I was talking with a client who in his 70’s realized he had made a big mistake thirty years ago that is coming back to haunt him.
From the beginning, he was on the tools, not the books. He had a simple formula for his business:
- Wait for referrals.
- Estimate with a pen and ruler (at the beginning, not even a calculator!).
- Mark up everything 20 percent and do a good job.
He loved working and he loved building, so for the most part, his formula worked. He was always busy, and now he has a lovely house and a few toys and a happy marriage. However, what he doesn’t have now is a viable business that he can pass on to his son or sell. His margins are too low; no one but him knows how to use his estimating system, and everything about his business is in his head.
A long time ago, he should have started to think like a business person and not like a tradesperson, but he couldn’t break away from the day-to-day routine of his working formula.
Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone
He looks back now and realizes a willingness to get outside his comfort zone a bit could have prepared him better for the future. He could have learned to market his contracting business properly and move away from strictly referrals. He should have learned how to raise his margins, like increasing his business profitability with the help of HomeStars reviews and a strong online reputation. He could have at least transferred the way he did his estimates to an excel spreadsheet! He just didn’t want to. It was too uncomfortable.
Think of What the Future Could Look Like
Remember the best vacation of your life? Awesome, wasn’t it? Remember how you managed to make it happen? There was lots of work to book, pack, save and otherwise prepare. Some of it got in the way of business and your cherished downtime and even maybe some time with your partner or kids. But you did it because, in your imagination, you saw that vacation and how good it was going to be. In your vision, you formed an expectation that was so high that just about any pain you had to go through was nothing compared to the satisfaction you knew you would soon experience.
The same vision and drive should pertain to growing your general contracting business. Think of the future and what it could potentially look like if you put in the effort. In your imagination, describe to yourself exactly how awesome your business will be when you are retired and it is still earning you a healthy income. Or imagine selling the business at some future date for $5 million, or $10 million or $100 million!
Set Aside Some Time and Make a Plan of Action
Book an appointment with yourself to spend time thinking in detail about your future. Be elaborate. Fill in as many details as you can. Have fun. After a while, the trivial discomforts required to make your vision a reality will barely register in the face of the promise your imagination has given you. Before you know it, you’ll be picking up the phone, or sending an email to get started on taking down the barriers to your success because the vision superseded the discomfort. This is the start of growing your business.
To sum it up, feeling uncomfortable or stepping into the unknown is challenging for everyone, but it is vital to growth. Start plotting some next steps, do some research and if you haven’t already, join HomeStars. One of the simplest things you can start to do to make a valuable business is building your credibility with review-based marketing. Already on HomeStars? Then keep up the review collecting and begin delving into what needs to be done to ensure your business is profitable and ready to be passed on!