The American Dream
As we survey the world of the business owners in our marketplace, we may notice several realities, many of which are not very encouraging. For instance:
Why is achieving the American dream so difficult? Let's explore some possibilities.
Survey Says ...This survey may be a good one to exercise on your own situation. You may want to check the statement next to the issues that apply to your business life.
Now, you may be wondering if I'm just trying to be your little ray of sunshine today. Let's finish defining the challenges of self-employment. Then, and only then, the exciting part comes when we look at the methods used by contractors to escape these issues.
Common ProblemsSiege mentality - The standard perception of other companies is that they are the enemy. It's understandable, but one of the results is that the bank of great ideas that has allowed each company to survive tends to get "siloed." That is to say, the tremendous problem-solving ideas build up in one company and all others (the industry) have to recreate the wheel on each issue.
Accountability - It's just a part of the human condition and it is required. Unfortunately, most business owners don't have anyone on staff who is prepared to tell the boss that a mistake is being made.
Scarcity mentality - Scarcity mentality is the practice of Employee A allowing failure by a coworker so that Employee A may play the rescuer. Saving the day, in a strange way, is viewed as bringing value to the company. Therefore, the rescuer is deserving of more status and pay. Abundance mentality is the recognition that when everyone is more successful, the company is more successful, and everyone gets more satisfaction and better compensation.
Growth - Many companies in the industry have grown past the $1 million revenue mark and, at some point, lost money. What is rarely recognized when this happens is that revenue may outgrow the company's leadership structure.
As a result, there is an industry wisdom that has developed along these lines: "I just want to stay small. It's easy, and I can make money if I don't grow." In reality, this is the most difficult way to run a business.
Hiring dilemmas - We in the industry work very hard to hire people who appear to have experience - sometimes at the expense of things like character and good attitude. Eventually an owner might say, "There are no good people out there."
The perception exists that a small business can't afford to train a person from scratch; therefore, we tend to limit the search to a labor pool that is very narrow or may not really exist.
Now let's add these challenges that are unique to HVACR:
Reality CheckWe need to come to grips with two things:
1. It takes a heroic effort to survive as a small business owner.
2. It is important for HVACR contractors and employees to recognize that we may perform the most sophisticated work ever done in the home service world.
We can start by changing the culture of our companies. To do this we need a model, or a template, of how we want to think and act as we execute our roles at work. Then we can begin to develop processes that serve the model and the culture.
By focusing on process (as opposed to "what the boss wants today"), we can have a great work life that can help deliver a great personal life for everyone in the company.
Mondul can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: 08/30/2004