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About makemeacontractor

Contractors State License Service (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 23 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. From our main offices in Southern California, CSLS operates over 25 locations with full-service support and classrooms. We have grown to this extent by providing quality, professional services. In comparison, this provides 7 times the number of convenient locations than the second largest contractor school. Contractors State License Services is one of the only contractor schools in the state that is run by educators, not lawyers or people mostly interested in the bonding and insurance business. Contractors State License Services formerly operated under the oversight of the State of California's Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education. As of January 1 2010, the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) came into existence replacing the BPPVE. CSLS now operates under the provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (CPPEA), Article 4 Section 94874(f). Our Mission is simple; We can help you pass your California Contractors License Exam. Celebrating our 25th year, CSLS has helped over 120,000 students pass the California contractor licensing exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California. Additionally, we offer complete home study and online contractor’s license programs to help you pass your California contractors license exam. CSLS offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Insulation and Acoustical Contractor, Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Drywall Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Elevator Contractor, Landscaping Contractor, Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. For a complete list of contractor licenses, visit www.MakeMeAContractor.com and tuned for more informative posts.

Virtual Meeting Tips for Your Contracting Business

The virtual meeting seemed like something that construction professionals were only going to need for a few months. Now it looks like they are here to stay. And really, it makes sense. If you need to give an update to a client who is hundreds of miles away, virtual is the way to go. But it isn’t always easy. Here are a few tips to simplify the process.

Learn How to Use the Platform
One of the biggest nightmares of virtual meetings in 2020 is the high number of people who do not know how to use the platform. Although it seems like there ought to be a great deal of similarity between platforms like Google Meet or Zoom, there can still be a steep learning curve. Most people who end up doing something ridiculous or embarrassing in the middle of a virtual meeting found themselves in the predicament due to a lack of understanding. If you’re considering new platforms for virtual meetings, set up a few meetings with employees or even friends who can help you test it out. That way, by the time you’re ready to meet with clients, you’ll have more expertise.

Find Tutorials for Clients and Employees
Part of the reason that hearing about virtual meeting horror stories has been so entertaining is that it’s a combination of shared experience and a high unlikelihood likelihood of occurrence. In short, lots of people are still struggling to use these programs effectively, largely because they didn’t get time to learn them in the first place. If you find a good tutorial with information that your clients and employees can use to help them master the platform, share it with them. Don’t worry that they’re going to think you assume they’re ignorant. If they don’t need the information, they’ll just disregard the attachment.

Send Documents in Advance
Meetings tend to take much longer than they should, and this is more likely to happen when people don’t get a chance to prepare in advance. When you’re meeting with clients, you may need them to sign a contract or review a design plan in order for you to be able to proceed on the project. One of the best things you can do to smooth out the meeting process is to send these documents in advance. Give other participants of the meeting at least 1-2 business days to take a look at the documentation and prepare questions. This will save you a lot of time spent waiting while they read the document.

Follow Meeting Etiquette
As a general rule, behaviors that you would never do in a meeting in person should also be avoided for virtual meetings. Many people get into the habit of thinking that meeting on a virtual device allows them the freedom to act as if they are not in a meeting at all. But even if your camera is off while the sound is on, you can still end up in odd or annoying situations. For example, if someone takes a device outside next to a busy road, you may not be able to hear them over the sounds of traffic. Keep in mind that sound travels differently through speakers than it does in a room. If you’re doing a lunch meeting, keep the speaker away from your face so that no one has to hear chewing.

If All Else Fails, Send an Email
In all the rush to stay connected despite remote work, many people seem to have forgotten the old wisdom that technology is only necessary when it can be useful. The fact is that there are many meetings that never needed to happen if the relevant parties were simply willing to communicate by email. Meetings aren’t bad, and there are times when you can accomplish much more by meeting face-to-face even virtually than you could in writing. But it’s worth investigating whether the time you spend collaborating is actually getting you closer to the solutions that you need.

Maintaining communication with clients is part of running a successful contracting business. A good education is another. To learn more about our contractor licensing exam preparation options, contact CSLS today!

