Having a Business Plan is Crucial to Building Your Best Business

Just Like a Building, You Need a Blueprint for Building a Better Business

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a solopreneur or have a team. If you have been in business for 30 years or just starting out. Regardless of the kind of work you do, the organizational plan for your business is as important as the work you do…maybe more.

Too many people run their business on a wing and a prayer. They just roll the dice and hope things work out

If you own your business and aren’t intentional about the organizational operation of your company, it is likely that you won’t make it past your 5th year. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just think about the number of businesses that you have seen come and go over the years.

In my 40 years of being in business I have learned a lot of lessons, some of them the hard way. Let me tell you, the tuition for “The School of Hard Knocks” is expensive.

There were times when I got behind on taxes so I could pay bills and times that I got behind on bills so I could pay taxes. Neither of these is a very good business plan. One of my SHK professors once told me, “When you steal from Peter to pay Paul, you make Peter a Paul bearer”.

If you want to avoid the need for a pallbearer for your business…you need a plan.

It’s common for people to start a business without a plan. Generally, someone has learned a trade or a craft and for whatever reason they decide to go into business. Most of the time they have given little, if any, thought to the business operation. They show up every day working hard and then, surprise…you owe some taxes and haven’t saved any money to pay them.

You need a plan, a blueprint for building the business.

There are a lot of similarities in constructing a sound building and a constructing profitable business.

Both need –

  • To start with design plans – the thing that gives you a clear direction of what you want the outcome to be.
  • An architect – the person that can see the vision of what the finished product will be.
  • A solid foundation – the thing that will support you when the storms come.
  • A good framework – the thing that holds everything together.
  • A builder – the person that reads and understands the plans and puts all the different pieces together correctly.
  • The proper tools – these are what allow the pieces to be shaped and fastened together in the right places in the right order.
  • A good team – these are the different people with the different skills and knowledge needed.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business for years or are just starting out…

YOU NEED A PLAN.

If you or someone you know would like to minimize the time spent attending “The School of Hard Knocks”, then follow or share our Weekly Solutions with people who could use some help with a business plan.

Finding solutions for building dream businesses is what we’re about at Solution Building. If you have questions about business plans, contact us below.

Revised and reprinted from 02/24/18

How Building Your Life is Like a Construction Project

It Has to be Done One Brick at a Time

It’s the start of another new year and if you’re like me you want a plan in place for what you’re going to accomplish this year, next year and the next five. I’m naturally a planner, so having a plan gives me a since of comfort.

However, when things don’t go as planned…it can be unnerving. This is why it’s hard to plan.

We don’t want to do something and then find out it was the wrong thing, so we just don’t do anything.

Life is like a construction project…you can have the best plans imaginable in the beginning, but it’s not always going to go as planned. We need to remember that building the best life, means it’s always under construction.

We have two choices…we can start building or not.

My life plan isn’t that different than most plans out there. It takes the big long-term goals and breaks them down into annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly goals. It is made up of visions, values, principles and areas of my life.

It starts with my God given purpose and mission; this is the cornerstone of everything else. Part of that foundation is my core values. I’ve written about most of these previously. (See the links at the end of the post)

One of my core values is (was) moving the mountain one shovel full at a time. This the same concept of eating the elephant one bite at a time. I changed it from eating an elephant to moving a mountain, because it seemed to fit my construction perspective better.

Just like I said that life is always under construction earlier…I’m changing this core value of moving the mountain one shovel full at a time. It’s now going to be:

Build God’s Kingdom one brick at a time

Ultimately, they both have the same foundational point. We need to focus on the small pieces so that we don’t get overwhelmed by the big things.

There are a couple of things I like about this change –

First – Incorporating “God’s Kingdom” helps me to remember that He is the Master Architect and that I need to build according to His plans.

Second – Building is constructive rather than moving a mountain or eating an elephant are destructive.

The most important thing to remember is to choose the right Architect to design your life.

If you don’t have a good plan the life you build will be a mess.

From the Master Architect’s Blueprint –

…but you are citizens together with God’s holy people. You belong to God’s family. 20 You believers are like a building that God owns. That building was built on the foundation that the apostles and prophets prepared. Christ Jesus himself is the most important stonein that building. 21 The whole building is joined together in Christ, and he makes it grow and become a holy templein the Lord. 22 And in Christ you are being built together with his other people. You are being made into a place where God lives through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Okay, I need to quit putting off my 2022 life plan and get started laying the first next brick.

