In the age of technology, apps, venture funding, etc., people have come to believe that business owners are just idea people. That's half the job.

The difference between great CEOs and just being an entrepreneur or an owner is being more than an idea person. It's being a problem solver.  

The other day I was having some landscaping done; bushes, flowers and a new patio. I was talking with the owner of a landscaping company and after he was done explaining (selling) his ideas to me we had a conversation about his other projects and clients.

How many crews (4) how many people per crew (3). Why he uses a licensed architect for his projects (pay in advance and they rarely need to redo the work), and how his people are smart enough to read blueprints and less likely to make mistakes by executing blueprints.

I asked him if he came on site, as he has 6-7 crews. He said he came by every day in week one and when planting started he did multiple visits to make sure it looked the way the vision was drawn.

He explained to me that the role of a business owner is to be a problem solver. If he didn't see it, he couldn't solve it. If his customer (me) had issues, he wanted to see them and solve them. In addition to saying he would be there to solve problems, he was also letting me know there might be some problems, and he would fix them. 

"Tom, isn't that the role of a business owner? To be a problem solver?"  

He had gotten me to agree with him that there would be mistakes and he would take care of them. He had already told me how his people would make less mistakes (blueprints), sold me on their longevity and intelligence (they could read the blueprints).

Other landscapers use sketch's that are beautiful, but they aren't blueprints and thus the dimensions aren't 100 percent accurate. When the service goes downhill and the crew is never the same, then they have to come back to tweak the work.

Cutting corners isn't just about product. It's about skimping on process. It's about skimping on people. It's about skimping on time.  

Whether it's blue collar work or white collar work, investing in your people and process pays off.

1. Plan any project appropriately. It may take a few dollars more to have a specialist assist; however, when the work is done, and done correctly the first time,  you will make the money back in referrals, repeat business and most importantly, happy employees. Employees who achieve success are the happiest. Set them up to succeed. 

2. When you have proven people, pay them fairly. Most companies hire entry leave people because they are less expensive. When they show what they're capable of, pay them appropriately. When a job is messed up because of poor employee execution, don't blame the employee immediately, ask yourself why you don't have better employees executing.  

3. Be a problem solver. What that really means is be present and listen. Employees don't want to listen to a CEO or a manager who is never there and then flies in, gives an order and isn't seen again until the next problem. Talk to your clients. Thank them randomly for their business. Ask them how your team is doing. Listen to their complaints, and be a problem solver. 

Building an organization is about wanting to hear bad news. Yup. You have to want to hear bad news, because once your team knows you are a problem solver and not a problem yeller, they will come to you while issues are still fixable. You will call clients wanting to hear what you can make better. Your leaders will know you want to help them. 

In a yard or an office, the key to leadership as a business owner is four words.  Be a problem solver. 


 

Published on: Jul 22, 2016
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