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And the business evolves…

And the business evolves... Business success Change your Mindset Gratitude

Feel the fear…

I absoutely LOVE Facebook memories (most of them anyway!) and the way they throw up random past happenings, thoughts or muses. A bit cringey when they date from 2007 when we all spoke in the 3rd person, but hey ho.

I’m the same with a paper diary, I’ve never kept one for the Dear Diary moments, but years later I just love to look back and see what I was doing on that day.

And keeping a diary is absolutely a must when you start a business, or at least start to change your life, as I have. Reading back over your past is a great way to recognise your progress – it just might not be visible to your weary eyes.

So yesterday Facebook threw this one up for me: “Eeek shizzle just got rizzle! Feel the fear and do it anyway I reckon!’

I read it and grinned, wondering what I was going on about. I read the comments.

Chris had asked ‘???’

And I had answered ‘Biggest job yet!’

So in our Monday morning meeting I showed the guys the screenshot and began to work out with Dean what that job might be. And do you know, we had no idea.

How ironic that something so big and scary that I Facebooked about it, just 365 days later has faded into the fog of time and memory loss.

But it has made me think back, to all those times I didn’t do things because I was afraid to, or I thought I would fail, or I was scared other people would laugh. And there we were, 12 months ago, feeling afraid, fearing we might fail and knowing full well our competitors would laugh if we did – all for it to disappear into the passing weeks and months.

We all owe it to ourselves to fight our inner fear and not allow it to stop us doing exactly what the fuck we want to.

Dammit! We all get one life here on this fabulous planet and the least we can do is live it to the full.

Ensuring we fill our minds with gratitude is one way to squeeze the worry out.

So with that in mind, today I’ve felt the fear but I’ve ignored it and I’ve shared a Facebook job vacancy post. So what if we don’t have huge amounts of money, we need someone to do all the data-inputting, letter writing and general admin and I have accepted it is starting to hold me back.

I am feeling extremely grateful for the perfect person who is about to come into our lives and take that job!

I am 200% confident that if we take on the right person to support T and I, both of us will fly higher than before, just as I have done every time we’ve taken on someone new. Committing to paying someone’s salary is scary, but I’m going to feel the fear and do it anyway, no matter how rizzle the shizzle!

 

 

 

And the business evolves... How to run a business

Growing pains

We have another challenge, in our big little growing business.

Well, it’s another challenge on top of the last challenge, and the one before that, and so on.

It must be a pretty common one for growing businesses like ours, and as opposed to being a new challenge it’s more of an ongoing one, that keeps on changing and evolving.

Staff.

We have, unbelievably, three full time members of staff, plus me and D. That’s a lot of people supported by this business. And that’s fine. The wage bill is pretty hefty for sure, but we’re covering it and doing ok.

But staff.

People!

Challenges!

I believe, and I’ve witnessed over and over, that anything new attracts a honeymoon period. During this time, everything goes so unbelievably well it feels perfect. And then the honeymoon ends and real life sets in and with that come all the things that were hidden in those first few months.

Out comes the reality of the flawed human being at the centre of all this. I guess it means different things in each situation but often it’s bad habits, laziness, slightly sloppy sides.

Our most recent employee, K, has demonstrated this perfectly.

We pride ourselves on a quality job with a quality finish even if it means going to the ends of the earth to achieve that. And his first two months or so were flawless. This past month the cracks have started to show. And by starting to show I mean some serious mistakes that have delayed the jobs by several days and meant we’ve needed to purchase replacement materials. All in all a few things that we could have got annoyed about.

But then I found out that D hadn’t been doing much training with him. I can only assume that because he was hired as an experienced guy, D felt perhaps intimidated to do the training, or he thought he wouldn’t need it, or – probably the most likely – he got a bit lazy about it.

(So there’s a learning – another step as we become a really really enormous very small business – now we factor training into our employment process. AKA there’s a reason companies have a box-tick training structure!)

The business has suffered, slightly. Our finishing of jobs has started to get a bit messy, again. Any profit has started to evaporate. So yesterday morning’s meeting was a bit of a rant. But mostly a promise to go back to basics. Because the more time spent at the beginning means more time saved at the end. And I think D can finally see that.

