What’s the most important part of running a successful contracting business? If you’re your own boss, this is probably the question you fall asleep to and wake up with. I discovered long ago that success is more of a journey than a destination, and what drives us there are our daily habits: the things we do over and over, each day, that helps keep the business thriving.
Your daily habits are what will drive you towards success or keep you mired in mediocrity. Habits aren’t easy to form, so the key is repetition. Here are the three habits that every successful contractor should practice.
The expression “the early bird gets the worm” couldn’t be more true, especially in contracting. As the owner of a contracting business, getting up early is something you’re probably used to already, as most construction projects start on the earlier side. But getting up to get to a job is different than getting up to get work done for your business. While I recognize that many people are not “morning” people, the simple truth is that most people can more easily focus on tasks in the mornings when people aren’t running around, asking you to put out their fires.
Getting up early has allowed me to knock out some of my most challenging items of the day with ease because I plan for them because I’m not only fresh and ready to go, I’ve also already planned for them the day/night before (see below). It’s also an awesome feeling to have accomplished more for your business by 8AM than most people will accomplish all day.
Get organized and plan your day…yesterday
There is no substitute for a well-devised plan of attack when it comes to your day. As construction company owners we are busy people: There’s no shortage of things to do. Unless you want to increase overhead and pay someone to do those things on your list, you’ll need to be organized. As you’re well aware, there are a million different apps and calendars and programs available for organization, but I’m talking about the organization of your time. And for me, this really starts the day before.
One of the last things I do at the end of my day is look at what’s up and coming. I plan my day around tasks and commitments that I already have. If there are open items that are time-sensitive, I prioritize them as needed (see below). Even something simple like writing the notes for this post ended up on my plan for today, and since they were due to my editor by a certain day and time, I scheduled the time on my calendar to get it done.
Prioritize your tasks.
We can all agree that there is never a shortage of “things” to do in construction. Your business needs TLC and there is always something that “needs” to get done. But what do you do when all of your tasks “need” to get done, especially around the same time? You prioritize.
Plain and simple, some things are more important than others. The unique demands of your business will dictate the pecking order for your tasks, however I always prioritize my real “need to do” items first (which are generally done in the early morning) and then tackle my “nice to do’s” later on. I have items on my to-do list from two weeks ago because I know they are things I would “like” to do, such as clean up some formatting on our HR forms or organize the stockroom at the shop. But auditing payroll, submitting my insurance audit and writing this post are things that take priority, either because of their importance level or their due date. This is an important skill to develop early on.
Prioritizing is also going to create opportunities for you to need to say “no” to some things. Remember that a priority to someone else does not have to be a priority for you, nor should it constitute an emergency for you. Be prepared to thwart off what I call ”the noise” and stick to your priorities. If something pressing comes up, change your priority, but always evaluate each new task to see where it fits in.
And here’s a bonus tip: nurture relationships with people that make you happy. A recent Harvard study, which examined almost a century’s worth of data, revealed a simple way to be more successful: Spend more time with people who make you happy.
Harvard’s Grant & Glueck study tracked the physical and emotional well-being of 268 male graduates from Harvard, as well as 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014. Multiple generations of researchers analyzed everything from brain scans to blood samples to self-reported surveys and interactions of these men to compile their findings. The conclusion was simple: close relationships can make or break a person’s ability to be successful.
Again, habits are not easy to create, so start with these three, simple things: start early, plan your day the day before, and learn to prioritize your tasks. Practice these daily and you’ll find your path to success will be much clearer than before. And if you’re looking for more ways to ensure your business’ success, give me a call!