Jan 01

Hang those shingles upside down!

The other day I heard screaming outside the office. I walked outside and onto the street to see what was going on. Next door to our office a man was up on the roof laying shingles in the hot sun. On the street below, the owner of the building was yelling up to him.

“I don’t care, I want them upside down!” the builder owner screamed.

“But sir, that’s not how it’s done,” the roofer replied.

“What do you mean that’s not how it’s done, I’m the client and the client is always right!”

“But sir, I know what I’m talking about, this is what I do for a living.”

“That may be so, but I’m a successful business owner and know all there is to know about anything related to my business.  Since this building is part of my business, I know how the shingles should be laid better than anyone, right?  So lay them upside down!”

“But sir, if I lay them upside down the adhesive will melt and drip down onto the ground, plus they will not keep the water out when it rains.  This will be a huge waste of your time and money!”

“Look, I know how I want them and that’s that.  I’m going to do something unique and different and catch everyone’s attention.  I only hired you to get up there on the roof for me since I’m too busy to do it myself, not to try to tell me how the whole process should take place.”

In utter disbelief, I scratched my head and went back inside.

Okay, so this scenario never actually took place.  But the point of the story is very real.  If you hire someone who is an expert at what they do, it is in your best interest to let them do what they do best and not try to micromanage their every move.

Successful business owners know when to lead and when to follow.  Just ask Lisa Price, owner of the multimillion-dollar Bod Squad cosmetics line, which she opened by herself in ’99.  In describing the success of her business during a recent interview with Entrepreneur magazine, she made one thing perfectly clear, “The most important thing I did was get out of my own way and let my business do what it could do.”

The need to get out of the way, when necessary, is one of the hardest things to convince business owners of, but it truly is one of the most important.  More often than not, it can make or break a business.

When it comes to marketing campaigns, for example, the majority of business owners seem to know exactly what they want, right down to the font size and placement of stock photography.  Unfortunately, very little of them are actually any good at marketing (which is why, presumably, they come to us in the first place).

The best, most effective work we have done over the years, however, has almost always occurred when the owner/s of the companies we worked for have stood out of the way and let us do what we do best.  It can seem completely counter intuitive to a business owner, but it’s a matter of trust, respect, and being confident in the firm you’ve hired.

That’s why–before any contract has been signed or any deposit paid–you need to be certain you’re working with the right company.  If you are, then tell them your objectives and parameters, stand back, and let them go to work.

Otherwise, you might just end up with adhesive dripping down on the ground and rain leaking through the roof, or whatever that works out to in marketing terms at least!