Business Management

What I Learned About Building a Great Business From Author Jim Collins

Expertise: Personal Development, Business Management, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Flipping Houses
125 Articles Written

Think for a moment on this quote from Jim Collins:

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.” — James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

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This premise states that someone could have a profoundly awesome idea, but it might not become great or even come to fruition at all. The reasoning behind this is we have not made a conscience choice to grow this idea into a decision, then to a determined action. If you are working with a team or group of people (which you almost always would be), this means you yourself would have to first believe in this idea and then make a sustained and conscious series of decisions to take the actions to do something. You would then need to deliver that idea in a way people understand, own, and then take the same deliberate action on.

Carrying Through With Actionable Processes

This could mean, for instance, in practical and applicable terms, if you want to be a flipper, you continue to search out properties that seem to have potential, and then do the homework and due diligence on that series of properties until you have found one that meets that criteria. Then beyond that, have the understanding and the skills to implement the plan. Once you believe it is a deal, you surround yourself with your partner, friend, real estate agent, or all of these people. You review together, make an offer, and lock this property down.

Related: This Lesson From My Mastermind Group Completely Changed My Real Estate Business

Then, you bring in your contractor and learn from what they tell you about the renovation they suggest. How does the bid process work? What would the extent of the repairs be, and how would you bring your team together during this process to understand what you want to do, the desired outcome, and how everyone on the team plays their part in bringing that to completion and success?

You could also bring in your real estate agent to review the comparable properties in the area, ask what is selling, and for how much and how fast. As a new investor, you also don't want to get into a project that is so complex you can't understand what the variables and risks are. You use the real estate agent to assess the market and the subject property and to make an informed decision on logic and data.

This idea of conscience choice requires the idea, the desire, the action, and finally, the execution.


Get Your Company on the Same Page

In his book Good to Great, Mr. Collins talks a lot of about having the right ideas, the right kind of leader, and the right people, all on the “bus” going in the same (right) direction. When you think about a specific idea owned and shared by specific people who are on the same wavelength, working for the same goals, they then have the opportunity to be successful with it.

When I think about my own company, our growth, challenges, and opportunities, almost all of our exceptional growth has come around the times of addition of awesome team members who have had a specific role to play and who have bought into the ideas of what our company stands for. These team members who have been awesome and lasted long also were the right fit. They had the right attitudes, desires, and goals.

In another book, Jim goes moves on to a different idea:

“Visionary companies are so clear about what they stand for and what they’re trying to achieve that they simply don’t have room for those unwilling or unable to fit their exacting standards.” — James C. Collins, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
“They are so clear what they stand for […] they don’t have room for those unwilling…”
THEY DON’T HAVE ROOM. Are you reading this?
There is no room for those unwilling because the team itself is far too valuable to not have the absolute right people doing the right jobs. The team is far too valuable because it relies on those people on the team, who share in the workload and understand and then execute their responsibility. Their responsibility comes from the leadership of the organization, which has made precise and effective decisions and communication on what to do.

Looking Into Our Business

A learning and growth area for me has been within this entire idea of the team. Who should be on it, who should not be, and where does each person fit? I am an extrovert, and I love being around people who are fun, outgoing, funny, whatever adjective makes people enjoyable to be around. As we have met and hired people within our organization, we have had some real growth and learning regarding the kinds of people who we THOUGHT were good for the team versus the people who WERE great for the team.
There is a painful and often very immediate and obvious difference in these two kinds of people. It doesn’t even have to be someone who is on your staff. It could be a painter, carpenter, or driveway concrete guy. I will take a guy who is a little bit more expensive to put the driveway in if they are specific, calculated, timely, deliver an awesome product, and are great to deal with. I will take this person over the cheaper and less attractive option any day. They understand their role, they take action, and they deliver what they say they will.

Related: 4 Influential Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Be Reading

Note that this isn’t to say you need to bring in the trim carpenter for million dollar mansions for your $70k rental property. It just means you need to know the difference. You should know when to call the good guy and when to call the great guy. A good leader will help explain to the team what the difference is and when to use who on what project.

You NEED Great People Around You

This quote is so simple, and so clear to me:
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” — James C. Collins, Good to Great
The basic takeaways are:
  • You have great vision but you are a complete jerk to everyone around you? You have failed.
  • You have great ideas but lack the ability to lead your team to accomplish those things? You have failed.
  • You have bad ideas and you lack self awareness to bring people around you who will tell you your idea is a bad one — and then you try and execute a plan that fails? You have failed — badly.

You have to have great people around you.

Final Reflection

We have our fourth staff person coming on next week, and I could not be more excited about their hiring. I won’t pretend that I’ve always had a clear understanding of all of these ideas even a year ago on the best ways for our team and our staff to operate. I’ve learned, many times through completely blowing it.

Don’t be ashamed if you failed. Stop whining about it. Start learning from what happened and do a better job next time. Bring people around you who are better, smarter, and have more experience.

Not only do you need to have those awesome people around you to help make your business grow, to complete your rehab, to manage your investment property, to grow your business, or to list that beautiful property you just renovated to resell, but life is a whole lot more fun and satisfying with others around doing whatever you are so fired up about doing.

Learn to be a better leader and listener. Learn how to delegate in your business and in your life. Then execute, celebrate, learn, and do again, as a team.

What books have changed the way you look at your business lately?

Let me know with a comment!

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey prop...
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    Jerry W. Investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Nice article Nathan. It is a pretty deep article for how short it is. I read it a few times and got more out of it each time I read it. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I have found your articles to be very well thought out.
    Tiersa Jergesen from Portland, OR
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Thanks you for a great article. I was so moved by the first quote: “Visionary companies are so clear about what they stand for and what they’re trying to achieve that they simply don’t have room for those unwilling or unable to fit their exacting standards.” — James C. Collins, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies WOW! In a year where my focus is all about getting clear and building my business the right way, this was great to see. Two recent books I have enjoyed are Essentialism by Greg Mckeown and The One Thing by Gary Keller. I have added Built to Last to my list, where it joins Good to Great, next up! Thank you!
    Tiersa Jergesen from Portland, OR
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    and yes, it wasn’t the first quote, lol, but all the same, it hit me just right! 🙂