How the Pandemic Is Changing Commercial Spaces, and What It Means for Your Contracting Business

Back in the spring, lots of people thought that COVID-19 was going to have short-term effects on the world, and then everyone would move on. As it turns out, systemic changes in business practices will continue into the new year and beyond. Companies are thinking about how to use commercial spaces when they don’t necessarily want people to come in. With this information, you’ll have a sense of what’s coming, and how your contracting business can get involved.

Separate Workspaces
For the last 10-15 years, office spaces have emphasized an open floorplan as much as possible. Even the idea of the cubicle, with the half walls that are easy to adjust, feels like a relic of the previous century. The pandemic has changed the way people think about working in a crowded office space with only a couple of feet between themselves and their coworkers. This is creating a rise in demand for separate workspaces, places where people can be productive outside of the home without putting themselves at additional risk for the spread of airborne diseases.

Efficient Building Spaces
Since people are predictably wary of gathering together, businesses that are likely to occupy commercial spaces are looking for high levels of efficiency in the use of buildings. There might be a new trend bringing everyone back together in five or 10 years, but right now, people prefer to be apart. For office spaces, this means keeping individual offices but allowing multiple people to use them in tandem. Such a design makes it easier to maintain office space for a workforce that is mostly remote. In the retail and service industries, you may notice much less indoor space for congregating. That leaves more room for outdoor interactions and parking.

Outdoor Meeting Areas
Parts of the country with mild winters have long relied on open outdoor spaces to minimize the need for structures. After all, if you live in a part of California that isn’t buried in snow four months of the year, you might easily be able to meet outside. The difference is that the rest of the country is catching up, and they are less worried about avoiding inclement weather. You’ll see an increased emphasis on large, outdoor spaces with seating that is spread out instead of crowded together. This allows people to get together, collaborate or simply enjoy each other‘s company, without the same risk they would face if they were meeting inside. The landscaping industry is likely to see a jump in demand as a result.

Drive-Thru Service
One benefit of the pandemic has been a re-conceiving of the idea of quick service. Businesses now understand that getting people the things they need as quickly and efficiently as possible, with as little contact as possible, is the safest method for everyone. Drive-thru service is becoming an increasingly popular type of building design, and it’s not just for fast food anymore. Industries that already relied on a drive-thru are expanding those systems, with multiple lanes in exchange for the large parking lots they used to keep for indoor, seated customers. Industries that never relied on drive-thru service or now re-examining their options to see how they can make it work.

New Concepts in Hospitality
Although the hospitality industry has been hit hardest by the pandemic, it will bounce back. People will eventually want to take vacations again, and business trips will once again become common. This is relevant because the hospitality industry is an important part of new construction starts and renovations. After all, if no one wants to build a new hotel, they won’t be hiring anyone to build it. New concepts in hospitality rely on some of the same themes in other commercial spaces, including fewer indoor meeting areas, opportunities to minimize contact from the point of entering the building to entering a hotel room, and greater visibility for sanitation tasks.

Starting a career in construction is easier when you can tell how the pandemic is likely to change the industry. To get started, contact CSLS today!

What Does the Construction Industry Look Like for 2021?

Toward the end of last year, industry experts were predicting a slowdown in new construction starts. What they saw is much different than what they expected. Although construction management throughout the pandemic has taken up most of the attention, the industry continues to move forward. Here are a few advantages and concerns that professionals in the industry are likely to see in 2021.

Construction Is an Important Part of the “New Normal”
Starting to get tired of all the people talking about the new normal? You’re not alone. But it’s also worth remembering that the new normal involves lots of opportunities and not just opportunities for anxiety. This year has taught people that the way that they were occupying buildings caused problems for themselves and others. It took a pandemic with a set of frightening symptoms and unpredictable targets to make people rethink the way they do things. They’ll do them differently in the future, and they will need buildings that are set up to allow them to do this. That’s one reason the construction industry hasn’t been hit as hard as others have this year.

