Building the Foundation


Building a successful design/build business is much like constructing a successful design/build project. Planning and execution are important at each stage, especially when building the foundation.

Every successful project begins with a solid foundation. Whether installing a wall, a patio or a seedbed, the foundation is critical to the long-term success of the project. The same is true for building a successful business – establishing a solid foundation to support the business as a whole is essential.

Without a solid foundation, the project will eventually fall apart. It may not fall apart the day after the project is complete, but eventually it will. However, with a solid foundation, the project will weather many storms and proudly stand tall for years to come. Long-term success cannot be achieved without a strong foundation. This is as true for projects as it is for businesses.

There is a temptation to rush into a project, with a focus on the outcome, but without much patience for establishing a strong foundation. Building the foundation is time-consuming and takes longer to see results. Building the foundation isn’t as exciting as other elements. It adds costs that aren’t always seen or appreciated. So, it requires great commitment to not skimp on foundational elements.

Of course, the best time to build a solid foundation is at the beginning. This doesn’t always happen, for one reason or another, and results in necessary repairs after the project is deemed to be complete. These repairs are necessary to shore up the foundation before more damage occurs. Many design/build businesses fall into this category, where growth has caused the business to exceed the foundation that was initially established.

Repairing an existing foundation is very common in business. Even with great planning and execution, a business may simply outgrow the existing foundation. Successful businesses periodically revisit foundational elements in their businesses and shore them up. In fact, these repair or retrofit situations are often very interesting due to the creativity and ingenuity required to devise a solution.

In this column, it will be my goal to address many foundational issues related to building your projects, your crews, your operations and your business. Building a solid foundation is not glamorous, but it is essential. This is what my organization does, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to engage with you each month in this column.

So, what about you and your design/build business? How well is your foundation holding up? Are cracks beginning to appear? Are you beginning to outgrow the foundation? Your challenge this month is to size up your foundation. Walk around it slowly and inspect it. Test it for strength. Look for defects. Make a list, prioritize it and begin to prepare your project plans, along with an implementation timeline. As a design/build professional, you already know how to do this for projects. You just need to apply the same principles to your business.

Phil Harwood is the president/CEO of Pro-Motion Consulting. Email questions or comments to Visit to register for Pro-Motion’s weekly e-newsletters and monthly webinars.