Previous core value posts:

Using core values as a life filter

Honor God in all that I do

Intentional action

The Importance of intentionality

Taking off the blinders and being more observant

Attention to detail

Spend time wisely

Never be satisfied with mediocrity

Find and maintain the balance in everything

Move the mountain one shovel full at a time

Remember that I have two ears and one mouth

Be accountable

We’ve Been Commissioned to Build God’s Kingdom Here on Earth

The Question is…What Are You Going to Do About It?

As Christians we are supposed to be God’s builders here are earth. The problem is that most of us don’t bother to look at the Blueprint and we don’t build according to the Architect’s plan.

We all have our idea of what we expect it to look like.

This plan has never worked very well. In John 18:33-37 Jesus went before Pilot because the people were expecting something else…they missed Him. Pilot expected something else…he missed Him.

Pastor Lee shared the poem And So They Missed Him that explains this pretty well.


They were looking for an adult, but He came as a little infant Babe,
and so they missed Him.

They were looking for a lion, but He came as a Lamb,
and so they missed Him.

They were looking for a warrior, but He came as a Peacemaker,
and so they missed Him.

They were looking for a king, but He came as a Servant,
and so they missed Him.

They were looking for liberation from Rome, but He submitted to the Roman State,
and so they missed Him.

They were looking for their temporal needs to be met, but He came to meet their spiritual and eternal needs, and so they missed Him.


Good intentions don’t make a difference…it takes action.

God has given us everything we need to build His Kingdom, but it’s up to us to do something.

Robert Pierce was a Baptist minister that found himself working with the Youth for Christ in China. On one trip, he met Tena Hoelkeboer, a missionary teacher, who presented him with a battered and abandoned child. Unable to care for the child herself, Tena asked Pierce, “What are you going to do about her?” Pierce gave the woman his last five dollars and agreed to send the same amount each month to help the woman care for the child.

He was deeply affected by the wartime poverty and human suffering that he witnessed in both China and Korea and in 1950 he founded World Vision International.

World Vision International is a service organization that meets the emergency needs of missionaries. It is active in more than 90 countries with a total revenue including grants, products and foreign donations of USD 2.90 billion (2019).

When Robert gave the five dollars to Tena, he didn’t know what this would become. He just followed God’s Blueprint and started building.

Don’t miss His plan for you.

Study the Blueprint and start building!

What is it About TOOLS That Building Contractors Love So Much?

Wielding a Power Tool Gives Us a Sense of Control and Respect

Those of you who build, know what I mean. Feeling that power in our hands. We are in control, but the machine can never be tamed. We have to respect it, or we will regret it. We pretend to be in charge of the “power tool beast” but know better.

Power and control

  • Power tools have the power to create. When the power tools come out, we have no idea what is about to happen. Every time we connect with that much electricity, a child-like excitement oozes from our pores.
  • Power tools have an untamed spirit that screams: “Anything can happen.” Turning on a generator makes you feel like you are The Generator. For a few minutes, you’re off the grid and in-charge. You have the power and can decide who you will bestow it upon.
  • Power tools let us pretend that we can do anything. Don’t fool yourself, your power tool is in charge! Just look at the sticker on your SAWZALL: “Warning this device is powerful and is capable of doing serious harm to your home, your person or your entire way of life.

Meditate on the raw power, the Amps and the Volts. Be in awe and imagine where your power tools may take you.

This fascination with tools is very similar to the reason most guys would take almost any ridiculous “man challenge” for the promise of a gold sticker on their forehead and “buddy cred”.

“Hey, I bet you can’t crush that can with your head!” Sound familiar?

Hopefully most of us are smarter than this.

As builders we love the rush we get from building something. That sense of accomplishment that comes from creating a dream home out of that stack of boards. Tools give us the power and control to do this.

A tool that is even more powerful than the biggest meanest saw, is the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal.

I know it doesn’t make as much noise or make your arm numb after using it all afternoon, but it’s a tool that will allow you to build your business into a skyscraper of success.

The hardest thing you will ever build is a business. The tools used for this kind of building are different than what we normally think of when thinking tools.

During my thirty-five plus years of building my business I’ve continually worked to achieve and maintain a sense of control over my profit and respect for the power of business.

Just like any other building project, it’s important to know what tool to use for specific applications. You wouldn’t use a cordless screw gun to saw a board, or a reciprocating saw to nail down a shingle.

You can saw a board with a hand saw or you can use a circular saw. We both know which is faster, easier and makes more sense.

The same thing is true for preparing a proposal.

You can use the old school “guesstimation” method or you could use the new and improved power tool. It’s important to have the right tool for the job.

We are going to be offering a Holiday special for the Building a Better Proposal system starting on Black Friday complete with a weekly tool drawing starting on Black Friday.

