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Keep your wheels in motion

Whether you’ve been in business for years or just starting out, maintaining motivation to achieve your goals is a challenge for everyone. If you’re feeling like your wheels have stopped turning, try these strategies to continue heading in the direction you want to go.

Author

Laura Valic

Why did you go into business? Was it because you value your independence and like the thought of being your own boss? Did you think you would make more money setting your own hours, and would have more freedom to explore your creativity? Perhaps you like the thrill of consolidating new clients and working to your own exacting standards, rather than someone else’s?

Whatever the reason, those factors that set you down the path to self-employment are a good reminder of why you’re in business in the first place, especially when times are challenging or you find yourself experiencing doubt, slow growth or lack of clarity over your purpose. If this is you, then there are ways to reinvigorate your motivation and generate momentum, so you can get back to enjoying the entrepreneurial benefits of controlling your own future.

 

A meaningful mission 

When was the last time you evaluated your business’ mission, vision and values? Or more to the point, do you even have them? Now, before your eyes glaze over, some will argue that having a firm grasp on what these are will do more for your bottom line than you may think.   

HIA National Treasurer, David Linaker, who had a long career in managing a diverse range of businesses at building materials manufacturing heavyweight CSR – and became the go-to man for turning around underperforming businesses – says in his experience clearly defining your mission, vision and values is hugely important in improving business performance.

David believes that this aspect is even more critical for small to medium-sized companies. ‘Your mission statement is basically the reason for your business’ existence, and the starting point that really says, “Why am I doing this”?’ he explains.

David has helped to evaluate and reinvigorate businesses, including those of HIA members. His first step is to look at normal business metrics, such as turnover, margins, cash flow, debtors and product offering, target markets and business plans. This gives him an idea of what the major issues are as well as the opportunities. Once he has all that information, he then gets down to the meat of it – the mission statement – or lack thereof. This is what he regards as one of the most important parts of the business.

As current chair of HIA’s judging panel for the HIA Professional Builder Awards – a highly sought-after award which aims to raise the level of professionalism amongst builders (particularly SMEs) – David says that an effective mission statement needs to permeate all aspects of the business and be consistent with the way the business is run and how it presents itself to staff and customers.

‘We’ve read submissions where clearly the mission statement is a throwaway line and it doesn’t tally up with the business plan, vision and core values,’ he says. ‘But for the standout businesses, which win HIA awards, whatever their mission statement is, their vision, values and strategy are all consistent and support the mission statement. In these winning businesses all staff know what their company stands for, where it is going and what their role is in achieving the company’s goals.’

He adds the managing directors and owners of these businesses communicate, live and breathe their mission and values. Often, these businesses have gone on to double or triple their turnover. ‘We can see they’ve gone to a lot of time and effort, and it has helped them achieve their goals and significantly improved their business and lifestyles.

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‘Your mission statement is basically the reason for your business’ existence, and the starting point that really says, “Why am I doing this”?’

A valuable vision 

Once you have your mission statement crafted or revised to reflect what it is you do as a business, David says your vision is next. Your vision should capture where you want to be in around three to five years’ time. But in order to achieve your vision, you’ll need to figure out the steps it will take to turn it into a reality.

‘If, say, your vision is to double the number of houses you build in the next five years, then this has a number of implications,’ he says. ‘Do you have the staff and finance in place to do that? What’s your cost curve for that level of operation and will it be efficient and profitable? As you increase your turnover you need to increase your supervisory staff, your estimating capacity, obtain extra financing, and identify who will do the extra work.’

David says you need to put plans and measures in place, back them up and live them out. ‘Successful builders have these elements in place, and know exactly where they were going and how they are going to get there.’ 

 

Flaunt your values

Having decided on your mission and vision, you’ll need to define your core values. These values are those that are enacted and displayed by the leaders of a business and communicated to staff and customers by their everyday actions.

‘This can be anything from “Are we always ethical in what we do?” to “We treat the customer, trades and staff with respect?”’ David says.

The core values feed into the business strategy, which is all about how you achieve your vision. ‘Writing these out as targets will help you to work out where you are now, and to identify the gap to achieving where you want to be. A plan is needed to fill this gap and to deliver your vision,’ David explains. ‘It’s the essence of how to successfully grow your business, and if you want to grow your business, these are the steps you need to take.’

Fresh goals

Whether you’re happy with your set mission, vision and values, willing to improve on them or disagree about their importance altogether, those who are struggling with motivation might be interested in business coaching. 

‘I know this might sound odd, but you do really need to sit down and ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve in my life?” It’s not in the nature of most of us to ask the big questions. That’s why business coaching is so valuable.’

David also says if you want to improve your business operations, a place to start is by entering the HIA Professional Builder Awards, since it will help you to obtain the core data you need and to crystalise what it is you want from your business.

‘The process will also ask you a lot of questions a business coach would,’ he says. ‘[Winning an award or being named a finalist] helps to give customers confidence in your business; and builders use it to boost their sales and marketing.’

So, if you’re stuck in neutral, or just want to start today and plan your road ahead, HIA offers business improvement sessions with experienced speakers and webinar sessions on business, improvement in each of its regions, which members can access from the website. Or to find out how to enter the Professional Builder Awards, visit 
www.hia.com.au/awards

 
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Small builder market trends

If you’re looking for ways you can improve your operations, consider some of these characteristics of sustainable and successful small businesses: 

  • Have a clearly defined mission, vision, values and use these to drive the business
  • Have CRM systems to record customer feedback, conduct surveys and other data and use data to develop plans to improve your customer experience
  • Act on customer feedback and measure your performance over time 
  • Place a high importance on a robust business plan and measurable KPIs (targets)
  • Employ a business coach or mentor
  • Conduct gap analysis when falling short on targets and plan how to address issues and performance short falls
  • Set KPIs for critical areas that affect the achievement of the company’s vision and core values
  • Have a clearly understood and real competitive advantage
  • Value innovation, implementing new systems and processes to support the business vision
  • Show continual improvement and growth, with the attitude that if you don’t grow or improve you will go under
  • Have a well-developed customer portal and app for customers to check in on the progress of their projects
  • Implement lead monitoring systems to know where leads come from and then measure your conversion rate by lead source and cost per lead
  • Have a process to sort requests for quotes to identify high conversion targets and alternative ways of handling low conversation rate enquiries
  • Ensure that all staff understand the business’ vision, mission and values and their part in its delivery.

 There is a large quantity of valuable information on the HIA website which is free for members, including all forms of templates, from business plans to goal setting and measuring customer satisfaction.

 

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