For several years, I've wanted to become the full-time president of my company. I knew we could achieve the next level of success, and I yearned to spend my time focusing on the big picture rather than being consumed by the day-to-day realities of my other full-time job -- chief designer and salesman.

After years of dreaming and planning, I finally got the kick in the pants I needed. At the Remodeling Leadership Conference in May 2002, one of the speakers challenged the audience to complete the following statement: "If I had more courage, I would _____________."

When I left the conference, I knew it was time to take that final leap. I needed to let my staff take full responsibility for our day-to-day operations. Here are the steps I figured out I needed to take.

Create a clear vision of what your company is and what it will become. Communicate and transfer that vision to your staff. The more they participate in formulating that vision, the better.

Create systems and standardize everything. Begin immediately, even if the systems aren't perfect. To be effective, the systems must evolve and improve. Again, staff participation is vital. Solicit feedback and improvement ideas on a regular basis.

Create a written strategic plan that outlines short-term and long-term goals. This can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose, but make sure it includes a timetable for achieving your goals. Even if your long-term plan seems remote, keep working at it. The resulting changes can be extraordinary.

Hire the best people you can find and empower them. I don't want people who will do as they're told and nothing more. I want people who share my desire for excellence and believe in our company's vision. Our best employees understand their purpose and our systems and take pride in the work they do.

Hire support staff who can take over your day-to-day duties. Although I was responsible for a large percentage of our company's sales, I had created a design team working under me that was ready, willing, and able to begin selling without my direct involvement. Because I hired people who were capable and interested in advancing beyond the position I hired them for, it was a natural progression for them to advance. That made my direct involvement unnecessary (and undesired by them). Also, because they worked so closely with me, they clearly understand how I expect our clients to be treated and how I expect our work to be performed.

Finish the plan and take the plunge. The final step I took was to revise our plan and our budget to reflect my new role in the company. To keep sales on track, we hired an additional designer. After an exhaustive search, we were fortunate to find a new designer who was an immediate asset to our staff.

Six months into the change, our company is thriving. Sales are on track and employee morale is high. Although it still seems like there aren't enough hours in the day, I'm finally able to take the time for regular sales and production meetings and training sessions. We've improved our financial management and marketing. I've also improved my ability to measure staff performance, so people can be more accountable and receive more feedback.

When I look at what our company's achieved, I'm humbled because I know our success is the result of a coordinated effort by many individuals. Great people, working toward a common goal, are what ultimately lead to success.

--Jim Mirando Jr., CGR, is president of Excel Interior Concepts and Construction, a full-service remodeling company in Lemoyne, Pa. Jim has an MBA and a BS in business administration.

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Each month, this page is written by a different remodeler. If you'd like to author a column, contact Jim Cory at (215) 923-9810 or