Let’s think about pain points. Businesses large and small hit pain points that stop growth. If you want to grow a business to $1 million in revenue, any number of pain points could derail that goal: lack of processes, a limiting mindset, you name it. It could be a combination of factors. But small contracting firms can minimize or eliminate most pain points with a little creativity and, sometimes, outside help.
I use my own business in a lot of examples in this column, but I know people who run other types of businesses and they all solve the same problems. They identify pain points, and put in place proper processes to proceed through them.
Investing in real estate can create a lot of work if you let it. I’ve met landlords who drive around each month picking up checks. Yes, it’s easy money to spend an hour driving around, getting checks and depositing them. But why do it if you don’t have to? For our business, it was a pain point.
Pretty quickly after forming the family real estate company, we set up tenants on an automatic payment system. Landlords use the term “mailbox money” to refer to the rent checks they receive every month: They get paid for going out to the mailbox or visiting the tenant to pick up cash. Automatic payments fall into the “inbox money” category, which is even easier. We get an email monthly when each tenant pays, and that “you’ve got money” joke between my wife and I never gets old. We solved a pain point with a one-time process change.
Small contractors can tackle their own pain points in the same way. Hate paper invoices you have to deliver by hand, mail or fax? Stop it. (Who even faxes anymore? It’s 2018.) Make a template once and fill it in with the details of each work order. Often, accounting software like QuickBooks includes invoicing templates. Set them up and use them.
The thing to remember about processes is that, if you find yourself doing the same thing more than a few times, set up a process to make it easier the next time. Your future self will thank you for easing the workload.
Hire It Out
Business owners who are any good at what they do know they have two major limitations: time and skill. If they try to do everything, they run out of time and family life suffers. Likewise, owners of growing businesses quickly learn that some tasks sit outside their core skills.
Repeat after me: Hire it out.
Do you have a phone full of unanswered messages from potential customers? Get a virtual assistant to route calls through. Better at selling drilling services than accounting? Get a bookkeeper. Hate hiring people? Use a staffing firm. It is money spent, which can terrify tight-wad business owners, but it is money well spent. It frees owners up to focus on higher-quality problems that make growth possible.
In my case, our family’s time is precious. Fixing the handle on a tenant’s toilet shouldn’t even make my to-do list. In order to grow our portfolio, we’ll have to spend less time on toilet calls and more time finding new properties to boost revenue. We’ll eventually farm out property management. When the time comes, that will solve a pain point for us.
The bottom line: If your business would collapse if you didn’t show up every day, you’ve build a job not a business. As a business owner, focus as much time as possible on things you enjoy and that you’re actually good at. Let processes and other people handle what you don’t have time or skill for, and you’ll grow right past every stumbling block in your way.
What pain points do you have in your contracting business? What processes or outsourcing strategies helped? Tell me your story. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, drillers.