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So, you want to start a plumbing business. This could be a terrific decision, or, it could be the worst idea ever. Starting a plumbing business, or any business really, involves a certain amount of structured thinking to put everything in place, and making sure that you have thought of everything. By following this strategy planning process, you will have covered all the important aspects of getting your planning and strategy in the right place, and this will make the starting of your own plumbing business some 450% more successful.
Starting a plumbing business, a bakery, or a high-tech company all requires the same basic thinking strategy. To remember it best, use the EASI acronym. In this case, E stands for emotion, A for achieving a win, S for simple and straightforward and I for the implementation.
Everybody wanting to start a business should be aware that it is going to involve plenty of challenges, hardships, stress, worry, and a multitude of other issues. The process of starting a business has often been likened to jumping off a cliff, and building an aeroplane on the way down. It will mean sleepless nights, long working hours and the unwavering support of family and friends around you. This is real, and the reason so many start-up businesses fail.
The first step, therefore, is to examine the reasons that you want to start the business in the first place. This involves an examination of the emotions, or feeling behind the rationale of starting your own plumbing business. Everyone will have their own reasons for wanting to start their business. It may be as a last resort as they are unable to find employment in the field, it may be that they hate having a boss, it may be that they want to become extraordinarily wealthy. Whatever the reason, it is essential that the owners of the business, if there are more than one, are aware of the strength of their emotions regarding the venture. This will determine the power of the motivation, the real forces behind the venture, and, with the aid of a skilled consultant, allow the prospective business owners to determine if their vessel will survive the storms on the ocean, or if there needs to be some additional emotional management included.
The second item speaks to the vision, or goal of the organisation. A prospective plumbing business may have as its goal to be a loss leader and therefore a tax write-off. It may be that achieving a win with the business would be familial survival, or putting children through school. Either way, all the owners need to be able, collaboratively, to understand what the goal is and to have a combined vision of the business that everyone can buy into. Without this shared vision, any subsequent planning and strategizing will ultimately be negated and sporadic, with everyone involved having different goals and aims, instead of pulling together in the right direction.
It does not take any real skill to make things more complex. The real genius in any situation is to make things more simple. This line of thinking is propagated by all the top entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk. Albert Einstein often used to say that if you couldn’t explain a thing to a six-year-old, you didn’t understand it yourself. In light of this strategic thinking, the next piece of advice is to keep all your plans and strategies simple and straightforward. Set a goal that everyone involved, all the stakeholders, can buy into. See where you currently are, and plan a way to get to that goal that all concerned can understand, appreciate, and take ownership of.
The final step in setting up a new plumbing business is to implement the strategy. Without a rigorous implementation strategy and plan, all the goal-setting and personal examination of business vision and motivation will just become a distant wish. Implementation plans fall into five basic categories; overall business strategy, financial planning, human resources and communications, sales and marketing, and project management. All businesses must be able to conduct planning with respect to these five regions of business expertise in order to be successful.
The first step in initiating the plan within all the five sectors that need examination is to complete a real, practical, and genuine business plan. Having gone through the initial strategic thinking process as outlined above, compiling an overall business plan should be relatively easy. Nevertheless, failing to spend sufficient time aligning a business plan to the strategy will mean that the business is also likely to fail, because one of the well-known factors in determining business success is that more than 80% of successful businesses have determined their overall strategy in detail, aligned the business plan, gone into each aspect of the business plan in detail, and repeat this strategic thinking process regularly amongst all the stakeholders.
Once the business plan has been compiled in detail, with all the necessary inputs being not only realistic but pragmatic as well, then the detailed considerations in each of the five business aspects can begin. This should dovetail with the business plan, but expand on the details simply stated in the plan to some extent. In the case of a plumbing business as we are considering here, some of the parameters in these five aspects of the business will be examined. Not in an attempt to intimidate any prospective plumbing entrepreneurs, but rather in an attempt to illustrate the importance of this strategic thinking process, and the reasons why it should be conducted in detail, and why utilising effective and experienced business consultants will not only increase the chances of success, but probably save substantial money in the medium to long term.
These five business areas, as related to a plumbing business, are strategy, financial, sales and marketing, human resources and communications, and projects. Overall strategy has been discussed in some detail, and following the above instructions will guarantee success in this regard.
