You know when you’re in survival mode—when the day-to-day has become a painful grind, and even minor accomplishments leave you exhausted and anxious about the next task on your list.
Survival mode isn’t bad. But it isn’t sustainable, either. When the work of survival claims weeks, months, or years of your personal life and professional purpose, the result is stagnation. Survival mode keeps our heads above water, but it doesn’t move us any closer to the shore.
So, how do you escape survival mode and start growing again?
It’s Time to Stop Being Busy and Start Building Your Business
A return to growth mode requires following these three steps:
- Slow down to speed up
- Prioritize with purpose
- Delegate, delegate, delegate
We’ll show you how to implement these steps so you can stop being busy and start building your business. Being too busy is a legitimate problem for anyone learning how to run a machine shop. But it can also be an excuse NOT to do the hard (and sometimes baffling) work of leading and elevating your business to sustainable success.
If success is what you want—if you want to win—you have to run the race. You have to break away from your bad habits and focus on what matters most.
That leads us to your first step:
1. Slow Down to Speed Up
You can’t get anywhere unless you know where you’re going.
Think of running your business like mapping out a road trip. Which stops will you make along the way? What climate conditions will you encounter? How long will the trip take?
Establishing a growth plan takes time—more specifically, your time. So while you may feel that you’re too busy to bother with goal-setting, the truth is that you can’t afford not to plan for the future.
Block out time for growth planning
Schedule one hour out of each workday to focus on your company’s future. Put it on the shop’s calendar, close your office door, and get to work.
Make a map of your company’s journey, including:
- Milestones and key moments in your shop’s history
- Where you are today
- Growth milestones you want to achieve in the near future
- Long-term goals for your business
Establish a crew of trusted team members
If you’ve been in the weeds with your shop’s day-to-day operations, you’ve likely overlooked some of the natural talent on your team. Even NTMA has been guilty of making this mistake.
Many years ago, a valued NTMA team member left our organization for another job opportunity. We had neglected this team member’s growth and overlooked the full scope of her talents, and it cost us an excellent employee who could have done so much more had we only empowered her.
You can avoid making that same mistake by tuning in and paying attention to your people.
- Who stands out as a natural leader?
- Who has unique passions and skills outside of their job description?
- Who has expressed interest in performing new tasks?
- Who are your most creative thinkers and problem solvers?
Modern machine shops of every size can benefit from creating an intimate collective of growth advisors from every division within their company. Meet with your growth advisors regularly to listen and learn and explore ideas you hadn’t considered before.
This in-house committee can also help hold you accountable. When your team understands the company’s goals and their role in the shop’s success, they’ll be empowered and motivated to help you steer the ship in the right direction.
And since recruitment and retention are top concerns for modern machine shops, your business will be well-served by a morale-boosting culture shift that gets your team more engaged than ever.
2. Prioritize with Purpose
Now that you’ve made your growth map (which can always be refined along the way) and established your trusted team of advisors, it’s time to identify the steps you’ll need to take to get you from point A to B to C and further on down the road.
For example, let’s say that the first “stop” in your growth plan is to earn more aerospace customers. Putting that goal out to the universe is great, but what actions does your business need to take to get there?
- Do you need any additional certifications?
- Does your website need to be updated so that your messaging targets aerospace customers specifically?
- Do you need to invest in quoting software to ensure quick quoting turnaround?
- Does your team need additional training to ensure they’re fully versed in the machining needs of the aerospace industry?
Once you’ve itemized each step toward your next milestone, it’s time to prioritize. Determine what to tackle first, second, third, and so on. And don’t be afraid to tap into your manufacturing community for advice and insight. Other modern machine shop owners have been where you are, and there’s much to learn from industry leaders who have forged similar paths and achieved success.
3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
With your priorities in order, you can engage your growth committee to find out how your existing team can help. You might be surprised to learn that your lathe operator can make your website updates, that your CNC setup machinist would love to mentor a new apprentice, or that your machine shop manager’s son would be an excellent part-time estimator.
Delegating allows your team members to feel seen, heard, and valued as important contributors to the company’s long-term success. By honoring your team’s individual growth goals, you enable them to achieve their full potential—without losing them to an outside opportunity.
Delegating can also mean partnering with other modern machine shops that can help ease the burden of abrupt growth and change. Outsourcing your finishing services, for example, may allow you to accept more of the jobs your shop desires.
Growth Is a Journey
You already know there is a high cost to stagnating in survival mode. Fighting the same battles day after day is exhausting, and it communicates to your employees and customers that your company isn’t growing, improving, or moving forward.
The transition to growth mode can be taxing in its own way. But as any successful leader will tell you, openness to change must form the foundation of your company’s future. Shake things up. See what sticks. Don’t settle for being “too busy” to grow.
Because while survival mode will keep your head above water, only purposeful growth planning will get you to shore.
Join NTMA today. Your manufacturing family is here for you.