Think and act like an Owner – Make decisions by asking yourself, “What would I do if this were my company?  What would I do if this were my own money?  Will this help the company to succeed?”

Construction and Business 101

The construction business is a very competitive and pressure-filled industry, one where it is critical for us to distinguish ourselves from our competitors.  There is always another company that will offer the same product and services at a price that is close to, or less than ours.  Therefore, being successful in the construction business means two things; providing excellent customer service and delivering quality work performed at a fair price.  What is a fair price?  A fair price is one where when the project is done, we have been paid in full, all the bills for that project are paid, and we make at least a 5 percent profit.

What determines whether this or any company will survive, thrive, or die comes down to two critical factors:

  1. Making a Profit. The company must end up with more money than they spent to run and complete the job. This is how the company will fund future projects.
  2. Generating Cash. The company must keep enough money in the bank to pay bills at all times.

It’s not that safety, quality, or customer service are not major issues.  They are all major components to our success, but they are part of the process.  They are not end results or even conditions of survival.  We can have a terrific safety record in the industry and fail.  We can have the best quality program and fail.  We can be loved by our customers and fail. The only way to guarantee the company will thrive is to make money and generate cash.  Everything else is a means to that end.

The Contractor in His Natural State

Who is a successful contractor? What is it that distinguishes a successful owner from the not? Well, according to the Contractor’s Dictionary, a contractor is a gambler. “A gambler who never gets to shuffle, cut or deal!” Gamblers are universally understood to be wild risk-takers, never having the comfort of a guaranteed win, and this sums up the mindset of a successful contractor. This adventurous spirit is a must-have when you’re in the construction business, as it is a painstaking process that is full of ups and downs, and loaded with uncertainty. It’s not that a successful contractor never fails; on the contrary, there is another failure waiting for him around every corner. No, the difference between him and them is that, like the gambler, he will not give up, he will be back for more, and the higher the stakes get, the better his chances for success. Why? Because instead of thinking, “I might fail”, the successful contractor thinks, “Hey, I might succeed! And I’ll never know unless I go for it!”

Thinking like an Owner

What does a contractor think about when he is sitting at his desk thumbing through equipment magazines or catching up on the latest issue of ENR? Well, we asked one. Here is a rare look into the mind of a construction magnate:

  • Our next job. Where is it going to come from, and when will it start?
  • The future of the company. What markets should we be looking at?
  • Revenue. Or the lack there of.
  • Our competitors–what they are doing differently than us, and whether it is something we should be doing.
  • Health insurance, and how out of control it is.
  • Lowering costs, how can we do this?
  • Increasing profits, how can we do this?
  • Every single employee and employee morale.

It’s no small wonder that an owner can sleep at night.

Whether you’re already the owner of a construction company, or a dedicated employee to one, you may be wondering, “how can I think and act like an owner?” Here are 10 quick tips to get you started!

  1. Attention to detail. Observe closely the day-to-day operations of your crew.
  2. Have an insatiable thirst for “finding a better way” (fund. #18!! 🙂 ).  As you observe your crew,  adjust anything as you see fit to maximize the effectiveness of the team.
  3. Ask “why”. Employees know how, but owners know why.
  4. Come in early. Owners don’t just arrive on time, if they did, they’d already be late! Coming in early is the only way to prepare for the day ahead.
  5. Be passionate about excellence! Provide excellence to your customers, both internal and external.
  6. Know the business. What is happening in the market? What sets our partners apart from other companies?
  7. Treat all people with respect.
  8. Take pride in your work. And your work area. Keep it neat and clean.
  9. Review production goals and objectives daily. Make sure that every action you take is getting you closer to exceeding the goal.
  10. DON’T COMPLAIN! This is the most important one on the list. If you don’t like the way things are going, be a part of the solution and put #2 on this list into action!

Own Your Place in the Business, Own Your Place in the World

If we all act like owners, we should never again say the words, “That’s not my job, that’s not my area of responsibility, they don’t pay me to do that.” This attitude is so counterproductive and detrimental, not just at work, but in life. These words are the sure sign of a person who doesn’t love his work, or care about his job. Life doesn’t have to be this way. If you’ve ever heard yourself saying these words, know that you can start changing that mentality TODAY. Grab your passion by its bootstraps and force it down Apathy’s throat and into the heart everything you do and say. In life we have to do many things we’d rather not be doing, but your work doesn’t have to be one of them. Why in the world would you spend your most valuable currency, your time, doing work you don’t love? Your time is your life.  Do what you love and make a difference!