Construction Industry Work Is Rebounding
If you consulted experts in 2019, they would have told you to expect a slowdown in construction. These predictions are heavily dependent on the region, but they were also predicated on the assumption that the industry couldn’t keep its high pace after so many years. It’s not surprising that the spring of 2020 brought a lot of chaos to construction projects, just as it did for everything else in the world. But in the midst of an unpredictable world, the need for building continues. And the proof lies in the fact that there are more construction jobs at the end of the year than there were at the beginning of the pandemic.

The Labor Shortage Is Still a Big Problem
It’s tempting to see construction labor shortage within the context of supply and demand, but that’s an oversimplification of the problem. The truth of the matter is that construction doesn’t have enough trained experts in certain fields. As someone leaves a career after decades invested in it, there must be someone who can come into the field to take their place. The problem is that this hasn’t been happening. If a general contractor can’t hire an electrician to help them complete their project, they won’t be able to finish the project. At best, they’ll come in late and over budget. As the number of projects rebounds, the demand for highly-skilled professionals may rise to the levels seen in previous years.

Periodic Restrictions Likely Throughout 2021
It would be nice to close 2020 with a sense that the pandemic is over. After all, there is a vaccine to help prevent people from getting it, and it is now available. Yet, it may be months or more than a year before the majority of the population has access to it, and even longer before the vast majority of the population has received it. This means that state and local governments will continue to keep an eye on the spread of the virus, with periodic shutdowns or limitations on activities as needed. Although construction has been labeled an essential service, it’s not always easy to tell how it will affect adjacent industries or the supply chain. Construction professionals should keep that in mind for the next year.

Construction Is a Strong Career Choice
All signs point to a bright but cautious future for the construction industry in the years to come. There is a lot of work to do, and there still aren’t enough people with the right training and skills to complete it. If you’ve been thinking about starting a career in construction and 2020 has made you wonder if it’s still a good idea, you should know that it is. Your investment now will create benefits that could last your whole career.

The last year has been a whirlwind for many industries, including construction. The good news is that there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the future. To discover how you can become a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

Types of PPE Your Contracting Business May Need

Like some industries, construction has a tendency to put people at risk for illness or injury. This is why so many tasks require personal protective equipment (PPE). There are many types of PPE you may need, depending on your field and the kind of work you do. Here’s what to expect from headgear, masks, gloves, boots and more.

Masks
The recent pandemic has made masks a topic of national attention. The right kind of mask for the construction job depends on what you’re trying to prevent. In the normal case, you’re looking to minimize what you inhale. Masks that are designed for disease prevention filter what you breathe out as well as what you breathe in. For most jobs, using a standard N95 mask may be sufficient. For jobs involving hazardous chemicals or inhalants, you may need a respirator with a filtration device. Face shields can also minimize your exposure, but unless they provide a tight seal around your head, they’re usually meant to be used along with masks and protective eyewear.

Eyewear
The type of protective eyewear that you should use depends on the task at hand. For example, someone who is simply trying to avoid a minimal amount of dust in the air may be able to get away with a basic pair of protective glasses. People who are working with hazardous materials may need to use goggles that surround their eyes and create a tight seal to completely prevent any contamination. Working outside during daylight hours may require you to use tinted eyewear to minimize sunburns and increase visibility. If you’re working with equipment like welding, you might need to wear a specialized protective helmet or shield with a certain type of tinted glass.

Footwear
For most jobs in construction, you need footwear that covers the entire foot and is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. As a general rule, you may also want to purchase boots with ankle support and a slip-resistant sole. This helps you to avoid falls, particularly if you are working above the ground in an exposed area. For use with certain types of tools, you may consider boots with a puncture-resistant upper. This can prevent you from hitting yourself in the foot with a nail, or puncturing your foot by stepping on something sharp.