And then, of course, because we overran on last week’s job, D has spent the last two days finishing it off leaving the other two on the new job.

I am stuck typing this in a café with the world’s worst wifi and phone signal, waiting while the new van gets fixed (she’s under warranty so it’s ok).

T text me earlier to say he is worried about team moral. I am desperately aware that low moral is contagious. The two lads are feeling down. D is tired and down. T is going to be feeling down if we are not careful.

I am a bit scared, but I guess that’s pretty normal, for a growing business?

And the business evolves... Becoming employers Business success Change your life

Recruiting again!

Yup, we are moving up a notch – another one – and it’s still scary, overwhelming, advancing, exhilarating, terrifying… all the feels in one.

It’s almost three months since T joined us and despite my hesitation at the time I knew the only way we would move forward would be with him on board. Since he joined us we’ve gone from strength to strength.

His expertise and experience in selling bathrooms has been worth every penny. He is able to visit potential clients and price jobs in about a quarter of the time it used to take me. He accompanies them to showrooms and is able to advise on the products in a way I could never do.

He still needs work and support in project managing, because he has never done that, but with his initiative and erm, for want of a better word, what my Grandma used to call ‘gumption’ I have no doubt that won’t be far away.

I guess my only concern, although that is too strong a word really, would be that I have to keep reminding him to fill in the wall boards and our online sheets, updating on the progress of each job. He’s not brilliant at that and while it’s not so much of an issue now, when we have 10 people in his department it is going to be imperative that each one knows exactly what is happening with every job. I don’t want a business where a client rings and is told the person working on their job is off that day, I want everyone to know what’s happening. So that needs working on, but I am not concerned exactly.

Yet we have a problem. The bathrooms need to get faster. D and C are doing great but C is still very young and slow at many things. T joins them half the time as an extra pair of hands but he also has no experience, his enthusiasm only goes so far. We have a situation where D is still doing everything but also training two newbies and we can’t fly like we need to.

We need the impossible – someone of D’s caliber and experience. Cloning D isn’t possible right now so I did a Facebook advert last week and sat back to see what would happen.

And then it struck us. Sheezle this is taking things to another level! Suddenly it has all become real – again. Taking on young beginners is one thing, taking on equals – as with T – is another.

How much are we paying? Well, we don’t know! We didn’t know who was going to come forward.

As when T joined us, we can’t afford to take on anyone else, but we know we have to, so we must, and we will make it work. Probably we should be sitting down and going through the budget and allocating a wage but we don’t seem to be able to work like that – yet. It is still a case of the business catching up with the workload and the workload creating the profit. I still find numbers and budgets a bit confusing and hard work and I am aware I need someone to work through it with me.

Off the back of our advert some fantastic people have come forward to join us. We are in a superb position and I am so grateful. I did actually use the Law of Attraction again this week, heavily thanking the Universe for the amazing and perfect people who were coming into our life. Once again I am convinced it worked. A couple of people came forward who we already knew but never expected to hear from. One guy – no one we knew previously – came for an ‘interview’ on Friday and I think he might just be the one.

So, exciting times again! In the midst of it all life continues as normal, whatever normal is.

 

 

 

And the business evolves... Becoming employers Hiring your first employee Leap of Faith

The Big Goodbye – and New Beginnings!

Crazy times! An ending, a beginning – and a leap of faith over a canyon so wide I can’t even see the side I’m supposed to be landing on.

So we’ve done it. As every evolving, growing, business needs to, we have crossed a huge employment milestone. We’ve dismissed our first employee.

We took C on in July 2016, back when we were general builders and knew that to grow we needed someone. But who? The very fact of being general made it hard to recruit anyone. Taking on an apprentice wasn’t an option for that exact reason. We knew few people around here and because we didn’t have much money we knew we could only afford to pay our employee minimum wage.

Then we met C, working behind the counter of a local builders’ merchants. I could see he was good with customers, reliable, appeared to work hard. Over the months of being served regularly by him I learned he wanted to do more. It was a case of why not him?

