Monthly Archives: November 2020

How to Ensure a Work-Life Balance While Running a Contracting Business

Once you get your contracting business off the ground, it’s tempting to let it take over your life. And yet, this is one of the worst mistakes people can make. While you need to respond to potential clients promptly and do as much work as you reasonably can, you also need break times to relax and refresh. If you don’t, you might find yourself without the ability to focus and get the job done. Here are five ways you can make sure that your business doesn’t run your life.

Set Normal Business Hours
One of the biggest benefits of running your own business is that you get to set your normal business hours. Although you may need to tailor it somewhat to work with clients and the nature of the job site, you probably have more flexibility than you think. What you need to do is choose your business hours and then do your best to stick to them. This means that if you would rather work four days a week for a longer period and then take three days off, it may be well within the scope of possibility for your workload. Having a defined period of time where you’re working makes it easier to define the line where you’re not.

Create Boundaries Between Business and Personal
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they start a business is to think that they have to be on all the time. While many prospective and current clients expect a prompt reply to their queries, that doesn’t mean you’re on the hook to get right back to them every single time. You need to create boundaries between your work life and your personal life. This is particularly true if you do a lot of your administrative tasks at home. Keep business communications within business hours outside of absolute emergencies. And do your best not to bring your work home with you.

Prioritize Business Administration Tasks
Running a small business involves meeting the needs of several positions, sometimes all of them every day. While it’s tempting to push off:

Returning phone calls
Sending emails
Paying bills
Sending invoices

until the end of the day, this can often make your day stretch into eternity. These factors are the things that keep your business running week to week and month to month. Get them done at the beginning of the day, so that they don’t create hours of work for you when you need to rest.

Delegate When Possible
The fact is that running a business, particularly a contracting business, is more work than one person can reasonably do. You may not be able to hire employees who can help you at the start. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t delegate. Figure out which tasks can be easily managed by someone else, or even automated by an app or service. You can apply this to your personal life, as well. For example, if you’re so busy at work that you don’t have time to clean at home, hiring a periodic service can give you more time to relax.

Ensure Time for Breaks
Just like you must have set working hours that your clients and colleagues can follow, you need to build in guaranteed times for breaks. At first, the best you may be able to achieve is a few hours of downtime and enough sleep each night. As you get a little more experience, it may be worth planning out short vacations or holiday time where you don’t schedule work. Even taking a few days off once or twice a year can refresh your mindset and make it easier to handle a heavier workload.

Finding the right work-life balance is the way that many contractors manage to build a successful business over decades. The first step is to get ready for the exam. To learn more about our opportunities for contractor exam preparation, visit CSLS today!

Types of Business Insurance Your Contracting Business May Need

When you work in construction, you’ll need protection in case something goes wrong. This is where insurance can make a big difference. There are a variety of types of insurance for businesses, and some of them are specifically designed for industries like construction. Here are the most common forms of coverage for contracting businesses, and how to tell when you need them.

General Liability
As a business owner, you’ll be obligated to carry a form of general liability insurance. If you consider how your car insurance works, liability may be easier to understand. When you buy car insurance, you can usually decide if you want the insurance to cover anything that happens to you, or just damage that you might cause to other people and their vehicles. Similarly, general liability insurance provides protection for damage that you or your equipment may cause on a jobsite. For example, if you accidentally cut into someone’s gas line, your liability insurance may cover the repairs. It’s vital to get the right amount of coverage depending on your field and the type of work you do.

Errors & Omissions
Errors and omissions insurance is similar to liability insurance, but it isn’t dependent on physical risks or damage. As a business owner, you can be held liable for problems that you caused, even if they don’t result in tangible damage. Insurance that covers errors and omissions is designed to provide coverage for events that caused financial problems to clients based on actions or decisions made by your business. If someone sues you under the basis that you left something out or made an error during the process, this type of coverage may pay for part of your defense. As with any other type of insurance, you’ll need to determine how much you’re willing to pay on your own, and what you’d like the insurance to cover.

