In my years as a consultant in the commercial cleaning industry, I’ve had the opportunity to watch numerous building service contractors (BSCs) absolutely crush every ceiling in their way to significant revenue growth. However, others seem to stall, never hitting the goals they once thought possible. What is the difference? Why do some soar as others remain seemingly shackled to a six-figure revenue? 

These questions were addressed in a webinar I hosted detailing how janitorial companies can hit that magical $2 million revenue mark. After all, this number signifies stability, profit and likely personal freedom for the owner. 

In the end, several trends and correlations seem to stand behind why one business excels and others fall short. In this article, I want to look at four personal qualities of success I find in most rapid-growth building service contracting owners — qualities often missing in their slower-growth peers. In the next issue, we will look at company-specific qualities.  

The first quality of success is grit. Owners who seem to break the $2 million glass ceiling contain a level of grit others do not. Now when I say grit, I don’t simply mean the ability to handle adversity, be tough, or whatever. That certainly is part of it. However, grit is seeing a single goal ahead, and plodding day after day in the direction of that goal.  

To quote Angela Duckworth, author of the bestselling book Grit, “To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice.”  

The second quality is a commitment to growth at all costs. Owners who never break the seven-figure ceiling seem to get bogged down in the operational details of the business. Getting things right operationally takes precedence over growth. Putting out fires, refining the processes, and getting the people right always forces growth to remain in the shadows.  

Many think, “We can start growing once we get things right over here.” But that never happens, and growth remains elusive. 

The third ingredient of success is possessing an owner mindset versus an employee mindset. We’ve all heard the adage, “work on the business, not in it.” Imagine the company is an asset you must manage, and your goal is to tinker with this asset so that it doubles or triples in value over the long term. Instead of doing specific tasks in the business, consider what things should be performed “on” the business. Your company is an entity separate from you, and your goal should be that it ultimately doesn’t need you to operate.  

The final quality of success is a radical commitment to learning. Know your weaknesses and resolve to close the gap in those areas. Your knowledge and leadership level is the lid on your company. The lower that lid, the lower your company’s potential. Read books, join peer groups and get coaching. Never stop learning.