Monthly Archives: April 2022

How to Know You’re Ready to Change Careers

There comes a point in time when many people realize that they need to change careers. You might have a variety of reasons, like an inability to move forward, not enough income or simply getting bored. Changing jobs to a whole new industry is a big leap, so you want to be sure that you’re ready. Here are a few ways you can tell it’s time.

You Need More Income
In California, even having a good job is no guarantee that you’ll be able to make enough income. Certain parts of the state have a very high cost of living. If you’ve got a full-time job, a second job and a couple of side hustles, it might be worth considering alternatives. This is especially true if you have young kids or need to take care of other members of your family. If you’re not looking forward to a high likelihood of income growth in your current path, changing directions might be just the ticket to help you find something that pays the bills by itself.

You’ve Reached a Plateau
When you first start on a particular career path, you could see nothing but opportunities. Several years or even a decade or two in, you may eventually reach a plateau. For some people, this is the right direction. If you don’t have big ambitions and you can easily support yourself, a plateau isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if you want more growth and you can’t get it from your current career, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing. It’s best not to let it sit too long before you make a decision, however. The sooner you make the switch, the more time you have to develop your new career.

Your Expectations Have Changed
The American workforce has long since moved on from the idea that you need to keep the same career from the time you graduate from high school. And yet, people are often pressured to make a choice when they may be unable to determine what to expect years down the road. A young adult may think that they know what they want to do. But once they get into it and spend a decade doing it, they may realize that the entire dynamic of the industry has changed. Sometimes, people expect to move forward in a career path that won’t exist by the time they get there. Having the flexibility to move on makes all the difference in meeting your current expectations.

You Hate Your Job
Although almost everyone needs to have a job in order to pay the bills, that shouldn’t be the only way to assess the value that your job gives you. A career that you love makes you happier, keeps you healthier and makes it easier for you to enjoy other things. A job that you used to like but now merely tolerate or even despise will create stress that bleeds into other parts of your life. This can make you more likely to get sick or simply to feel stuck in a situation you can’t fix. Hating a job that provides income isn’t usually a sustainable situation. Finding a way out may solve more problems in your life than simply making your work hours more tolerable.

You’re Ready to Achieve Your Career Goals
As most people know, there’s a difference between having a job that meets your basic needs and building a career. People might have dozens of jobs throughout their lifetimes, but probably only a few careers. If you have been waiting for an opportunity, it’s hard to tell when is the best time to go for it. If you find that you meet some of these criteria, that time might be approaching now. Making the choice to get started can help you feel like you’re taking charge of your life and achieving your goals.

Moving from one career to another is a big step that many people will take throughout their lifetimes. Knowing when it’s right for you is key to making it a success. To find out how a career in construction could change your life, visit CSLS today!

How to Say No to Prospective Clients for Your Contracting Business

Although landing a client and a new project is a great thing, sometimes it just isn’t going to work. There will be points where you’re too busy to take on the job within the time specified. There will also be clients proposing opportunities that just aren’t the right fit for your contracting business. Learning how to decline these projects is a skill, and it can be difficult to do at first. Here are a few ideas.

Decide If It’s No, or Just Not Right Now
The first thing you should do is qualify the nature of your answer. In some cases, a project simply won’t work for your contracting business. These opportunities could cost you money if you try to make them fit, so it is easier to simply decline. In other cases, the projects may be appropriate under different terms. It’s important to confirm that you know where you’re going with your answer before you give it. That way, if you want to leave the door open to negotiation, you can save the opportunity for a later date. There’s no guarantee that you will be able to secure different terms with the same client, but it may be worth asking.

Decline at a Good Time
As with other types of business communications, there are better times to make tough decisions, and there are worse times. The last thing that you want to do is decline an offer when you are feeling tired, overworked or frustrated. Saying no during a bad moment may make you come off more negatively than you expected. If it’s an existing client or colleague that you’d like to continue working with, you should hold off until you have an opportunity to think clearly and communicate professionally. It’s not necessary to wait days for the chance to decline a project. However, making sure that you’re in the right headspace will help you protect those professional ties.

