Building More: Learning The Hard Way?

Words: Corey Adams
Words: Corey Adams 
Can you remember your first day in the field? Wide-eyed and confused about what was going on around you. We all have the same feeling the first time we do something new: overwhelmed.  Many of us claim to have been thrown right into the mix without any guidance, but that is not true in reality. Someone on-site had to give us tips, insight, instruction, or, at a minimum, lead us in the right direction. We had a mentor. Without one, it would have taken us decades to learn the ins and outs of the trade by trial and error.  The sad truth is that many small business owners are currently learning how to run a business by trial and error. Starting and running a successful construction business is like learning a new trade. It takes work, though, and many times it also takes guidance. Yet, so many owners are hesitant to hire outside mentors.  Imagine having someone to talk to regularly who has been there before — someone to ask questions, talk through ideas, or just keep you in the right direction. It would have helped a ton while you were learning the trade and it will help tremendously while you are running your own company. I know that many are untrusting when it comes to the idea of hiring a mentor. You are jaded to the idea because every other ad you see on social media, magazines, etc., is a marketing agency with no idea about construction or business “gurus” selling you systems disguised as solutions for all your problems. It gets exhausting. To provide a little clarity, here is what a good mentor does:
  • Listens. A good mentor understands that every company and owner has different goals and aspirations. They listen to you to know what you want, not what they want to sell.
  • Asks questions. Asking thought-provoking questions is often the best way to get you to think outside the box. A good mentor is there to help lend perspective to your situation. Asking questions that result in detailed answers is a great way to keep your mind clean and focused on the task at hand. 
  • Provides structure. Routine is essential to produce results. A mentor should be providing you structure with regular times, emails, and other communications. Knowing that your mentor is calling every Tuesday at 9 am is a structure that keeps you focused. 
  • Balance. One of the hardest things for business owners is to create a balance in their life.
  • Focus. Most business owners spend more time putting out fires than working on their business. Mentors are excellent at keeping you focused on what your stated goals are. Mentors should not create goals for you, but lead you in the right direction to achieve your goals.
As tradesmen, we understand that having the right tools for the job is key to improved productivity. We spend hours researching and finding the right tools for our company. Putting a crew in the field without the right tools is destined to fail. Your business is the same way. It needs tools that produce results, make your job easier, and give you more time. Finding the right mentor can accelerate your learning curve when it comes to business. Finding one with the right experience, attitude, and ability to communicate positively is where it is up to you.  According to a recent study of Fortune 1000 companies, those with business coaches/mentors report an average of 600% return on investment. That is a tool that pays for itself.  
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