Acting like a businessman

I was recently visiting with a customer and while discussing the issues involved in a painting project, he commented that a lot of things can go wrong. And, he added, “I am aware that there are a lot of people out their impersonating a painter.” I didn’t correct him, but I would put it differently: “There are a lot of painting contractors impersonating a businessman.”

As I have said many times, there is much more to owning a paint contracting business than painting. You must be able to estimate accurately, know how to price the job profitably, manage production, juggle the myriad tasks that demand your attention, manage cash flow, and much, much more. These requirements have little to do with actually putting paint on the wall. And yet, the success of your business demands that you perform these tasks with some level of competency.

As Michael Gerber points out in the E-Myth, many business owners get started because they are gripped by “entrepreneurial seizure”. They decide that they can run a better business than their boss, or they get tired of taking orders, or they believe that the path to riches lies in owning their own company. So they declare that they are going into business.

Just as a skilled craftsman requires certain skills and knowledge, so a successful business owner requires certain skills and knowledge. To pretend otherwise is not only naive, but a sure invitation for failure.

Over the years, I have worked with or observed hundreds of contractors. While the details vary, these contractors can be placed into two categories: businessmen and those who are impersonating a businessman. Invariably, the former focuses his efforts on marketing, sales, and finance, while the latter focuses on the technical aspects of his trade.

There is nothing inherently wrong with impersonating a businessman, so long as one is honest about it. And if impersonations aren’t your thing, then take the steps necessary to change your status.

Placing one’s name on the side of a van no more makes one a businessman than sitting in a hen house makes one a chicken.

“Luck” factors and success

Brian Tracy recently posted about “luck” factors. I take exception to the use of the word “luck”, and prefer the word “opportunity”, as it more accurately reflects the points he is making. “Luck” implies that results simply fall into our lap, that success is a matter of chance; opportunity implies taking advantage of a situation, one’s knowledge and skills, etc. The former is not repeatable; the latter is. The former is not within our control; the latter is.

Tracy lists seven factors that he believes contribute to our success in converting opportunities:

  • Clarity
  • Activity
  • Mastery
  • Energy
  • Personality
  • Honesty
  • Intensity

Of these factors, I believe that three are the most crucial: Clarity, Activity, and Honesty.

Clarity—“Clarity simply means that you know exactly what it is you want…” This means having clearly defined goals. You have likely heard it many times, but you can’t shoot at what you can’t see. If our goals are not clearly defined, we tend to bounce all over the place, changing direction according to whatever momentary influence comes along.

Activity—“High levels of activity, especially pro-activity, increase the number of things that you do…” Having a clear goal and detailed plan isn’t going to get us anywhere unless we take action. We have to make things happen. Life is not solely about planning; it also involves implementing the plan.

Honesty—“In the final analysis, people only want to do business with people that they like and trust.” While honesty is often viewed as a trait that involves others—how we relate to other people—it is primarily personal—how we relate to reality in general. The primary benefit of honesty is not social, but personal. If we try to fake reality, we harm ourself far more than anyone else—we are trying to live in a fantasy.

As you can see, each of these items is completely within our own control—they are not a matter of “luck”. We can define our goals, actively pursue them, and live our lives with a focus on the facts. Each is an integral part of business success. To attribute such characteristics to “luck” is to diminish the effort required. And it absolves the irresponsible for their actions, or lack thereof.

It can be “easy” to attribute the success of others to “luck”. But the truth is, “luck” is seldom an important factor in that success. What is far more important is taking advantage of opportunities, and we all have an abundance of those. We will be in a much better position to recognize those opportunities if our goals are clear. We will be able to take advantage of those opportunities if we are actively pursuing our goals. And everything will be easier if we focus on the facts.

Business Coaching

Do you want to build systems and spend more time working on your business? Do you feel overwhelmed and not know where to start? Our Business Coaching programs are designed to provide you with expert assistance in building your business, developing systems, and creating the type of business you want to own.

Our programs can be customized to meet your specific needs. The program begins with a detailed survey to determine where you are in your business and where you want to go. We will then create a program to help you tackle your biggest priorities.

We offer coaching in the following areas:

  • Sales
  • Estimating
  • Production Management
  • Administration
  • Marketing
  • Finance and Accounting

We offer a number of different coaching programs. Coaching will occur by phone, with additional email assistance. This is a monthly subscription service. You can cancel at any time and owe nothing further.

Programs and Pricing

Bronze Program
Includes: 2 60–minute calls each month, Getting Out of the Bucket Business Building Manual, Operations Manual Templates, and 4 emails per month
Price: $150 per month


Silver Program
Includes: 2 90–minute calls each month, Getting Out of the Bucket Business Building Manual, Operations Manual Templates, and 4 emails per month
Price: $225 per month


Gold Program
Includes: 4 60–minute calls each month, Getting Out of the Bucket Business Building Manual, Operations Manual Templates, and 4 emails per month
Price: $300 per month


Platinum Program
Includes: 4 90–minute calls each month, Getting Out of the Bucket Business Building Manual, Operations Manual Templates, and 4 emails per month
Price: $450 per month

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