How do you know when it’s time to launch your own contracting company?
While this is not my usual contractor marketing blog post, I thought it would be good to write a quick article and share how I answer the question when it’s asked of me.
Many people dream of starting their own contracting company and striking out on their own. They dream of having their own business, owning lots of nice tools, being their own boss, and having the freedom to do what they want when they want to.
Maybe that’s you today. So how do you know when the time is right to quit your current job and launch out on your own?
Here are five simple checks that have helped me as I’ve launched new ventures a few times throughout my life. Ask yourself these questions whenever you’re feeling restless and wanting to move out into the new, uncharted territory of owning your own business.
1. Do I Have the Skills?
This first question is a no-brainer. If you want to build a house for someone else, do you actually know how to build a house? If you want to remodel a bathroom, do you really know what do with everything you’re going to find behind those walls? If you want to add an addition to someone’s house, do you know how to lay a foundation securely for your specific climate? The questions are limitless.
At an even more basic level, do you know how to read a tape measure? Run a tablesaw without having a sheet of plywood kick back and knock you to the ground? Use a staple gun without shooting through the wood you are holding, sending staples out the other side of your finger? Take it from me—I’ve learned some hard lessons through experience.
The key here is to learn all you can before starting your own company. There is something to be said for “faking it ’til you make it”; every new business opportunity is risky in many ways. But you owe it to your clientele to be the best you can be at the service you offer—even when you’re just starting out. It’s important to your clients, and it’s important to your reputation. Work hard at anything you do. Discover your strengths, discover your weaknesses, and learn all you can so you can create an outstanding product for your client.
2. Do I Love This Type of Work?
Think again about the area of business you’re wanting to enter alone. Do you love it? Others might be making a lot of money doing it, but what if you don’t actually enjoy the work and end up regretting it?
Sure, Instagram photos of the finished products look awesome, and you’re pumped to be able to do that for your future clients—but what if everything behind the scenes is a total killjoy for you?
Here’s the key for this question: it’s worth it to take time to dabble in the kind of work you are looking to go into before you take the plunge.
Work for another contractor for a few years. This will do several things for you. You will see whether you enjoy the work or not. You will pick up the necessary skills. You will observe how this contractor runs the business, and you will learn invaluable lessons, both positive and negative.
3. Is There a Demand for My Service?
Everyone has a job they excel at, but that gifting isn’t in demand everywhere you go. When you’re thinking about going out on your own to start your own contracting company, examine the demand in your locality.
Maybe you have the skills and love the work, but are people in your area buying it? If not, then you will most likely have a very hard time growing a new business.
This is an additional good reason to work for another contractor for a while. You need to find out if there really is a need in your area for the service you will offer.
For example, maybe you want to build spec houses. The facts are there; spec houses are not a hot commodity in every market in the USA. Or perhaps you want to build boutique custom homes. Same thing. Not every market wants high-end boutique custom homes.
Research your city, your market, your target audience. If you find there is a need there for the job you will provide, move forward with confidence.
4. Do I Have a Five-Year-Plus Mindset?
Starting a business is hard. It takes work. It generally involves literal blood, literal sweat, and literal tears. I’m not saying you won’t make a good living the first year, but I want to remind you that it typically takes three to five years to establish a business in a new market.
It’s worth it to get out of debt and save up some cash before you launch your new venture. This will help in those first rough times. If you really want to see your contracting company through to establishment, develop a long-term vision. Know what you want your company to look like at the end of five business years. Know what baby steps to take along the way to get it there.
The going gets tough, and you will want to quit, but if you maintain a five-year mindset, then you will persevere and see it through. And even after five years, as your business grows and more headaches show up, just having a long-term vision will enable you to see this thing through.
5. What Does My Spouse or Mentor Have to Say About This?
Seek counsel from important figures in your life, both personal and business. I cannot think of a major decision in my life that went wrong by listening to the heart of my wife. Let me say it another way: every time I have a major decision to make, I ask my wife to think about it and let me know her thoughts. I have never regretted taking the time to do this.
There have also been times in my life that I had to wait to launch one of my ideas because my wife wasn’t ready. It was totally worth it to wait a little bit for her to get fully on board. Also, there have been times when my wife was urging me to step out in faith, and again I’ve never regretted listening to her heart. For some reason, God has blessed my wife with deeper intuition than what I have. If I charge ahead thinking that I know what’s best, putting my thumb on her feelings rarely turns out well.
My wife and I are in this marriage for life, so it just makes sense that we make these weighty decisions together. Then we have each other for support when the going gets tough.
Of course, this goes both ways. If you are a wife, then listen to the heart of your husband before launching out. If you are not married, then seek the advice of your mentors, especially the mentors who know you best. This could be your boss, coworker, dad, brothers, mother, or your high school woodworking teacher. Simply put, just ask lots of questions and seek advice from those who have been through more in life—in business and in personal life. It never hurts to take wisdom from people who have gone before us in a venture.
You should have skills and a love for the job. Seek wise counsel. Figure out the need in your community. Develop a strategic vision and a long-term mindset.
Throughout my life, these simple checks have helped me avoid making hasty decisions that will end up costing me more in the long run. If you are facing the question of whether or not now is the time to launch your own contracting company, hopefully, these five checks will be of assistance.
Thank you for joining me today. If you have any further questions or comments, please join the conversation in the comments below.
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