If you or someone you know would like to feel the power of a tool that gives them control over building a successful construction business while respecting that power without regret…stay tuned for upcoming details or contact us in the comments below.

Action is the One Thing Required if Anything is Going to Get Done

We Can Think Until Our Head Hurts, But Nothing Gets Done Until We Do It

If you’re like me…you have more ideas than you do time to do them. I’m always thinking of new and different ways to do things. These thoughts are bouncing around in there all the time.

Having a desire to use our talents and skills to help others is a driving force in the self-employed entrepreneurial field. Figuring out how to put ideas into action has been in the forefront of conversations in the mastermind and other professional discussions.

A servant’s heart is a foundation that these kinds of businesses are built on. The problem is that there are more ideas than time to do them.

Desire without action accomplishes nothing.

So, what action should I do first? How do I know if that’s the right thing? Quite honestly…you won’t. Not until after it’s been done. Whether or not it’s the right thing is less important than doing something. At the very least doing something, even if it wasn’t the “right thing”, you can learn something.

Think about how many lessons Thomas Edison learned with the light bulb (more than 3000). It would be a dark place if he’d never taking any action on his ideas.

Things will happen every day that influence and effect your plans. The important thing is to know your foundational mission and build everything on that. If you are clear about that mission you can work through the incidentals things that happen with flexible rigidity.

Don’t let distractions prevent you from taking action.

I’ve shared numerous times about the “Life Principles” in Andy Andrews’ book The Traveler’s Gift. Living these principles requires action…one focuses on that very thing. The Active Decision

I am a person of action. I am daring. I am courageous. Fear no longer has a place in my life. For too long, fear has outweighed my desire to make things better… Never again! I have exposed fear as a vapor, an impostor who never had any power over me in the first place! I do not fear opinion, gossip, or the idle chatter of monkeys for all are the same to me. I do not fear failure, for in my life, failure is a myth. Failure only exists for the person who quits.

“My future is immediate. I will grasp it with both hands and carry it with running feet. When I am faced with the choice of doing nothing or doing something, I will always choose to act!”

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

One of those professional discussions about taking action was with my friend Vickie Adair. She helps families navigate the process of college admissions at Strategy to Launch. Making each step clear and manageable so the process is smooth and stress-free.

In that discussion, our mutual friend Bryan encouraged Vickie to make a video and post it social media. She took action and did it. She did that first next thing and took action. Way to go Vickie!

Just like a skyscraper, our lives are built one brick at a time.

Like Vickie, do that first next thing that will move you forward toward accomplishing your mission.

The Conclusion of The Construction Proposal Is the Contract

Two men in suits shaking hands

 

 

 

Putting A Period at The End of The Proposal Communication

 

The discussion of “Building a Better Proposal” began with the problems that arise from poor communication. We talked about this being the responsibility of the contractor and some of the reasons this is a problem.


Over the last several weeks we laid out the “Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal” going over the different parts of the system, an explanation of the system, gathering of information, writing a scope of work, putting a price to the project and finally how to put all of the pieces together into a proposal ready to present to the customer.

 

Once you have a signed Proposal, conclude with a Contract.

 

 

 

 


The Contract completes the Proposal process and covers things beyond construction. Things like funding, additional documents, property boundaries, time within which the project will be started and terms and conditions.

  • Construction Funds – This isn’t something that is relevant to every project but will be to some. If it is, the information would be included in this section of the contract.

 

  • Description of the Work – A complete and full Scope of Work could be included here but not needed if the customer has been presented a Proposal. If so then a brief description of the project can be inserted and a reference to the specific Proposal and any other additional documentation, i.e. blueprints, drawings, spec sheets, governing body documents, etc.

 

  • Property Lines – This is another category that isn’t relevant to every project but certainly can be. If working inside of city limits, normally there are set back requirements and easements, this makes it critical to know where the property boundaries are or to have a licensed surveyor make this determination.

 

  • Payment – Like the description of work above, this should be in the Proposal. If no Proposal was given to the customer, then this should be specified here. If a Proposal was given repeat it again here.

 

  • Time for the Completion of Work – The duration of the work from start to finish is typically expressed in the Proposal. Due to the varying number of Proposals prepared and presented to customers, there’s no way of knowing what order they will be signed and returned. With the Proposal being signed and returned prior to the preparation of the Contract, the start date of the project can be determined and specified here.

 

  • Terms and Conditions – An in-depth explanation of specifications, descriptions, expectations, insurance, warranty, media permissions, etc. These will be specific to your company, type of work and location.


I would recommend that to have a legal expert or attorney review your Proposal and Contract templates as well as any other agreement document to make sure they meet your specific needs.


