Money Wart

I grew up in the construction business- literally. My father had a subcontracting business and fact that he was in the construction business affected many things growing up. He would be fixated on the weather. The weather determined the schedule and a large portion of his life. Also as business was good and bad it influenced the family purchases and the grip on the family purse strings.

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My father taught me a great deal about business and how to take care of the customer. He had a great reputation and worked for some of the most respected builders in the business. He also taught me about the importance of doing a great job and letting your work product speak for itself.

I remember him telling me- “Don’t worry about the money. Do a great job and the money will take care of itself.”

This really made an impression on me and it has been one of my guiding principles. Make the customer happy. If it costs you some money, don’t sweat the costs. Do the right thing and the money will follow because of your actions, your commitment, your heart. Don’t worry, it will happen naturally. Don’t be a money wart!

This is really simple business logic. However, do your actions really support the principle that money is not your primary concern in your business? Do you get hung up just continually counting your money like a Monopoly game just obsessed on the financials? Is the mark your trying to hit always a financial target? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Where do you spend your time? Do you spend your days pouring over cost projections. profit and loss statements, cash flow projections, etc? Yes, we are in business to make money and you must be good stewards of the resources you are blessed with but at what percentage of your time? Are you completely consumed with the numbers? You are just counting your money.

What is your focus? Do you spend significant company time and resources on improving your product? Are you an innovator and continually looking for ways to improve your product? Or are you satisfied with producing the same acceptable product because being an innovator costs money. You are just counting your money.

Is it costs or revenues? Do you focus on the cost side or the revenue side? If you are continually trying to squeeze costs you may be a money wart. Working the revenue side is about expanding your business and your influence in the industry. Increased revenues have a way of taking care of financial issues. More revenue helps with overhead and fixed costs. Expanding revenue will reduce the need to squeeze and reduce the pressure on the company and it’s clients. If you are a squeezer, you are just counting your money.

What do you spend on product improvement? If you are not improving your product you will eventually be out of business. What are you doing as a business to get better? Are your improvements always focused on reducing costs. Are you recognized as a market innovator? Focusing on your product and being a leader requires resources. I was recently in Rochester, NY, the home of Kodak. What happened to Kodak? They were convinced that digital photography would never be better than traditional paper photographs. Look what happens when you fail to be an innovator. They were just counting their money.

Are your employees well compensated? My father also told me, “Don’t look in your employees pockets. If they are making good money then you will too!” Again, simple logic, but the employee pockets can be an easy target. You can always find cheaper help and squeeze payroll. But, what is the cost? If your employees are not making a superior wage, then how can you expect superior work. If you are known to pay better, the best of the best will end up coming to you to find work. Trying to save on payroll is just counting your money.

So, like the saying goes, where you put your time is your treasure. Are you continually focused on money? This is a sign of plain and simple greed. Life is not a race to make the most money. You were put on the earth to serve others by producing a product or providing a service to address a need. The goal must be the product or service first. What if your mission statement read “Make as much money as possible by controlling costs and providing a mediocre product.” Look hard at this and determine what is truly first in your business! Obviously, costs and money are important. Just don’t get them in front of everything else. Don’t be a money wart. Produce a great product first and the money will follow. It always does!

So what do you think?  Do we get hung up on the money too much or am I full of you know what?  Click on “leave a comment” or click “like” if you agree!

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The Why Theory

When I first starting working in the building trades, the guys that I worked around were a real cast of characters.  I was a youngster so most, if not all, of the guys were older than me.  The one thing that I noticed was that the majority of the guys really had fun at work.  There were plenty of practical jokes, laughter and comic relief so the day went by quickly.  This wasn’t because the work was easy.  Construction work is hot, dirty, sweaty and tiring. There is nothing easy about it.  Yet, surrounded with the right cast of characters, the day went by pretty quickly and we really had fun.

Under construction

The other remarkable thing I noticed was the way the older guys would take the time to teach the younger guys how to properly do the work.  There were no hidden secrets or protecting of territories.  The older guys would openly share their knowledge and take the new recruits under their wings.  They taught, nurtured and celebrated when the youngsters began to excel in the work.  They took the time away from their work and actually showed them how to do it.  And most importantly they explained why you must do the work in a particular way.

Sadly, I think we are losing ground in both of these areas.  I see tradesmen today who are addicted clock watchers who are simply counting down the minutes to the end of the day.  There is less laughter and more tension on the jobsite.  Many of the most skilled tradesmen are reluctant to share their knowledge of the trade because it takes additional effort or they have the warped fear that they may be training their replacement.  It gives me great pain watching this occur when I know how it can be.  How it was. They don’t realize that you can actually have fun at work.   And most importantly, they have lost touch with the satisfaction that comes from training up the next generation.

I have a new recruit at work.  He is young and bright and has an excellent future in front of him.  He is learning and is very inquisitive.  We are extremely busy so I have been confronted with the tension of just giving him the “What” and not the “Why” because it simply takes more time. 

See- the “What” is easy.  Do this, do that.  Don’t ask why just do it! 

I know there are managers who feel like the “What” is enough.  They will figure it out.  I don’t have time to explain everything.

They are so wrong!

You must do the why!  You must take the time to explain the why!

This is the way I see it.  Life is a puzzle.  All the pieces need to fit together.  If you fail to give the why, it is like trying to shove a puzzle piece in a spot where it doesn’t belong.  You fail to see why something is important and how it fits in the overall system.   You are simply following directions.  Yet when you do the why- it’s similar to reaching the end of the puzzle- when you can quickly put many pieces in place very quickly. 

It begins to make sense.  You can see the big picture.  Once you have the big picture you can also begin to see beyond the picture– you can expand your horizon.  This is how innovation occurs.  This is the why theory.

The why is the pathway to growth.  I tell my gang at work that I can’t think for everyone.  It’s just impossible.  They must think for themselves.  They must take ownership and be the author of both problemsolving and process improvement.  Yet, without answering the why questions, they are unable to comprehend the complete picture and ill equipped to make quality decisions.

So take the time to do the why.  Put away your agenda and pour into others.  They need the why.  We all need the why.  When I started out, the old guys understood this.  They knew they were making us all stronger by sharing their knowledge.   Don’t underestimate the importance of your role in this! 

Do you struggle with taking the time to give the why?  Let me know your story!  Click on comment below and let me know what you think!  If you like the post PLEASE press “Like” and post on Facebook or Twitter!