Ooh La La!

Ooh La La!

May 12, 2015

Poor young grandson,                                                                                                                          there’s nothing I can say                                                                                                                        You’ll have to learn,                                                                                                                                    just like me                                                                                                                                             And that’s the hardest way                                                                                                                                                                 Ooh la la, ooh la la, yea yea

I wish that I knew what I know now                                                                                                      When I was younger I wish that I knew what I know now                                                                         When I was stronger

So laments the scratchy voice of a young Ron Wood as he relates the story of his “Poor Old Grandad” in his journey, learning the ways of the “Can-Can” – don’t worry, you can read farther as that is where we will end the similarities. 🙂

The metaphorical similarities between running a successful business and “life” in general, of course, run from the blatantly obvious to the subtly sublime, and often within the same day, several times over.

One thing you sure do learn, pretty fast, if you are going to run a successful business, that is, is that you get to worry a lot! At first you just get to worry about whether anyone will want you to build something for them. Then you worry about if you have priced  your work correctly so that you, not only get the work, but you can afford to do other jobs after without taking beer empties back to make ends meet. Then,  you get to worry about if the people you are working for are going to like your work enough to share their experience with others. Then, if you are lucky enough, you get to start to worry about whether THOSE folks will call and then the cycle starts again!  After a while, again, if you are lucky enough, you can start to worry about getting employees. Then you can worry about their safety and the safety of others around them, and if you worry about being a “good” employer, you might as well start worrying about whether or not you are paying them enough and if they like the work. It would also be a huge mistake NOT to worry about the quality of the work your employees perform on their daily tasks as well – especially since, when they make errors, they actually get paid more (they get paid while fixing them) while YOU make less. While you’re at it, it always pays to worry nowadays about retention, cause God only knows when the sailors might jump ship for better opportunities or better pay. And, of course, at the end of the day when your significant life partner, or worse, your children or dependents ask you if the business is running ok, you get to tell them, “Don’t worry, everything is OK…” and then….WORRY about that!

Obviously, I am being a little tongue and cheek here. The fact is that running a contracting business is a great joy that I take great pride in being the general caretaker of. It takes a great deal of time and a great deal of support to find the right team to share the load…and yes, some of the worry, but at the same time, we get to share the successes as well. Yes, obviously there is some “worry,” most of it never amounting to much and rarely resulting in anything other than a great opportunity to grow or learn.

Now the part that “Old Grand Dad” would have resonated with: It is the seeing of “worry” as opportunity that has taken the greatest time to master as the years have gone by and it would be my greatest advice to other younger contractors new to the game. At the risk of sounding preachy…maybe, don’t worry so much. Or, when you do, try to re-frame it as an opportunity to grow and learn. Good work and attention to customers needs will create a strong following and opportunities will present themselves. Granted, there is a vast difference between “creating” a pay cheque and “picking one up” but, make no mistake, there is nothing cooler than that first job you get paid for as a new business owner. Being organized, educated and trained in your field is essential and a strong business plan vital. Other than that, have fun and enjoy the journey. Before you know it, 30 years will have slipped by. They likely won’t be “worry” free but they will be an adventure that is all your own.

Oh, and don’t worry, they WILL  call! Ooh la la!