McCadden: 3 Things You Should Always Be Working On

by Kyle Clapham
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If you’d like to grow your business, you need to prepare for growth. The best way to prepare is to create a plan for where you want to end up, say, 10 years from now. This plan should also include what you and your business will need to put in place each year along your path. The plan must be written down.

As I’ve shared in this column many times, small businesses fail because they are allowed to grow without the right structures in place. Systems and standard operating procedures (SOPs) must first be in place to support that growth.

In addition to the continuously improving systems your business requires—systems that are needed to ensure it runs efficiently and profitably as it grows—there are three other important considerations.

I find that most business owners are either unaware of these additional considerations, or they do not put enough importance on them. They often take years to fully address.

So, if you plan to grow your business, start working on these three things right away. Make sure they are already well in place before you grow too much. Otherwise, your business may grow, but that growth may not be sustainable.

Replacing Yourself

As your business grows, you’ll quickly find out you can’t keep up with everything that needs to be done. You must share responsibility with others on your team. To share responsibility, you must first become a good leader.

Most business owners are good leaders of certain activities. For example, they can take the lead when it comes to producing a project, selling a job or managing a design process.

However, many business owners are not good at leading people. As a good leader, your job is to inspire the people who work with you. You must inspire them to advance in their skills, roles and responsibilities. You must inspire them to become proactive in achieving the company’s mission, vision and values.

Similarly, your managers must inspire their subordinates. A good leader isn’t a micromanager or a dictator who is barking last-minute orders at staff to get things done.

A good leader mentors others to become leaders who know the details of why the business operates the way it does. A good leader gives the right staff real opportunities to think and act like an owner.

For example, a good leader mentors lead carpenters to take full control over their projects. You want them to be the kind of lead carpenters who will properly interact with customers, vendors and subcontractors.

Rather than seeking control over everything, a good leader aims to empower employees to become the type of leaders the business needs as it grows. A good leader’s goal should be to groom a bona fide replacement.

That is the best way to gain and keep control of a business. It does not happen by being the sole dictator who maintains control over everything and everyone.

Creating and Maintaining the Right Culture

I’ve observed many remodelers commonly make the mistake of solely concentrating their time and focus on the things that are right in front of them—business activities they must conduct in order to grow. By focusing on the nuts and bolts, important big-picture items are neglected.

You need to create the right culture required to support a large team of diverse employees. The culture at your business should be decided by, created by and maintained by the business owner.

It should not be left to chance or, worse, left up to the employees. The business owner needs to make sure the culture supports the vision of the business as well as the common interests of both the business and all the employees.

For example, if the culture is left up to the employees, certain employees may seek to guide the business and its culture in a direction beneficial to them, one in which they gain and maintain control for personal benefit. This often leads to competing cliques within the team.

If a situation like this is allowed to fester, some good employees might leave because they no longer fit in and don’t want to be there anymore. If you create the right leaders, they too can help protect and maintain the right culture.

Creating a Brand

A common misconception is that marketing is limited to advertising. Advertising is certainly part of marking. But so too is branding. Advertising activities are meant to cause leads and sales to happen quickly. On the other hand, branding is how you differentiate your business.

Your branding should promote the differences about your business and why that difference should matter to your target customer. The important detail here is your target customer. Branding is meant to help you stand out to a certain type of customer.

For example, the tag line we used at my remodeling business to help expose and clarify our brand was, “Details make the difference.” Consumers who appreciate a very detailed salesperson, a carefully considered design process, and a comprehensive written proposal liked our brand.

A well-known, well-crafted brand can pay dividends in a big way. Branding helps with referrals. If your brand makes promises, and those who buy from you experience what they expected from your brand promise, they will come back for more and refer you to others among your target customers. And when the economy slows again, which it will, your business will stand out in a sea of options.

Be the leader you should be, make those decisions and then mentor those on your team to help you build on your vision. If you do all this, and you establish the right culture along the way, some day you will have the option to step aside and watch your profitable business flourish without you there. QR

Shawn McCadden is a speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler with more than 35 years of experience. He can be reached at shawnmccadden.com.

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