Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The construction industry has always adapted to keep moving forward over the long haul. That agility has helped hedge many contractors, even through the COVID-19 crisis, and has prompted shifts in everything from building supply chains to contract structuring. Yet, many homeowner clients say they wouldn’t refer their own contractors.
What’s stopping construction clients from being raving fans? For too long, the industry has been comfortable with doing things the same way and failed to question it; providers sat on one side of the table, and clients sat on the other.
No matter your industry, this doesn’t have to be how you work. Rejecting the status quo in favor of ensuring everyone is working together to solve the right problem creates a win-win situation for everyone.
A little paranoia can be a great thing
There was Blockbuster. Then along came Netflix. There was Kodak. Then along came Fuji. The company names might change, but the pattern doesn’t: When companies at the top get complacent, accept baked-in beliefs and think they don’t need to innovate anymore, someone else comes along, delivers fresh ideas that really help customers and earns the right to dominate.
So as thredUP CEO James Reinhart puts it, part of avoiding the status quo is balancing confidence with a healthy level of paranoia. Some companies become blinded by positive quarterly results or a shining reputation, so they don’t see a need to change. Instead, they should accept the reality that if you don’t disrupt things yourself, a couple of kids in a garage or dorm somewhere will be more than happy to do it. This risk — that somebody else will be more agile and intelligent about solving your client’s core problems — is the biggest one you’ll face, so manage it best.
Education, working bottom up and sharing
One of the biggest challenges when dealing with the status quo is breaking people out of their fixed mindset. To do this, ask questions: Why are things the way they are? Does it have to be that way? If not, what are the alternatives? How can we work together and know we will succeed before we start?
In other words, it’s about re-educating people. This focus on questioning and learning should be at the core of your business. Although we support and appreciate the many builders in our organization, we also have plenty of people with expertise in other areas, such as public relations, business development and IT.
Companies in any industry can incorporate this type of diversity into their business, allowing them not to be as saddled with rigid ways of thinking and operating. Broadening your company’s roles and expertise will enable you to take advantage of diversified insight and stay curious. This means constantly asking yourself what the customer journey looks like and what you can do to shape it.
In some cases, business leaders focus on pushing innovation from the top down rather than the bottom up. In doing so, they miss out on critical growth opportunities often spotted by teams in the trenches. To ensure innovation is maintained from every corner of the company, your leadership hub should start with your local, boots-on-the-ground, customer-facing teams like project managers, partners and regional partners.
It doesn’t matter if the person asking “Why?” is a senior executive or accountant employed for a few weeks. We leaders should give them room to investigate and bring concepts and challenges forward. This approach helps build a culture where people feel safe collaborating, innovating and improving processes to create better human experiences.
Finally, if a business or leader has valuable expertise and experience, that knowledge should be shared with people outside the company. Successful organizations have an opportunity to teach other entrepreneurs how to protect themselves and use a thought-out project management strategy to execute the intended outcome. The rationale is simple: If we want an industry with a better reputation, the change starts with bettering local businesses. As the saying goes, the world’s greatest at anything can get beaten by a team that’s just decent.
So ask yourself, what would happen if you had a supportive team just as invested in your success as you were? How could you work together to change not only your life but the lives of everyone you touch? The more you build community, the closer you get to taking command of moonshots and changing the world. The best way to earn the credibility you need to make that community-building and change happen is to share what you do.
New approaches, massive advantages
By being confident and innovative in your approach, you can attract new clients that share your core values and vision. You can also appeal to new and younger talent. In the construction industry, numerous professionals agree that the industry is broken. They want to build a more positive legacy, and by adopting new approaches, we can collaborate with those like-minded individuals.
A positive legacy means supporting not just individuals but the whole team. By doing so, you’ll get an investment-grade business where things don’t fall apart if a given leader isn’t there anymore. It means letting go of the fear that supporting others will infringe on your success and committing to building everyone up with great opportunities. Ultimately, that delivers a field where every individual and organization has the freedom to dream and achieve big.
Go ahead and break ranks
Breaking away from tradition takes courage. But many of the people and companies we admire the most challenged what others took to be carved in stone. Why stand by and watch other businesses set a new, positive tone for your industry when you can be the organization to break ranks? Being constantly curious about new possibilities, forging new paths and sharing everything you do can ensure you work with the right people under shared values. The resulting culture of collaboration can bring a priceless legacy and change that makes business worthwhile.