Aaron M Conway

Fear and anxiety can be an enemy of any entrepreneur. But these emotions also can be motivators for achievement.

Just ask Bill Haussler and Chris Otte, founders of Cincinnati-based Legacy Builders Group. When the two joined forces in 2005, they each had previously operated prosperous companies, and their new venture had all the hallmarks of success. Then came the Great Recession. The friends-turned-business-partners rode out the uncertain times together, remained steadfast in their vision, and breathed a sigh of relief in 2012. Yet anxieties remained.

"We definitely suffered PTSD from the recession," Haussler says.

Instead of cowering in the face of such pressures, they were determined to grow. Haussler and Otte acknowledged the need to go about it the right way, however, and joined Remodelers Advantage to seek guidance from their peers.

"We had pulled back and didn't want to grow without a plan," Haussler says. "That was a major catalyst for us."

Of the utmost importance was to ensure that when they expanded the team, they would hire people for the long term.

"When we hire, we take it seriously and invest in them, so it adds an element of responsibility." Haussler explains. "We really care about people and we want to integrate them into the culture."

In 2015, they made their first hire since the recession—a production coordinator. It was an overhead position, which made it a somewhat risky hire but, in Haussler's assessment, necessary: "The person we hired is very versatile and adding the position was really important for us to take a good positive step forward."

The decision has proven fruitful and has given the partners confidence to further expand. After six straight years of profits, Haussler says it's time to add another team member, and the company has committed to doing so by the end of 2018. As part of this plan, Haussler recognized that to further enhance the company's culture, the leaders needed to foster more opportunity for their nine employees. In 2017, they developed a Personal Development Plan as part of the review process. This three-page document (filled out by the employees and their supervisors) is meant to measure competencies but also assess career goals. Based on the results, they write a plan on how to assist each team member by identifying their aspirations and by implementing intentional training and executing an action plan to help make it happen.

"We've been in our own way too many times by being too conservative," Haussler notes. But, he continues, "You can still be conservative and be successful."