your personal and professional development activity needs to take a much higher priority. than the actual activity, like the work activity.
Years ago, I used to work for, or was consulting for Tennis Australia and they used to fly me all around the country, working with all of the, in the beginning, junior tennis players, and then professional tennis players and then eventually started to travel internationally with professional tennis players.
But I always remember doing these workshops for the kids and their parents and the coaches all in one room. And, I would often ask this question, because these are the top 40 kids in the country.
I’d say, “When it is game day, what makes the biggest difference?” “What contributes to your success the most?” Is it your physical skills and fitness or is it your mindset, your thinking, your ability to manage your emotions, which of those two?
And, without doubt, every single time, the kids, the parents, and the coaches would say the mindset contributes the most. And I’d say, “Well, would it be 80, 20?” “Would it be 50 or 40, 60?” “Or what would it be?” And now, I think that the average would have been about 80, 20, 80% mindset, 20% skill and fitness.
And then I’d ask, “How many hours a day do you contribute, well do you get involved in skill and fitness training?”
And sometimes it’ll be up to five, six hours a day and then I’ll just play the pen in the butt and mock around and say, “So that means that you would be, the rest of the day, you’d be working on your mindset and your emotional management.”
And they’d sort of look like, stupid, like I was taking the piss or whatever which I was because it’s like, everyone agrees that mindset how you think, and your ability to manage your emotions determines the success particularly in sporting competition and it’s exactly the same with business. Yet, very little time, is invested in it.
So that would be my takeaway from this episode for you is to start to prioritize your personal and professional development above the work. Another work needs to be done. So, you need to find time, for yourself, for your skills, for your mindset improvement. It is absolutely essential.
So, I hope this episode was valuable to you.
I hope it has influenced you to start to change some of your priorities and where you put the time in your day and your week. So, if you’ve got any questions, we’d love to hear from you love you to book a call, you can jump in to our website.
It is buildersbusinessblackbelt.com.au
You’ll find a scheduler call button there and we’d love to hear about your business and answer your questions as to how you think we could help you or if we could help you.
If you’re watching this as a video, there’s a button underneath, you just press the button, schedule a call, we’d love to chat with you and find out if there’s any way that we can support you and help you implement all of these things that we’re talking about in these podcasts, into your business, so, I hope this has been valuable for you.
We’ll be looking forward to talking to you again in another episode of Builders Business Success Podcast.
I’m Mick Hawes from Builders Business Blackbelt. That is it for this episode. Bye for now.