David Sharpe

It’s a new year and there is a lot of BS about resolutions and new starts. I get tired of such platitudes. The worst outcome of the recession is our satisfaction with mere survival. You’ve gotten good at surviving. You’ve gotten good at telling yourself that surviving makes you a winner. That story is now officially old. We should no longer be complimented for merely being in business. Michael Phelps doesn’t earn gold medals by treading water. You shouldn’t receive a ribbon for just participating in a race.

Time to Accelerate

You’ve been told you’re great for having survived. Think about that. Think hard. Are you really happy with that? Does survival feel like a win? In a year, will 12 more months of mere survival still feel like a win? It’s time for acceleration. Time to get pissed. Tell yourself, “There’s no way I’m going to allow another year to pass without significant improvement in my balance sheet.”

The market is not going to reward you for picking up where you left off in 2008. What you did then isn’t what’s needed now. Things will not get back to normal. Change is the new normal. Things have stabilized. That’s all we need to assess the new landscape, identify opportunities, and run. Forget linear formulas for success. You’re going to have to be creative.

What change will you make? What reality will you embrace and exploit? What really uncomfortable thing will you do? What failure will you risk to advance your company? What experiment will you try and measure?

Many of our remodeling brethren say they’ve done the tough things to survive. Most of this is in the form of a retreat and returning to familiar things: smaller staff, wearing a toolbelt, doing their own administrative tasks, and working out of their house.

But today’s market requires doing tough things that are totally unfamiliar ... the really uncomfortable stuff (and I’m not talking about a Facebook fan page). I’m talking about human contact and networking in circles where you fear someone will think you don’t belong. I’m talking about hanging your hat on something that will be criticized by some. I’m talking about expressing a business philosophy that will raise eyebrows and turn off certain prospects but will endear the best clients you could ever have.

Good to Great

We’re at a time where some companies are about to make a “good to great” shift. I’m seeing it happen. What stands between most of us and a shift from good to great is a willingness to be vulnerable. Many people are not willing to express their quest for greatness for fear of criticism.

Some will be quick to disparage your goal long before they know if it will succeed. This is especially true in a post-recession economy. Get over it. Be the village idiot with lofty aspirations. Shoot for the moon. You may only land on a cloud, but at least you’ll be looking down on the ones who doubted you — rather than being among them.

—Greg Antonioli is owner of Out of the Woods Construction & Cabinetry, in Acton, Mass., vice president of his National Association of the Remodeling Industry chapter, and a Sandler Sales trainee.

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