Builder’s Risk Insurance
Builder’s risk insurance is a type of insurance that protects the property related to a particular job. As a contractor, you’re usually performing work on someone else’s property. If something happens during construction, to you, your equipment or existing structures, having insurance to cover the damage can be beneficial. Builder’s risk insurance varies in coverage, so it’s important to read the details carefully. It may overlap in some ways with general liability insurance, but isn’t designed to replace it. You or the property owner may be the one who buys the policy, depending on a variety of factors.

Workers’ Compensation
In an industry that is as risky as construction, providing protection in case you or one of your employees gets injured is important. In fact, worker’s compensation insurance is a law you have to follow. As a general rule, this insurance covers medical expenses and some lost wages for people who are injured in the course of their jobs. It’s tied specifically to activities that people do while they are working or on the jobsite. There are times when this may overlap with insurance like builder’s risk or general liability. If you’re not sure which policy to apply to a certain incident, it’s wise to ask your insurance agent.

Equipment Insurance
You may not think of your construction equipment as something that is uniquely at-risk, but it’s worth considering insuring what you have. Like your car, you don’t keep an eye on your construction equipment 24 hours a day. This means that, in the wrong hands, it may get damaged or even stolen. Equipment insurance covers certain problems as they relate to the equipment. For example, if you are moving equipment and it gets damaged in the process, this insurance may cover the cost of repairs or replacement. Some policies may also cover equipment rentals or tools.

Insuring your contracting business against possible problems is one way you can protect your assets and the important work you do. To learn more about starting your own contracting business, visit CSLS today!

5 Signs That Your Contracting Business Isn’t Getting Enough Lighting

As a construction professional, you will need good lighting to ensure that you can do your work properly. Many professionals are able to work using natural lighting for the most part, but this doesn’t solve every problem. In fact, sometimes you have plenty of light, but it’s in the wrong place so you continue to struggle. Here are five signs that you aren’t getting enough lighting in your workspace.

Your Eyes Get Tired During a Shift
If you’re wondering why you struggle to see things during certain tasks, think about the way your eyes feel at the end of the day. People who have to squint or work harder to focus may notice that their eyes get tired after they have been doing it for a while. This is a common problem. For example, you might feel eyestrain after a weekend of birdwatching, or after hours of observing a sports game at a distance. Tired eyes are working harder. And if it’s not the precision of the task that you’re doing and it’s not your vision in general, it’s almost certainly the lighting.

You Get Frequent Headaches While Working
When your eyes get tired, and you don’t do anything about it to make it better, you’re more likely to get headaches on the job. You may get headaches around your eyes, and also a pain in your neck and shoulders from the strain. Headaches while working in construction can be a significant safety hazard. This problem increases your risk because it can slow down your mental processing speed and make you more likely to slip or make mistakes. Headaches from eyestrain may be easy to manage with an over-the-counter analgesic and getting into a different space for a while. But on the other hand, adding some task lighting or increasing the light level of the entire space may solve it more completely.

You Lose Equipment or Materials During a Task
You’re probably familiar with the phrase “trying to find a needle in a haystack.” The premise of the idiom is that you’re going to have a harder time finding small items in a place where there are lots of similar small items. But when you’re on the job, you want everything to be in easy view. If you’re struggling to locate what you need in a hurry, it might be a matter of organization. Getting small tools and materials in order can help. But it’s not a guarantee. Increasing lighting makes you less likely to squint and need to focus. Even adding a battery-operated lighting option to set next to your toolbox could make all the difference.

You’ve Had a Recent Vision Test
Of course, a lot of these symptoms could be an indicator of vision problems. As people get into their 40s and 50s, they are more likely to need something like reading glasses to help them see precisely at a short distance. On the other hand, these signs aren’t always to blame on the quality of your vision. It’s worth getting a vision exam at least once every few years, especially after you turn 40. But if your vision seems to be in good order, then it’s likely these problems are caused by insufficient lighting in your workplace.

You Can’t See What You’re Doing
One of the hazards of working in construction is that you aren’t always doing the work inside a functional structure. Sometimes you’re working outside, and other times you’re working in a building that may not have electricity. In these instances, you’re probably going to find yourself with inadequate lighting to do the work. The good news is that there are lots of options you can use to dramatically increase the lighting of the space without having to wait for someone to run line voltage through. Just keep in mind that it is almost always better to have too much lighting than not enough.