Body Protection
Although many forms of PPE focus on protecting your eyes and nose, there are a variety of equipment choices you may want to make as well. For example, you may want to invest in:

  • Protective, durable outerwear that covers the body and can go over your regular clothing
  • Gloves that protect your hands from freezing, burning or cuts, depending on the task
  • Hard hats that minimize the risk of injury from falls or from falling debris
  • Hearing protection when you are working with or nearby equipment that causes loud noises

These tools are highly specific to the job at hand. You may need some or all of them.

Fall Protection
In most cases, your protection against falls comes from the layout of your working space and additional equipment installed. This means that you should look for things like guard rails and safety nets if you’re going to be working in an exposed area above ground. Otherwise, there are systems that you can use to minimize your risk. For example, you may wear a safety harness connected to a cable that will prevent you from hitting the ground if you fall. You may also wear a monitoring device that can alert you or someone else that you may be about to fall.

In an industry like construction where you work on your feet and spend time with heavy equipment, the right kind of PPE is key. So is a thorough grounding in your field. For more information, contact CSLS today!

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!

Animal-Friendly Construction Practices for Your Contracting Business

As you work on a construction project, sometimes you can’t help but notice the wildlife around you. Some of them may act as pests on the jobsite, while others are merely helpless bystanders. Since some animals and insects are crucial to human survival, it’s important to take care when you’re working around them. Here are a few things you can do.

Inspect the Site Before Work
On most construction sites, you don’t quite know what to expect until you get there. If your company is doing most of the construction or you’re acting in a supervisory capacity, it’s important to inspect the site before you begin work. This includes looking for signs of wild animals, birds or insects on the property. This is also important if you are performing demolition or renovation work on existing structures. When buildings aren’t inhabited for months or years, animals and insects may build nests in occupied spaces. Taking care to identify possible infestations and make a plan for them can help to avoid damaging beneficial species by accident.

Secure Site During Construction
Once you begin work on the jobsite, you need to ensure that nothing creeps in when you’re not expecting it. Site security involves keeping everyone out who does not belong there. But since bees and rats don’t read signs and can easily get past fences, you may need a different approach. Identify likely sources of infestations on the site. Then, take the time to think about the materials on the site that may be enticing. Putting up mesh fencing, closing buildings, and making sure that you put sources of food in airtight spaces, can minimize the likelihood that birds or animals will come to the site looking for them. Keep in mind that they love debris, so cleaning up is an ideal and safe deterrent.

Call Services When Necessary
When you find a beehive or a bunch of birds’ nests, it’s tempting to call an exterminator or another form of pest control. Well this can certainly mitigate the problem for you, it isn’t always the wisest thing to do. California is home to many varieties of endangered species. Without bees to pollinate the huge farms across the state, food output would be dramatically decreased. As such, it may be better to seek out a local organization that can help you move the nests without harming them or their inhabitants. This gives you a solution to your problem in a way that causes the least damage.

Use Bird-Friendly Construction Practices
The major problems that humans have with insects and rodents is that they like to set up housekeeping in the same place as where humans live. By comparison, birds are more likely to sustain injury or even death based on the type of construction practices that you use. For example, reflective windows confuse birds and make it more likely that they will collide into them. This kills up to 1 billion birds every year. By changing the design slightly, such as adding lines or dots on the glass, the birds can tell that it is an obstacle and fly around it. Some researchers estimate that this may also help building owners save on their energy costs.

Dispose of Waste Properly
When you think about proper waste disposal, you’re often considering what happens if the soil, water supply or air is contaminated for human use. However, there are many animals and insects who also live in the same spaces. Proper waste disposal is an important way to protect them as well. This means:

  • Handling hazardous substances with care
  • Disposing of harmful byproducts or excess substances in the correct receptacle or location
  • Minimizing accidental spills
  • Mitigating the effects of harmful contaminants already present on the property, like mold

These practices helped protect you, but they can also help to ensure that no one is poisoned as a result of the construction process.

Controlling your environment is a big part of construction project management. With the right approach, you can avoid hurting yourself and all the beings around you. To learn more about how to start your own contracting business, contact CSLS today!

Should You Outsource Your Contracting Business Marketing?