 

We’ve now gone through the process of meeting with a customer all the way to getting a signed Contract. Now it’s time to do the “construction” part of the project.

 


Communication will be needed in this part too.


Just because you have a signed Proposal and Contract don’t think the communication is done. In most construction project changes occur. These changes need to be treated like separate, sub-projects of the original with Change Orders.


This is a topic of discussion for a different day and one that we’ll have in the future.


If you know anyone in a construction trade or related industry that you think would benefit from learning the “Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal” share a link to this Weekly Solution or the to the Solution Building website. 

 

 

Don’t forget to check back in the next couple of weeks for the upcoming announcement.

 

How to Be Sure You Don’t Overlook Something…

 

 

 

 

 

When Gathering Information for A Construction Proposal

 

You or someone you know has experienced a construction project horror story. A dream project that somewhere along the way turned into a nightmare. A communication disconnect that caused the customer and the contractor to be at odds.

 


Why is miscommunication in construction so common?


In the first post of this Blueprint for Building A Better Proposal series, I wrote about this communication problem and that a better proposal is the contractor’s responsibility. Contractors don’t start a construction project with the intention of a misunderstanding…so why is it too often the result?


Most people in the construction trades, learned their specific trade, but were never taught how to do a proposal.


In the second post of the series I explained the parts of the proposal system. In the third, I went through the different steps of the process

 


In this post we’ll break down STEP 1 – Gathering Information:


The first information you should gather is WHY. Why does the customer want to do this project? Do they need more space, does something need repaired or replaced, are they looking to make it more usable, or is it just because they want to? Knowing the why early helps determine a clear direction going forward.


Unless the customer has a full set of blueprints and specifications, a site visit should be one of the very first parts of this step. Every individual project is as different as the customer is. Without blueprints, specs or seeing the existing location the chances of giving the customer the project they want, is almost impossible.


Information that needs to be gathered:

  • Project info (customer name, mailing address, project address if different than mailing, phone number, email address, project overview, any other relevant information that you need)
  • Measurements and dimensions, existing and new
  • Building materials, existing and new
  • Pictures of pertinent areas and existing construction
  • Customer’s design ideas and finishes


The important part is to not overlook something.


 

Use whatever way works best for you to gather the info. Early on I used graph paper and a clip board. I continued to go through different processes before getting where I currently am.


After the graph paper I developed a printed Bid Sheet that had a pre-determined list of the different construction tasks that might be needed. Next to each task there was space for writing down a brief description, dimensions, specific notes, drawings, etc. Having a pre-determined list is a great way to minimize the possibility of forgetting something.


Now I use the same basic Bid Sheet on a Microsoft Surface tablet and can either type, write or draw right on the document. This streamlines the process and reduces the chance of something getting overlooked.


Forgetting to include something in the proposal is a sure way to lose money.


There are over one hundred items listed on the Bid Sheet and it still doesn’t cover every possibility. Construction projects vary a lot. Even small projects can include a lot of different pieces. If you leave one of the pieces out, someone’s going to end up unhappy.

 


If you start with a list, you’re less likely to overlook something.


Next week we’ll take the information gathered on the Bid Sheet and turn it into a Scope of Work.

 

 

How to Be Sure You Don’t Overlook Something…

 

 

 

 

 

When Gathering Information for A Construction Proposal

 

You or someone you know has experienced a construction project horror story. A dream project that somewhere along the way turned into a nightmare. A communication disconnect that caused the customer and the contractor to be at odds.

 


Why is miscommunication in construction so common?


In the first post of this Blueprint for Building A Better Proposal series, I wrote about this communication problem and that a better proposal is the contractor’s responsibility. Contractors don’t start a construction project with the intention of a misunderstanding…so why is it too often the result?


Most people in the construction trades, learned their specific trade, but were never taught how to do a proposal.


In the second post of the series I explained the parts of the proposal system. In the third, I went through the different steps of the process

 


In this post we’ll break down STEP 1 – Gathering Information:


The first information you should gather is WHY. Why does the customer want to do this project? Do they need more space, does something need repaired or replaced, are they looking to make it more usable, or is it just because they want to? Knowing the why early helps determine a clear direction going forward.


Unless the customer has a full set of blueprints and specifications, a site visit should be one of the very first parts of this step. Every individual project is as different as the customer is. Without blueprints, specs or seeing the existing location the chances of giving the customer the project they want, is almost impossible.


Information that needs to be gathered:

  • Project info (customer name, mailing address, project address if different than mailing, phone number, email address, project overview, any other relevant information that you need)
  • Measurements and dimensions, existing and new
  • Building materials, existing and new
  • Pictures of pertinent areas and existing construction
  • Customer’s design ideas and finishes


The important part is to not overlook something.


