This has been something that personally I have a bit of a tough time with. It’s not that I hate taking point on a project, or am shy and don’t like confrontation. On the contrary, I really like taking point on everything that comes in the door; I love teaching, leading and giving direction. The problem is… I have a very hard time handing tasks off. I have this need to be involved in everything that happens under the Veteran Welding banner. Not because I don’t trust the team here, but because I want to make sure everything is getting done right. Which in turn makes nothing get done on time. This is where having the right team will free up a ton of bandwidth between your ears so you can focus on things that truly make you happy, and your company shine.
So, let’s wind the clock back a few years. Veteran Welding is a few days old, I am the only person working here, I am the accountant, the designer, the foreman, the fabricator, the pick up and delivery guy, I am the salesman. Everything was on my shoulders. Hell, I even tried to design my own website. Now out of everything that I was responsible for there were only three things that I truly loved doing; designing, fabricating and delivering the finished product to the client. Everything else was a chore, a task that needed to be completed and sucked time away from what I truly loved to do.
Now let’s fast forward 2-3 years. Veteran Welding is now in a huge 40’x60’ shop, I have everything a fabricator could want for tools at this stage in the game, I have a designer, an apprentice, someone assigned to accounting, and I have a website designer. But I personally am pissed, every single day, all day from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. Yes, I have PTSD, but that was not the root of what I am talking about here. You see, even though I had a team behind me I did not trust them, and if I did it was not a whole lot. Tasks that I was delegating to them where not getting done, and if they were it was half-assed, and most importantly we were not working towards the same goals. My designer thought because he was bringing in work he could set the price for the jobs, my accountant was not doing their job to the standard that I expected, my web developer did design a kick ass website but it never brought us in any money and my apprentice… was an apprentice. I can not fault him for not knowing what he did not know.
All of this combined with my need to have my finger in every piece of the pie was making my life miserable to the point where I wanted to close down Veteran Welding. Seriously, I was half a heart beat away from shutting it all down and knitting baskets for a living.
But I didn’t, or couldn’t is more like it. Something made me stop, and step back, way back. I started to assess everything from my personnel life to my professional life. What I needed and what had to go. Somethings where more obvious then others. My designer was number one on the list to be shown the door, and when he turned in his keys and his tool boxes were loaded along with his computer, the relief was hard to explain in words. Next was the land lady, so we started looking for acreages to buy so I could move the shop onto the same property where we live. And it just kept rolling on and on like that.
Fast forward to today, Sept 18, 2020. I am in a 30’x40’ shop, it has dirt floors, only 1 plug right now that I can use for my grinders, chop saw etc., I don’t have any of my kick ass tools hooked up (i.e. my mill or band saw), but let’s have a look at what I do have. For starters, I now have work life balance. I have clearly written out what I will tolerate and what I won’t, I am assembling a senior leadership team that I not only trust to do their job but I have faith in to the point where I hand them a task and then walk away knowing that if they have any problems or actually need my input they will come and find me. And most importantly, I am not taking jobs on just for the money. I no longer take jobs on unless they align with my values and what we are pursuing as a team.
The clearer you can make your vision, the easier it will be to tell others. The easier it will be to find the key people for jobs and tasks that you know you will not do the position justice.
What I am trying to say here is this. Don’t be afraid to take a few steps back, ever. Because in my case, doing this has saved the company, my marriage and my sanity. Veteran Welding is a direct copy of who I am and I think that is why I could not walk away from it a few years ago. I am starting to assemble an amazing team here and we are finally moving towards what I intended this company to be in the first place. Somewhere where vets can turn to for anything from help learning a new skill, to learning a new trade after they have released to looking for direction on how to seek the help that they need for their PTSD.
Just because you started a company does not mean you have to do everything. Build your team how ever it may look and you will achieve every goal that you set out in time.
Cheers & stay focused,
Veteran Welding Company