I have such respect and compassion for contractors and subcontractors. Most of them “came up through the trades,” as they put it, often learning construction skills like carpentry or electrical from their fathers, uncles or family friends. As young guys, they are strong and praised for going at it, getting it done, muscling through.
Later on, when they decide it’s time to go into business for themselves, they sometimes carry that same brawny mentality into their entrepreneurial venture.
Unfortunately, many more skills are needed — marketing, financial, human relations, and visioning, among others. Sometimes the tradesman figures all this out on his own, but many times he doesn’t. And it’s heartbreaking to see these guys in the business world, giving the lowest bids on jobs, rushing around trying to “put out fires,” working their rear ends off, and getting further and further behind.
There are many ways tradesmen-turned-businessmen can learn what they need. There are peer-review groups, construction business conferences, professional certifications, some very good magazines and some good books.
One book specifically designed for these entrepreneurs is “The E-Myth Contractor: Why Most Contractors’ Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.”
If you are looking for a contractor, you need to avoid those who have not figured out the business side of their endeavor. If you get hooked up with one of these, their financial troubles and lack of proper cash flow will cause you grief.
On the other hand, if you happen to know a young tradesman or tradeswoman who is going to strike out on his or her own, consider giving them a copy of this book. As author Michael Gerber puts it, the secret to a successful business is not working harder in the business, but working on the business.