Running a contracting business requires a lot of additional considerations, like sufficient lighting for the work you do. Your choices can make all the difference. To get started building your contracting business, visit CSLS today!

Should You Move Before Starting a Contracting Business?

When you buy a house, it’s all about the location. But you may be surprised to learn that the location you choose for your contracting business can also make a big difference. Finding a place that has a balance of opportunities and minimal competition will make it easier for you to get established. Here are several factors to consider to help you decide.

Cost-of-Living
One of the reasons that location is such an important part of deciding where to live is the ability to maintain property value over time. But this means that the most desirable locations tend to have a higher cost-of-living. That isn’t always the case, but here in California, you’ll find that it’s usually true. In certain parts of the state, it’s much more difficult to provide an income that will pay the rent much less handle all your bills or allow you to buy a home. This is probably the biggest deciding factor in where to locate your business. Because if you can’t afford to live there, it’s going to be harder to drive there every day.

Access to Workspace
How you run your contracting business depends on your field and the services you offer but also on your location. In many cases, you’ll need access to some kind of workspace that isn’t necessarily the jobsite. This means that you’ll need to do some research into what’s available for workspaces that you can buy or rent, that aren’t too far away from your home or your clients. Areas with a lower cost-of-living tend to have cheaper industrial spaces for rent, but they may also be fewer in quantity and further away than you’d like. You might have more choices closer to a large city, but you’ll pay more for the convenience.

Customer Base
Customers are the lifeblood of your business. If you don’t have enough customers, you may struggle to keep your business going. While you certainly don’t have to settle down smack dab in the middle of an urban area, knowing where your customers are coming from can help you pinpoint the best locations for you. If you’re not looking at areas with huge suburban sprawl, it might make sense to select something that is within reasonable driving distance of a few different cities. This allows you to expand your service area, without necessarily increasing your drive time.

Competition
Competition tends to increase the closer you get to a heavily-populated area, but so does the number of jobs. And in truth, this depends more on the market and your services than the actual location. That means that you can’t necessarily assume that a big city will have lots of competition for your business, or that a small town will have none. Do some research into the competition you are likely to find, and how well-established they are in the types of services you intend to provide. Spend a decent amount of time with this before you make a choice, because it will help you determine where you are most likely to find clients without having to fight 500 businesses for each one.

Long-Term Growth Potential
Even though locations are geographically stuck, you can definitely see where they are coming or going. You might look at a small town and see how it is going to become a thriving city within a period of a few years. This represents a lot of growth potential within a short period of time. On the other hand, you might also find well-developed areas that aren’t going to be growing much for the next decade or more. This often relates to population growth, but it doesn’t always. If you can find the places that will need qualified construction workers now and in the future, it will be easier for you to stay put once you get settled.

Finding the perfect place for your business may take weeks or months of research. But once you’ve found it, you’ll have a better time getting started. To find out more about what it takes to run a successful contracting business, contact CSLS today!

 

Top Construction Fields for a Great Career

There are dozens of construction fields. If you’re not sure which one to pursue, how do you decide? The trick is to think about which areas have a lot of growth potential, and which ones are well-suited for the kind of career you want to have. You might have to try out a few directions before you are sure which one will be the most appropriate for your goals. With this information, you’ll know the most popular construction fields.

Electrician
One of the most in-demand fields for construction at the moment is electrical. Becoming an electrician is hard work. You don’t necessarily have to get a degree like engineering, but it can help you break into niche specialties and earn a higher wage. Because of the trickiness of the job and the necessity of getting it just right, electrician tends to be a higher-paid career compared to most in construction. And considering there are tons of electricians heading to retirement without as many to replace them, it’s an ideal time to get started.

Plumber
If you want a fast-growing field that has a high demand, consider becoming a plumber. The Bureau of Labor Services estimates that this position will grow in demand by more than 10 percent over the next several years, which is far outpacing most industries. And you know that it’s not a trend that will become obsolete over time. People will always have plumbing and it will often need professional repair or upgrades. You may have to get used to digging in the trenches, literally, but you can expect reliable business and a decent wage for your work.

