April 21, 2024

You’re the Boss: Owner Sets Goals for the Company and Himself

Staying Alive

I was on a plane to Utah in March to look at a sander I was considering buying, and during the flight I wrote notes about each of my employees to serve as the nucleus of their employee reviews. As I said in my last post, I have decided that it would be useful to sit down with each worker, in private, to discuss my perceptions of their performances and my expectations for them as the company grows — and to hear their thoughts on the way things are going.

Fortunately, I have almost nothing bad to say about my people. They work hard, they treat each other well, and they turn out good product. Our biggest problem in the last year has been mistakes on the shop floor. But we’ve been reviewing each problem in our weekly meetings, and the error rate has dropped considerably since the beginning of the year.

On the plane, I also wrote a list of goals for myself that was considerably longer than those for anyone else. When I write a list, I just try to spit out everything I can think of, in no particular order. Here’s what I wrote:

• Hire and train another sales person so that I can get out of sales altogether.

• Hire and train an administrative assistant to do routine paperwork.

• Start work on the next version of the Web site, which will involve a considerable amount of writing, coding and photography. This project is to be completed by the end of the summer.

• Redesign our AdWords campaign to take advantage of the changes to the Web site that are to be completed by Thanksgiving.

• Replace our existing generic pricing spreadsheets with sheets tailored to each table shape we make.

• Replace our existing computer-aided design program with a more modern package. (Our current program does not allow multiple users to share a single library of designs, and that is a serious problem for a multiperson sales and engineering office.)

• Conduct reviews for each employee.

• Introduce better scheduling information into our weekly meeting.

• Write a short instruction manual for our database so that every employee can access the production and profitability information we collect.

• Start meeting regularly with my accountant.

• Look into upgrading our servers.

• Analyze shipping costs to see how well our online quotes align with the actual bills.

• Do an energy audit to see whether we can use less electricity.

• Start lease negotiations at the end of the year. Our lease runs out in March, 2012.

As you might have noticed, this is a lot of hands-dirty stuff. I’m not at the point where I can delegate much of this; everyone else in the company is already busy doing their primary job. Also, these projects are all interesting to me. They require knowledge of the way the company works that no one else has. I enjoy the challenge of designing and implementing new tools and procedures, and seeing them make a positive difference to the output and profit of the company. It’s the same challenge that is involved with making a piece of furniture, just on a larger scale. A long series of small procedures has to be executed perfectly to come out with the best result.

My biggest problem will be figuring out what to do first. I’m in that familiar situation of knowing that no matter what I’m working on, I should probably be doing something else.

Paul Downs founded Paul Downs Cabinetmakers in 1986. It is based outside of Philadelphia.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6a539e9c989e55e980c39356de81714c

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