Spinning So Many Plates at the Same Time Can Make You Dizzy

It’s Up to You How Many You Spin

This title might seem familiar, and it should. I used a very similar one for a post in March of 2018. That post’s focus was on trying to run a business without a plan.

This post is going to address a different question that has been coming up in almost every construction conversation I’ve had over the past several weeks. These discussions have been with other contractors, sub-contractors, my team, customers, and even with people in other industries. This is not a new topic but seems to be reaching an increased ‘plate breaking’ point.

Most of us have seen plate spinning acts in some form or another. When I was growing up, I remember seeing Erich Brenn performing his plate spinning act on the popular Ed Sullivan Show. I remember him running back and forth, trying to keep all the different plates spinning at the same time. It was amazing. (Be sure to watch this video)

I’ll bet you’ve felt just like him.

Most businesses are operated in a way that feels a lot like trying to keep all those plates spinning at the same time. Just like the performer who keeps putting more and more spinning plates up on the end of sticks, we keep trying to do more and more.

There is a limit to how much we can do. We can only run back and forth keeping the plates spinning for so long before they start falling and breaking. This means there is a maximum number of people that we can provide service to, before things begin falling around us.

Why do we continually keep adding more plates?

That is the million-dollar question. There seems to be some inherent traits that self-employed people are born with that causes us to continually take on more. I believe that it is directly connected to having a servant’s heart. We have a God given talent that someone needs the benefit of. We instinctively say yes to help those in need of it.

The problem of course, is that there is a limit. A limit to how much we can do, to the amount of time we have each day, to the number of people we can help. And we instinctively know this. When we say yes to that next thing, the voice inside our head says, “How are you going to do that?”. We shrug our shoulders and say yes anyway.

Trying to do everything makes it hard to do anything well.

This is a problem that has been around as long as people have. The question is…What are we going to do about it? How are we going to get this plate spinning madness under control? I keep asking myself this question over and over.

The answer to this question is inside each of us and there are as many answers as there are people asking the question. The answer starts with realizing the problem and recognizing that we have control over it. We can choose to answer it or pretend it doesn’t exist and keep spinning more and more plates.

This is where things begin to get tricky. Looking for and figuring out your answer, the one that is exclusively yours, takes time. I know that you are already too busy spinning plates to add another.

If you don’t spin this plate you will never keep the rest spinning.

What is “Business Clarity” and How Do You Find It?

A Lack of Knowledge and Inexperience Threatens Your Dreams

Once again, John was alone at the office late on a Saturday night working to get at least one more proposal done, before going home. He had promised four different customers their proposals this week. If all goes well, he’ll have this second one finished before midnight.

As John crunches numbers hoping he hasn’t forgotten anything, he asks himself, “Why am I doing this? I could go to work for somebody else and make more money and work less hours. This sure isn’t how I pictured it five years ago when I started the company.”

“I had no idea that running my own business would be this hard!”

John rubs his eyes and stretches his back and thinks, “I must be doing something wrong. When I was working for Gene at XYZ Construction he made things look easy. I wonder what he was doing different.”

John has been working like crazy all week long. Between production help not showing up, materials not being delivered on time, cost overruns and computer issues…projects are behind schedule, he’s losing money and even if he works tomorrow he’s going to have to disappoint at least one of the customers waiting on a proposal.

“How am I ever going to turn this around?”

When John finishes the proposal and looks at the clock, it says 12:40. It’s already Sunday he thinks and he still needs to proofread it, print it and sign it. Something has got to change! “I’ve been leaving home early and getting home late all week. I haven’t even spoken with my wife for days. I’m calling Gene Monday to see how he did things.”

First thing Monday morning John called Gene. After a few minutes of catching up, John asked Gene the question that he couldn’t quit thinking about. “Gene, I’ve been working day and night trying to keep up. When I worked for you it seemed like you had everything figured out. You weren’t stressed and when things didn’t work out as planned. Your customers understood what to expect with their projects and were happy when they were finished. What am I doing wrong?”

