Leaping From Tech to Owner? Get in the Right Mindset


Jay Pawlowski
Lead Content Specialist
September 4, 2019
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We’ve all been there. On a particularly sweaty, frustrating day out in the field, thoughts of going out on your own start to crystallize: 

I could do this myself. Things would run more smoothly if I were calling the shots. And I’ve always wanted my family name on the truck. Now’s the time.

Whatever drives your desire to chart your own course, making it happen in a successful and sustainable way requires plenty of research, planning, financing and more. Help is out there; for example, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) outlines the 10 basic steps to starting a business, and in future Pointman blog posts we’ll share lessons from those who’ve gone through this transition themselves.

But, as entrepreneurs and business coaches often preach, none of that will matter if you don’t start out with the right frame of mind. 

So let’s get there. Here are a few tips on how to adjust your thinking as you begin your home services venture.

Accept That Your Role Will Change

“Perhaps the biggest misconception about starting your own business is that you're only focused on chasing your passion,” notes entrepreneur and investor John Rampton as he outlines “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Own Business” for Inc. magazine. 

You won’t spend the majority of your time actually practicing your trade. “That's maybe going to consume 15% of your time,” Rampton writes. “Instead, you're going to spend the bulk of your time on developing business strategies, marketing, selling, interacting with customers, and doing administrative tasks like bookkeeping, invoicing and payroll.”

The human resources side of your business — hiring, firing, promoting, disciplining, etc. — also will fall on you, unless you hire someone to manage it. 

“In short,” Rampton concludes, “you're a business owner first.”

Watch Now: If you are running a home service business, good communication between managers and technicians is essential. Learn the best ways to communicate now. 

As Controlled Conditions Corp. President James Herndon told The NEWS, a weekly HVAC contractor magazine, it is critical for contractor owners to correctly define their role in the company and change their mindsets to reflect that new role. “I have friends in the business who are tradesman running their own business,” Herndon said, “and they continually get sucked into the daily activities of doing the work, consequently ignoring the business side of the business.”

Remember: Ownership is a different mindset. You’re likely used to being a doer. Yes, your technical skills got you here (and you’ll still need them). But you’ve got to accept and embrace that first and foremost, you’ll be a manager

Know Your Limits

Remember that company logo you dreamed up and sketched on a napkin at the bar? All you need to do is scan that and plaster it all over Facebook and Instagram, right?

Wrong. Hand-drawn logos and scattershot social media marketing won’t cut it. The same goes for other aspects of business that, if you’re not qualified to handle them, are ideal for outsourcing. 

Building a Business & Revenue on Relationships

Can you build a business and increase revenue by focusing on relationships? You can — with the right approach.

“Entrepreneurs have the mindset that they have to do everything on their own,” writes Rampton. “Not only is that a one-way ticket to Burnoutville, it's just bad for business. I mean if you can't design a logo or loathe accounting why you would put energy in those tasks? Your time would be better spent doing the tasks that you enjoy and are capable of handling.”

Bottom line: Don’t let your enthusiasm overtake your senses. Get the help you need, from the pros who know how to do it. If you don’t know where to find them, your local SBA partner organization and trades-focused groups like the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) or Service Roundtable can likely point you toward affordable professionals who help startup companies with a wide range of needs.

Hang on — Is Everyone at Home on Board?

What was the very first tip the owner of All Systems Mechanical gave when he penned “How to Start an HVAC Business — Tips From an HVAC Contractor”?

Discuss it with your family.

“This may seem like a no brainer, but most HVAC guys ... just say: ‘Hey honey, I’m sick of this — I’m going to start my own business … what do you think?’” ASM’s CEO Tim Kautz writes. “There’s more to it, though. Make sure that your significant other knows some of these things, and discuss them with him or her in-depth. If things aren’t good at home, you will not succeed.”

That holds true for any type of business, at any scale. “Maintaining a marriage is hard enough as it is,” Jessica Bruder writes in “The Start of a Company, the End of a Marriage” for Inc. “Many founders say that the overwhelming pressures and demands of launching a company have wreaked havoc on their marriages. What's worse, a failed marriage can all too easily destroy even a thriving entrepreneurial business.”

Stay tuned for more on this topic from Pointman, including real-world lessons from technicians-turned-owners who learned them the hard way.

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