In a hot, crowded room filled with folks who quite honestly did not want to be there, the compliance instructor took the stage to begin the process of conducting the “licensing renewal” process.
If you have any type of compliance issues that require an annual meeting, test or certification, you know exactly what I am talking about. I really feel for those who step up and take on the role of training or teaching on this topic because let’s be honest…it’s not one of the most energetic and exciting events you can attend. Well this is not the point to this article so let’s move on; back to the story.
“To begin today, I would like to poll the audience to see how long each of you has had your license”. The instructor posed a series of time frames starting from five years or less. As you can imagine, the longer the time frame, the fewer the hands went up. The interesting thing about this is that when he got to thirty years or more, there were still hands in the air! “How about forty or more”? Still hands up. “Fifty or more?” one hand alone in the front of the room waved high and proud. “Wow” exclaimed the instructor. “How many years for you sir”? “Fifty four” was the reply. That person was my dad!
My dad has made a very successful living working for himself as an electrical contractor in a city with a population of 12,000 people for fifty four years and the amazing thing is that at age seventy-five, he is as busy as he has ever been. Every time we talk on the phone, he is tells me about his work and what he has lined up for the week. Even more significant to the point I am about to make, what my dad does is HARD work. There is nothing easy about crawling in attics, digging ditches and climbing polls!
So as I thought about my hero in the entrepreneur world, I explored what it is that makes my dad so very successful and here is what I discovered.
1) The appreciation of the opportunity to earn a living. My dad grew up pretty poor and learned at a young age the value of a dollar. He is grateful for the opportunity to work!
2) He loves his work: Dad gets up every morning ready to go. After his routine cup of coffee, he is busy either working or pursuing it. Now as a side note, I am sure there are days he probably does not like what he is doing. Too hot, the ground too hard to dig, yet this does not deter him; the point is, if he can find something to love about his work, I am sure we all can as well!
3) His signature on every job: Every job Dad does is like his personal masterpiece. He won’t leave it until it is perfect. He says his work has his name and reputation on it so he has to get it right every time.
4) He is surrounded with good people. Dad has a partner who has teamed up with him over the last thirty years. My mom handles all the books too. They work great together. He also has a great referral network from almost every builder and contractor in a 100 mile radius. He is the provider of choice.
5) His uncompromising drive to succeed. Dad never gives up. Those close to him will tell you he is stubborn, but I think that helps him succeed. Recently he encountered a situation where he lost a deal that cost him about $5,000.00. To be honest, this loss financially was not a big deal at all, but to Dad, it was more than about the money. After this loss occurred, I talked to Mom and she told me that Dad immediately began the recovery process and had landed two jobs that more than got it back! He didn’t wait around until he felt like it; didn’t have a pity party…he just got busy. I’m sorry but forgive me for bragging on my father but WOW!!! What an attitude. Maybe that is why he continues to be successful. Hmmm… To me, he is the greatest small business owner I have ever known!
My challenge is that we all take note of these steps that have been tested over fifty-four years. I am blessed that I still have the pleasure of learning valuable lessons from a self-taught man who continues to thrive at 75!