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David FullerIt was almost the final straw. I was laying on the ground after falling off the roof of the house and the carpenter, John, was standing over me yelling. He was mad because his sawhorses had been broken in half because of my stupidity, while I was just wondering if I had broken anything in my body.

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

Luckily for me, Louis had a soft spot for my ineptitude and suggested 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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I recently facilitated a webinar for a national business association where I asked two questions of the participating business owners:

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

Seventy per cent of the business owners on the webinar responded that they got into business because they were passionate about what they were doing. Only 30 per cent said they got into business for the money.

Many people who have real jobs might be surprised at this result. They assume that business owners are just focused on money.

But I wasn’t surprised.

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

Is your business making enough money?

Eighty-one per cent of respondents said No, the business wasn’t making the money that it should be.

I wasn’t surprised.

My experience working with business owners over the years has shown me that while some businesses really do well, most struggle. You might not recognize it because the cars are leased, and you don’t see the monthly bank payments or statements, or the sleepless nights, but owning a business can be very difficult.

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t businesses making enough money to provide for the owner’s needs?

It’s not that business owners aren’t putting in the time or the energy to make the business work. They are. Many business owners I know work 50, 60 or more hours a week.

The reality is that if you don’t have the right tools, you’ll 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 skill saw, or a screwdriver instead of a handheld powered drill, it’s going to 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 tell me where to put the foundation, or if 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!

So what are the tools we need to be successful in business?

First, we need a set of plans to know what we’re building or a map to say where we’re going. This doesn’t need to be a document used primarily for investors. It has to be a set of ideas formulated in such a way that it gives the business owner clarity on who the business will serve and how it’s going to achieve the established goals. I like to use a guide from the book The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan.

Capital – A carpenter needs a pile of lumber to build something. In business, we need a pile of cash. Understanding how to use that capital in an effective way can mean the difference between success and failure. Unfortunately, many business owners run into trouble because they don’t have enough cash set aside to finish the construction of their business and they spend it foolishly.

People – In construction, we need skilled workers, just as we do in any other business. We need the right people in the right seats. Having the wrong people or even the right people doing the wrong job will reduce your chances of success.

Technology – Hand tools don’t cut it when it comes to building houses these days – we need to use technology to ensure we’re successful in business. Having the right programs, technology and software to track sales, customers, and products or services are essential.

Knowledge – This is the key business tool. As my survey shows, most business owners got into business because they’re passionate. Without knowledge of marketing, selling, planning and reading your financial reports, you’re going to be in trouble.

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 in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Comments on business at this time? Email

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