That’s the question that almost every business owner asks themselves.

“Know this,” Gene said, “When I started my business, I was just like you. I struggled to keep up, worked too many hours, neglected my family, was mad at myself for letting down my customers, my family and myself. I kept asking myself that same question. What am I doing wrong?”

“By the time you were working for me, I had figured some things out. It’s amazing what you can learn when going to the “school of hard knocks”. Keep in mind this is the most common process but isn’t the most effective.”

“What really turned my business around was when I found out about Solution Building’s, Blueprint for Building a Better Business.”

Think about how much easier and better a construction project goes when you have a plan. The same thing is true for a business. A plan gives you direction, keeps everyone involved working together and improves the odds for a successful outcome.

“John, if this is something you would be interested in, I would recommend starting with the, ‘Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal’. This is the most important and most neglected part of construction communication. If you’d like I would be happy to meet with you and go through the process and answer any questions.”

“If you know of any other construction companies that you think could use some help doing proposals share this information with them and they can meet with us too.”

“There’s a lot more to the ‘Blueprint for Building a Better Business’, but starting out, you should focus on the proposal system. After you get this part implemented, we can discuss which part of the business blueprint system would be best for you next.” After talking with Gene, John thought, “I’m sure glad I made this call. For the first time in a long time I feel like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel that wasn’t an oncoming train.”

The New Website Is Here, The New Website Is Here

“Things Are Going to Start Happening to Me Now”

Just like Navin R. Johnson in the movie, The Jerk, we all want to be somebody. Being somebody is more than just having your name in print in the new phone book…

or having a new website.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be excited about the newly rebuilt Solution Building website…because we are! It’s been a long process but totally worth it. Thanks Stacey with Custom Internet Services, for another fantastic job. This site is every bit as good as the Timber Creek Construction site.

Like Navin, we all start out wanting something but aren’t sure what it is or where we’ll find it. Navin’s search is filled with up and downs, successes and failures. He could have avoided some of his heartache if he’d only had access to a website where someone was sharing what they had learned from similar experiences.

Struggles are a part of life but can be reduced if we’ll some get help.

My hope for this new Solution Building website is twofold. First it is to help prevent construction companies who are struggling with a lack of business knowledge and understanding from becoming overwhelmed and unprofitable. Second is to help their customers avoid disappointment and frustration by knowing what to expect from the construction process.

We will do this by providing businesses with systems and training to make them more efficient and profitable while educating customers in what to expect through the entire construction experience.

When construction companies have the tools they need and customers know what to expect, both can achieve their dreams.

The first tool that we’re offering is the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal. This tool consists of templates, samples and instructions on how to use the system. We are also offering a day long live workshop coming up on March 13th, where you will be given more in depth teaching and training.

You can find out more about this in these posts:

This is designed to help companies in the construction industry prepare consistent, clear accurate proposals for their customers. If you or someone you know would benefit from this Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal system, send them this link so that they can build better proposals.

Deciding What Should Be First on The List






It’s Amazing How Things Become Clear with A Limited Amount of Time


There are so many things trying to get on the “to do” list and each one competing for the top position. Deciding which one should get that spot is tough. There are so many great and important things that we need or want to do.

It’s easy to say that we have limited time, but hard to actually schedule that way.

My computer’s battery is not lasting as long as it did when it was new. Recently while working out of the office, without the power cord, I had 2-3 things that I wanted to get done before the computer shut down. This limited time forced me to sort and prioritize them.

How do we decide what to say yes to

Emergency situations often require triage. This is the process of prioritizing patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition and the resources available. In these situations, victims are divided into three categories.


  • Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
  • Those who are unlikely to live, regardless of what care they receive:
  • Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.


These choices aren’t easy and often require a quick “gut decision”. A pre-determined system, training and experience aid in the process and provide for the greatest number of survivors.

