Estimating and Preconstruction

Work ON Your Business, Not Just IN The Business

By February 9, 2022 No Comments

In the competitive world of construction, it’s easy to get caught up in profit, to focus so much on the bottom line that you forget why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t get us wrong: we all live in the real world where big dreams and positive affirmations aren’t going to pay the rent. Money is important, and to some extent, it always will be. Without it, no business will survive.

ten dollar bill on top of several one hundred dollar bills

Businesses can’t survive without money. But there’s more to our work than just profit.

At the same time, though, profit for the sake of profit is a very narrow way of measuring success, and it can frequently stifle other important values like creativity and innovation. Today, a company’s values—its mission, its purpose, what it stands for—have become more important than ever before when customers consider who they want to support. An article from global management consulting firm McKinsey and Company observes that “customers are boycotting the products of whose values they view as contrary to their own.” People now view most companies with a healthy degree of cynicism and quickly see through tired sales gimmicks.

The construction industry is no stranger to this new shift in perspective. Our industry is one that is built primarily on relationships and reputation. But as technology advances at a lightning pace and jobs become increasingly automated, it’s important to make sure that you’re not doing things just because you can. Instead, consider why you’re doing the work that you do and making the decisions that you make, and hold them up against the established values of your company.

This is why you need to work ON your business, not just IN the business. We’ve compiled the three best ways to get started below:

  • Remember the impact your projects have on the community and don’t be afraid to promote them
  • Get involved in professional organizations
  • Ensure alignment with key players such as subcontractors and software vendors

Remember the Impact Your Projects Have on the Community and Don’t Be Afraid to Promote Them

Construction is about so much more than who can build the tallest or most expensive building. It’s also about changing lives. Some projects can transform the future of other industries, such as medicine, giving researchers the tools they need to access data they might have never been able to access otherwise; other projects help ease labor shortages and make communities safer.

But the average person is often completely unaware of the powerful impact construction has on the communities they live, work, and play in. How often do we take things like grocery stores, sturdy homes, warm offices, and high-tech hospitals for granted? Part of working on your business means remembering and reminding people of the purpose behind the projects your company chooses to take on. Never be shy about celebrating wins and showcasing outstanding projects, because that’s how people will know where you’ve been and where you’re going.

Beck Technology workshop at Advancing Preconstruction conference

Industry conferences and workshops are key to working on your business and not just in it.

Get Involved in Professional Organizations

Another huge step toward balancing focus on value versus profit includes staying involved with the wider construction community. If you’re not currently a part of any professional organizations such as ASPE or CMAA, join one! And be sure to encourage your team to get involved as well. Networking, chamber events, open houses—these can all be opportunities to receive honest feedback that might be a little difficult to get otherwise. Plus, getting to know other estimators and seeing their unique processes and the way they do things can inspire solutions to challenges, or possibly even collaborations.

On top of that, most organizations will either host conferences or are able to point you to conferences and workshops happening near you. These are excellent chances to stay on top of cutting-edge developments within the industry, from the technological to the practical. Staying well-rounded and educated is essential to keeping your company not just focused on success, but also on innovating and experimenting.

Ensure Alignment With Key Players such as Subcontractors and Software Vendors

Last but certainly not least: be sure to thoroughly evaluate everyone you choose to partner with to make sure that they align with your company’s mission. It’s all too easy to get excited by a fancy new construction estimating software with hundreds of mind-blowing features, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for your team and their individual needs. Similarly, just because a subcontractor comes in with an awesome number doesn’t automatically mean that they’ll be a good partner, especially if you’re looking to diversify the companies that you work with.

When you get too caught up in working in the business instead of on it, you can find yourself compromising your values in order to make the biggest profit. And unfortunately, that’s when you can start to lose people, both customers and employees. So whenever you’re making big decisions, whether it’s about onboarding new software or choosing who to work with, don’t be afraid to walk away if they don’t prioritize what’s important to your company.

What’s your number one tip for working on your business? Let us know in the comments below.