Steve Doonan was working for an HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) company when the owners asked him to open a branch office in DeKalb, Illinois—a location where they could foresee a lot of growth.
“The idea was for me to generate business in that area and eventually buy the branch from the owners, establishing my own company,” Doonan says. That’s exactly what happened. Today Doonan is sole owner of the successful business he built, but he hasn’t stopped dreaming.
“Ultimately, I’m working toward a company that I could run from a beach if I wanted to,” Doonan says. “The key is to hire employees who are good at their jobs and who you have confidence in. I want employees who will make smart decisions for the business and support smooth operations without needing me to be there.”
Over time, Doonan has assembled a team of highly capable employees. As a result, he’s been able to delegate many day-to-day decisions and focus on the company’s future. “I read somewhere that if you’re working in your business, you don’t have time to work on your business,” he says. “I believe that’s true—now that I don’t have to worry about daily decisions, I’m free to explore new avenues for opportunity.”
Doonan explains the importance of building strong relationships and taking a cautious approach to growth:
“A critical part of my role is to constantly focus on building relationships. Having positive relationships with my team is critical and goes without saying, but cultivating close bonds with both suppliers and prospective customers pays huge dividends. We work hard to make ourselves indispensable, and our customers look to us to solve their problems. We’ve developed a sense of trust that’s not easy to come by.”
To read the rest of Steve’s story and the stories of other small business owners like Steve, download our eBook, “What I wish I knew.”