Be Clear About Why You’re Declining
When you know that you’re going to say no, the best thing that you can do is make it clear and simple to understand. If you are rejecting the offer because you don’t want to work with the client, it’s more practical to say that your business isn’t a good fit for their needs. This sends a clear message to the client that you are unlikely to accept future work from them. On the other hand, if you’re declining because the rate is too low or the timing doesn’t work for you, you can outline these in your rejection. This can give the client the opportunity to change their offer, in the hopes that they can secure your services.

Aim for a Professional Tone
Part of running a contracting business involves learning how to maintain professional communication, even when the news you have to share isn’t good. Clients may take your rejection with grace, or they may react to it with anger. In some cases, their reaction will confirm for you that it was a wise decision not to accept the work. And yet, it’s better not to descend to their level, especially if they start showing obvious signs of frustration. Such behavior rarely leads to good things for your business. Avoid saying anything you wouldn’t want one of your mentors to read aloud to you.

Know When to Continue Negotiation
Although some clients may get irritated when you tell them that you can’t take on the project, others will react by trying to negotiate. Negotiation is another skill that can help support your business, but you need to know the right time to engage in it. If you’ve decided that you are not going to take on the project no matter what the client offers, there’s little point in negotiation. All it would do in that case is waste your time. But if the project is appropriate and interesting to you, negotiating might be the key to getting the terms to a level that you would accept.

When you run a contracting business, learning how to say no is just as important as saying yes. To get started building your construction career, contact CSLS today!

5 Things to Do in Your Construction Vehicle Each Day

As a construction professional, you’ll probably spend more time in your vehicle each day than most people. This is especially true if you spend your day commuting to projects that take only a few hours. Having everything you need in your vehicle is important, but you also need to be able to find it all. And if you practically live in your vehicle during the day, it’s wise to make it livable. Here are five things you can do with your vehicle each day to ensure it stays that way.

Check the Fuel and Other Indicators
You probably know what it feels like to get in your construction vehicle in the morning, only to realize that the tank is running on fumes. When you run a tight schedule and you don’t have a lot of time before you need to get to your next client, having enough fuel to arrive at each destination is crucial. So is the ability to keep your vehicle in excellent working condition. Each night, take a moment to check your fuel gauge and confirm that you don’t see any other indicators. Make sure that all the lights are turned off and the door is locked.

Put Equipment Away
If you use your vehicle for performing certain types of services, not just commuting to a jobsite, you may have equipment that you need to put away before you are done. Keeping equipment in the right spot helps you to identify if anything is missing. It also makes it easier for you to start the day with everything in its place. If the equipment itself is dirty, you can give it a quick wash or wipe it down before you set it aside. This will help to keep your vehicle in a cleaner condition overall, so that you don’t need to deep-clean it as frequently.

Inventory Supplies
Contractors who are not sure which types of supplies they will need for a particular job may choose to keep an inventory of tools and materials in the vehicle. It might seem like a hassle to take an inventory of these supplies at night when you’re tired, but this is the best time. While the day is still fresh in your mind, you’ll be able to get through the inventory more quickly because you can focus on the tasks you know you were working on. This is a good time to identify supplies that you need to order for replacement the next day.

Clear Out Trash
As a business owner, you may sometimes feel like you live out of your vehicle. Of course, there’s a difference between feeling like you live in your vehicle and actually living in it. When you start to see packaging from supplies, receipts and other things pile up inside your car, you need a better system for handling waste. Keeping waste out of your vehicle helps to act as a deterrent against theft, and you’ll generally feel better about climbing in each day. If you don’t have room for a small wastebasket, consider keeping a roll of small bags in your glove compartment or console so that you can bag up garbage and take it away quickly.