He has been a great employee in many ways. Loyal, steadfast, reliable. He’s been generally very amenable and done most of what we ask. He claimed to be an experienced decorator but it soon turned out he wasn’t, in fact he had little experience in most areas, but after years of working alone it’s probably fair to say D was a control freak and so they were probably well-matched. I am really grateful that our first experience of employment was such a positive one.

The problem is, as we have grown, and as D has evolved, C hasn’t really.

He promised us he would be learning to drive soon, which hasn’t happened.

He is slow and steady, but sometimes sloppy, which has been frustrating.

Last year, as we specialised in bathrooms, we took a gamble on him and paid for him to go on a course. Before it began we spoke about how we didn’t want him to stay on minimum wage forever, we were looking for someone to become an equal member of the team, to work hard and fast with us and to earn decent money once the business was on its feet.

He did well on the course, but his performance since then hasn’t been great. Constant, regular, mistakes. Working so incredibly slow. And no progress whatsover on the driving.

So, after the fourth job in a row where sloppiness caused a major issue, we had a serious talk with him. We gave him a month to improve – to get faster and to get better. Beginners’ mistakes are one thing, not doing what you have been told to do several times is another. He is a fantastic second man, but as a small business we only have room for first men right now, and so on Wednesday, after two more major mistakes, D verbally gave him notice. Contractually we only need to give him a week, but because he’s been so good in other ways he gave him two weeks from Friday – just under two and a half weeks.

I followed it up in writing the next day. It has all been very good-natured, but I know things can change when you’re working your notice so I am a little nervous about the next couple of weeks and I will be glad when he has gone.

He has also always been a little bit weird around me. He worships D, which is fair enough, but often I have arrived on a job and he has ignored me. It’s strange as I am his boss just as much as D is, and it’s frustrating. I  don’t want to turn this into a rant about sexism, because it might not be, and some men are weird around women, like the guy I blogged about here, but he has definitely seen D as his boss, not me, which is odd because it’s me who runs the entire business.

On Thursday he was working alone in the yard, filling the skip. I asked him to come and talk to me – clearly I was going to discuss money and what was owed/owing – and he refused, saying he and D had sorted it. I asked him to talk to me three times and every time he looked at me, shook his head and said there was no need, he and D had sorted it all. I even said D doesn’t know about money, how can you have sorted it and he shook his head and said no no, it’s cool. It was strange. Rude. And totally not anything I have ever come across before – I have never in my working life refused a conversation with my boss.

So part of me is glad he is going, because I will definitely feel more comfortable going to sites knowing that he won’t be there.

So, you might be wondering, what are we going to do now? Believe me, much discussion has gone on about how we would cope, and both D and his eldest son, C2, who joined us back in November, felt that C1 has actually been holding us back, slowing us down on jobs and stopping progress. They both feel they will go faster as a twosome, which is crazy!

I wrote here about how one of our suppliers, T, a showroom manager, had been made redundant, and how a couple of months earlier I’d mentioned to D that I thought he would end up working for us at some point.

I’m not sure how we are going to do this, but we’ve recently been talking and I am absolutely of the belief that we NEED him. The business NEEDS him. We cannot afford NOT to take him on.

So, somehow, it will happen. We will let the dust settle after C’s departure and then he will join us – taking over the parts I’m finding hardest, pricing, selling products, project managing. Possibly part time very very initially, but he doesn’t want part time for long and so maybe he does several jobs – sales, ordering products, managing the orders, project managing the job and also mucking in manually where required.

I am in effect doing myself out of a job but that’s fantastic, I’m really not enjoying that side at all. Weirdly, for someone who has never been good at numbers, I am finding the accounting/finance more and more of interest, and so I may go down that avenue.

And if T takes over the things I’m finding hard, and I’m soooooooo slow at, that will free me up to crack on with the things I am best at – thinking big picture, coming up with new ideas, marketing, networking, building us up. Because this business, passionate though I am about it, is only the first of many. There are so many ideas in my head!

And although it seems crazy to be talking about taking on someone expensive when common sense says I should continue doing it and learn the trade, my heart tells me that taking this gigantic, terrifying leap of faith is the best thing we could be doing.

 

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