David Fuller“You are fired!” John yelled at me as I was lying on the ground after falling off the roof of the house.

John was mad because his sawhorses had been broken in half because of my stupidity.

I was stunned and just wondering if I had broken anything in my body as a result of the fall.

It was the final straw. John, who was in charge of the construction site, went to company owner Louis to ask that I be fired for incompetence – again.

Luckily for me, Louis had a soft spot for my ineptitude and suggested that John give me a different tool to work with (a broom) and keep me away from activities and roofs that might injure me – and cause John more stress.

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In many cases, we have the right people doing the wrong jobs. Because I was a hard worker and willing to do jobs that others (like John, a carpenter) wouldn’t do, I was considered by the owner to be a good employee.

However, because I didn’t have the right skills or tools to be on the roof, I was seen by John as a liability.

The same might be happening in your business. You might have the right people but in the wrong positions.

A while ago, I facilitated a webinar for a national business association. I asked two questions of the business owners who were participating:

  • Why did you get into business?
    • Because of the money.
    • Because you were passionate about it.
  • Is your business making enough money?
    • Yes
    • No

Some people assume business owners just focus on money. However, 70 per cent of the owners taking part in the webinar responded that they got into business because they were passionate about what they were doing. Just 30 per cent said they got into business for the money.

The majority of the hundreds of business owners I’ve worked with started, or bought, their business because of passion. They loved what they were doing and thought they could make a business out of it. They wanted to make a difference in the lives of their customers, and they loved the interactions the business provided.

In many cases, they were the right person doing the right job. And in many cases, they had the tools to run their businesses.

When I asked if their business was making enough money, 81 per cent said no. I wasn’t surprised.

My experience has shown me that while some owners are doing well with their businesses, many struggle.

Perhaps you might not recognize it because the cars are leased, and you don’t see the monthly bank payments or statements or experience the sleepless nights. However, owning a business can be very difficult, especially in these times of high inflation and turbulent change.

What’s the problem? Why aren’t businesses making enough money to provide for the owners’ needs?

It’s not that business owners aren’t putting in the time or energy to make the business work. They are. Many I know work 50, 60 or more hours a week. But if you don’t have the right tools, you’re going to have to put in the extra hours to build the dream.

If I’m building a house and using a handsaw instead of an electric saw or a screwdriver instead of a powered drill, it will take me a lot longer to finish the job. If I have helpers who fall off the roof instead of contributing by driving nails, the house will take longer to build. If I don’t have a set of plans to guide me on where to put the foundation, or no one has taught me how to frame the walls, things will be out of kilter.

The same applies to your business. Without the right tools, people and plans, your business will suffer. Chances are you’re going to have to work harder and longer, and it’s going to cost you more, affecting your bottom line.

Of course, 81 per cent of the business owners I asked were struggling. They didn’t have the right tools.

In some cases, owners and managers don’t really understand how their business makes money and what to do if they’re bleeding cash. They may not have the internal tools or capacity to deal with staff shortages, human resources issues or onboarding. In some organizations, they might not have the right technology or resources to support their business initiatives.

A business I recently worked with didn’t even have basic tools to price their products and services or help understand their financial situation. This is an extreme example of people working without tools.

Without the right tools, we can’t build a house. Without the right people doing the right jobs with competency, things are going to get broken.

This week, think about what tools you need to build your dream business.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc. For interview requests, click here.

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