Monthly Archives: April 2021

5 Ways to Build Flexibility into Your Contracting Business Income During a Crisis

When you’re trying to establish or run a business in the middle of a crisis, you’ll hear a lot about protecting cash flow. In truth, cash flow is important, but flexibility is too. You want the ability to make decisions just in time, so you have the benefit of as many facts as possible. Here are five things to do to protect your business’s income during a crisis.

Stay Put
If you’re living or working in an area where the cost of living is high, it might seem to make sense to move somewhere that is cheaper. After all, housing and workspace rentals can be some of the highest single expenses for independent contractors. However, by moving, you’re cutting off at least part of your income and adding a ton of immediate expenses to the list. Moving to a smaller or cheaper area also limits the number of clients to replace your income. If it is possible for you to remain where you are and stay current on your bills, that’s probably the easiest way to keep more of your liquid assets.

Avoid Diving Into Expensive Markets and Luxury Services
If you were planning to move to an area that’s more expensive or start offering high-end services, it might be a good time to rethink these measures. While a lot of people will move from a lower cost-of-living area to a higher one because there are more jobs there, this doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to land them. During a crisis, when there are many more contractors seeking work than clients creating projects, it’s best to stick with the essentials. And in most cases, that involves sticking with the area you know and the work you can do with the least amount of complication.

Consider Multiple Viable Income Streams
When the immediate future feels highly variable, it is hard to tell how work is going to pan out in three months, six months or a year. If you’re only offering one service and it’s not in demand, or you suddenly have tons of other contractors to compete with for a limited set of jobs, it might be time to branch out. An economic downturn isn’t a good situation to leap into a market in which you have limited experience or ability. However, if you have services that you know how to do and you’ve already got the skills and credibility, it may not be difficult to add them to your business. Keep an eye on overhead and the supply chain, as those might have changed since you did these services before.

Keep Funds in Multiple Places
As a contractor, most of your assets are probably related to equipment and inventory. When you’re worried about future income and cash flow, you want to keep an eye on where you’re putting your money right now. Sure, you need to upgrade equipment so you can keep working on projects. Switching to rentals, minimizing your stock of inventory, or repairing equipment that you already own outright can help to keep your assets as liquid as possible.

Implement Practices to Maintain a Steady Income
Crises that trigger large-scale economic problems often bring out the scavengers, and you don’t want to get caught in a bad arrangement. It’s tempting to relax your payment intervals in the hopes that you’ll land more clients that way. And while giving clients all the time they need to make a payment is more likely to appeal to clients, you’re not always securing the right kinds of clients. Someone who is trying to take advantage of your worry to get a lax payment standard is probably going to make you fight for every dime. Following your original billing practices is the best way to ensure that the money keeps coming in.

Ensuring flexibility for your business doesn’t mean that you have to be flexible in your business decisions. In fact, it might mean that you’re less flexible than you were before, so that you protect your ability to make quick decisions later on. For more information on building a successful contracting business, contact CSLS today!

Is Construction’s Labor Shortage Getting Worse for 2021?

For a couple of years, construction experts predicted that construction would reach a peak in 2019 and then trend slightly downward. Of course, that is not quite what happened. In the wake of the pandemic, as the world is starting to come back to a new normal, construction is surging. Yet, the labor force is not sufficient to meet it. Here are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you’re thinking about starting a career in construction this year.

The Labor Shortage Depends on the Field
In an industry as large as construction, which employs almost 8 million people nationwide, quantifying the labor shortage is complicated. Experts estimate that the shortage approaches 500,000 workers at this point, and could reach 1 million by the end of the year. But you’ll notice differences depending on the region and the type of construction, as well as the individual fields. For example, interest in new construction for residences expanded last year beyond what experts were expecting. This means that construction companies building homes had more demand than commercial construction.

Skill Development Is a Necessity
It’s tempting to think that if there is such a labor shortage in construction, all you need to do is show up. And while it is extremely important that people make the decision to pursue work in the industry, skill development is also a necessity. After all, when all those electricians and engineers from previous generations decide to retire, those positions will become open for people who are coming in with the right training. Certain fields are badly in need of candidates who are willing to put in the time necessary to pick up the expertise.

Experience Is Key
Of course, in order to take advantage of the flood of new construction jobs, you need to build the right kind of experience. If you want to take the contractor licensing exam, you usually need to prove that you have about four years of experience in the field. College degrees may be able to cover a portion of that, as well as additional training. But the good news is that everybody else getting in on the ground floor is going to face the same obligations. The sooner you start, the sooner you can build the qualifications necessary to get your license.

You’ve Got Room to Grow
When you have a growing industry like construction, you should know that the labor shortage often exists vertically and not just at the entry-level. This means that if you are interested in upward mobility, there may be roles that you could get as you build experience and credibility. If you’re looking for a career that allows you to move upward into construction management or executive positions at large construction companies, now may be an ideal time to start showing what you can do.

Now’s the Time to Get Started
The flow of the construction industry can be cyclical at times. People will move into the fields that are the most in-demand. Otherwise, the industry will shrink somewhat without them. There will always be a need for construction, but the number of people in the industry goes up and down with that demand. Right now, you have an excellent opportunity to enter the field just as businesses are desperate to hire people who have the right skills and dedication. This means that you might be able to secure a reliable job and build the foundation for a great career you could have until you retire.

The construction labor shortage isn’t going away anytime soon, and it might even be getting worse. With a contractor license and the right kind of exam preparation from CSLS, you could be setting yourself up for a lifetime. For more information, contact us today!

