Thinking like an engineer

Thinking like an engineer

For most of my life (little did I know) I have been fascinated with how to make tasks and process easier, faster, better, etc.  Never did I stop to think that this thought process actually had a title.  It was at a PDCA (Paint & Decorating Contractors of America) expo event that I was teaching a class on building systems for a painting business when someone in the audience asked me “if I was a programmer or if I had any coding background?”  I stated I did not but that I simply like to flow charts, process maps, then dissect and make those processes more efficient through technology (software).  

In college I started down the path of being a computer science major but moved away from it as I was more interested in the entrepreneurship aspect of business management.  I at the time (2002) had no idea of what was to come of the next 16 years.  When I finally graduated after numerous years of traveling the world, snowboarding most of my winter and spring terms of college away I started my first business.  A painting business.  In 2008 I started the painting business and learned fast that technology was not ready for travel salesperson going door to door.  I had a mobile printer that I would plug into a converter in my car and hook up to my PC laptop that was just about the size of my passenger seat.  None the less my customers would receive an estimate on the spot printed on paper and customized based on the project.  I thought I was pretty cool…lol.  Well in 2008 with the real estate bubble bursting it didn’t really matter what kind of technology or experience you were offering.  The construction industry in general was working for free or at cost just to stay working.  I fell victim to the rat race of fastest company to the bottom.  I luckily had very little overhead since it was just myself painting, and I had bartending/waiting tables job at night that kept my bills paid.  Fast forward two years later and I had four employees and a rapidly growing business.  My company was growing at a rate of 400% year on year, and it was out of control.  I learned that in the painting business the during this rapid growth time that my supply of time was my biggest hurdle.  

It’s great to grow a business year on year, but with no plan and no controls set into place you are bound to go down a slippery slope.  When you are in the thick of the busy times you don’t have time to sit back and think about what you need to do in order to capture more of that time back in the day.  You wind up going down the gauntlet of working harder and harder, driving more and more, selling more, and coming home exhausted with still the paper work to do.  

This is where the engineer in you needs to step up and say “Stop”, “Hold-On”.  Of course it’s not possible if you are in the thick of it.  But imagine if you could work on this before you grow the business.  Imagine that you start at the finish line of what your successful business looks like and work your way backwards from success to start-up.  This little bit of advice would have altered my course of business, life, and decisions over the last 15 years.  You have it now, think about what your end goal is and work your way backwards to where you are today.

Being an engineer means you can map the journey of processes that you are working with.  As a business owner, entrepreneur, or engineer you have the ability to make or break your life journey.  Throughout this website I will provide hacks, integrations, processes, reviews, interviews, and who knows what.  I will do my best to identify what process in the engineer road map each falls into.  It will be up to you on how you will apply each and take the time to evaluate what you are doing now and if you are on the path to your end goal.  

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