Organize Files and Receipts
When you’re regularly commuting to a jobsite, you often have to bring your work home with you. This is where important documents can get lost. For example, if you complete a job and have a client sign a receipt form, you don’t want to lose that form under the seat. Instead, you should designate a spot in your vehicle where you can put receipts, contracts and other written documents that you need to keep for your business. An envelope or small flexible file can help. That way, when you get out of your vehicle, you can simply take them back to your office.

Keeping your vehicle clean and ready for use is a daily part of running a contracting business. First, you need the foundation. To find out how expert exam preparation can help you get ready for the contractor licensing exam, visit CSLS today!

5 Ways to Avoid Bringing Home Hazards from the Construction Site

When you’re working on a construction site, there’s always a possibility that you could be digging into hazards. While you can manage a lot of your risk while you’re at the site, it’s a different story once you get home. Bringing dust and debris into your home can put you and your family at risk. Here are five ways you can help to minimize it.

Change Clothing
If you’re trying to keep things simple by driving home in your work gear and washing it when you get there, it might be time to rethink your approach. Look at it from a standpoint of contamination. If you know that you are working with chemicals that could be seriously harmful in another environment, you would probably change your clothes before and after working on that particular task. To prevent the spread of toxic metals in your home, make a habit of changing into your work clothes when you get to work. That way, you can change back into your regular clothes before you leave for the day.

Keep Your Vehicle Clean
Working in dirt or mud creates many opportunities to track the mess into other areas, like your vehicle. While you can avoid much of it by changing into your work clothes at work, that doesn’t solve the problem entirely. In fact, your work vehicle might be another source of contamination. If you can, leave your work shoes in another location, and change into a different pair before you go home. If your business has you going from one site to another throughout the day, plan to clean out your vehicle more frequently. Investing in a small, handheld vacuum with a HEPA filter could make a significant difference in keeping your vehicle cleaner and safer.

Leave Gear and Clothing Outside the Home
Eventually, you’re going to need to clean your work clothing and gear. The best solution to this problem is to have cleaning facilities in your workspace, so you don’t even have to take them home. Adding a laundry facility with a sink might not be as difficult as you think, and many industrial workspaces already offer them. If you don’t have a workspace outside the job site, you may need to come up with creative solutions to keep dirty work clothes out of your house. For example, a mudroom or laundry facility in your garage could allow you to clean the clothing without having to bring it inside the house for washing.

Test Soil Samples
Although you could be working with toxins and not realize it, there are a few ways that you can improve your knowledge. It’s common to test soil samples for contaminants before construction. Even if you’re not involved with that directly, you may be able to consult the findings of a soil testing report. You might already know to look out for lead since it can create a variety of health problems in humans and pets. But you may also need to look for other toxins, like arsenic or chromium.

Watch for Unexplained Illness
Many toxins cause problems based on accumulation, not necessarily immediate exposure. This means that you might have long-term health problems as a result of long-term exposure, even if you didn’t know about it at the time. For example, lead dust is associated with various health problems, including developmental delays in children, organ damage, and certain types of cancer. These often have multiple causes, but it’s important to pay attention when they start to appear. If one or more members of your family seem to be sick all the time without an obvious explanation, it may be time to change your practices.

Working in construction can be risky, but there are lots of ways that you can reduce it. To learn more about running a contracting business, contact CSLS today!

Is Spring the Best Time to Prepare for the Contractor Licensing Exam?

Spring is a wonderful season of renewal for a lot of people. The clocks change, the days get longer, and you may feel as if the world is full of opportunity. Although many people set resolutions for a new year, it’s a great idea to think about what you can do in the spring. Here are a few reasons that this spring could be a great time for you to prepare for the contractor licensing exam.

Use the Longer Days
For many people, the shorter days of winter take a toll on the body and mind. Even though you have lived your entire life with access to technology like artificial lighting, your body may still operate as it would have thousands of years ago. You’re more likely to sleep more and do less during the winter. But once spring arrives, you have longer days and more energy in which to make use of them. It’s great to take that extra boost of energy and put it toward something productive, like your studies. Because of the nature of the season, you may be able to get more done with less stress.

