Last year was rough for business owners. No matter whom you ask, regardless of the size of the business, you’ll get the same answer: “We didn’t see that coming.”
Similar to what Dave Ramsey teaches individuals about having an emergency fund in place, business owners should also run their businesses in a way that allows them to weather unexpected storms. Many companies are subject to the whims of the consumer market and the economy. When the winds of change blow, it’s time to put the sails up.
However, this is easier said than done. Entrepreneurs are often so busy working in the business that they forget to step back and look at it from a distance. The coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to look at many different aspects of their lives from a different perspective. And many people—both business owners and employees—are making changes now as a result.
Making Up for Lost Time
If you’re one of the lucky ones whose business survived the past year, you’re probably in “make-up” mode—making up for lost time and sales, that is. I’m incredibly grateful that my business, Shamrock Roofing and Construction, weathered the storm well. We didn’t just maintain our position in the marketplace; we actually grew the company during the pandemic. Our revenues went from $7M in 2019 to $15M in 2020. This year, we’re on target to achieve over $30M in revenues. We just made the Kansas City Business Journal’s Fast 50: KC’s Fastest Growing Companies. We were also recently nominated for Roofing Contractor’s 2021 Roofing Contractor of the Year.
One of the reasons we’ve been so successful is that our leadership team is fully capable of running the business without me if necessary. They proved this three years ago when I found myself in the hospital with serious heart issues. They proved it again earlier this year when I went back to the hospital for a heart transplant. While I was out recuperating, the business kept cranking. That was a huge load off my mind. It allowed me to focus on getting back on my feet and back to work.
How to Grow a Business Fast
Growing a business fast isn’t always the best course of action. Increasing sales and revenue has to be balanced with available resources, including labor. Timing also plays into the equation. But for those who feel their company is positioned to grow quickly, I’d like to offer a few other tactics we’ve employed at Shamrock that have made a significant impact on our recent growth trajectory.
Invest in training. I can’t say enough about the value of training your people to be good at what they do. If our leadership team hadn’t been well-trained, they wouldn’t have been able to keep the company moving forward when I had to step out. When considering training courses for your employees, don’t look only at product training offered by vendors. Take a look at sales and operations training, as well.
Teach people everything they need to know to excel in their jobs. They’ll pay you back a thousand times over.
Trust your team. Once you have your people trained, turn them loose. You’ve taught them what they need to know to be successful. Now let them do it. Many business owners have a hard time doing this, but it’s critically important. Employees need to feel valued and feel like what they do every day makes a difference to the company’s success. If their work is constantly scrutinized by an owner who wants to do it all him- or herself, they’ll eventually stop trying. They won’t feel trusted or valued. And that results in a lack of motivation and poor workplace morale.
Train your team, then turn them loose. You’ll be surprised at how high they fly!
Invest in marketing. When times get rough, the first thing that typically gets cut in most companies is the marketing budget. This is a mistake because when things turn around and people are buying again, you need to be top of mind to your target audience. You want them to think of you first when looking for the product or service you provide.
If you’ve gone dark during a pandemic, for instance, then when the economy returns to normal, your customers and prospects will wonder if you’re still in business. And that’s not good for business.
Keep your marketing tactics in place and your brand out there during hard times. This will help ensure that your business reaps the benefits during the good times.
Build partnerships. Merriam-Webster defines synergy as “a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (such as resources or efforts).” In other words, when you combine forces with another entity in a common goal, both parties benefit. In fact, strong partnerships often allow both parties to go further than they could have by going it alone.
At Shamrock, we invest in partnerships. We develop strong relationships with trainers, suppliers, and charitable organizations within the community. We benefit from these partnerships because they fill a need; our partners benefit for the same reason. And since all parties are working toward a common goal, it’s a win for everyone.
Time spent in building and maintaining good relationships with others is never wasted.
Ready to Build Your Business?
I hope these tips are helpful. They’re the ones that have worked for me, not only at Shamrock but in other businesses as well. Give them a shot and see what happens. Then drop me a line and let me know.
You’ve got this!