Facing the Challenge of Growth

I have terrible troubleshooting skills. I think I’m missing a logic receptor in my brain somewhere. My tendency, when trouble brews, is to want to go back to the beginning, scratch everything, and start over with something completely different. Sometimes that’s a good idea, but I’ve begun to realize that if I can push through the initial challenge, often I can find a solution.

It’s been a process. I started thinking about this concept when I worked for Mark at ATS Acoustics. I had the unique perspective of seeing his acoustic panel business grow from nothing to the successful operation that it is today.

I remember an early challenge we ran into was a question of whether our burlap-covered acoustical panels would meet construction fire codes. We had some churches that wanted to use our products but we couldn’t guarantee they would be fire resistant.

If it was me, I think I would have given up. We didn’t have an answer. But I watched Mark work through the problem, against many challenges, eventually building a computerized machine that solved the issue completely.

As someone who probably would have given up after the first challenge or two, I can respect that.

One of the challenges we have as a business is that we are almost completely a service business. We’ve been blessed to have the work we’ve had, but our ability to grow as a business is hampered unless we can grow and stabilize our service business to the point where 1) we have enough work to hire other people to work with us, or 2) create and market a product, or 3) Refine our business to the point where it works more or less as is, or 4) Something I haven’t thought of yet.

I think the biggest thing holding me back is confidence in my ability to solve this problem. I have a growing trail of things I’ve given up on. I don’t know if any of those things would have worked given the appropriate resources or time, and don’t know if I should have dropped them. So I steadily lose confidence as I leave behind more and more projects that I’ve tried and have been unable to bring to completion.

Mark solved his fire-rating problem. I should be able to figure this one out too.