From the top 23 October 2018

The 4 lessons I learned from more than a decade running a business

“Being resistant to trends and movement in your sector will simply mean you’re left behind.”
From people to pragmatism, Kevin Lyons, director at structural engineering firm?Lyons Oneill, reveals the key lessons learned after running a business for over 10 years.

We recently reached the end of our “tin” or “aluminium” year in business. Though this sounds fitting for a firm of engineers, it’s also a huge achievement. In business years, over a decade of trading is a precious accolade, with the RSA Insurance Group estimating that 55% of businesses fail to reach even half that time. And the RSA’s report even singled out the construction industry as the sector which struggles the most, with five-year survival rates of companies set at 44%.

When it comes to business anniversaries, we like to think that getting past ten (soon to be eleven) is the diamond standard.

But that’s not to say the past eleven years have all been plain sailing. The construction industry can bring with it choppy waters and, as with any business, there have been obstacles along the way. Challenges have been navigated, business lessons learned and wisdom acquired. So, as our 11th anniversary dawns, what are the lessons weve learned from over a decade of doing business? Read on for my top tips to reach ten years.

  1. Be willing to adapt

Business is all about adapting there’s a reason Darwinian evolutionary theory and “survival of the fittest” is used to describe its process. Just because a particular industry may be traditional and have a long history, doesnt mean it shouldnt be open to innovation and change. The latest technology isnt just the preserve of new app start-ups and the construction industry is a perfect example of this.

Kevin Lyons
BIM (Building Information Modelling; using computers to map a project in 3D) is becoming big in the sector, helping architects, engineers and construction workers plan and execute a project with maximum precision and efficiency.

Change may be uncomfortable and even scary but being resistant to trends and movement in your sector will simply mean you’re left behind.

And, keeping at the forefront of developments will attract others to your business, helping you stand out from competitors and demonstrate forward-thinking.

For example, we recently used a new 3D communications software called Kubity, on a 35m project. Kubity is the first mixed reality multiplex, using AR and VR to model structures and their specifications, and adding QR codes to each of our drawings to allow them to be easily accessed on tablets and phones, both in the office and onsite.

Pioneering this new technology on the project was unchartered territory, but resulted in significantly fewer Requests For Information and even led our contractor to extend its use to other projects. Refusing to adapt to change won’t make it go away, so you must constantly seek to innovate.

  1. The people make the team

Yes, business is about profit margins but it’s the people on your team who will keep you in the black. Hiring a team who not only gel together but also bring with them a diverse set of skills and backgrounds is key to keeping your company dynamic and successful. Creating a positive work environment is crucial and Ive found that encouraging collaboration is key to this.

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