There is More to Life Than Increasing its Speed

I use a printed day timer, and at the top of each page of the daily calendar, there is a quote for the day. I read one today that left an impression on me. The quote is from Mahatma Gandhi: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Just reading it makes me pause and reflect for just a second. What is the rush? Why am I pushing so hard? Everywhere around me, nobody has enough time. The common complaint is too many things to do, and too little time. We are all running at high speed, like we’re in a race to get somewhere. The problem with this is that there is no finish line. What are we trying to win here, anyway?

The title of this column is in the sense of “Profiting.” I want to write about the value of building a systems-driven company, and the importance of organizational systems in your business. Getting your life back means letting go of specific day-to-day details and delegating these details to good employees. Effective systems work. You can’t argue against them, because every successful business has them. You need them to grow. Building a systems-driven company is a fine idea, but something else has to happen for systems to become part of your company culture. There is another, more fundamental issue that underlies the effective implementation of a systems-driven company: Letting Go.

As an owner of a growing construction company, you have been involved in every aspect of your business. In the beginning, you were chief cook and bottle washer. You were the one-armed paper hanger who did it all. If you were good at what you did, your business grew. To assist you with your increasing workload, you brought employees into your company, and as they brought their time, talent and energy, your role as an owner began to change. Your role became a strategic one, where your time and energy were spent working, not in the field, but now with employees in managing the efficient and profitable delivery of the products and services your company has sold.

There is a fundamental issue in letting go: Any good business owner is a control freak. Construction company owners have a hard time letting go. Because you have “raised” your company from infancy, you have taken responsibility for your financial future, and assumed responsibility for the financial future of your employees and their families. It’s hard to let go of day-to-day details. You don’t want to let go. But the reality is often this: You are no longer running a one-person operation. You can’t do it all. If you try to do it all, you will experience the personal frustration of never having enough time. You will experience your family’s frustration of never having you at home. You will also experience employee dissatisfaction as you attempt to delegate responsibility to employees but keep going back to “help” them complete their daily responsibilities.

You can’t delegate work without letting go. If you’ve hired good people, they want to do the job they were hired to do. When you don’t give good people both responsibility and autonomy, they will leave. In this shorthanded labor market, there are ample employment opportunities for qualified people.

The only way you can grow, and survive, mentally and physically, is to effectively delegate the day-to-day details of running your business. You do this by putting your expectations on paper. You do this one step at a time. It starts with a company vision. The vision is the basis for a companywide organizational chart to support that vision. The company organizational chart identifies the positions necessary to support the company vision, and written job descriptions for each position on the organizational chart define the responsibilities for each role in the organizational chart. These are the organizational steps in putting your expectations on paper. As overwhelming as it sounds, this organizational process of putting your expectations on paper is the easy part. This is the A, B, and C in developing job descriptions and procedures for employees to follow.

The longest journey begins with a single step. That first step is letting go, and making the decision to start letting-go of day-to-day operations. What is your decision?

Dave Lupberger is a founding member of the Remodelers Guild, a former remodeling contractor and the author of the Turn-Key System for Remodelers program and Managing the Emotional Homeowner. He can be reached at (888) 818-6614 or