When an M&E contractor decides to grasp the nettle and launch their own M&E business, probably the most important activity at that time is getting the work done by being on the tools themselves. Doing the work and getting paid is definitely the best ROI. Anything the fledgeling solopreneur can do to start generating positive revenue – by being on the tools is considered a valuable high return.
As time goes by – and assuming they do a good job, the business grows and the Owner/MD can’t do it all himself, so he has to hire other technicians, then the Business dynamics change. It is no longer a sensible idea for the boss to stay on the tools. He has other people who can undertake service work, but not other people who can work on growing the business.
Getting the MD Off The Tools
Most small M&E contractors struggle when it’s time to give up the tools. Many just can’t get their head around the fact they wont be working on equipment compared to working on the business. They end up limiting their business growth by hanging on to their past.
If something must be done, does the MD have to do it? Can someone else buy the company toilet paper and coffee? Can someone else install, repair or service the equipment?
The growth of an M&E business is a never-ending procession of important decisions that change over time and unfortunately the Business owner continues to try and do everything -especially with start-ups.
If something must be done, does the MD have to do it? Can someone else buy the company toilet paper and coffee?
What Should the MD be doing?
Some tasks just can’t be done by anyone else – except the MD. Maybe no one else will be able to write a technical report as well as a Business owner. But could someone else write it, allowing the MD more time to focus on recruiting new technicians or apprentices? It’s not simply the activity that produces the best return but the return that only the MD can see.
When you initially think about it, attending a Local networking event may not seem like a high return activity. However when you look again, is keeping a high profile for the business amongst your peers and influencers worthwhile? Are you going to gain any opportunities? However specific Business networking with ideal people and Businesses in related M&E industries does make much more sense.
Some minor activities – offer a high return, like opening the post! Especially when the MD finds out that HMRC has issued your Business with a notice that your bookkeeper failed to make a VAT payment! So if opening the post reduces the opportunity for a fine then it’s a high return activity – right? Just as importantly is managing the finances, but is the MD trained to know about accounting? Probably not. Some activities should be outsourced, especially ones where no experience or training exists – like Accountancy, HR, Health & Safety, Marketing.
Don’t Waste time on Less Valuable Activities
Sometimes it is impossible to assess the value of certain activities. Particularly like trade shows, conferences, and training events. If the value of each is known ahead of these events, there would be no reason for the MD to attend in the first place. When you do not know what you do not know, attendance is an leap of faith. You believe it will be valuable, even though it is unknown in advance.
Running an M&E Business is often a balance of organising labour, materials, sub-contractors, and keeping the customers happy, but as you grow more and more of those activities should be done by others leaving the MD to get on with managing the business, and the MD should be spending less time on the tools, but maybe advising on technical issues that your field staff come across.
As a Business owner, your life has two forms. There is the business life and there is the personal life. You started your Business for a better quality of personal life – right? When the time is right, take the time to attend your kids’ school performances and sporting events. Take a proper family holiday, and don’t keep checking your email! Block some time out for you and your partner. The business shouldn’t be what runs your life. Ultimately, it is the means to support your family. Keep that in focus and it becomes easier to identify the valuable business activities.
This post about making more profit from contracting will help you to understand more and perhaps make you think some more about how you can improve your workload.
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