In Michael Gerber’s book, “The E-Myth Contractor,” he says, “Most contractors don’t own a true business — most own a job…doing it, doing it, doing it…hoping like hell to get some time off, but never figuring out how to get their business to run without them.” This powerful quote is a sad reality for many roofing contractors who are so busy working for their business, they can’t seem to ever find the time to work on their business. 

Many might be quick to suggest this is a time management issue, but the problem goes much deeper than that. I say this because we can’t “manage” time, we can only manage ourselves in relation to time. If something gets done or not done, it has nothing to with how we manage our schedule and everything to do with the choices we make relative to that schedule. More than a time-management process, many of the professionals Gerber speaks of would be well advised to focus on the following:

  1. Define what’s Important: If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there. So, the first order of business is to define exactly what you’d like to accomplish. Assuming you do everything right, what does your business look like at the end of the year? Three years? Ten years?

I’d also suggest that this is a good place for the business owner to come to terms with his “job description.” Hopefully you recognize the difference between your role as an employee of the business and your role as the owner of the business. Both roles serve very different and equally-important responsibilities and neither should be ignored.   

  1. Schedule Your Priorities: After defining what’s important, you now need to identify the priorities that will put you in the best position to achieve those outcomes. To do this, I’d suggest you look at where you are today with your business, where it is you’re trying to get to, and the specific things that need to happen for you to close that gap. Those specifics become the big-picture goals that you must accomplish to help you achieve the vision state you seek.    

The challenge here is to not simply schedule your priorities for a given day. You must be proactive about committing yourself to those priorities. Another key step is to use a SWOT analysis to discover what you do well, how you can improve, whether you’re making the most of your opportunities, and identifying any changes in your market that call for corresponding changes in your business.

The underlying purpose of the SWOT analysis as a strategic planning tool is to compile this list of relevant internal and external factors, and then seek answers to four essential questions:

  • How will you utilize your strengths?
  • How will you shore up our weaknesses?
  • How will you exploit your opportunities?
  • And how will you defend against or eliminate our threats?

The SWOT analysis and the answers to these questions will establish a context for goal setting and help align them with your vision.  

  1. Getting Things Done: It’s not uncommon to hear people complain about how they’re “too busy” to do all of the things they should be doing. If we’re going to get anything done of any importance, we must recognize that we’re not victims of our environment or circumstance. We all make choices and with each choice there is a consequence. Weighing your options and making the right choices is the most important first step to gaining control of your life.

IRE Session WE08
Title: Planning for Profits
Speaker: John DeRosa, Director of Contractor Training for SRS Distribution
Date: Wednesday, March 1, 7:45 to 9:15 a.m.
Room: Tradewinds DEF

If we think about the day before we leave for vacation, most people will agree that while it’s stressful, we get a lot of stuff done on that day. Some might suggest it’s their most productive day all year. This begs the question of why? What do we do on that day that makes us so much more productive than all of the other days in the year? The answer is simple: We make much better choices.

This isn’t to suggest that we should execute each day as if it was our last day before vacation because that’s not sustainable and probably not healthy. But taking some time to identify a few of the differences and learning how to make them part of your daily plan will no doubt have a huge impact on your ability to get the right things done.  

  1. Learn how to Delegate (Properly): When scheduling priorities, it’s not uncommon for us to run out of schedule before we run out of things to do. If this is the case, you should evaluate the leftover tasks against what you’ve already committed to a calendar and verify that you’re making the right choice. If you decide that you’re making the right choices, then you should to delegate the remaining tasks to make sure you’re on track.

I know how the idea of delegating tasks can sometimes scare a business owner out of business, but this is usually the result of them not knowing how to delegate. Remember, your success is based on the choices you make. If you choose to continue the viscous cycle of doing everything yourself, you’re never going to have the time to focus on the important things that will help you achieve the long-term results you seek. 

You must understand that when you delegate, you’re not handing over complete control of your business. You’re simply empowering one of your people to execute a task and explaining the checks and balances you expect along the way. When you do this, you’re not only helping you, you’re also helping your people develop the confidence they’ll need to add even more value to your business.    

As I read back over what I’ve written I can only imagine what some might think when they read this. Some will think that I’m living in a bit of a dream world, providing a “pie-in-the-sky” type of perspective on what it takes to achieve your goals. But you’ve got to realize that I’m not the one who defined your goals for you or told you what you want to accomplish. These are the things you want and it’s entirely up to you to do what it takes to achieve those outcomes. I’m not going to suggest this is going to be easy or promise that you’re going to achieve everything you set out to accomplish. But if you want to put yourself in the best position to have control of your life and achieve what you want it’s my strong recommendation that you give some serious consideration to these ideas.

In the end, we all need to realize that today is the time when something gets done, or not done; it’s up to you. It can’t be done yesterday, and there are no guarantees about tomorrow.