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The In's And Outs Of Running A Successful Business

Originally published
Originally published: 11/1/2021

I grew up in a multigenerational family HVAC business. Since taking the helm as president in 1999, I’ve found that knowing what you’re selling is as important as knowing all of the ins and outs of running your business. Of course, you need to have technical competency and be the expert on what you’re selling. However, I’ve found it’s not always so obvious to understand the inner workings of running a company successfully. When you’re starting your career, you need to focus on the business side as much as you are on the technical side.

A common misstep among entrepreneurs is thinking that it’s easy to start and run a business. To set your company up for success, it’s essential to understand the risks involved with running a business. As a business owner, there’s an inherent necessity to become the master of every aspect of your company, from HR and accounting to sales. Unfortunately, it takes time to get through the ups and downs to learn how to do it all effectively.

I knew it was essential to understand our actual costs to perform our services,and I analyzed our internal processes to identify areas for improvement. Whether you’re a business of one or 100 employees,you cannot survive if you don’t understand where your costs and resources are going.


If you don’t have the suitable systems in place to manage your material and costs, it doesn’t matter if you are the best mechanic because your business will not survive. It took time and commitment; however, we improved and implemented effective processes to systemize critical aspects of our business in my first few years to set us up for success. Essentially, it’s challenging,takes time, and you need to be mentally committed to the long haul. However,once those systems are in place, your company is poised for meaningful growth.

Being the expert on properly succeeding with the front of the house of your business while seamlessly managing the back of the house is one of the keys to owning a long-term, successful company.In addition, knowing your company’s financial nuts and bolts is as – if not more- essential as knowing how to repair or install a system. Because when it comes to running a business, learning how to write a proposal, accurately price a job, and ensure you get paid on time can be even more important than ensuring that you can do the work.

Whenever you price a job, there must be a budget to clearly define what you’re budgeting for material and labor costs. Having a business plan is essential to ensure your mark-up structure can support your overhead. It is not a sustainable business model if you undervalue your work and do a great job but don’t have enough money to pay your suppliers.

The word profit is not a bad word. Profits lead to reinvesting in the business. Profits lead to being able to sustain a warranty call. Profit means when a customer doesn’t pay you, you’re still able to afford to stay in business.


One other key to success is to surround yourself with a solid group of peers to help lessen the valleys. I’ve found it helps to hang out with other smart, dynamic business owners and ask them questions about which pitfalls to avoid. The people you associate with can drive your business – and life - in a positive manner.

Finally, my No. 1 principle is simple:Do the right thing. This mantra translates to all aspects of the way I run my business,and it extends to our staff, too. It means we take care of our internal team and our customers. If it doesn’t look right and feel right, then we probably shouldn’t do it. Simply put, if we under-delivered on a job or made a mistake, we own our error, have an honest conversation with the customer,and remedy it. Ultimately, we strive to do the right thing.My favorite life lesson quote is “Act as if…” – Ben Affleck in Boiler Room. You can fill in the blank after “Act as if….” For example, there are days I need to act as if I’m the business owner, and on other days I need to act as if I’m a tech installing a unit for a new client. Asa leader, I’ve found you need to act as if whatever the day calls for.

Act as if you care. Act as if you have pride in your work. Act as if you are the customer

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