In order to have customers, they have to be able to find your business. For that, you’re probably going to need some marketing. While you might have been able to rely on word of mouth decades ago, these days, you need to get your name out there. But can you do it on your own, or should you hire someone else to do it? Here are a few reasons to consider outsourcing the marketing for your contracting business.

You Need Marketing to Get More Sales
If you want income, you have to have sales. And as a general rule, to get sales you must engage in some form of marketing. During the early years of your business, you may be marketing to help all potential customers discover your services. Once you’re established, you may be able to rely on partnerships with other businesses or simply recommendations from previous clients. It depends heavily on your field. Many business owners with decades of experience continue to need advertising and marketing strategies to help them maintain a steady flow of new clients.

Marketing Techniques Take Time
Although there are a lot of tried-and-true marketing approaches, figuring out which ones work best for your business takes some trial and error. If you’ve ever seen an ad campaign that completely fell flat, you understand. Marketing isn’t something that you can set once a year and forget it until it comes time again. The best marketing tactics require feedback, and in order to get feedback, you have to keep an eye on it. Hiring someone to help out with your marketing strategy allows you to receive the benefits without having to monitor it as often.

Good Marketing Takes Expertise
There’s a reason that people go to college to study marketing. It’s a complicated field that is constantly changing. Ad campaigns that you saw a few years ago may have been popular then, but they might not work at all now. A solid marketing strategy takes current trends into consideration while ensuring that every piece is likely to reach and resonate with your target demographic. If you don’t know much about marketing, you may have a hard time understanding how to market to your most likely customers. And once you’ve tried a few different approaches, you’ll have a hard time processing feedback to determine what to do next. An expert can do all of these things in much less time.

DIY Doesn’t Always Save Money
As many construction professionals will tell you, DIY may seem like it will save money, but that isn’t necessarily true. This wise piece of advice relates to all kinds of industries providing services that you need for your business. Mess up on your taxes and you’ll pay penalties or possibly face an audit. Mess up in your contracts for your business and you may end up in court. Both of these things could end up being far more expensive than you expected. Marketing is similar. If you try your own approaches and they don’t work, you’ll end up paying much more to hire someone to rush through the process just to help you get clients.

It’s Hard to Do Everything Yourself
As a business owner, there will be times when you feel like you’re pulled in a million directions. Everyone expects you to be an expert and they won’t accept that you can’t do all of these jobs by yourself. Sometimes, it makes the most sense to recognize which tasks are a good fit for you, and which ones are best to outsource. Marketing is important to your business success in the long-term, because it helps to provide a steady stream of new sales leads. Investing in the right marketing strategy in the first place can save you a lot of time and stress later on.

To set up your business for the highest likelihood of success, you’ll need good marketing support. To find out more about starting your own contracting business, contact CSLS today!

5 Tips to Simplify Working from Home

These days, practically everyone does a little working from home. And if you have the right approach, you might actually be able to make it work. The trouble is that a lot of people struggle to set up the space so that they can live a regular home life and be able to get work done as well. With these tips, you can make working from home more productive and less stressful.

Designate a Separate Workspace
The dramatic rise in the number of people doing work from home has brought the concept into the mainstream like never before. People who were always able to leave work at their workplace find it more difficult to do so when they spend virtually all of their time at home. One of the best ways to ensure that your workspace remains productive is to separate it from the rest of your home. Designating a separate room is ideal, but not everyone has the square footage to dedicate. Even setting aside a desk that is exclusively for work can make a difference in what you’re able to do while you’re there.

Minimize Distractions
While you’re working on a handful of administrative tasks, it’s tempting to set yourself up in the middle of your living area. That way, you can keep an eye on everything while you’re productive. Unfortunately, for a lot of home-based professionals, this just becomes one distraction after another. Most people aren’t that great at multitasking, even if they think they are. Instead, select a part of the house that you can guarantee will be relatively quiet and inactive while you’re trying to get work done. This helps to ensure each task gets your full focus.

