When it comes to starting up a contracting business, those in this process naturally tend to think most about specific physical skills and capabilities, from required equipment to project capabilities and more. And while these areas are extremely important, it's also vital for prospective contracting business owners to hone a different set of skills -- those related to management and leadership, to be specific.
At Contractors School, we're proud to assist with both sides of this coin, plus several other services to assist upcoming contractors. From our DOPL contractors license courses to various forms of continuing education, we're here to help in numerous areas. What are some of the top non-physical (sometimes called "soft") skills that prospective contracting business owners should be honing as they move toward their goals? Here are several.
Perhaps the single most important skill a contracting business owner can possess is the ability to effectively manage their time. This means everything from being able to estimate how long a project will take to actually completing the work within that timeframe. Additionally, good time management skills also involve knowing when and where to focus one's efforts in order to accomplish tasks as efficiently as possible.
To truly manage your time well, you have to be able to honestly assess your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as your current workload. Are there certain tasks you're naturally better at or that come more easily to you? Delegate those tasks to others on your team, if possible. Conversely, are there areas where you struggle or that take longer than they should? Try to eliminate or limit those tasks if possible.
While no one is saying you have to be a social media or advertising expert (and in fact, you may even consider hiring such professionals if your finances allow it), it is important to have a basic understanding of these concepts. The more you can do yourself in this area, the more money you'll save.
Social media platforms are a great way to connect with potential customers and promote your contracting business. However, it's important to remember that what works for one business may not work for another. Take the time to do research and experiment with different platforms and strategies until you find what works best for you.
And even before you start the business, or while you're preparing to do so, take some time evaluating the different social media channels and platforms and think about where your target market is most likely to be active. If you're not sure, ask others in your industry for their insights.
Whether in terms of clients, subcontractors or any other parties, there may come times where conflicts will arise. It's important to have the ability to not only identify and understand these conflicts but also to be able to resolve them in a way that's satisfactory to all involved parties.
This may require some diplomacy and tact, as well as the ability to see all sides of a given issue. If done correctly, conflict resolution can actually help to strengthen relationships, both personal and professional.
On the flip side, contracting business owners who don't deal with conflict well can often find themselves in a lot of trouble. They will be less likely to see repeat business from unhappy clients, and they may also have a harder time finding good subcontractors to work with.
Both for yourself and for your business as a whole, being organized is key. This means everything from having a good filing system for your paperwork to keeping your work area organized and tidy.
If you're not naturally organized, there are plenty of tools and techniques you can use to help you out. For example, using tools like ToDo lists or Kanban boards can be a great way to keep track of what's on your plate and what still needs to be done.
Being organized also helps to make you more efficient, which can save you both time and money in the long run.
Most contractors are well aware that communication is important, but in today's day and age, it's equally vital to be able to communicate in various ways. This includes being able to write well, speak effectively in both one-on-one and group settings, and understand and use technology as it evolves.
The more ways you can communicate with others, the better. Not everyone absorbs information the same way, so it's important to be able to adjust your communication to meet the needs of a given client. Some clients might prefer to communicate primarily via text or email, for instance, while others might want to talk on the phone more often.
Simply put, no one can be in a good mood all the time. There are various elements impacting our lives, including those outside our professions, that can affect our moods in a negative way.
As a contractor, you're likely to experience both good and bad days. The key is to not let the bad days get you down too much. This is especially important when it comes to running your contracting business.
It's also important to be aware of your own moods and how they're affecting your work. If you find yourself getting upset or angry easily, for example, it might be a good idea to take a step back and assess the situation. Maybe take a break from work or talk to someone about what's going on.
In short, there are a number of non-physical skills that are important for prospective contracting business owners to hone before starting their business. These skills include conflict resolution, organization, communication in various ways, and managing your mood. If you're able to focus on developing these skills, you'll be well on your way to running a successful contracting business.
For more on these, or to learn about any of our contractor licensure or continuing education programs, speak to the team at Contractors School today.