Build Operational Systems for Your Business

3 Key Points:

  1. If your first attempt fails, you should try again.
  2. Be humble and work hard to achieve your goals.
  3. Business systems are extremely important, they protect you in times of need and provide options if you ever want to make a change in your personal life.

Show Notes:

  • In 2008 Jamie had an entrepreneurial moment where he decided to start his own business.
  • Jamie had a dream to work with teams and one day to develop that into being a keynote speaker and maybe even an author.
  • Within a few months, by June 2009, Jamie was completely out of money.
  • Jamie remembers thinking, “What are we going to do?”
  • Jamie then did whatever great entrepreneur does, when the first business doesn’t work, you start the second one.
  • This second business was as far away from Jamie’s dream as you can imagine.
  • It was a contracting business that specialized in exterior building cleaning which really translates into cleaning people’s gutters and washing their windows and washing the siding of buildings and being dirty and brutally physically demanding work.
  • Jamie tells the story of what happened next, “I had generated some clients for my consulting business. One of my clients had hired me to do some marketing, and he was in this contracting business. It was a fateful day because he came to my home office and we had a meeting in the morning. He was just tired and didn’t want to work that day and I had an appointment with a potentially large client that was going to get us through the summer. While I was in that meeting, they phoned and canceled. We ended the marketing meeting with this guy. I got the message that this big client had canceled and I was just totally devastated. I looked across the table and I said, “What are you doing this afternoon?” He looked back at me and he said, “I don’t want to go to work today.” I said, “I used to work in a shop and I’m not afraid to put on some clothes. I’ve got to get out of here. I’ll just come with you and help you.” While I helped him that afternoon, we made a deal and he said, “I’ve got more work in some areas than I can handle at certain times of the year. I’d be happy to subcontract it to you. I’ll loan you the equipment. You just have to figure out how to get it to the job site.” Later that day, my wife and I were driving, and I guess it was fate because a guy wheeled out a trailer as we were driving by his house and put a “For Sale” sign on it. I stopped, and the guy said, “I want $700 for it.” I said to him, “I can’t give you $700 because I have to ensure it for the year. I can only give you $550 because after I pay the tax and insurance, it will come to $700.” I told him my story and I threw myself at his mercy. He goes, “That’s way below what I wanted it for it, but for you young kids, I’ll do it.”
  • Jamie continues to tell the story of how he ran both businesses concurrently, “The humbling day came when one of the ladies who was the HR Executive at a place I was pitching (a consulting contract) also responded to one of our (contracting) ads. I was at her office earlier that week in a suit doing a great pitch and they actually hired us. Later that week, I showed up at her house in my work clothes to clean her gutters. The look on her face and the look on my face, I wish I could have seen it, it was quite comical. She understood what was going on at that moment. She was so genuine, and she was so kind to me that she actually patronized both of our businesses and she never told my little secret to the executives of her company.”
  • Eventually, Jamie bought the equipment from the General Contractor.
  • By February 2010, Jamie hit a burnout stage running the two businesses.
  • Jamie felt like he needed to make a change, it was almost a year to the date of starting the consulting business.
  • Jamie explains, “I woke up on a Friday morning and I had coffee and I sat down at the kitchen table and I looked at my wife. I never said anything, she just saw my face and she goes, “What?” I said, “I’m done.” She goes, “What are you done?” I said, “My dream died this morning.”
  • Jamie’s wife asked, “Are you sure?”
  • As Jamie tells the story he tears up, “It still hurts to this day.”
  • Jamie had a contracting business that was growing without any attention being paid to it at all and had a consulting business that although it was his dream, it wasn’t working.
  • Jamie closed his consulting business and focused all his attention on his contracting business.
  • Jamie hired two construction workers who had been laid off in the great recession to work for him in the contracting business.
  • Jamie focused on the product that his contracting business would deliver to customers.
  • He created operating systems for his employees so that they did the job the way he would do the job.
  • On October 15th, 2010, Jamie had a workplace accident where he fell twenty-feet and almost died from his injuries.
  • Jamie couldn’t work for six months but because he had focused on building operational systems, the business continued to operate.
  • While recovering Jamie and his wife continued to build and systemize their contracting business.
  • The result was that Jamie was able to eventually move to be with family, over a 1000 kms away and the business continued to operate profitably.
  • This podcast interview was originally aired on Unshackled Owner and aired on July 25, 2017.

If you enjoyed this interview, then you will love my new book The Blueprint of a Great Business! This book is for self-employed people with service-based businesses that want to provide for their families and create freedom and flexibility in their lives.

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