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December 2021


26 Nov 2021, Business Tips, Learn, Prove Your Know How

During stressful times, make sure to take care of yourself, plan ahead and look for solutions rather than focus on problems

It has been said that the most important part of any business is the top two inches – that’s of your head. In other words, the most strategic part of your business, which ought to be protected the most, is your brain. Or to be more precise – your thinking.

This is particularly true when the business environment you operate in is uncertain and going through change.

It’s at times like these, when your business needs a clear-headed owner with positive and effective leadership, that you may find yourself having sleepless nights due to agonising over decisions, upset clients and staffing issues.

So, in this article I focus on three things I’ve learned over the years that helped me stay clear-headed when going through change.

1. Take care of yourself

This might sound obvious, but I meet many builders working longer and longer hours in the current climate. They tell me they need to do this just to keep on top of things. When I dig a little deeper, I discover that working harder is their way of coping with pressure.

They aren’t alone. Most builders in the industry are coping with similar pressures, including material supply constraints, scheduling subcontractors and recruiting qualified team members.

However, simply working longer hours to solve these problems is not the answer. When the work environment changes, you need to change. If what you are currently doing is not working well, then simply doing more of it is not really solving the problem. In fact, it may be making it worse, since overworking may be reducing your ability to make good decisions about what needs to be done.

So, pause and take stock.

Itemise each pressure area. Keep the list short – three or four is more than enough. Then decide on one area and focus on finding a solution(s) to that one area.

Give yourself enough time to research, talk to peers who are also experiencing similar pressure and make some new plans. Then trial each new idea until you find a workable solution.

Take care of yourself by pausing.

2. Plan tomorrow today

This is a simple routine that can help you work with greater efficiency. It simply involves taking your ‘to do’ list and selecting a few things you will do tomorrow. But only those things. Leave everything else on the (never ending) ‘to do’ list.

Then plan your day so that you have enough time to actually get these few things done, or resolved. Be careful not to plan every minute. Make sure that you allow some time for interruptions and phone calls, otherwise it won’t work as well.

The trick is to complete your tasks – to succeed – because there is nothing like success to breed success. Just the activity of ticking off completed tasks gives you that satisfied feeling of completing the day, rather than never being able to do enough. It feels like success.

But, the catch is, you must do this before the day ends.

If you have decided on what you need to do tomorrow, and set your plan, then your subconscious mind can use your sleeping time to troll through the recesses of your brain to find memories and ideas that may assist you succeed. Your goals have given your subconscious a plan – you may even find yourself waking up with a great idea!

But, when you don’t plan the next day before you go to sleep, your subconscious mind lacks clear direction and tends to worry – all night long in some cases – and usually about all the things that could go wrong! Know the feeling?

So, plan tomorrow today. Start making a short list of things you know you can accomplish tomorrow – so that you succeed. Then tick them off as they are completed.

You can slowly add a little more each day until you reach your level, but always write your list before you finish the day.

Should you have one of those days (again), where everything turns to custard, then at the end of the day, put a line through each uncompleted task and reschedule it to another day. Or if you can, just delete it. Maybe it doesn’t need to be done. This way you have completed all of your tasks and you can feel you have had a very successful day. That feels good.

Remember, success breeds success.

3. Stay in control

People gravitate towards those who ’have it together’ – who handle themselves well when others may be losing it. No one likes to work for, deal with, or buy from a person losing control. It feels unsafe. So, stay in control.

Now, staying in control is more about governing yourself than others. It’s about being careful what you say and how you say it. It’s about looking for solutions rather than blowing up at problems. The thing is, you can have full control over yourself, whereas you can’t have the same control over others or over the current environment. That can be a revelation for some!

When things happen that elicit an emotive response (for example a mistake is made), pause and look for what you could have done to prevent it happening, for instance, could you have explained the job better? If so, then add that explanation to your systems so that you don’t have this happen again.

Take control of the future by learning from the present and changing your routines or habits. This is the way to stay in control.

Remember, when you take care of the top two inches, you are giving your business the best of you.


Graeme Owen is a builders’ business coach at thesuccessfulbuilder.com. Since 2006, he has helped builders throughout New Zealand get off the tools, make decent money, and get more time in their lives. Grab a copy of his free book: The 15 Minute Sales Call Guaranteed To Increase Your Conversion Rate: thesuccessfulbuilder.com/book-15-min-sales-call or join Trademates and connect with builders who are scaling too: www.facebook.com/groups/TradeMates

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