Top 3 Business Savvy Behaviors for Successful Construction Entrepreneurs
Things you need to know even if you didn’t go to business school.
One goal of The Punch List is to assist those with ongoing commercial construction concerns and those thinking about starting a company. This, the first in a series of posts discussing topics useful and/or necessary in growing your existing business or starting a new one, will discuss whether one is cut out to start and run their own commercial construction concern.
As you probably know, there is endless information available on all things entrepreneurial, but we want to focus our discussion on what we term the “Entrepreneurial Small Business.” But first, I will opine on a few of the most covered topics on becoming a new business owner.
For some time there has been a huge debate on whether or not a person is a small business owner or entrepreneur. There are numerous so-called criteria on what determines if you fit the bill, as dictated by such questions as whether you have employees, if innovation is involved, the speed of wealth creation, etc. For our purposes, this post will speak to anyone who plans to undertake the risk of creating a profit driven venture. Specifically, those under-appreciated and overworked construction professionals who simply feel they are ready to give it a shot at being the captain of their own ship. Let the academics call you what they want; as long as you are fulfilled and successfully running your business, who gives a rat’s patootie?
Another highly covered theme is the psychological and sociological impetuses that would move one to take the risk in the first place. Such factors as family socio-economic status, foreign-language barriers, racial and/or ethnic discrimination, aversion to authority and sheer desperation are but a few of the factors often cited. Regardless of why you are motivated to pursue this track, you will need to be motivated.
Lastly, by far the number-one written-about topic: what are the common entrepreneurial traits and characteristics? Just about everything written on this topic will include some synonym or derivative of such words as tenacity, creativity, resiliency, savvy, likability, energy, autonomy and integrity. And I agree; you are going to need many of these traits. However, I would be lying if I told you that if you could check off every trait, it would be the secret to your business success. The one thing I can say emphatically is that it isn’t going to be all fun and games, but it sure beats working for someone.
Statistics show that the majority of small businesses fail within the first one to five years, and I highly doubt the primary reason is that they lack many of the characteristics or motivations to succeed. Sure, you are skilled, your services are competitively priced and customers love your work, but success requires much more. Too many business owners fail because they put all efforts in one area of a business to the detriment of others.
If you want to be successful for the long run you will have to learn quickly to become a successful businessperson. This doesn’t mean you have to go back to school; however, it does mean that you need to develop a good working knowledge of all aspects of a successful business, from technology to finance, personnel to marketing, risk management to customer service. You have no excuse—good information is everywhere. Create your own curriculum, develop a regular study schedule and stay informed on issues affecting your industry. Learn from the mistakes of others and emulate their successes. Make every effort to learn what successful businesses do and don’t do.
Along with developing a solid fundamental background in running a successful business, you need to constantly work on strengthening the following three Business Savvy Behaviors:
1. Your Faith. To be successful, you are going to have to develop a deep faith that anything is possible. Throughout your journey there will be many instances where your faith will be tested, and without it failure is assured. I once asked a group of business people how many times they have thought they might go out of business. One person answered by saying, “You mean how many times a day?” Certainly this is not meant to be a post on religion, but by whatever means necessary you are going to have to develop your faith.
2. Your Critical Thinking. Thinking critically is paramount for you as the owner and anyone involved in your business. To truly understand the importance of critical thinking, you must first understand what critical thinking entails. Critical Thinking entails considering all aspects of a situation with an open mind before making a decision.” This behavior is even more critical in a small business, where each decision has the potential to make or break the company. One way to start working on your critical thinking skills immediately is by asking yourself “Who, What, Why, When and How?” every time a situation arises that requires a decision.
3. Your Intuition. A lot of people believe intuition is a gift and not a learned behavior. Yes, some are born with a great deal of natural intuition. However, those of you who lack it can still develop a healthy dose. You say, “but why bother?” Highly developed intuition is crucial; it can mean the difference between life and death for your business. Having this skill will help you make decisions, deal with people and navigate the inevitable traps that come with running a business. Acknowledge that you have and are able to develop your intuition and then start improving upon it.
As you may have noticed, all three of these crucial behaviors can be learned and improved upon. If you are hoping for success, there is simply too much good information available for you not to maximize your knowledge on these subjects.
Vince Fudzie MBA, CPA, CIRA, is the Managing Member of Triune. Founded in 1997 with headquarters in Dallas, Triune is a leading, integrated design-build General Contractor in the Southwest region of the country.
The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insights specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.