10 Qualities Needed for Scaling Your Construction Contracting or Service Business part 1
Being an entrepreneur in the construction field comes with a few challenges other entrepreneurs don’t face.
There are a lot of ideas concerning what it takes to be an entrepreneur. For example, you’ll hear things like:
- You need to be motivated by challenges
- You’ll have to be tenacious
- You’ll need the support of your family and friends
- You will be one who loves new ideas
- You must see and fulfill needs
- You should notice how things can be improved
And, those are all good ideas about entrepreneurship, (you’ll do well to heed them) yet there are 10 very specific qualities it takes to be an entrepreneur in the construction field, to be a construction contractor who is ready to scale.
You need to get “shower ideas” – and act on them
Even if it means you need to bolt from the shower to call your superintendent to tell him the solution you’ve discovered concerning the nagging problem you been having with [you fill in the blank.]
Perhaps you need to keep one of those gizmos in the shower meant for writing on in wet conditions – although you’re more likely to make a few drawings then add a note to get true measurements.
Or, it could be you create a mantra in your head as you’re driving down the freeway, so you’ll still remember your great idea when you reach home. Therefore, you’ll have the basics of the good idea, and you can put it into action.
The main point is, no matter when (in the shower or not) you get ideas you’re willing to put the idea into action in order to make your construction contracting or service business better tomorrow than it was yesterday.
You’ll have to love growth – in oh so many ways
The unique position in which you as a construction contractor find yourself is one in which growth; your own, your businesses, your employees, your community all meld together into one cohesive unit that turns out to be rather stunning.
As you and your employees work together to grow your business while being a part of the growth of your community there comes a moment when you can stand back and say, “I did that!”
It can start at the level of being able to say, “Because I and my team had the right system in place in my construction business, I took Joe Right from apprentice, to craftsman, to master craftsman, to supervisor.”
It might take the shape of understanding that because you and your employees showed up there are more families across your city who need not worry about how to stay cool or warm or protected.
Or, it could be you drive past the latest of your builds and see the finished project knowing you had an integral part of making sure that location houses a family, or provides a place of employment for many, or allows a space for medical personnel to care for patients, or improves the infrastructure of your city or state.
Growing your business is important to you, partly because you know you’re growing more than “just” a construction contracting or service business. You’re growing, your people are growing, your community is growing. Stunning!
You need to understand you’re a leader – and lead the way
Whether or not you awaken in the morning thinking, “I’m a leader,” you really must possess the qualities of a leader if you’re going to pull this off. If you own a construction contracting or service business you’ve already taken a lot of steps in the leadership role.
Being THE leader means you’re the one with the vision of how your construction contracting business fits in the industry now, how it will look a year from now, and what it will look like in the long term.
You also have to be able to communicate the vision in ways that enlighten your potential customers, enable your employees, and empower you as well as your team to each next level.
You are the one who is creating the work culture for your employees, delegating, making decisions, encouraging your team, and (bottom line) working on your business, not in it.
It doesn’t matter if you know how to pick up and use the tools necessary to build for or provide a service your customers. You can and should get someone else to do that. It does matter that you know how to be an entrepreneur, how to use your financial reports to lead into the future, how to see the big picture and take the necessary next steps to scale your business.
You may wish to join a structured entrepreneur group where other members will be available as mentors or advisors concerning the specific issues you face as a business owner.
You need to network with your colleagues – for their sake as well as your own
Let’s face it, people like doing business with people they like. Beyond that, when can you ever have too many contacts in your chosen field?
Join your trade association
Most trade associations host various conferences, events, and meetings on a regular basis. By getting involved you have an excellent place to make new connections. It takes more than just paying the membership fees, it takes becoming a recognized and trusted face. When you become known as the “go-to person” it just makes sense that when business opportunities do arise, so will your name.
Yet, if you live in a location where regularly attending meetings of your trade association (think – more than a 2 hour drive) requires too much time and travel you may want to consider the next option.
Join or develop a private group
I recently read about a fellow who had formed a private group which he said included eight to nine other subcontractors, developers, and a land broker. They call their group The Meeting of the Geniuses, and they get together every six weeks at a favorite (in his words) “watering hole to discuss what is going on and what we are working on at the time, and football, and cars, and…….”
The crucial aspect is they can support one another, discuss their problems or issues then talk about possible solutions.
Attend networking events sponsored by large contracting firms
When you’re invited to attend an event sponsored by a contractor for whom you’ve worked GO! It is a great opportunity to spend time getting to know other subs, suppliers, and vendors. Besides, there is usually food and drink on hand at these events.
Network on the job site
Don’t overlook the construction industry’s unique ecosystem of enmeshed, intertwined, and overlapping network of professional connections. Take time when you’re on the job site to check around for other subs. Who knows when a brief chat on a job site may lead to another job or a relationship which adds value to your construction company.
Having good relationships with former employers, coworkers, and subcontractors with whom you’ve worked in the past is a networking tactic worth the time and effort.
And, because most people do genuinely appreciate it when you seek them out with questions you have concerning their area of expertise you’re likely to get a good response when approaching them with your needs. BUT, more important than seeking them to solve your problem you may approach them when you have a connection you think they may be interested in or you’ve come across a solution you know they would appreciate seeing.
Your main networking goal
Your main goal when thinking about networking should be finding ways to help your new contact! Miss this important aspect of networking and the truth is you miss it all. Don’t become the guy who interrupts conversations, thrusts business cards on everyone, talks incessantly about himself, and annoys the heck out of everyone.
Instead, be the guy who focuses on how he can help those he meets. The simple equation is when someone needs a contractor in your field and you’re the one he thinks of because he has been helped by you, and has seen what you’ve done for others he is most likely going to give you the call.
You’ll have to surround yourself with advisors – who mean business
Getting the right business advisors in place as soon as possible helps any business grow. Getting the right advisors in place for your construction contracting business can make the difference concerning whether you live in the paycheck to paycheck lane, of if you move into the lane where the big dogs are running.
Some of the advisors you’ll need to consider are:
- Accounting Advisor
- Information Technologist
- Insurance Agent
- Marketing Guru
- Tax Preparer
Surround yourself with good people who offer good solutions to your bad problems.
Surround yourself with good people who are honest and have integrity.
Surround yourself with good people who aren’t afraid to stand up to you and let you know when you’re missing an important part of the picture.
There is more to come
Part 2 coming soon. We’ll present 5 more Qualities Needed for Scaling Your Construction Contracting or Service Business.