It is 2:46 am. I wake up with a feeling of pure excitement. I know that my alarm is set for 3:15, but it is no use. Going back to bed now will only result in more tossing, more turning, and more growth of the anticipation inside of me. This is not me the morning before a vacation. This is me excited to be driving 3 hours for a preconstruction meeting on one of our projects. If you don’t know by now, I love what I do.
We all have had this at times. Those mornings when your body says go no matter how early the alarm is set. Most people feel this at the start of a fun event or a vacation. I get excited for that stuff as well, but I have found through the years that I get just as excited for certain days at work. It is more than a few.
As kids, we were taught to do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, concrete and masonry are what I love. I am sure you all are the same way. I do want to take this a step further.
I actually do not love everything about the trades I perform. There are certain sectors of the concrete and masonry industry that do not interest me. It isn’t because they are bad or substandard; it is because I personally do not like them. That is why we structured our company with the niches that fit my enjoyment.
After 20 years in this industry, I began to see some patterns. I really did not enjoy new ground-up projects. I do not know why, but I dreaded every bid, meeting, pour, delivery, etc. I never knew why, but I just could not get excited to start a new build.
One thing I was excited for was remodeling. Something about commercial remodeling caught my attention. I remember the first one we bid. I didn’t get it, but it was an eye-opening experience. Something about the complications, partnership, and the unknown we were getting into intrigued me. Even though I lost, I couldn’t wait to bid another.
After a few attempts, we landed our first. I was like a kid at Christmas. Up early, fully invested, and the job went great. That is when I realized that we were not a new build company. Our commercial work would be solely focused on remodeling/upfit work. I have enjoyed it ever since.
Residentially, it took a little more convincing of myself to niche down. Residential is the cash flow of our business, and commercial is the driving margin producer. I like to have a balance of both, but once I enjoyed the commercial remodel so much, I needed to look at our residential offerings as well. A straightforward broomed driveway was getting old.
For the next year, I looked at new leads from this perspective, “would I wake up before my alarm for this project?” If the answer was no, I wouldn’t bid it. Let me tell you, that was a weird year. We were just starting to grow commercially and really relied on the residential projects to fill in the voids and keep cash in the bank. It was not fun at times, but worth it in the end.
After a year, I realized that I still loved the industry. I just didn’t love the easy anymore. The projects I was excited about were the ones that required thought, adaptation, and an artistic eye. I took this information and began focusing our ad spend on those types of projects. I have also enjoyed the residential side immensely, more than in the past.
Do what you love, they said. Well, after 20 years, I can say I am. It is not just an industry; it is a vast sea of niches that can all lead to prosperity and happiness. We do not have to do it all. In fact, when we try to do it all is when our happiness is at the bottom.
Once you decide what you like to do and structure yourself so you can do it, the rest becomes exciting. Go ahead and focus on what you really want to do every day. You may be able to through that alarm in the trash.