I remember doing some channel surfing many moons ago and coming across George Carlin doing a bit about how all we really need in life is a ‘place for our stuff’. He went on to say that all life is about is finding a place for your stuff. Your house is really nothing but a place for your stuff with a roof. When you go on vacation, you take a smaller version of your stuff but you will still have a place for your stuff.
In the same spirit and thinking, I will contend the parallel for business is not so much having a place for our stuff but, from Walmart all the way down to the sole proprietor, business is all about finding ‘shorter lines’.
Sure, we all have ‘stuff’ for our business: laptop, smartphone, copy machine, coffee maker, scanner and printers. These are merely tools to help me obtain what I truly desire…shorter lines.
Everything in business is a part of some type of line and we all want shorter ones. Think about it: You pull into the bank to make a deposit and there are four open drive-thru lanes. Which one do you pick? The one that has the shorter line. This also applies to checking out at the grocery store, going through security at the airport and any visit to your friendly Department of Motor Vehicles. We all want shorter lines.
When it comes to building new business, every single task we engage ourselves with involves a line of some kind with, I believe, the broader category being ‘time lines’. For each of the following, whatever process we choose, we cannot escape getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’ via a line of time.
• Complete stranger to loyal client
• Zero revenue to your first $1,000,000
• Profit margin from breakeven to 15%
• One location to ten branch offices
• 30 employees to 50 employees
You get the picture. Every business person worth their salt is quite aware of the different lines involved in achieving one’s goals but what separates those possessing shorter lines from the ones with longer lines, is the amount of preparation put into each goal.
How does one reduce the timeline from meeting a complete stranger to having that person as a loyal client from 10 months down to six?
How does one shorten that timeline to seven figures in revenue from three years to two?
The simple answer is effective planning.
This past week, I am happy to report that we moved four companies from our ‘Prospects’ folder to our ‘Client’ folder…each being an entity in the A/E/C marketplace.
If I had to highlight one item as the most profound and common issue of every single company we have worked with it would undoubtedly be how amazed I am to find the number of companies who make their living designing or following a set of plans and specifications…yet do not plan for their business.
What would the timeline be to build a 10,000 SF commercial building without plans and specs versus the timeline with plans and specs?
What would the timeline be to build a million dollar business without a plan versus having one?
-The late great coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”
The shortest distance between two points will always be a straight line. The best way to make that line shorter is to plan for a shorter line.
Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.
Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com