“We had a better year than last year, didn’t we? Tell me, is the business growing?”
Andres was meeting with his CPA prior to filing his company taxes and was excited about what he was going to hear. His home painting company had been so busy that he couldn’t remember the last time he had a day off. He’d hired three new painters full time and was giving thought to buying a warehouse just outside of town to store all of the company’s trucks and materials.
“Well, no,” replied the CPA. “You actually made less profit then last. It looks like most of the houses you painted in the last six months really didn’t make you any money…you bid aggressively to win the business but didn’t accurately account for the cost of the new laborers doing the work. It’s not a bad situation at all, but you are pretty much in the same spot you were last year when we met. I’m sure this isn’t what you had planned…”
Edgar’s heart sank with disappointment. No, it wasn’t what he had planned. In fact, he hadn’t planned anything at all.
As a paint business owner, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees when working to build your company. Day to day tactical work like painting, coordinating your team, invoicing customers, and paying your bills can take away from focusing on the strategic needs of your growing business. As a result, it’s easy to end up with a disjointed organization and no real game plan addressing where you want your business to be in three months, much less than three years. Unfortunately, without some sort of plan in place, your painting company will not reach it’s full potential. If you don’t have a blueprint written down with a plan for the future of your business, drop what you are doing and start working on one right away.
So, what should a plan for the future look like for the modern paint professional? Planning for the future can take a lot of different forms, depending on the business type and the number of owners/partners involved in the process. However, most plans for the future should include all of the following:
- Financial Goals – Financial goals can be deliberately vague, but you absolutely must have them. Everything from “grow top-line revenue by 20% each quarter” to “break even again this year” are acceptable financial goals. However, it is important to write these goals down, as having something to shoot for gives you a target throughout the year. The best way to grow top line revenue by 20% is to make sure you are 20% ahead of where you were at this time last quarter. The best way to break even is to look at the books and make sure you have not fallen behind on any bills or guaranteed disbursements. Financial goals are tied to both sales revenue and spending, so you must address both sides of the equation.
- Marketing Goals – Marketing goals revolve around how you plan to earn new business and generate more new jobs for your paint team. From setting a goal of publishing a blog post twice a week to planning how much money to allocate to radio advertising, having a disorganized and scattershot marketing strategy that changes from day to day or week to week is unlikely to produce quality results. Instead, quantifying your intentions (“a new print advertising campaign”) and the results you expect (“three new clients each month”) will go a long way in helping you reach the financial goals above while avoiding wasting money on ad hoc marketing ideas.
- Work Goals – Have you been taking every job you could find? Would you rather focus primarily on interior house painting? External commercial work? Custom auto-detailing? Maybe one type of work is more profitable or more enjoyable than another. Spelling out goals to do more of this type of work and less of another is a good way to refine your business activity to be more efficient, profitable, and enjoyable. Approaching each day knowing which kind of work you would like to focus on will help make work goals a reality.
- Organizational Goals – Do you want to hire another paint crew? Maybe you want to hire a receptionist? Perhaps you’d like to have an official office instead of working out of your house. Each of these things and activities like them are organizational goals and they are paramount to determining what your business is going to look like over time. Not every organizational goal will be reached on the planned-for timeline. That is completely normal. But having these goals written out will help you envision what your business will look like in the future.
- Personal Development Goals – Paint Business Future Planning includes planning your future as well. Is there a new skill you would like to learn or accreditation you would like to earn that will help the business? Maybe you’d benefit from some training in bookkeeping or in a trade apprenticeship that will help expand your company’s offerings. If your company is going to grow or change, then you have to be ready and willing to change as well. Personal growth and development are instrumental in shaping your company as the future unfolds.
Waking up in the morning and going to the job site with hope that one day your business will look different only happens if you figure out what “different” looks like. That takes having a plan. It is important to realize that like most other business plans, paint business future planning is never set in stone. You should not only accept but expect your future plans and goals to change often. As a result, your future plan should be a direction you are headed and not a destination to which you are firmly attached. The important thing is that you have a plan and a direction in which to get started moving. They say the first step is the hardest, but a future plan for your business can make it substantially easier on you and the rest of your team. Click here to learn more about how to guide your paint business in to the future!