Take Advantage of Good Weather
Anyone who has ever had to study in adulthood knows that you don’t always get to choose the location. When the weather is bad, you have fewer good choices. You might be fine setting up in a den or even a walk-in closet for a little extra focus, but that doesn’t work as well for everyone. Spring offers you a wonderful advantage in the form of better weather. If you like to study outside, you’ll have the opportunity. If you prefer to get some work done from the convenience of a local library or coffee shop, you won’t have to worry about rushing to and from your vehicle in a snowstorm.

Get Ready for the Busy Season
Sometimes, you’re so close to achieving your goal, and you just need a little push to get there. For many people, passing the contractor licensing exam is the last step in a process that they have been following for years. As you probably know, summer is the busy season for the construction industry. If you were hoping to start your business in 2022, you should make sure that you have your license ready to go as soon as possible. Taking the spring to prepare for the exam helps to ensure a better result so that you can get your license and start building a client base when there’s lots of work available.

Build New Ambitions
When you think about it, the beginning of the year is not always the best time to set resolutions. You might be full and exhausted from the holidays, coping with short days and overexcited family members. It isn’t exactly the most conducive moment to reflect on what you have and make a plan for the things you want. By comparison, spring is an excellent opportunity to take stock of where you are going and determine how well it’s working for you. You’re less likely to be overburdened by commitments that pull you in the direction of work, family, or school. With a little time to breathe, you might have just the chance you need to come up with new goals.

Make Plans for the Future
Ultimately, spring is a season of potential. While winter represents the closing of many doors, spring arrives to open them. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity that allows you to pursue your ambitions in a way you haven’t before, spring is a great time to start. Let the benefits of the season fill you with positivity, and make plans to close the door on the disappointments of the past. You might be a few years away from the place you want to be for your career. But you’ll get there so much faster if you stop debating over the possibilities and start walking the path today.

Spring is a great time to get started in the construction industry. If you’ve been waiting for the chance to take the contractor licensing exam, now might be it. To learn more about our expert exam preparation, visit CSLS today!


5 Ways Your Contracting Business Can Handle Unpredictability

Right now, it seems that the only constant in the construction industry is change. When you bid on a project, it’s hard to tell if you’ll be able to get the supplies and labor you need to finish, at the price you bid. Although it may feel like an impossible situation, it’s not uncommon to have to deal with unpredictability in construction. You have options to make it easier. Here are five ways that you can handle it.

Update Your Contracts
When you start a contracting business, you may invest time and money into creating contract language that you can use more than once. If you haven’t had a chance to update your contracts in the past couple of years, now is a great time. A regular state of unpredictability may make it harder to adhere to contract language that dictates that you follow a certain pricing or timing strategy. You may need to build in new terms that allow you to negotiate with the client when circumstances change outside your control. It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer to review your contracts.

Change Your Estimate Process
There are many ways of estimating costs for a client, and the one that you’ve been using may not be the best one for the industry at present. It’s common to set a flat rate for the cost of materials and labor, especially when the cost of either of these is unlikely to go up. But in this environment, your rate may turn out to be higher than you expected or far too low. If you want to avoid cutting into your profits because the cost of materials went up, you need to take a different approach. For example, some contractors set a markup based on the cost of supplies, which could be useful for projects you won’t be starting right away.

Order Materials First
Many businesses rely on a just-in-time inventory. This means that you order supplies just before you need them so that you don’t have to store them beforehand. Of course, when the price of those materials fluctuates dramatically, you may need to rethink the cost-benefit analysis of that strategy. It may be cheaper and less complicated to order the materials first, because you know what the price will be and you can take advantage of immediate availability. The price could always go down, but you don’t have to worry about sourcing supplies that suddenly become hard to get.

