Do you arrive at the office each morning prepared to accomplish a list of goals you have set for yourself? Or are you the type who arrives full of energy for the day ahead and gets caught up immediately in a minor problem that sidetracks you until the day is half gone and you have not really accomplished much of anything?Business Management

The key to avoiding those wasted days is to place a priority on preparation. I’ve learned a lot about preparation from Richard Flint, a motivational speaker I have had the pleasure of hearing several times at the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) conventions.

Flint produces 60-second video clips called “The Morning Minute,” which I strongly recommend. (For more information, visit He recently focused his clips on the topic of preparation, and his discussions have given me a lot to think about regarding the way I operate and the way I manage our business.

Prepare to Avoid Problems

It is obvious that preparation is a very important aspect of running a successful company. On the other hand, preparation is not always that easy to do. Too often, we get so caught up in the problems of the day that we don’t take the time to properly prepare for the issues that we are going to face tomorrow.

Have you ever had a problem on a job where you thought you should have been able to see it coming? In that situation, if you had given a little more thought to preparing for the job, you may have avoided that particular problem.

In football, it becomes very clear which team is the most prepared on any given Sunday. That team is able to adjust to the situations that come up during the game because when they practiced, they prepared for all of the various situations that might occur. Conversely, the team that didn’t prepare as thoroughly is usually trying to make adjustments to situations they were not prepared for.

In IndyCar auto racing, Penske and Gannassi racing have been the two most successful teams over the years. When you watch them in practice and in the time leading up to the race, it is obvious that their attention to detail and making sure their team is prepared is the secret to their success.

Make a List

So how does that apply to our contracting business? To start, I recommend taking a few moments at the end of each day to plot out those things you want to get accomplished the following day. Then write these things down in a list.

Granted, this may take a little time, but once you get into the habit of doing it, you will find it only takes a few minutes and pays large results in the long run.

When making this list, it’s a good idea to put the most difficult tasks at the top. It is human nature to attempt to avoid doing the difficult things while taking care of issues that are easy to accomplish. The problem is that in our minds we are aware of those difficult things that need to be done, and we often unknowingly spend time worrying about them, which in turn reduces our efficiency on the easier tasks.

Tackle the difficult tasks first. This will not only give you a feeling of accomplishment, but will clear your mind to handle the other jobs more quickly and efficiently.

Managing a contracting business is not all that different from running a football team or a racing organization. The goal is to be successful within the terms that define success in the field in which you are operating. It may mean winning the game on Saturday, winning the race on Sunday, or, for a contractor, success may be showing a proper profit at the end of the year.

It is very obvious that the best way to be successful, whether it is on the weekend, or at the end of the year, is to prepare, prepare, prepare. When you are prepared, as opportunity comes your way, you are prepared to take advantage of it. Make sure you aren’t the one who says, “Boy, I wish I had been more prepared for that.”

Publication date: 2/20/2012