We’ve talked in this space about upgrading your materials and suppliers. We’ve talked about embracing the latest methods and technology on the jobsite and recommendations for getting the most out of a well installation. Now, let’s talk about the driving force in water well innovation: you.

You can have a million-dollar machine and the best materials money can buy, but if you’re the fool running them, it may not make you money or even a living. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? It is. But we’ve all known that person who’s somehow in business despite being blessed with the good sense of a cantaloupe. The question then becomes, how do you not be that person? How do you not be the fool slumping along in business barely making that rig note, let alone saving for a future?

Innovate yourself.

Let’s use The Driller as an example. We’ve undergone dozens of changes over the course of more than 40 years in the drilling and water supply industry: name changes, ownership changes, editor and publisher changes. We take pride in the product we delivered at each point, whether that product meant a print magazine or, later, a website, email newsletters, videos and podcasts. You know why? Because The Driller’s DNA includes strong genes for serving the industry, and that never changes.

It's likely the same with your business. You have strong DNA for serving the industry, but after 10, 20, 30 years in business, many even successful businesses can use an upgrade.

  • Learn something new and apply it. Look, we all get it. Continuing education often veers into dull. When was the last time you put down your mobile phone and really listened to a required CE course at a state or national industry show? Look for new ideas. Give them a try for a few months. If it doesn’t work? On to the next.
  • Solve for X. That is, identify an “X” and solve it. Figure out one thing that frustrates you about your business and make a plan to fix it. I could name dozens of examples, big and small, of changes companies in this space have made over the last 40 years to boost safety, productivity and competitiveness. Pick one and make a positive change in your business and your frustration level running it. Next month, pick another one.
  • Automate something, or at least take it out of your hands. People in business often have trouble saying “no.” Sure, I’ll update this month’s books. Yes, I’ll catch up the accounts payable. You can easily get bogged down in tasks that don’t grow the business or bring in revenue. Set up some bills to pay automatically (even if that means you sometimes overpay). Pay a virtual assistant to take your calls and give you a digest at the end of the day, so you can focus on the project at hand. You get the idea. Lighten your load so you can think higher-level thoughts about equipment utilization this quarter and revenue forecasts for the next six months.

Many of our readers come from multi-generational drilling company families. Think about how the previous generation of your family worked: carbon copy invoices, no GPS, maybe calling the office to check in from a pay phone. If you brought the tools, methods and tech your family business used in 1983 into 2023, you could still make a hole. I don’t doubt that. But how well would you compete against industry peers?

Take the time to look around your office, shop and jobsite today. You and your crews make good hole. But, from a personal perspective, where can you innovate? What ways of doing business worked well for a father or uncle 20 years ago, but do not serve a modern construction company? What changes or advancements have you nurtured to help your company survive? Is it enough?

Look around for ways to innovate yourself and your personnel. Competing in the 21st century is hard. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be.