Spin Screed

Articles written by guest contributors

Monroe Porter

Success has little to do with luck
By Monroe Porter

I am fortunate to be going on a magnificent fishing trip to Alaska soon. An acquaintance commented that I sure was lucky. This got me thinking about luck, because I think luck has little to do with it. Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s was credited with saying, “Luck is the dividend of sweat. The more you sweat the luckier you get.”

I have led a successful life but I think it has more to do with hard work, curiosity, a willingness to change and taking advantage of opportunities, than mere luck. Don’t underestimate how little things and a willingness to change can dramatically impact your success.

Efficiency matters
Thirty-five years ago, I saw the need to learn how to efficiently type and expand on technology. I am absolutely awful at technology. The joke around the office is that I can break a computer by touching it. It was and is not easy.

However, it has made a huge impact on overhead and my financial success. After a couple of years, I was able to eliminate an admin position at $30k a year. You do the math; $30k yearly times 30 years is a lot of money. In addition, I was able to hire skilled admin help rather than just someone to retype my awful handwriting.

Are you proficient with a keyboard and process info, or still inefficiently hunting and pecking? With voice recognition, it has gotten even easier. Are you and your project managers as efficient as they should be? Don’t be a dinosaur.

Seizing opportunities to fulfill a need
Twenty-seven years ago, I ran a group consulting meeting with the goal of helping contractors generate income in the slower season. There was no grand networking scheme. I simply saw how well the concept worked and built the business from that moment.

Today we have approximately 185 networking contractors representing over $72 million in owners’ income and profits. Every single thing we have done with our networking contractors fulfills a specific need to help them succeed. I believe that’s why it has been successful.

Are you chasing income without passion or purpose? Are you so caught up in your day-to-day business that you miss opportunities? Don’t lose your passion to help others and to be the best contractor you can be. Do something well and fulfill a niche; profit will follow.

Winter is always peak season for me to do consulting work and seminars with contractors. One day while watching TV I saw people on the beach in Australia at Christmas (before the fires). It hit me. They speak English in Australia and New Zealand and our seasons are opposites. I went on to develop a following in those markets traveling there to speak on numerous occasions. I went there not for vacation but rather to help people and build a business. The commute was longer but the work was similar.

Are you doing things to promote your business opportunities for the off season, or are things so crazy during your busy season that you don’t have much waiting for you when the busy season runs its course?

Be willing to change
In 1980, interest rates went to 18%. I lost my best 2 customers within a 2-week period and no one wanted to learn about cost accounting, the main thrust of my business at the time. Sales and marketing was the rage.

I knew nothing about sales and marketing but I taught myself with a vengeance. I set my alarm at 4 a.m. and used the first 4 hours of each day to teach myself new skills. I still made it home at night to see my kids. Soon the business began to rebuild itself.

Are you keeping up with the changing marketplace, or just doing business the same old same old way? If not, do you have young people in your organization who want to grow and improve, and who can help you?

The contracting business is good. The majority of the industry is swamped with work. Don’t let this bull market drive you into complacency. The market will slow down or competition will grow to meet the current needs and make it harder to succeed at the same old, same old. Is your business evolving or are you just chunking numbers at the demand and puttering along? Use the good times to invest for the bad times. Stay ahead of the game and don’t be complacent.

By the way, I do believe in luck. In 1976, I was working for Daniel Construction as a cost analyst in a job that was winding down. Soon I was going to be unemployed. I took an outdated, semi-toy typewriter and sent a letter to prospective employers. I received a reply from a successful subcontractor who had started a hobby business helping other contractors. I went to work for him and built PROOF Management into a business. So yes, I do believe in luck. But, luck did not send that letter. Only by seeking opportunities can you continue to grow and succeed.

Monroe Porter and PROOF Management offer business consulting through industry networking groups. Monroe can be reached at (804) 267-1688.