Another life and death choice is deciding who gets a transplant when there are a limited number of organ donations available. Take for example a set of twins who both need a liver transplant and their father has one liver to give. Which little girl gets it? The early thoughts of a father would be to give half to each. The problem with this, half would help neither. The final decision will be determined by which one needs it most or which one is most likely to survive.


Most of the choices that we make in business aren’t this critical…or are they? The decisions we make can mean life or death for our business.


In medical life or death situations there is a system and plan in place before hand. This same type of system should be implemented in our business. We should predetermine how we are going to choose the most important thing to the life of our business. This is where things get hard.


What makes one thing more important than another?


What should be the highest priority? Should it be production or proposals, record keeping or customer service, marketing or staff? We’re faced with tough decisions in business every day.


I can’t answer this question for you, but I’m tired of struggling with this dilemma and plan to design and implement a “business triage” system going forward.

What will give my business the highest chance for survival?

How To Balance Passion and Profit In Business




It Doesn’t Have to Be One or The Other


Why is it that the owners of small businesses struggle to even make minimum wage? When you factor in the number of hours and amount of stress that most small business owners endure, often it’s less.

I had this conversation with a local contractor last week. The same conversation I’ve had with different contractors, including myself, repeatedly over the years.

Self-employed people are generally in business for one of two reasons. They either love what they do or they’re in it to make all the money they can. The ones who focus on quality and service usually don’t put enough effort into profit. On the other side, the ones who focus on profit, do so while neglecting the quality and service.

Let’s look at some of the reasons for this problem.

In a Score Contracts blog post, “8 Reasons Why Small Businesses Are Not Making Money” they list eight reasons. Most of these you have heard or experienced, but some are worth repeating.

#2 – They don’t know what they’re doing. They are technicians or trades people trying to run a business. They need to have a business plan in place and use it.

#5 – Poor thinking. Most are hard workers but have poor thinking habits. They spend more time planning their meals, vacations and daily chores than they do their life.

#6 – Lack of education. Not formal schooling, rather self-motivated expansion of knowledge like reading, studying, courses, on the job training.

#8 – Self-doubt or fear. Most people quit before they even get started. They look at the options and then talk themselves out of even giving it a real try.


Here are some additional reasons that small businesses find it difficult to make money, found in a blog post “17 Truths About Running Your Own Business”. 

#1 – You can’t be everything to everyone. You need to decide what your priorities are, be selective and learn to say no to the things that aren’t.


#6 – Your business isn’t a piggy bank. You can’t just spend money on everything you want without a plan. You need to be sure to have money for taxes, equipment or building repairs, investments, etc.


#8 – You can’t do everything. You need help. You need a team and they need to be good. You need to know what that looks like and how to get them.

#10 – Your customers are your most important asset. Treat them as such.

#17 – You are your own most important client. You need to spend some time every day working on your business and not in your business. If you don’t take care of the business, it won’t last.


What are we going to do to make our business profitable while being true to our passion?

As is the case generally, everyone’s specific situation is different. The important thing is to listen, learn and apply information learned. If you learn new things and don’t use them, they’re worthless.

Application is the hard part.

Because we have struggled ourselves with finding a business system to fit our needs, we decided to develop a user-friendly business system that can be tailored to different business’s needs including training and implementation support.



It doesn’t have to be only passion or profit; IT CAN BE BOTH.

Here are some previous posts about some of our business system thoughts and struggles.

Building Your Business Is Critical to The Survival of The Business
Be Careful About Short Table Legs
What Does It Take to Be a Builder?
The First Next Thing to Building A Better Business


Share business struggles that you or someone you know has had in the comments below. This will be helpful to us as we design the system.



Rome Wasn’t Built in A Day and Neither Is A Colossal Website






A Website Isn’t as Important as Rome, But Pretty Close



We’re in the process of rebuilding our Timber Creek Construction web site to freshen it up and provide a clearer and more informative message. Whether building Rome or a website, both are big projects. I thought it would be good to share –

The reasons behind the rebuild

A sneak peek at what’s coming


Why does anyone even bother having a website anyway?

