Remember the awkward teenage years? You were self-consciousness and unsure of yourself in a new, scary environment. You were desperate to fit in and just knew that the next moment had the potential to ruin you. Starting a contracting business is like going back to junior high. It’s awkward, unfamiliar, and littered with failed attempts. Consider this article the big brother you wish you had. We will point out rookie mistakes that 1st year Contractors make so you can walk self-assured through the uncharted terrain of starting your own business. From the lack of vision to staff turnover, here are 10 mistakes you can now happily avoid. You’re welcome.
In no particular order…
Mistake #1: Not Having a Plan
Many rookie contractors are guilty of working at job sites, and never in the office. We get it. You’re a technician and a perfectionist and you enjoy the work itself. But don’t make the classic entrepreneur’s mistake of working in the business and never working on the business. Contractors must know when to take off the blue collar and put on the white collar. Make time to get in front of your businesses’ growth, time to plan, time to assess the cost & efficiency of your last job. If you don’t have the 30,000ft perspective on your company, who will? Have a clear vision for the contracting business you want to create. Start with self-awareness. What will your company uniquely bring to the marketplace? Then create a grid for assessing which jobs you should bid on and why. If you aren’t able to state in 15 words why you are bidding on a job, then don’t. However, if you see a job that fits your vision, go after it. Contractors who are vision-driven, not opportunity-driven are more likely to succeed in a competitive environment.
Mistake #2: Failing to Hold Field Leaders and Sub-contractors Accountable
Many rookie contractors struggle to create accountability structures that; ensure crew safety, demand quality work, or keep crews accountable to production goals are. When accountability is absent you can count on increased accidents, low customer satisfaction, and less referrals. New contractors often fear being too firm with their crews and sub-contractors. Maybe you hired your buddies or have a “hands-off approach to management.” In the end, this can kill your business. When sloppy, sub-par work is accepted, you can expect more of the same. But, if you demand a high level of excellence your crews will rise to the occasion. This means better work, more referrals and better talent wanting to work with you. Hold the line. You’re the boss. Don’t be afraid to hold others accountable, because at the end of the day, you will be accountable for all that is done poorly.
What mistakes did you make as rookie construction contracting your first year?