Be Realistic About Timing and Prices
If there ever was a time to give yourself extra room for completion dates and cost estimates, this is it. It’s common in construction to say that you can complete a project in less time and at a lower cost, as a way to secure a bid. Many businesses have done this, only to overrun the project in time and expense. While that can be annoying to clients under any circumstance, it is particularly irritating right now. If you have a habit of over-committing yourself, you should take a hard look at your methods and revise them. You may have to renegotiate a contract with a client, but it’s better not to operate as if you have no choice.

Choose Predictable Projects
There will be times when you can take on a challenge or stretch your business to meet the needs of a client in an unexpected way. If you try to do that now, you’re more likely to end up with obstacles that cause you to delay or even cancel the project. Instead, it’s a smart move to select projects that you know you have a higher likelihood of completion. Similarly, you may prefer to steer clear of projects that limit your options in terms of finding qualified workers or sourcing materials. Giving yourself the most flexibility makes it easier for you to make decisions that provide the best possible result.

The construction industry is fairly unpredictable right now, but that doesn’t have to make it impossible to run a business. To learn more about what you need to be a successful contractor, visit CSLS today!

5 Ways to Avoid Procrastinating Your Contractor Licensing Exam Studies

When you have to study for the licensing exam, sometimes it’s hard to avoid procrastinating. If you’re tired or overworked, it may be difficult to find the energy needed for your studies. But there are ways to get around it. Here are five things you can do to stop wasting time and start being productive.

Take Opportunities to Study
For many people, seizing the opportunity when motivation strikes is the best way to get things done. Sometimes, rigid schedules don’t work out well. You might spend your day dreading all the tasks you have ahead, which makes it easier to put them off. Instead, find a way to lean into your ambitions and follow them wherever they go. For example, if you wake up early one morning, and you feel motivated to study, it’s a good idea to go for it. You’ll make more progress, and it won’t feel as much like work. Try to leave at least a portion of your day available for the following pursuits, whatever they may be.

Avoid Overscheduling Your Day
If you have a lot to do and less time to do it in, it’s tempting to book out your entire day. But then you wake up in the morning and realize that you don’t have 15 minutes to yourself at any point until you go to bed. Scheduling is a good way to stay on-task when you’re busy, but you can definitely take it to the extreme. It can be a good idea to schedule your time in 15-to-30-minute increments throughout the day, but be sure to leave at least a few longer blocks of unplanned time. You may not be able to do that every day, but having good breaks on most days will help to make the others feel less rushed.

Give Yourself Choices
You’re probably familiar with the common procrastinating tactic of doing everything on your list short of the items that are most pressing. If this is something that you often do, you may be able to use it to your advantage. Instead of sitting down to do one specific task, give yourself a choice of two. The decision allows you to evaluate which one seems easiest and most practical. In a way, it will feel like you’re taking the easier path. Eventually, you’ll have to get to the second task. But if both of them need to be completed, it’s better to finish one than to pick the harder one and finish none.

Make a Game
There’s a reason that so many companies make games out of tasks that their customers are less likely to do. Games add an element of fun and challenge to something that might otherwise be boring. If you’re struggling to get yourself into your work tasks, consider making it into a game. For example, you might set a strict time limit to finish reading a particular passage, with a reward for yourself if you’re able to achieve it. You can also make a chart of your progress and set prizes for achievements. Just make sure that the goals that you set are reasonable to achieve so that you don’t lose motivation.

Address Burnout
Most methods to combat procrastination don’t really address the fundamental cause, which is often some type of burnout. People can start to feel burned out by work, studies or even family responsibilities. Burnout typically shows up in these ways:

  • Difficulty focusing on important tasks
  • Worry about putting things off, even during breaks and leisure time
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble with self-care tasks like chores or sleeping

If you’re dealing with burnout at the same time as you’re trying to ramp up your studies, you may need to take a different approach. Scale back your expectations, and make your goals easier to achieve within a shorter period of time. Early successes can help to combat burnout.

Procrastinating is a pain, but there are plenty of ways that you can get yourself into a different frame of mind for your contractor licensing exam studies. For more information about what you’ll need to pass the licensing exam, contact CSLS today!