Craig Durosko: 25 years later, if I had only known then...Part II

Last month I started sharing some of the lessons I learned from the last 25 years of owning a remodeling business. Here is the continuation of what I have learned from others regarding building a company and working with people.

February 15, 2013

Last month I started sharing some of the lessons I learned from the last 25 years of owning a remodeling business. If you missed it, you can find it at

Here is the continuation of what I have learned from others regarding building a company and working with people: 

Take care of yourself first. This may sound selfish, in reality, it is selfish. In a plane you are told to put on the oxygen mask first so you are able to take care of others, such as the child next to you (or someone acting like a child). Obviously you need oxygen to care for your child. In life we usually take care of others first. The better you take care of yourself, the more you can care for others. 

Create a balance. Look at all your areas of responsibilities: business owner, parent, mentor, friend, spouse, etc. Which areas are out of balance? Create a process to check in annually and monthly to rebalance them. They will never stay balanced; you will have to continually rebalance. Make sure you have time for yourself. Exercise for mental heath as well as physical. Not a fan of the gym? Find a sport that you like. Find something that makes you laugh.

Daily focus. Have you started your day by checking email, and then at the end of the day you weren’t sure what happened to your day? Putting out fires one after the other? Control your day; don’t let your day control you. What do you want out of your day? Write it out before you check your email. Don’t forget the 80/20 rule: If 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your actions, do you know which ones they are?

Priorities. Have three priorities for each day. If you have a list of 20 things to do for the day, it is not uncommon that the list is longer at the end of the day. Make sure you get the three most important things done.

You will never get everything done. You have to decide what you want to get done

Strategy. Hope is not a strategy for execution. Create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals so you can measure your success. Create a monthly or quarterly check-in process to see if you are making the progress you wanted.

Forward forecasting (financials). One thing about historical financials is you can’t change them. They are history. They can tell you where you were and how you did. By the time you get them, you can’t change the outcome. Forward forecasting allows you to project out a time in the future and decide if you are happy with the results. Share them with your team to get input and create strategies on how to create a different outcome.

Sales and profit. They are not bad words. They are required to support your team.

External vs. internal. Your problems are not “out” there. Don’t be a victim to things you can’t directly control or influence. You can’t change the economy; you can’t change who is in office. Which things do you have control over? Act on those items and maybe you can counter things that are out of your control.

Make a decision. When you wear many hats, you have long lists and often can’t get to all of them; sometimes if you can’t prioritize them, it can be overwhelming. Not making a decision is making a decision. Often perfectionism shows up as procrastination. It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Which items are on your list that are not on your calendar (not time bound)?  Which items on your list are not actionable? Do, delegate, delete, or schedule them. Do something. As David Allen says in Getting Things Done: Create a “someday/maybe” file to place things you don’t want to act on now, and review it monthly to see if your priorities have changed. Too big of a project?  Break it down to bite-sized, actionable pieces.

Delegate. Learn how to delegate and make sure the person knows they have the torch. Don’t micromanage the process. Agree on the outcome, deadline, and goals.

You can’t change anyone. The only person you can change is yourself. Believe me, this has been a challenge and took me a while to understand.  You can mentor, you can coach, and you can inspire; but at the end of the day, it is up to them if they decide to change. 

In summary, what I am most proud of is not what I have done, but what my employees have done without me. I read a long time ago: “The measure of a leader is not how the company performs while they are there, but after they are gone.” What do you want your legacy to be? What are your learned lessons? PR

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