Is There Something You Can Do That No One Else Can Do?

By: Dave Wright, Craftsman Republic®

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We all have good ideas, but we seldom can separate them from the bad ones. So which ones should we act on? When we work for others who do not have the same experience as we do, some things we see as obvious needs, they can see as unneeded.

If you are going to build your business around one of these ideas, take the time to research it. It could be that the cost to enact them may far exceed the return, and that is why they are not use. Ideas need an implementation plan.

We do not see things as others see them. Opportunities are often passed up several times before someone invests, like on Shark Tank. What differentiates you? If you invented a baby bottle carrier, you would be among about 4 million people worldwide, who apparently tend to drop baby bottles. I am not saying you cannot make a living at it, but take the time to plan.

I met someone who could install dishwashers, very competently, and faster than anyone else. He literally installed as many as any two technicians at the company. He had, through his experience, made every step of the installation process more efficient. This included preparing for the next installation, how to place the old and new dishwashers on the truck, and of course, the paperwork.

An installation involved picking up the dishwashers at a warehouse, loading your truck in the order they would be installed, installing them, putting the old one on the truck, repeating the process, and returning to clean the truck and dispose of the old dishwashers at the end of the day. At 3 pm, he would be the first tech to return no matter the number of dishwashers he installed that day. His business plan was to leave the company and find a place that paid piecework, which was illegal in his state. It never happened.

What was his incentive to continue to outperform everyone else? Also, what company had the volume to keep him busy? In the long run, he got licensed, signed up with a few lucky places, and worked alone and on his own. He ended up making about three times what he was making when he worked for others. Think about this and get into the correct business. For some, disliking the work can be the motivation to go faster. If you don’t like it, do something else.

If you are a plumber, you may find that there is a greater need to clean drains than anything else in your area. Believe me, clean drains for a while. If you don’t like it, you can teach someone to do it and keep the business going. Things will change. In my neighborhood, they cut down the maple trees and the lines no longer clogged with roots and they needed cleaning. My friend, the local plumber, got a new business replacing waste lines as the roots that damaged and was supporting them rotted away.

New Products come out all the time, new pipes, fittings etc. Most often they get marketed to a big box. If you are the first to learn them, you have a head start. Do not be stubborn, only half of what you hear is true. When I was a kid, everyone badmouthed cast pipes because they clogged up, copper was better. Now they realize that copper does not actually last as long as once thought and new Products are preferred.

One of my acquaintances, invented a ladder-type lift to carry heavy equipment to the roof. He did this while off because of an injury. He could no longer carry the equipment up the ladder as he had once done so easily before. He got a patent, got it on the market, sold some, and then the local electric portable lift rental came out. This lowered the lift rental prices. These rental agencies were the customary lift providers, and pushed the lifts as a lower insurance risk. His business became unprofitable.

Your business plan should anticipate new competition. How you ask? Hey, I am not the one with the big idea, I am just trying to help. Just kidding, you need to think of all the related Products and figure out how they can morph or improve and trip you up. No, you are not right to think this can’t happen.

It is not easy to find a niche, at least not one that you enjoy. I know an HVAC Contractor who loved sizing. He would do each room in a residence several different ways. He would know the exact duct size and the exact register size for each room. As a result, he could recommend, almost exactly, what to do to save the most money. He could tell you whether to replace windows, insulated walls, attic spaces, and sometimes even recommended exterior patios, awnings, or skylights. This kind of information was often ignored, there are times where you can spend thousands less on air conditioning by the addition of exterior shading. He, of course, became a trainer for a major Manufacturer. Later, when his company was sold to a larger corporation, and his job was at risk, he became a HERS rater, another job he loved. The point is that he started as an installer, and wanted to perfect his jobs, which lead to a whole new career. It was just the one he loved.

I once was dealing with a complaint about an air conditioner after fifteen years of use. We tested the system and it had the correct pressures and temperature splits. I looked out the window and I could see that a row of trees on the common green area had been cut down recently. I looked at supplementing his systems and there was no simple way without having to tear out wall, adding duct work, and upgrading panels. I gave him the truth; the system was just too small to work on really hot days. He acted enraged and threatened to sue.

My next action was to drive across town to the company archives, I could not find a contract. I decided to look in my files, and I found the contract. It stated clearly that the house because of the upstairs addition with no provision for heating or cooling, would cool if the tall shade trees existed on the west and south of the home.

Guess who was smart enough to write it in the contract? The funny part was that he forgot about the benefit of the shade, and complained about the trees, asking the Homeowner’s Association to cut them down. Literally cooking himself in the summer heat. Because his complaint was a national high priority issue, I was recommended as a trainer and enjoyed doing that for several years.

Back to the people with ideas, who made the most money, the plumber with several employees or the dishwasher installer? The crazy answer is the dishwasher installer, he continued to improve his use of every minute at a job no one else seems to do faster.

Craftsman Republic® allows you to select specific work. You might be able to test a new idea with us, if you are willing to do the work. Try us out. If you only want to do one thing that only you can do, it is OK with us.