We dream. We build. We maintain. We get bored. We can’t maintain. We are entrepreneurs. But how does this translate to the long-term success of our business? Maintenance in a small business isn’t really maintenance until your business grows to the size that you are happy with. Once you quit growing, you need to maintain.
This makes logical sense, but to the entrepreneur, maintenance feels like it starts way earlier. Actually, in the entrepreneurial handbook, maintenance begins soon after the grand opening. Even if it isn’t logical, we feel we just need to build it and they will come. Maybe it isn’t logic at all. Maybe it is in our DNA. We are idea people. We are creators. We are ready to open the doors and move on to the next thing.
But hey, don’t forget you invested your savings, time and energy in your new creation. You can’t afford to move on yet. You need to make sure that the business is successful.
So you pull yourself up from your bootstraps and make yourself show up everyday. You are still working really hard. After all, there are many plates to spin and you have to get this business growing.
Man this part is boring. This part is hard and un-glamorous.
“Wait, I have an idea,” the harried business owner states when he walks into the office one afternoon. “I know we provide cleaning services to offices, but one of our big clients needs a shed demolished in the back of their property. I can rent a piece of equipment and knock it down and our crew can help haul off the debris.”
One of the crew leaders looks at him wide-eyed and replies, “Our crews are stretched thin just to get the offices all cleaned on schedule. Plus, several of our crew are women.”
“That’s okay,” says the entrepreneur, “We will make more money on this job than 6 months of cleaning. We can hire a couple of more guys. You’ve been wanting to add to the crews anyway.”
Boredom Begets Distraction
The distraction begins.
Soon, you are going to your other clients sharing your demo services. One client says he doesn’t have a need for demo, but he could sure use some shelves in one of the conference rooms and some electronic equipment hung and installed. Do you all do that?
As a matter of fact, the business owner remembers that one of the new crew he just hired used to work in construction. He thinks he has some expertise in carpentry. He replies, “I have a carpenter on our team who could surely make that happen. Let me get back to you with a price.”
The business owner thinks that maybe this business isn’t as boring as he first thought. Look at all of the opportunity coming his way. He begins to pull the strongest and most skilled of his cleaning crews to help with small construction projects. He is already at the offices, why not add on work.
Distraction Affects Quality
Soon the cleaning crew supervisors are complaining that they need more people. There strongest and best people are always on construction or odd jobs. At least often enough to make them short on staff half of the time. Last week while the owner had an excellent little remodeling job going painting a bunch of offices, he received a call from the facility manager.
“The office cleaning last night was terrible. Did your crew come? They missed a couple of bathrooms and several trash cans weren’t emptied.”
Upset, the owner calls the night supervisor. “What is going on with the cleaning? We are doing the hard work with the remodel. Can’t your team just clean the offices right?”
You can guess where this story ends. The entrepreneur ends up losing both jobs at this office and his supervisor quits on him.
Does the business owner recognize the problem or does he blame the supervisor who quit and say if he had a better supervisor it would have all worked out fine?
Reduced Quality Impacts Growth Potential
When we take a sound business idea and out of boredom, or personality, keep changing it, the concept and point of difference are never seeded. Before we ever stood for anything, the potential customer doesn’t really know what we do. And before we can get good at doing what we do, operating and eventually maintaining, we divert our team on new things that they have never done. They never become experts at anything. They just stay in the learning mode. They stay green. The quality of the service reflects this.
And the business owner wonders why the business isn’t growing.
He wonders why he is the only one who really gets it and begins to see why people say it is so hard to find good help these days. He needs to hire new people and he does agree that right now they are short of staff, but as soon as these two big jobs are done, they won’t need that many people anymore. He thinks they can hold on. That is if no one else quits.
Growth Requires a Strong Foundation
I am an entrepreneur too. I know it is hard. But we have to stay focused. You have to stay focused on your core concept until:
- you create a point of difference and competitive advantage.
- your team is excellent at what you do so you don’t have to do it all.
- your systems and processes are proven and can provide a platform for growth.
- you are known for it and the referrals and calls begin to happen steadily.
- you are growing with a healthy pipeline of work and prospects.
If you stay on the prior path, you will soon reach your capacity…the capacity being as much business as you can keep your arms around. And then, it becomes hard. You have solved the boredom problem, but now it is just painful.
To achieve the growth that you want and need, you need to build a strong foundation for your business before you can move on to something new. How do you know if you are ready? When is the foundation strong enough?
To assess where you are you may want to sign-up for our FREE Clarity Kit. We have a full business assessment and guide to help you get your business achieving your growth goals and on the way to maintenance mode. Then you can move on to your next idea or endeavor with full peace of mind.