Architects, Work On Your Business, Not In Your Business
There are a few stages that all small businesses encounter.
The first stage concerns handling all the aspects of your company and making sure that everything gets done properly. This stage means that you are probably going to get set in your ways and work on just about every facet of the business; such as accounting, marketing, design and sales.
This is part of the transition – especially for architecture – but once you get to the second stage, there are far too many business owners who seemingly refuse to make the personal jump from (1) managing every area of their business to (2) creating growth.
The second stage of business growth is getting past that start-up phase and expanding to add a few managers and employees who can work under you. In short, the second stage is what you reach before you move onto the maturity phase. The only problem is that so many business owners are afraid of leaving those smaller tasks that they should be delegating.
They are working in their business, and not on their business. This type of leader is ironically stuck on micromanaging and handling smaller issues – like expenses and employees – when they should be focusing on the bigger picture.
Growing as a business owner is all about accepting that you are moving onto a new stage, and being open to new strategies to scale your enterprise. In a sense, you need to forget about being an employee for your company, and become the leader that will take it to new heights.
There are five huge steps when it comes to gaining that freedom and transforming into the next stage of business success. Let’s take a look at each in turn.
1. Your Financial Situation
In order to move your business to the second phase, you need a firm grasp on your financial statement. If you only check where you stand financially every six months or every year, you have no idea where your company is heading.
While it’s easy to simply forget about your finances until tax season, a forward-moving business typically has systems in place to monitor daily, weekly and monthly financials.
Keep your financials clean by utilizing software that is known for its easy interface. Check your financials every month and always reevaluate how you can cut costs or bring in more revenue.
2. The Master Plan
There’s very little chance that you will grow your business effectively if you aren’t working off of a plan. It doesn’t matter what your goals are for your architecture business if you fail to outline a full plan that tells you the steps needed to reach your desired goals.
Let’s say you simply want to reach a certain revenue goal for the year. How do you plan on improving your current revenue to accomplish that goal? Maybe you need to hire a few people to help you with the day-to-day tasks. It’s rather difficult to hire someone if you have no idea what you want from them. Job descriptions, financials and strategies all play into the plan that you create to move your business to the next level.
Keep revisiting your plan, because there’s a good chance that something needs to be changed on occasion. Revisit the plan, talk with other people in your organization on how to improve the plan, and modify it to strengthen your future goals and reach new benchmarks.
3. The People in Your Architecture Firm
A huge part of moving to the next step is bringing on new people, but not everyone is talented in bringing in new employees. It takes a focused approach to determine if someone is a good fit for your organization, and this all ties into knowing where you company stands at the moment.
If you don’t know your financials or have a plan for the future, there’s little chance you can bring on the right people for your team. Why? Because you have no idea what those people need to work on in order to make your company successful. You have no idea what responsibilities are required for each person as you run them through the interview process.
Detail your financials and lay out a strong plan that you can actually come out and share with the people you are hiring. This promotes trust and gives a starting point for those employees to start sending you feedback and ideas to bring your architecture firm to the next level.
Questioning your master plan is crucial in moving out of the start-up phase and the only way you can do that is by bringing in qualified new people who have a desire to follow your plan, but at the same time propose changes to the plan.
Not to mention, if you share the plans and financials with candidates while hiring them you can attract the best people who understand your business and see that you are willing to change and remain transparent.
4. Maintaining Transparency
No one gets excited about working at a company when they don’t know what the executives are planning. Revealing your plans and giving people a chance to contribute helps promote teamwork and makes folks feel like they are truly part of the decision making process. Try to empower your employees and build a certain amount of loyalty by maintaining transparency throughout as many aspects of your business.
Obviously you can’t share everything with your employees, but you can start with small bits of information to show employees that they are valued just as much as anyone else in the organization. You also must remember that convincing people to follow your lead is only half of the equation for success.
Innovation really starts to form when you turn to your workers and show them that you are willing to follow their lead, especially when they come to you with new ideas or when they are clearly more knowledgeable in an area. If you can’t bring yourself to follow the lead of your employees then you haven’t surrounded yourself with the right people.
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and learn from them to create an open environment with transparency and trust.
5. Promoting Accountability
Far too often, managers think that a big part of their job is promoting accountability in their employees. Well, it turns out this isn’t even close to one of the most important aspects of running a business. Sure, if you have a deadbeat that never gets his work done, they probably aren’t right for your company, but the true value comes in holding yourself and the other executives accountable.
This works best when everyone in the organization works to hold each other accountable for everyday tasks. Lead by example and show that you are not afraid to have someone working for you hold you to your deadlines or tasks. Once other people see that you are open and willing to receive feedback and a little push from other employees, they will start doing this for everyone.
It’s all a team effort when trying to jump your company to the next level. A start-up is an exciting, yet stressful time. You often find yourself caught up in the mess and don’t step back to realize that you are trying too hard to work in your company. The main purpose of an owner throughout the first few stages is to work on your business and help it grow.
Share your thoughts in the comments section if you have any questions about how to work on your business, and not in your business. Let us know if you are having any troubles with transforming your start-up architectural firm into something more than just a small business hustling to stay afloat.
Do you think there are some other things to think about when blasting out of the start-up phase?