Improve Alertness
People who work from home in houses that aren’t set up for it find unusual places to put an office:

  • Walk-in closet
  • Basement
  • Garage

These areas might be the only place you have to get work done, but they’re not explicitly set up for productivity. For example, a lack of sufficient lighting or ventilation can make it harder for you to see or make you feel tired at the end of a long day. If you can, set up your workspace in a room with at least some natural lighting and perhaps a fan, if you don’t have a vent nearby. Otherwise, add task lighting and floor lamps as needed.

Keep Work at Work
It’s crucial to figure out ways to be productive while you’re working from home, but the reverse is just as important. If you feel like working from home means that you are living at work, you need to make a different distinction. Running a business from home allows you to set your own hours. Sometimes that means you end up working longer than you should. To help ensure that you can have a life outside of work, designate specific working hours that you can manage and still get all the important tasks completed. Once that time is up, you can enjoy your home life once again.

Be Realistic About Productivity
The fact is that most people aren’t going to maintain the same level of productivity while they are working from home than they would in a separate workspace. You should be realistic about the goals that you set, and try to avoid criticizing yourself too much if you don’t meet them. Learning to eke out productivity at home is a skill that you can develop. It’s not necessarily going to happen overnight. Start small, and increase your goals as your ability to focus improves. You might be surprised how much more you can get done with six months of practice.

Working from home can be a great way to catch up on your administrative tasks, leaving your other work time free for projects. For more information about starting your own contracting business, visit CSLS today!

5 New Year’s Resolutions for a Great Career in Construction

Well, 2020 is nearly over. This is a time when lots of people set their plans for the new year. Is 2021 the year you’re finally going to start your career in construction? You may need a little assistance in taking the plunge. Here are five great resolutions that can help you get started.

Save Money
Every business needs money to get off the ground. While you can certainly apply for small business loans and other types of funding to help you buy supplies and equipment, anything you can save could make a big difference. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, especially at first. Start by saving as little as $1 per day, to begin building a habit. Consider opening a savings account or a certificate of deposit that will help you earn some interest while you save. See if your bank or credit union will help you make automatic deposits, so you don’t even have to think about it. By the end of the year, you might feel more comfortable setting more aside toward your business goals.

Improve Your Reading Skills
Reading comprehension is one of the first things the kids learn in school, and there’s a good reason for it. Being able to understand what you read quickly helps you make your study time more effective. Even if you’re just reading about the latest technologies or practices in your chosen field, improving your reading skills will help you get more out of it. Try reading articles and then summarize what you learned from the content. Then you can go back and check to see what you may have missed. Look at online guides that help you discover what to look for as you read. With practice, you’ll get faster and more accurate.

Learn More About Running a Business
Running a business also takes practice. In order to know what to do and how to do it, you should start with some research. The first year of your business is often the hardest, so it helps to give yourself some additional preparation. Invest some time into researching these topics:

  • Writing a business plan
  • Investigating target demographics
  • Creating marketing strategies
  • Applying for business funding

Once you have a little expertise under your belt, get advice from family and friends who have run successful businesses. By the time you get your license and are ready to start your business, you’ll have a lot more information that will help you make it run well.

Take a Class in Professional Communication
Like reading comprehension, writing is something that most people learn as kids in school. Unfortunately, business communications often aren’t included in the curriculum. Professional communication is one way that you set yourself apart from the competition, particularly in the way that you relate to prospective clients. The good news is that this subject is something that a lot of people don’t know how to do. That means there are lots of tools and guides available online to help you learn common communication practices.

Get Ready for the Contractor Licensing Exam
Whether you are just thinking about getting into construction or you’ve been working in the industry for a couple of years, preparing to get your contractor license is a great next step. But in order to get it, you have to pass the contractor licensing exam. One of the best ways to learn what you can expect on the exam and get assistance in preparing for it is to take a course for your license. CSLS courses are comprehensive and refined to ensure that everyone who completes the course has the best possible chance at passing the exam.

The year 2021 is full of potential. If you start now, you’ll get the benefit of a whole year of progress toward your goals. To take the first step on your career path, contact CSLS today!

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!