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Editor's Notebook

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Editor's Notebook

Adaptability Leads to Growth

Flexibility and adaptability in small business

Originally published
Originally published: 7/1/2023

Building a culture of adaptability starts with good leadership. A good leader must model flexibility both in decision-making and in management and communication style. When you do this your employees will take the cue to also remain adaptable to change. 

For owners of HVACR businesses, there are many factors out of your control including pandemics, supply chain disruptions, regulatory compliance, and equipment pricing increases. Statistically speaking 80% of HVACR owners were former service technicians before becoming the owner of their company. Traditional business education wasn’t the path – meaning on-the-job learning was often trial-by-fire.  During the rapid growth phases of a company, this business education deficit can be daunting for entrepreneurs. But it’s not all doom and gloom! Not only is managing growth an amazing problem to have, but it’s also an opportunity to improve all aspects of your business operation. This is where opportunity, preparation, and adaptability all come together. If you remain adaptable, your chances of “weathering” the unpredictability of the business environment will be far greater.

Start with the following tips.

Regular Communication

The way you lead includes the way you communicate. If you allow employees to present feedback and concerns in an open forum, and you fully engage with them, you will be modeling adaptability. This may seem like a small thing, but if you plan to grow your business over time, then employee retention will be one of your key advantages. In an industry where finding good employees can be a challenge, the more loyalty you can create, the more adaptable those employees are likely to be when the company goes through growth phases, and everyone must work longer and harder.

Forecast Future Change 

Change happens quickly, and good leaders are always strategically thinking about their business model in the near and long term. For instance, regular readers of our columnist Ruth King know she often stresses the importance of checking your inventory levels, depositing regularly into savings, and creating the correct and necessary financial statement to ensure you have the tools you need to operate the business.  And, if you read HVACR Business magazine regularly, you also know we cover all the business disciplines that will ensure your success.  

Have A Contingency Plan

Dozens of articles have appeared in this publication regarding the need for contingency planning and funds. When you run out of cash, you run out of options.  And many of our owner-written features also discuss the need for preparedness – Mike Disney just wrote a great piece. Certainly, many companies had contingency plans in place in 2020, but none could have predicted the avalanche of business the pandemic would bring as breadwinners worked from home rather than their offices since no amount of planning could have predicted that. But if you had a contingency plan, chances are you were better off than most.  

Work with Mentors and Industry Organizations

If you yearn to be a better leader, which includes adaptability as a core principle, then you also need to be open to learning. The most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that having a mentor is crucial. Even our Publisher Terry Tanker started the magazine with the guidance of no less than four mentors. Seek out individuals or success groups who can help you navigate ownership hurdles more seamlessly because they have done it. Additionally, there are dozens of great industry organizations that are ready and willing to help.  

If you stay open to feedback, forecast future changes, and prepare for the unpredictable, you will become a more adaptable leader and thus, a more successful business owner!


Heather Langone is the Managing Editor of HVACR Magazine. For comments and feedback, email hlangone@hvacrbusiness.com.

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