Construction Inspector
If you have an eye for detail and you love to review, being a construction inspector might be the rewarding career you’re looking for. In this job, you’ll review plans and look at various stages of the construction project to confirm that they meet building codes and other requirements. While you might spend a fair bit of time behind a desk, you can also expect to be all over the construction site. This job usually requires several years of experience, so you know what to look for and which regulations need to be met. But as a tradeoff, it’s one of the higher-paying jobs.

Equipment Operator
If you dreamed about operating a crane or an excavator as a kid, you might be surprised to learn that this is a reliable job with plenty of flexibility and room for growth. Becoming a heavy equipment operator often starts with an apprenticeship or training program, but you might also learn while you’re on the job. Some types of equipment call for special licenses that you’ll need to obtain before you can take on the role. But those tend to have a higher average annual income, in exchange for your work.

Solar Installer
If you’re dying to get into a field that is constantly on the move and improving every year, becoming a solar installer is definitely one to consider. This job involves putting together, installing and maintaining solar panels. It’s a booming industry right now, as people look to take advantage of sustainable energy and tax credits to cut their expenses. It’s rated as one of the best jobs in construction, and even among various industries, because of its growth potential and the fact that you don’t need a degree.

Finding the right construction job for you is an ideal way to build a career you can keep for decades. To get started on your career path, visit CSLS today!

 

Public vs. Private: Where Your Contracting Business Can Look for Projects in 2020

It looks like the big picture for construction is changing fast in 2020. What you might have expected to happen at the beginning of the year is probably significantly different from the industry now. There are still a lot of options for contracting businesses, but you’ll need to go in the right direction. Here’s how to decide if public or privately-funded projects are the way to go.

Stability
When private investors lose confidence in the construction industry, they stop investing in projects. If the financial industry is worried that contractors and investors are about to default on their loans, they may tighten their lending standards. This makes funding in the private sector harder to get. By comparison, funding for public sector projects tends to be more stable. California still has a lot of development projects in the works, and the funding for it probably won’t dry up overnight. Just keep in mind that the funding intervals may take longer, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get more if you run out unexpectedly.

Variability
Some business owners prefer the ability to pick and choose who they work with and which kinds of projects are best for their bottom line. If you are dying to break into a niche service that may not necessarily have a lot of demand, the private sector is probably your best bet. This may not be the safest financial approach at the moment, but it does give you more variability. On the other hand, if you like the comfort of the familiar, public sector projects tend to be larger and more predictable in general.

Timelines
Do you like to pick a project to work on next week, with the idea that you can finish it quickly and move on? Or, do you prefer to plan out your projects as far in advance as possible, giving you greater assurance of income for the long term? The answer to these questions can help you decide. Public works projects often run on much longer timelines, in part because there is more bureaucracy to get through. This means that if you’re in a hurry to start the project and finish it so you can get paid, private projects are probably better for you. But if you are willing to wait a few months before you begin, public projects may make it easier for you to book your schedule a few months in advance.

Bureaucracy
When they say that public sector projects maintain a lot of paperwork, they’re not joking. Although you should plan to carefully review any documentation that you receive for private or public projects, work funded by the government generally carries an extra load. You must be ready to invest the time it takes to understand what you need and how to meet those standards for every project. This is why some experts say that it is often more difficult to break into public projects after years of working with private companies than it is to go in the other direction. It’s still a choice you can make, you just have to be ready to do the homework.

Flexibility
When you’re first starting your contracting business, you may have no idea which direction is best for you. And as the industry changes throughout 2020 and for the next couple of years, you might want flexibility more than you need to make a single firm decision. If you have the ability, it may make sense to try working with both private and public projects. This will give you experience and let you determine which one is already working out better for your business. That should make the path forward much clearer, with a higher likelihood of success.

When you run a contracting business, you’ll have options to work in the public or private sector. The choice you make this year may affect your success for years to come. To learn more about creating a viable contracting business, visit CSLS today!