You’ve likely heard the phrase: If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. People often describe it as an African proverb, though its origins are as cloudy as its wisdom is clear. Long-term success needs an “us.”
I talk regularly in this space about tactics for business success. But, in this month’s issue, contributor Brock Yordy starts a conversation I haven’t touched on yet: where to get money for growth. Funding company growth probably presents the biggest challenge to contractors beside finding and keeping good employees. Yordy’s ideas come from the front lines of trying to succeed in this industry, so be sure to check out this month’s article.
Now, back to “us.” Small business owners, in general, often have trouble delegating. They excel in the skills and talents that pushed them to strike out on their own. But sustained growth usually demands business owners surrender a bit of control over aspects of the business that they feel they know best. Drillers, in particular, have a rare skillset — even within construction. That feeling of “I’m the person who can do this work” gets reinforced in project after project. You get the bid — or heck, you might even get invited to be the bidder — because your company made a name for itself doing a specific type of work. Maybe it’s cathodic or geothermal. Whatever the case, the message that you get is: They called me and I finished the project because I’m the one who does that work.
Now imagine giving up some of that.
You’ll make compromises. You’ll have to hear input from people who may not know the trade like you do. But the potential ceiling for the business you created climbs exponentially.
The recent federal Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act create plenty of opportunities for companies in the drilling and water supply spaces. Geothermal incentives alone offer a confident 10-year horizon. That’s a lot of payback time for a rig — or any other type of equipment you may need to get the job done. How do you take advantage of these opportunities? That’s where “us” comes in.
The Driller just wrapped up our annual stint at Groundwater Week in Las Vegas. Many of the rigs on the trade show floor had $1M-plus price tags. You may look around a room like that and wonder, “Who has that kind of money?” The answer? People who surrendered a bit of their business to investors, banks or another stakeholder.
The first step, of course, involves putting your business on a footing that can get the attention of these folks (or at least not have them and their money run in horror). That means systems, SOPs and fastidious safety practices and records. Then, activate your network and your network’s network. Sell them on the opportunity. They get a piece of the income stream associated with a $1M machine. You get to push your business to expand farther than you could alone.
Once you find an investor (or several), make building that relationship a long-term commitment. Recognize that investors have some of the same thoughts: They called me and I invested in their company because that’s the work I do. I am the lender. But recognize too that you both bring something to the business, and that together — as an us — you both go farther.
What do you think? Have you brought in outside funding for your business? How do you manage the long-term partnership? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, drillers.
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