Let’s talk for a minute to the crew leaders and longtime employee drillers. What’s stopping you?

That is, what’s stopping you from striking out on your own? I’m sure that might touch a nerve with the contractors who are National Driller’s main readership. Why is this guy in some office somewhere encouraging my best driller to leave?

In a way, I am. But hear me out.

They’ll Stay Forever, Right?

If you have a skilled employee who seems like a good candidate to strike out on his or her own, try encouragement — especially if you don’t see a clear path up for that person. Advise him. Mentor her. Help him avoid the mistakes you made.

Do these things and, yes, you’ve created competition. But it’ll be friendly competition. I hear all the time about older drillers retiring and just closing up shop. That leads to a lot of contractors having more work and a wider service area than they can effectively handle. A little friendly competition in this case benefits the perception of the industry. Having one more drilling company serving a two or three county area decreases service times, making customers happier without cutting too much into the existing companies’ bottom lines. Plus, you can refer business to each other based on customer location and the strengths of each business.

Worst-case scenario? A business owner does none of this. A good employee goes to work for the competition or for himself, and resents the former employer for not doing more to foster a star worker’s career.

Maybe your crew is made up of lunkheads with no futures. But I doubt it. Think about the people who work for you. Isn’t there that one person who solves the problems before they get to you? He or she makes decisions that bring value to your company every day. That’s the person I’m talking about.

Bring it up. Get ahead of it. “Hey, I see how good you are leading the crew. If you ever think about having your own company, I’m happy to answer any questions you have.” Engage in the conversation because, if you don’t, the conversation is still being had. You’re just not a part of it.

It’s an Employee’s Market

From an employee’s perspective, it’s actually a great time to strike out on your own. Why? It’s an employee’s market in the drilling industry. The most common complaint we hear at National Driller is that it’s tough to find good talent. That puts the “good talent” in a great position.

I heard a great concept recently in an interview with a self-employed entrepreneur. I’ll paraphrase: What’s the worst that could happen if I strike out on my own and fail? I’ll have to get a job, that’s what. Well, that worst-case scenario is the daily life of everyone who works for anyone else.

If the worst happens, it doesn’t sound so bad if you put it like that. The difficulty companies have finding drillers is an asset to employees who want to try it on their own. It means failure is just a step on the way to getting that next job.

Running a business is hard and not for everyone. If you think it might be for you, get your savings, credit score and healthcare in order, and give it a try. Worst-case scenario? You fail and have to get a job. Best-case scenario? You succeed and build something you can call your own. Just don’t forget to refer business to your old boss once in a while if he helped get you started.

What do you think? Did you recently strike out on your own? If so, how did you do it? If not, what stopped you? Share your thoughts. Send an email to verduscoj@bnpmedia.com.

Stay safe out there, drillers.