The Dialectic in Business
People say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. While true to a certain extent, lets not pretend it is not aggravating to have someone steal your idea. If it weren't a problem, then the patent system as we know it wouldn't exist. Yes, it is good to know that other people are watching you and that they think highly enough of you to copy your business. But in a competitive industry such as roofing, without to many unique angles available as everyone has access to the same products and the barrier to entry is extremely low, having your process duplicated can cause some serious damage. The real question is how to deal with this inevitably?
Change is constant, it is one of the few things in life that will always be there. Accepting this fact is one thing, actually living by it can be simply exhausting. There is nothing more difficult than starting all over again after you have built up your business to a point that it is operating fairly smoothly. But, if you do not take these steps yourself, outside forces will end up doing it for you. If you suffer the latter, it is typically a much less beneficial outcome in the end.
Many larger corporations are now initiating specific units within their organizations to play the "devil's advocate". They are given complete autonomy and freedom to explore opportunities without necessarily proving that they are going to be financially rewarding. These companies are learning to embrace the dialectic, and even as a smaller roofing company, you should do so as well.
If you want to be successful in business, you constantly need to evolve. After having your best month ever, it is not the time to decided where you are going to take your next vacation. It is time to work even harder and reorganize the entire organization so that you can reach the next level. Roofing is a seasonal business that is tied very closely to economic cycles. It is a necessity, but many more people are prone to exploring roofing repairs if they do not feel financially stable. Are you flexible enough as a company to handle such a turn of events? Do you have a firm grip on your overhead expenses? Do you have the willpower to downsize and thus fire key employees when and if the time comes? These are things you need to consider before they are forced upon you so that you can handle them with dignity and grace.
Some owners do not have the right personality to handle this process, and that is does not mean they are not any more or less competent as entrepreneurs. However, they need to find someone to play this role, and it is most likely not going to be someone that they like. This job takes a veracious individual that is willing to defy authority and to speak his mind no matter the consequences. It takes someone bold enough to try new ventures and skilled enough to handle all the complications that come with them. Finding this individual may take some time and effort, but properly utilized they will help you to grow your roofing business immensely. To often, we try to surround ourselves with people we find pleasing or similar to us. More often then not, this is the worst thing that we can do as it blurs the lines between friendship and business.