According to How Stuff Works, “A website lends an air of credibility – it lets people know that you’re serious and ready to do business. It’s a guaranteed sales booster and a whole lot less expensive than buying ads.” So, if you’re in business and you want to connect with someone who might need your product or service, having a website is a good thing.

Okay, but we already have a website, why do we need to rebuild it?



That’s a good question and one that I asked myself. What’s wrong with the site we have? It’s not that old. We built it when we started Timber Creek Construction…in…2003. Okay, so that’s a little longer ago than I thought. It was cutting edge then but now…not so much. It took someone on the outside to bring this to my attention.


We need to clarify our message.

There is a whole list of issues that customers typically have with building contractors, almost all of them come down to one thing – poor communication. Good communication takes two, but in a business to customer relationship the majority of this responsibility lies on the contractor. Clearer, better communication is one of the main things that we hope to accomplish with the new website.

One way to improve the communication is to improve contractor’s business systems. Most small construction companies knew how to do their trade when they started their business but didn’t have any idea how to manage the operational part of their company.

As I looked closer at the Timber Creek website, I discovered that both Timber Creek Construction and Solution Building’s messages at the foundation were the same. In both cases we help people find solutions for building their dreams, whether that’s constructing a building or an operating system to run a more effective business.

Helping small businesses develop and implement business systems and informing and educating the customer is the purpose for Solution Building.


Let us know about any issues or problems that you’ve have with construction projects or operating your business in the comments below.

We will be sharing progress updates and more details of both Timber Creek Construction and Solution Building in future posts.

How to Simplify A Complicated Business System

Focusing on One Shovel Full of the Mountain at A Time

With my years of construction experience, I tend to view things from a building perspective. The things needed to build a good structure are the same for building a good business.


These things are:

Purpose – The why, the reason for building it, who is it going to serve?

Design – How is it going to look, how is it going to serve (products, services or both)?

Style – Personal preference of the finished project, not everyone wants everything to be the same, we are all individuals.

Foundation – This is what supports everything else, the core values of the construction.

Framing – This is what sets on the foundation and connects everything, it is the system of operating.

Tools – These are used to put everything together and maintain it daily.

Team – The people employed to put the pieces together and to perform the daily operations.


There is a lot that goes into building something. I have written about how building and operating a business can be like standing in the shadow of an overwhelming mountain and the importance of having a clear plan and being organized. It is easy to be pulled in many different directions when trying to build and operate all the different pieces of a business.


By nature, I tend to make things complicated (sometimes more than they need to be). This is in part due to my focus on detail and isn’t all bad. The down side to being like this is that things don’t get done very fast. I know that I need help to build my business and move my mountain.


I have been working to get better at sharing shovels. I have determined that one of the things I’ve done in the past is to overwhelm new team members. So, to avoid this I am working on ways to simplify the system and to focus on one shovel of the mountain at a time.


Our business has three areas of focus; Sales/Marketing, Production/Operations and Administration/Finance. There is a lot in each of these areas and they all are critical to the support of the business. Keeping them operating equally is one of the most important and difficult tasks.


The focused shovel today is preparing a Proposal. This is the area that I’m currently working on in preparation for my Administrative Assistant. It involves things that both I need to do and things I can delegate.


Preparing a Proposal involves:

Meeting with the customer – Finding out what the project consists of and helping them figure out what their dream is. Take pictures, get measurements and make the necessary notes needed.

Writing down the scope of work to be done – Fill out the areas and categories of the Bid Sheet with the explanation of the work to be done.

Preparing the price for doing the work – Use the information gathered to determine lineal feet, square feet, cubic feet, etc. of the different areas described in the Bid Sheet and enter it into the Worksheet.

Compiling this information on to the Proposal – Take the information of the two previous bullet points and put it on the Proposal to be presented to the customer.

I know that I have almost forty years of developing this system and I need to get it out of my head, simplify it and put it on paper if I ever hope to move this mountain.