Shape Your Business to Better Fit Your Style, Consultant Suggests

Shape Your Business to Better Fit Your Style, Consultant Suggests

What if your business is a great success but you hate it? You're rich, but perennially stressed out, and dreading going to work each day?

Consultant Linda Case of Remodelers Advantage Inc. in Fulton, MD, offered tips on how to avoid this kind of miserable existence at the recent Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Orlando. "The most successful companies are the ones that fit the skills and personal goals of their owner," Case believes, and she encourages entrepreneurs to trust their feelings in a particular situation. She also advises business people to avoid differentiating between one's "business" and "personal" self. Additionally, she suggests recognizing one's weaknesses and hiring people to strengthen those areas of your business.

To better balance work and play, Case says designers first must take stock of their personalities, lifestyles and perceptions, and then consider the emotional impact of their firms and learn how to develop them so they meet their needs.

"Take the opportunity to examine why you're the person you are," she states. "[And then] build a business that supports your
life goals."

To that end, ask questions that will reveal whether your firm would work best on the "practice" or "organization" model. According to Case, the former would apply to a boutique operation where the owner has a lot of personal involvement and participation in projects, while the latter would better suited for a larger, more structured environment with more employees, where the owner's job primarily involves management of others.

Case further advises asking additional questions, such as "What is your highest value to the company?" and "What role do you see taking in three years?" in order to map out a winning strategy for yourself and your business even if it's not the most profitable one. To illustrate her point, she cites a man who'd built a huge business, then decided he was happier as a one-man operation doing hands-on carpentry, and went back to that, with great results.

She further advises designers to examine the pricing structure of their firm's average job, and consider how that affects a business. More small jobs, for instance, generate far more paperwork and require far more salespeople than fewer, larger jobs that bring in the same gross income. She also cautions against loading up with commission-only salespeople who may not be the best, and, thus, may give people a bad impression of your company.

Turning her attention to the topic of employee retention, Case offers this advice: "Bring your best to work without dumping temper tantrums and the like on your employees." That way, a positive atmosphere is created, one which will help to retain talented staff members, she adds.

And to find talented staff members, Case believes it's sometimes necessary to get creative. For instance, she says, hiring previous owners of small businesses who burned out on having their own company and want to go back to doing the work they do best may be one avenue to explore.

Lastly, to promote a lifestyle that includes both work and play, Case suggests working only 50 to 55 hours a week, with two days off, and two to four weeks of vacation a year. That may sound unrealistic to some business owners who work 24/7, but Case suggests starting by implementing such techniques as scheduling pre-paid vacations.

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