Purpose — what is your why? How is your company conveying your passion. In building homes it’s the feeling you have when you live in the home, the passion of the builder comes through into your daily life by how it is designed.
Vision — How do you turn your vision into reality? You need practical actionable steps to make your company be successful. In building you need to hire an excellent team of designers, engineers, draftsman/woman, contractors to help you turn your vision into reality.
Performance — Do what needs to be done! In building this looks like keeping up with deadlines and coordinating a project where communication is clear and thorough.
As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maggie O’Dea, a serial entrepreneur in real estate, body care line, and business mentorship. She has worked internationally and has been both a solo-preneur and run a team. This gives her a unique perspective of the challenges and benefits of doing everything yourself. Also, the advantages and disadvantages of running a team. She currently has a team of almost 10 free lancers she works with.
Maggie O’Dea understands both the psychology of entrepreneurship and the reality of creating a profitable business. She has developed a business program to help creative entrepreneurs organize and be more effective in accomplishing their goals and running their business. It’s a crash course in business and a template to launch, grow and exponential their profit.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started my entrepreneurial journey in real estate. I bought an old Victorian style home built in 1895 and renovated it, then used the capital to buy land and build houses for sale.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When I started I had wanted to continue buying houses and renovating them but the market was very hot, everytime I would bid on a house I would get out bid and los the house. Then I decided to try building homes for speculation.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I learned that the experts don’t know all the answers. I wanted to try building with SIPs (structural integrated panels.) I was told by the designer it wasn’t a good idea and would never “work” in the marketplace. Later someone bought the lot next to mine and hired her to build them a house with SIPs, an architect themselves nonetheless.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes any company I create standout is having a strong purpose behind it. While building I ensured that the design was very high-end because you can always change out the finishings in a house but the actual bones are there for many generations. As part of honoring the land and resources that go into building a house the design should not be compromised.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
In any industry the key to burn out is having a strong purpose. That way you can always go back to your purpose and find your way. Without a strong connection to your purpose it is very easy to give up when things are not working according to your plan.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My mom really believed in me even when I did not. She was going to help finance my first project but then went through a divorce and did not have access to the money. She believed in me while I figured out my own way to secure my financing through the equity I created in the remodel and build my first house.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
I think again what distinguishes a good and great company is purpose. In building my purpose was to create expansive feeling homes on a modest budget. Use passive solar design to maximize heat gain during the day and reduce energy costs. Without purpose you build typical homes with minimal natural light and the inhabitants miss out on having an extraordinary living experience.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) Purpose — what is your why? How is your company conveying your passion. In building homes it’s the feeling you have when you live in the home, the passion of the builder comes through into your daily life by how it is designed.
2) Vision — How do you turn your vision into reality? You need practical actionable steps to make your company be successful. In building you need to hire an excellent team of designers, engineers, draftsman/woman, contractors to help you turn your vision into reality.
3) Performance — Do what needs to be done! In building this looks like keeping up with deadlines and coordinating a project where communication is clear and thorough.
4) Delivery — Ensure every detail is accounted for. When we were building one of the houses the framers realized that from the plans you would be able to stand up in the shower. A small detail on paper becomes a big problem in reality.
5) Profitability — Look at your margins. Always have an eye out for what your margins are. Hidden costs can creep in and eat away at your margins quickly. Try to think through the extras before you go to market, so you can price your goods or service accordingly.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Having a social impact angle gives you relatability and allows people to connect directly to the mission behind the company. We all love to do good while also fulfilling a want or need.
What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Again, tune back into your purpose. From there ask yourself about new services or products you could offer to expand your clientele or look at new ways to market that you have not previously tried. Either get people to buy more things from you, or find more people to buy from you!
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
I think this is about mindset. There are always people with money, maybe your ideal customer demographic needs to adjust. This will change how and to whom you market, but there are always people with money if you have something that people desire.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
I think networking and marketing are the most underestimated. We want to deliver our goods or service but few entrepreneurs want to think about how to market their company. This really comes down to empathy. Put yourself in your ideal clients shoes and see the world from their perspective, now sell as a service to them. Solving their problem and improving their life. Instead of how can I get people to buy from me.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Follow-up. If you have someone who is opening your emails, send them a message. Start a conversation with genuine interest. We all want to be seen and heard. Sales is really an emotional commitment to buy, not a logical decision many times.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Keep showing up in social media and direct message people who comment on your posts. By showing genuine interest in your clients they will learn to like, know and trust you.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Follow-up with your customers before they seek you out. Ask them about their experience and how it could be improved. Think about offering special offers or experiences for loyal customers.
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
It is risky to put yourself out there. You risk turning off some customers, but if you follow the 80–20 rule then you really want to market to the ideal client ensuring they will be a returning loyal customer and the other percentage was never going to be the best fit. I think the rule is to always be yourself. If you turn away customers by being too provocative then you probably just won over some very loyal customers in the process.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The most common mistake I see is not really being connected to their passion and purpose so they abort the mission prematurely. Before you begin, really ask yourself if this something I would want to do if I had a trust fund and did not need to make money? If you would not do it for free you will probably give up right when things were about to get good. When you have that connection to your passion it is a wellspring of inspiration and you will find a way through the hardships, setbacks and mishaps!
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!