The financial planning aspect when starting a plumbing business is of crucial importance. A detailed understanding of potential income, and expenditures related to the running of the business need to be examined. Whereas these are obviously tied in the overall strategy, the practical aspects of a plumbing business will need to be added by the stakeholders, using their experience and knowledge of the field. Office premises, the maintenance of stock and supplies, transport, and the ability to survive until the income exceeds the costs needs to be determined. All potential financial considerations, such as stakeholder input, the possibility of generating loans and financial support and receiving up-front payments all need to be planned in great detail.
Income of a plumbing business is directly related to the amount of work undertaken and the charges levied on this work. In an overall sense, the amount of income must exceed the costs of the business, and the aim of any sales and marketing plan is to ensure that this is, in fact, the case. With the advent of social media and the internet, the avenues available to market a business have increased exponentially. The starting point for any plumbing business, like any service related business, is to determine in as much detail as possible who exactly the people are that would be providing the business with revenue. These people, as a whole, are called the buying persona of the business. A plumbing business may, for instance, decide to stay small and provide after-hours services to family and friends, or it may target large corporate projects and tenders. Or anything in between. The better any prospective plumbing organisation understands exactly the behaviour, like, needs, wants, and aims of their prospective market the better they will fare. The example here is that a plumber who caters to the lower end of the economic market would use more print media and posters to advertise the business, while a plumber catering to an upper market segment may elect to use social media more since richer people have smartphones and will be reachable using digital platforms.
Human resources and communications requires detailed planning on its own too. Depending on the structure of the plumbing organisation, and their unique selling points, there may be a customer service department required, or a marketing department if this is the determining factor of achieving business. Planning and structuring the organisation accordingly will depend on the overall aims and vision, but will need to take the entire business plan into consideration.
Plumbing services generally will require on-site operations and the effective management of these operations as individual projects. Good project management is key to any service industry and the basic principles of project management is going to be essential. Once again, though, project management should not be seen as a complex and difficult issue, but rather a simplified and straightforward way of dealing, and communicating with all the stakeholders involved in every project.
These steps, as outlined above, if conducted thoroughly and efficiently, with the businesses core vision in mind and a positive collaborative mindset as a starting point, will ensure that the business has a better than 80% chance of success. However, as stated numerous times during this discussion piece, this is not a 5-minute exercise. This is a detailed strategic thinking process that will require honesty and commitment. There are certain things, therefore, that should be borne in mind before even embarking on the strategy process.
The first is an audit of the emotional intelligence of the stakeholders in the plumbing business. Like any service industry, plumbing involves hard work and much on-site work where things can easily go wrong. A high emotional intelligence score amongst the business owners is the best possible indicator of success. Emotional intelligence means being able to cope and manage the stresses and challenges involved, it means training your mind to find solutions in the midst of chaos happening all around you, and it means being able to be an effective leadership team who can steer a business through uncertain times. On the other hand, it does not mean someone who succumbs to the influences of anger or vindictiveness. Emotional intelligence can be learned and improved upon, so it certainly can be developed, but it is key that this quality be determined before initiating any business.
Secondly, there needs to be an understanding that knowledge is vital. The prognosis for a baker who wakes up one morning and sees a plumber friend making lots of money and then decides to start a plumbing business is unfortunately not very good. Plumbing, in order to be successful, needs to be done well. In a highly competitive business environment such as there is today all over the world, any business needs to actually be good at their job to be successful. It is for this reason that it is a prerequisite of starting a plumbing business that the stakeholders at the very least have access to high quality plumbing services. This includes knowing all aspects of the work, the market potential, and the survival rates of their competition. Without this core knowledge, no matter how good the strategizing process and the plans that come out of it, there is no chance of success.
In conclusion, therefore, starting a plumbing business is easy. Starting a plumbing business that is successful and over the short, medium, and long term can deliver on the aims and requirements of the owners is less much less easy. The key differentiator here is having a good, well thought out and innovative strategy, and using this strategy to generate and compile effective implementation plans in the right areas. JFK always used to say that efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction, and so it is with many things, and starting a plumbing business is one of those things.