You Should Probably Do More Boring Work
If you’ve known me for any time at all, you know that I love renovating old houses. I love the transformation that can happen when you take good bones and apply modern conveniences to create one-of-a-kind living spaces.
It’s no secret either that I love HGTV. I could watch reno shows for hours, seeing old, broken houses turned into functional, beautiful homes in just an hour.
One of the shows I really enjoy is Love It Or List It.
Yes, it is a show of transformation but what I really love about the show is that it addresses one of the harsh truths about home renovation. It also reveals one of the harsh truths about business building as well.
The basic arc of Love It Or List It is simple. Two homeowners (typically spouses) are arguing over whether to renovate and stay in their non-functional home or ditch it and buy a new one.
Enter the designer and the realtor. The designer’s job is to make the old house gorgeous and functional so the family loves it. The realtor’s job is to find a new house so compelling the family lists the old house.
Each show follows the same pattern.
The designer comes up with a list of beautification projects while the realtor finds a dream home (typically outside the desired area or above budget).
But the designer always has the same issue. Once she gets some walls torn down or starts to work in a new space she discovers some underlying problem with the house such as a rotted foundation or electrical wiring that won’t support the new designs.
She then must tell the homeowner that some of their cosmetic projects will have to be scrapped so she can fix the underlying problems with the house.
The homeowner always laments having to spend money to repair problems that don’t impact the beauty of the home, but the designer always stands her ground and refuses to simply cover up the foundational issues.
As a business consultant, I find the same thing in my clients’ businesses. Everyone wants to grow sales (the pretty part) and no one wants to address the foundation issues like building a cohesive culture or revamping unprofitable but beloved products.
The secret to building a strong, functional and long-lasting company isn’t to grow as big as you can as soon as you can. The secret is to build a rock-solid foundation on which to grow steadily and in big chunks.
The process is deceptively simple:
- Build a solid foundation (strategy and culture)
- Identify the big prospects you want to target
- Develop relationships at key points within the targets
- Create sales processes that close the deals profitably
- Hire people to repeat the process for you
Unfortunately, I see people doing it backwards a lot. And the result is just like tiling over the bad plumbing in the tub – at some point it is going to break down and you’re going to have one heck of an expensive mess on your hands.
No, the foundations and the culture aren’t the sexy part of your company. Rarely will anyone compliment you on how amazing your strategic plan is. But they will comment on how your company grows year after year and never seems to suffer the problems of other companies in your industry.
My question to you is – do you need to spend more time on the “boring” parts of your company before you start pushing for more sales? Do you need to fix the wiring and plumbing and foundation before you start adding new paint and chandeliers?