Craig Durosko, GMR, CR, CGP
As business owners, most of the time our businesses take on our personalities. Our personal strengths become a strength in our business and our personal weaknesses become a weakness in our business.
You might be great at ideas and brainstorming but weak at execution. You might be great at implementation but weak at team building and culture. The most successful businesses are when a business owner sets up the business to support their strengths and there are systems, processes, and people in place to support their weaknesses.
It is often the little things that make a difference. I remember I used to walk on a job, the first thing I would do is look to see what was wrong and take the wind out of the lead carpenter’s sail. That often carried over into other areas.
Being aware how you show up and your impact on others does not happen overnight.
Weakness isn’t easy to see from the owners’ perspective. Sometimes it’s easier to see through the eyes of others such as a coach or a peer group. How are you influencing your business? How are you impacting others around you?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
If you focus on minor details perhaps you are chasing your tail. If you focus on the major things, you may be leaving a trail of unfinished projects behind you. If your behavior pattern is “ready, fire, aim” you may only be putting out fires. If you are “ready, aim, aim, aim” you never take action. These traits bring great character to the company as long as the weakness that comes along with each trait is supported. Create plans around your strengths and weaknesses.
Look differently at your company
Lead generation and marketing: Do you stop marketing when you are busy and have peaks and valleys in your leads? Having an employee focused on marketing may help you year-round.
Sales: People usually sell clients that have similar personalities to themselves. You may like high design projects and are always dealing with projects that push off because they are not time driven or have multiple changes during the project. Or the opposite, you are all about the quick sale and you are not producing many award-winning projects.
Details: The expectations made by the salesperson at the time of selling. What is the process you have for making sure those are not missed and the hand off to production ensures they are completed? Having different salespeople or processes that balance this out may help and also affect the types of clients that are attracted to your company. If you only have one person selling, maybe team with a designer or someone else for team selling.
Administration: Are you organized or is your office more like controlled chaos? Your strength may be the details and you are very organized, yet that strength may be limiting your growth. Have someone else focus on it so you can sell more or produce more work.
Production: Are you a production-focused person, more technical, or more hands off, allowing details fall through the crack? Just like sales, having a balance in this area can lead to more referrals, repeat business, revenue, profit, etc.
Warranty: What is your company’s perspective of a warranty? Is it a burden? Is it looked at as an opportunity to get a referral? Are you excited to get back in the house and talk to the client with top priority and follow through?
How do you start?
You have the choice to take apart pieces of your business and put it back together any way you like. Break the project down to a manageable size. Take one area of your business. You could dismantle it or just do minor tweaks. List the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in that area.
Create a task force in your company or get outside help from a coach. Don’t forget to look from the client’s perspective. List all of the ideas and then narrow down or prioritize to just a few that have the most impact in that area. Change a few things. Then, put it in your calendar to review this area in 90 days or 180 days and see if you need more training, more changes, or move on.
Don’t forget, change is good, but too much change at one time could lead to other challenges. Also, never forget the client. Always evaluate the changes and the impact on your employees and clients.
Look at the symptoms not as the problem but find out what caused them to happen in the first place.
Whether you have three employee’s all wearing multiple hats or 75 employees, what are symptoms in your company, what may have been put in place to cause them? Then go to work on the cause, not the symptom.
Craig Durosko is the founder of Sun Design, a design/build firm located in McLean and Burke, Va., that is celebrating its 25th year in business.The company has won more than 80 design and service awards and was recently named one of the “Best Places to Work” in Virginia for the second year in a row. Durosko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.