I’ve had the opportunity to work with many post-frame businesses, as well as businesses in similar industries. In the process, I’ve observed problems that many of these businesses share in common.
If not properly addressed, these problems can lead to failure. When I say “failure,” I’m referring to several possible scenarios. Failure might mean having to close your doors for good. Or, it could mean something less severe, like failing to make a profit or having to lay off employees.
The list below does not include all of the problems that commonly plague post-frame businesses. I simply narrowed the list down to the five most important ones:
- Failing to plan
You construct buildings for a living, so you understand the importance of following plans or blueprints. You wouldn’t just start constructing a building based on thoughts floating around in your head. You don’t guess when it comes to measurements, the materials to be used, and other important details.But chances are that the most important thing you’re building right now—your own business—probably isn’t based on a well-thought out plan. Failure comes from building a business haphazardly and leaving things to guesswork. It’s like you’re putting up a wall over here, installing part of a roof over there, and circling back to add some foundation when it seems necessary.For your business to thrive, you need a clearly articulated vision and mission. Take the time and energy to consider what you want your business to look like in three years, five years, and ten years. And then try to reverse engineer how you got there by drafting a set of written plans. Devise a strategy for executing these plans over the next 1-3 years. You can revise then revise your strategy every year to make the necessary adjustments.
- No financial control
When it comes to your business’s numbers, there are “land mines” almost everywhere you step. Don’t guess when it comes to your fixed and variable costs. Know them with precision so that you can price accordingly.Test and measure everything you do. Are your strategies working? Are you making money? If so, is that reflected in your bank account? It’s possible that the strategies you think are making money simply aren’t. Numbers don’t lie.Get more disciplined about overseeing your finances, and in the process, you’ll also uncover new strategies for making more money.
- Not understanding your value proposition
Many businesses fail because they don’t understand how to match what their potential customers are looking for with what they do best. What sets your business apart from others? And don’t answer by saying “quality.” Everyone says that. What are three things you do better than the competition? Would your customers also identify these three things as your most important attributes?Find the intersection where the things you do best meet the demands of customers. You’ll then know what your core offerings should be, and you can become the best at those. You’ll also know how to position your business to customers.
- Not having the right people (or not having the right people do the right things)
Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. It’s no surprise, then, that experiencing problems with your employees can grind your business to a halt.First, you must learn how to hire the right candidate. Start by identifying your ideal employee, where you would find this person, and what your hiring process will be.
Second, you must learn how to maximize the results your employees provide. Incentive-plans, team-building, and leadership become critical in building a high-performance culture amongst your employees.
- No entrepreneurial mindset
You probably consider yourself a craftsman first and a business owner second. That’s very common in the post-frame industry. But with that mentality, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. You need to dream about your ideal future.Do you want to always feel like you’ve got a job at your business? If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, your objective will be to create a commercial enterprise that works for you, not the other way around. Focus on creating a business that is profitable, that does not require your constant attention, and that you could sell one day. Once you learn the art of entrepreneurship, you can buy, sell, or start other businesses.