Too many business owners believe they are in business to provide jobs for other people. It’s great when a business is healthy and strong enough to provide jobs. It’s a laudable goal for a business owner. But it’s not the purpose of business.

You’re in business to provide a service to your clients and make a profit when doing it. Don’t ever lose that focus.

When your focus is on providing jobs, you’ll be tempted to take jobs that aren’t a good fit for your company. You’ll take a job that has little or no profit because you have to cover payroll. You’ll sign a contract with a client that you know will be a problem, but you need to keep your employees working. When a business has financial problems, the pressure to keep those employees paid adds to the stress, and drives many contractors to take almost any job that comes along.

I can’t think of a worse reason to take a job or jobs. If you find yourself playing that game, it is time for a change.

If you’ve been in business more than a few weeks, you know that there will be times when work slows down. When work is slow, most employees who’ve been in construction know they’ll have to take some time off. If they don’t understand that, you need to let them know that’s a possibility. Prepare your crew for that eventuality. Then, if work is slow, send the crew home. If they find another job, that’s okay, you’ll find someone who can take their place.

You know that boring talk you hear before takeoff on a plane, where they tell you what happens when the air masks fall down? They always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. Gang, in an emergency, business works the same way. You have to take care of your business first, keeping it viable before you worry about keeping your employees working, or your business will fail and everyone will lose.

Remember why you’re in business – to provide a service to your clients and make a profit when doing it.

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Paul Choate
July 7, 2012 3:45 pm

I can’t count the times I’ve heard people tell me they got a great deal because they were told by their contractor that business is slow and he just wants to keep his guys busy. You know Michael, I understand that there are many people out there who buy on repuation, trust, etc. but for every customer who buys for the “right” reasons there are 10 others who buy based on price alone thinking that all builders are the same and that the only difference from one company to another is price. I don’t have statistics to prove that but… Read more »

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