Spin Screed

Articles written by guest contributors

Monroe Porter

What’s the owner’s job?
By Monroe Porter

Being a business owner can be an overwhelming never-ending job. When an owner first starts out, he or she is the foreman, field worker, estimator, office worker, salesperson, bill collector, scheduler, production manager and the titles go on and on.

As the business grows, we add other employees and managers. As growth continues, the owner’s duties also evolve. Over time owners must decide where their efforts offer the highest return on investment balanced by personal fulfillment. While no 2 owners are alike, the following guidelines may help you with that decision.

Owner’s value
Where do you bring the most value to the business? If you are a great salesperson or ingenious craftsperson, it may not make sense for you to spend all your time in the office pushing paper. Office work is a task many owners do not enjoy and are not very good at doing.

I’ve watched many business owners delegate the tasks they were best at because they were bored or thought they no longer had to do such tasks. Many people whose careers span 10-15 years get bored with their jobs. Don’t think such thoughts are unique to you as business owner. And more importantly don’t trade a job that you are good at for one you are not good at just because of ego and boredom.

Your personal finances can influence this decision. If your profit contribution is greatest outside the office and you are not financially independent, your efforts must continue to bring maximized profit to your bottom line.

If you are financially independent, you can afford to back off of the day to day. If not, you have to make the most impact on profits as you can until you reach financial independence. Make a list of your daily duties and then put a financial value by each duty. Focus on the high reward duties and delegate the less significant tasks.

Likes and dislikes
As your business becomes more profitable and your personal wealth grows, delegating things you don’t like to do can enhance fulfillment. However as long as you are owner, delegation of certain tasks is unrealistic.

While you may not have to tabulate financial and production data, it is your job to review and monitor how the business is doing. If you don’t appear to care about your money, why should your employees care? It is also your responsibility to look closely to ensure no one is stealing. It is your responsibility to make sure the business stays profitable and to protect the people who work for you.

It is also important that you maintain a position of leadership. Leadership is very difficult if not impossible to delegate. Leadership is defined as influencing others to meet organizational goals. It is your organization. Leadership is always your responsibility.

I realize for many owners that getting away from the grind of the day-to-day management is appealing. Your role as day-to-day manager can be delegated but as owner it is your job to set direction. Management without leadership is like aligning the deck chairs on the Titanic. It seems extremely important at that moment but in the big picture it doesn’t really matter.

I once asked an owner how many employees he had working for him. His reply was, “about half of them.” As frustrating as employees can be, you can’t build or do any work without them.

It is the owner’s job to see the big employee picture and to modernize the business’s recruiting and training efforts. Owners must continue to lead and build a better organization. Owners must make sure their organization is constantly looking for improvement and excellence.

Don’t be a seagull owner. What’s a seagull owner? Someone who does not have day- to-day responsibilities but uses his or her idle time to show up, dump on people and leave. Nothing is worse than working your butt off and the big boss shows up wanting to know why you aren’t finished when the boss has no firsthand knowledge of the problem. The role of a less active owner is not to be a nitpicker but rather to be a positive influencer of organizational goals and behavior.

This is a new job for ownership and will take a while to learn. To suddenly not have such daily responsibility brings on a need to learn new habits and redefine the owner’s job description. In addition, you are the big boss and who is going to tell you that you are not doing a good job? It will take time and may possibly require outside help.

Possibly a local leadership class can help. Our networking groups force owners to set goals and stay engaged at appropriate levels. Consider a consultant. Talk to other local business owners who have made the transition from hands-on management to hands-off leadership. Focus on your new job and leadership and ask for input from key managers regarding your role. Call me, I’d be happy to talk with your about it.

Monroe Porter is an industry business consultant for hardscape/landscape contractors and can be reached at (804) 267-1688. He offers up to 1 hour of free consulting for readers of Hardscape Magazine.