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I had lunch yesterday with my old business partner. Steve and I worked for the same contractor for nearly four years before starting our own home remodeling business. We called it Bestbuilt Construction. It lasted for several very good years before we parted ways.
That parting was nearly 25 years ago, and yesterday's lunch date was our first one-on-one conversation of any length since then.
We sat in the restaurant and talked for just about five hours. Which reminded me that we never did lack for things to talk about.
There is no other man I know of that I could have such a lengthy conversation with. But there is no other man who I've ever worked so closely with. It was nearly every day for a decade. We shared common goals and hopes, along with common challenges, and the success and disappointments that came with those challenges. We were the best of friends.
In retrospect, we were a remarkable working duo. Like I told Steve yesterday, one plus one added up to a lot more than two when we worked together. More than just teamwork happened. There was a rare synergy. It was something special. It is something that I've missed, and will probably never experience again in my lifetime.
Steve now operates his own business as a home inspector. If you ever consider buying a home in Central New York State, contact Steve. He's a true professional. Click Here For Details.
One of the "secrets" to having a successful remodeling business (which Bestbuilt Construction was) is to have a "critical path" mindset when taking on any remodeling project. The critical path is the most direct route to getting the job finished.
When, for example, we were remodeling a kitchen or bathroom (which we did a lot of) we focused on a logical sequence of tasks, and pursued that sequence. I can remember saying out loud, as a certain task was accomplished, "What's our critical path now?"
It sounds simple, but a lot of people get side tracked on out-of-sequence rabbit trail tasks that don't keep the project moving forward. It's easy to get off the critical path if you don't consciously and deliberately stay focused on it.
One of the most obvious time-wasting rabbit trail tasks that keeps a remodeling project from efficiently moving forward is finding out that some needed material is not on hand and an unplanned trip must be made to the lumber yard or hardware store. But Steve and I almost never left a job site to get materials during the work day.
That's because we had laminated checklists for tools and materials. We loaded our trucks at the start of every job using the checklists. And also we had inventory lists for totes packed with a full selection of plumbing and electrical components. Then, as we worked through the day, and thought of materials we were going to need, we picked them up at the store after work. The next morning we were back on the job early and followed the critical path.
This winter I have had trouble keeping on a critical path with new projects for my mail order business. My problem is that I have too many ideas that I want to pursue and get done. I've started several things but not finished any of them. I can't seem to focus. It may be age related (I turned 61 last month). Whatever it is, it's a source of concern. And it explains why I haven't been blogging much here lately.
One of the things I want to get done before spring gets here is a new Planet Whizbang web site. I've made do with blogs as web sites for many years, but it's high time I had a real Planet Whizbang web site. It might actually help me make more sales, which would be a good thing.
But the task is so daunting. I have 10 different blog web sites, each with several pages, selling so many different products.
Nevertheless, today, with three other critical path projects partially done, I started making the new web site at WIX.
They have templates to start with and modify. I picked a template for a web site that sells scarfs. The screen shot at the top of this blog post shows my logo and name at the top (the header) of the new web site in progress.
That's it. That's as far as I've gotten. I keep reminding myself... "one step at a time."
So, I asked my wife, Marlene, to look at the header design. I explained that I was starting with a WIX template and would be changing all of that scarf stuff under the header. I wanted her to say it looks good enough. I wanted a little positive reinforcement.
Marlene looked at it for a moment and said, "You're selling scarfs now? Who's that woman?"
I know my wife well enough to know when she's joking with me. Or, more specifically, trying to annoy me. Or, even more specifically, doing to me what I sometimes do to her.
Well, that's a bit of an update from my world. I plan to blog here more often in the days ahead, but I'll wait until I have something better to write about.
Here's hoping you are finding critical paths of your own and sticking with them better than I am.