 

Use whatever way works best for you to gather the info. Early on I used graph paper and a clip board. I continued to go through different processes before getting where I currently am.


After the graph paper I developed a printed Bid Sheet that had a pre-determined list of the different construction tasks that might be needed. Next to each task there was space for writing down a brief description, dimensions, specific notes, drawings, etc. Having a pre-determined list is a great way to minimize the possibility of forgetting something.


Now I use the same basic Bid Sheet on a Microsoft Surface tablet and can either type, write or draw right on the document. This streamlines the process and reduces the chance of something getting overlooked.


Forgetting to include something in the proposal is a sure way to lose money.


There are over one hundred items listed on the Bid Sheet and it still doesn’t cover every possibility. Construction projects vary a lot. Even small projects can include a lot of different pieces. If you leave one of the pieces out, someone’s going to end up unhappy.

 


If you start with a list, you’re less likely to overlook something.


Next week we’ll take the information gathered on the Bid Sheet and turn it into a Scope of Work.

 

 

What Are the Rules That You Live By?

 

 

 

They Will Be the Building Blocks in Your Life’s Foundation

 

 

 

We all make choices everyday about how we will live our lives and how we will treat those around us.


Often, we adults make things more complicated than they need to be and it’s really pretty simple. All we really need to know we learned in kindergarten, just ask Robert Fulghum.

 


Here’s a partial list:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

 


These are just good common-sense things that will be great foundation blocks for building a better world.

 


We can make a big difference by doing small things, even though at the time it might not seem like it. The story of the young boy and the starfish is a good parable that makes this point.

 


“One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked, he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.
The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

 

 

Use good blocks for building your life.

 

I Love A Good Challenge

And Building A Dog Playground Sure Is That

 

Challenging and abnormal projects must run in my family. I’ve written about the grain bin house we plan to build for my niece Hannah.

Avoid Feeling Like a Sardine in a Tiny House

How to Determine If Someone’s Trash Can Be Your Treasure

How to Dream Big in A Small Space

How Do You Make Your Dream Become A Reality?

The Next Chapter in “The Saga of the Grain-Bin Home”

 

Now her Mom, my sister Ann, has once again joined the out of the box project roster.


Ann owns and operates Prairie Paws Lodging, a pet boarding facility. When we built her building originally in 2016, we took into consideration future expansion. We currently are working on the first phase of this expansion. As per an earlier post the original ideas have changed. Rather than adding on to the existing building we are going to set individual private cottages made by Pinecraft


Part of this expansion project includes doubling the size of the existing dog run. This involves landscaping it with artificial turf and installing dog amenities…I’m talking fun stuff like a pool with a fountain, a tunnel, a hill and a rope attached to a flexible pole.


When we built the original facility, we looked for a way to make cleaning up after dogs easy while maintaining a natural look and feel. We accomplished this by installing artificial turf over an elevated bed of gravel bordered by used railroad ties. This allows for liquid to run through and solids to be cleaned up.


 

Due to the existing run being natural grass and in a naturally low area, it would get muddy in rainy spells. So, when considering the design for the expanded run, it was decided that we would give it the same artificial grass treatment as well as some new fun things for exercising and entertaining dogs.


The project consists of building a 2100 square foot raised pad. The construction consists of railroad ties around the perimeter in rows spaced 12’ apart. In between the ties will be a 4” thick layer of fill sand covered with a 3” layer of ¾” gravel. The gravel and sand will be compacted with a vibrating packer to minimize future settling of the sand/gravel fill. Artificial turf will be spread over the gravel and attached to the ties. The existing fence will need to be removed and reinstalled along with some additional fence. The existing steel pipe framed cover will need to be moved for the building of the raised pad and then moved back to its original location.


In one corner of the run there will be a small paw shaped pool with a fountain. This will require figuring out the best way to get the water from the pool to the pump and to the fountain. In the future there will be an old fire hydrant serving as the fountain, so this needs to be allowed for now.

 


The most challenging part is building the tunnel/hill. We needed to determine what we were going to use for this. We considered pipes, barrels, tanks with the ends cut out and a few other things. Then we found some concrete culverts and the price was right, so this is what we decided on.

 


With Ann having a commitment for the week of June 17th she had no dogs scheduled to be boarded. This provides a good opportunity to work on the project with minimal disruption to the normal boarding routine. With the challenges of this project it may take longer than a week, check back next week to see.


Check back next week to see a day by day progress of the project, the challenges faced and see how the finished project turns out.