How you perceive your business goes a long way in determining its long-term success. Perception becomes reality. The horizon you ride off into at the end of your journey evolves from the way you view your business. Will you be riding off on the shoulders of your team or slinking off with your head hanging low?
Do you view your business as a job? Do you view it as an obligation? Do you view it as a game? You should view it as a game.
Do you know why sports are so popular?
Because games are FUN.
Do you know why so many young kids play their Nintendos or Xboxes late into the night?
Because games are FUN.
Competition is fun. Winning is fun. Shouldn't business be fun?
I strongly encourage you to adopt a game perspective. Treat your business like a game. A game with fierce competition. A game you can and should win. Every day you walk through those doors play the great game of business.
Wouldn't work be a lot more enjoyable if it didn't feel like a grind without a goal? When you frame success as winning isn't it easier to see it as fun?
Do you need more convincing that business can be viewed as a game? Think about what it takes to win in highly competitive sports.
Winning takes lots and lots of preparation. Extreme discipline. Hard work. An undying commitment to be excellent. Continually working to improve the way you execute. Creating and deploying a winning game plan (i.e. strategy) is mandatory. Every team member must put forth full effort for the cause. Every team member must sacrifice a bit of person glory for team glory. Every team member must help each other out when the need arises. Isn't that how you'd like your team to behave?
Many owners get a similar thrill from viewing their business as a war; however, that mindset does not play well with the staff. It is easy for an owner to be inspired by his growing bank account. The staff is just paying bills. That's not very motivating. Better to create an environment that motivates your entire staff by creating excitement about what they are doing and what they are accomplishing.
So, how do you know whether you are winning?
That's a bit of a complex issue. The main thing — meaning that bottom line profit — is how you should keep score. Obviously you will not have an opportunity to compare your net income against your competition's net income.
You can compare sales revenue, but that's a HORRIBLE way to keep score. You are not in the game to give money away. Having huge sales is easy. Price your work below your cost!
Profit is the score to watch. If you are legitimately hitting 10 percent bottom line profit you are winning. If you are over 10 percent you are approaching best in class.
To get there you will need to tune your team into the costs of running the business. They need to master production rates, mark-ups, client qualification, etc. The owner of a small manufacturing firm in Springfield, Mo., named Jack Stack wrote a book title "The Great Game of Business". In the book, Mr. Stack shared how he involved everyone in his business in the finance side. He taught them how to understand financial statements, balance sheets and their cost accounting. He ran an "open book" shop.
I'm not advocating you take such a dramatic approach to sharing financial data. However, certain people in your business must understand its costs inside and out. That group includes your estimators and project managers. Your field leaders must understand production rates and equipment costs.
Keep the numbers visible. Celebrate the wins. Dissect the losses. Don't repeat mistakes. Refine your competitive strategy. Build your team. Approach your work day with joy, taking pleasure in the pure competitive spirit of the tasks. Above all, when you have a win take a moment to relish it and celebrate it.
Construction is a tough industry. The work is dirty and sweaty. It is highly competitive. It is a perfect industry in which to use a game perspective to keep the team energized and motivated.