5 Ways to Become a Learning Expert Before Your Contractor Licensing Exam

Some people never stop learning. Others were so glad when they got out of high school that they thought they never wanted to learn anything new again. If you feel like you are closer to the latter category than you want to be, the good news is that you can change. As an adult, learning is often much different from how it was when you were a kid. Here are five ways you can turn it to your advantage.

Embrace the Chase
Young children have a thirst for knowledge that is hard to quench. It might not be too easy to think back to when you were a preschooler, constantly asking questions of your parents. But that kind of drive is still accessible to you as an adult, and it may be easier to find the solution now. If you are driven to achieve a goal, like getting your contractor license, then you may have all the motivation you need to get started. Start figuring out what it is that you want to know, and let that pursuit build momentum that will help take you as far as you want to go.

Shop Around for Learning Opportunities
Although your capacity for learning is dependent heavily on your own personality, the teacher also makes a big difference. As a student, you can probably remember the difference in experiences based on the way that the teacher presented it to you. Teachers who are really engaged with the material and excited to teach will help you feel more excited about it as well. You may also have an easier time picking up new skills and retaining them. The good news is that as an adult, you can shop around for the best learning opportunities. If you take a class with a teacher, and you don’t notice a big result, you can feel free to look elsewhere.

Use Your Adult Experience
As you get older, you may realize that knowledge is something that builds upon itself. In order to learn how to do basic addition, you first had to learn how to count. It keeps working just like that. Even if you are not actively studying the subject, it’s likely that you are building knowledge and experience that you can apply later on. So feel free to use it. Learning about the best practices of a particular construction task may be a lot easier to master and remember if you can apply it to similar tasks you’ve done in the recent past. You might be surprised how quickly you pick it up, compared to younger students.

Take Advantage of Focus
Learning as an adult is similar in approach to learning as a kid, but it’s significantly different in scope. We teach young students how to learn, as well as a broad range of subjects that they will need in their daily lives as adults. Once you cross that hurdle, learning becomes something that you do as a way to achieve a specific goal. As such, you can limit your studies to the items that you really need in order to get your contractor license. This means that you may be able to get to the finish line much sooner than you could when you were studying to get out of high school.

Rely on Patience
Lifelong learning can earn you a variety of benefits that you may not have been able to use as a kid, and patience is definitely one of them. By now, you probably know that much of adulthood includes waiting: waiting for your paycheck to arrive, waiting until you have accumulated the right amount of experience to take the contractor licensing exam, and more. Patience is a hard skill to learn, and it takes kids years to develop it. As an adult, you’ve had much more practice. That allows you to take the time to master the skills you need to do well on the exam, without worrying that your peers might somehow be able to do it more quickly than you.

Keeping your brain ready to learn will help you adapt your business for the challenging demands of the future. To get started, contact CSLS today!

How to Come Up With a Great Name for Your Construction Company

Once you start your contracting business, you’ll need to come up with a name. If you were planning to just use your own, there are good reasons to try to get a little more creative. Of course, coming up with a great name isn’t as simple as thinking of it and getting a business license. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm.

Write Down Your Company Vision
Before you can come up with a great name for your company, it’s worth investigating how you want customers to associate it. A good way to start is by writing down your company vision. Think about what you want to be known for, such as:

  • Friendly customer service
  • Accurate estimating
  • Great value
  • Expert detail

Write down a bunch of words that you might be able to include in your company name that help to convey your goals for the business. Keep in mind that some words might have different connotations depending on the person. For example, “value” can sometimes imply discount, rather than return on investment.

Search for Names
At this point, you may have a few names in mind. Remember that in order to establish your business in California, you need to have a unique business name. The good news is that you can search for businesses online, so you can confirm that yours is not already taken by somebody else. Put each of your ideas through the search, and pay attention to names that are very similar but not exactly the same. If you end up choosing a name that is nearly identical or has the same acronym as another business offering similar services in your area, people may get them confused. And if that company doesn’t have a great reputation, you might end up losing business due to that confusion.

Avoid Puns or Inside Jokes
Sometimes it can be good to keep a lighthearted attitude toward your business name, but not always. People might find your business name easier to remember if it’s based on something silly or comical. On the other hand, jokes don’t always stay relevant over time, and many of them don’t cross language barriers very well. The last thing that you want is to establish your business on a pun or an inside joke that nobody is going to get. If you’re struggling to come up with something clever, keep it simple and easy to remember. Your clients will keep coming back for service if you do a good job, not because you made them chuckle at the beginning.

Think About Designs and Logos
Once you’ve narrowed down the list to one or two choices, it’s wise to think about how you will represent them. For example, people in construction often use their own names for their businesses, especially if they are independent contractors. But if you have a particularly long name, you might want to shorten it to just your initials. In our shorthand, abbreviated texting world, it’s good to look at an acronym for your company to make sure that it doesn’t mean something else. After all, naming your company LOL Construction might get more attention, but it could also make you seem ridiculous. Research companies that can help you design a logo that helps to promote what you want from your brand.

Get Feedback
When it comes to choosing a company name and building a brand for your business, a second opinion is an absolute necessity. Get feedback from multiple people. Ask friends and family to look at your company name and any ideas you have for a logo and give their opinions. Be prepared for them to give an answer that isn’t particularly constructive, such as simply not liking the name or how it looks. Be prepared to ask additional questions to drill down the feedback to something that you can use. You’re not required to change your company name because your mother doesn’t like it, but it’s worth figuring out why before you decide.

Your company name is one way of establishing your commitment to excellence. Passing the contractor licensing exam is another. For expert test preparation online, available all across California, visit CSLS today!