Is it better to be a master of none or a master of one? This is a question that skilled tradespeople have been trying to answer since the Middle Ages. In truth, it’s not possible for most contracting businesses to be so general they literally do any job. Most contractors will specialize to some degree, but the level of specialization can affect how you work (and how much work you can get). Here are a few reasons to consider going in either direction.
Who Gets the Best Jobs in Your Area?
If you’re already running a business, what you do with it is going to depend a lot on where the money is. On the other hand, if you haven’t started yet, it’s even better to research how people work in your field in your region. Perhaps the best jobs, the highest pay and the greatest reliability go to the people with the deepest reservoir of knowledge and experience. But it could also be true that the most reliable route in your field requires flexibility to take different jobs as they come. Your research will help you determine which path is best.
Are You Struggling to Find Consistent Work?
The big worry about going into a niche specialty is that you’ll narrow your business out of success. After all, if you can’t take the jobs that exist but you’ve got tons of experience in a style of work that no one needs, you won’t be able to earn enough income to pay the bills. And although this is a question you certainly should be asking yourself in the early years of your career, you may need to consider it again every few years. An inability to find consistent work in your field, regardless of your own personal ability and marketing structure, is a sign that you may want to diversify your services.
Can You Meet the Needs of Your Field?
On the other hand, some business owners realize that there is plenty of work in their area, but not for them. Being able to meet the needs of your area and the specific requirements of your field is a balancing act. The last thing you need is to be yet another business that lacks the skills, experience or equipment to perform the jobs that so many clients want. If you see a need in your area that isn’t getting met by yours or other businesses, this may be your time to specialize. That extra investment into your skillset could make your services indispensable.
Do You Understand Industry Standards for the Field?
Build a few years of experience in a particular field, and you’ll get to know the industry standards inside and out. If you start to think about expanding, you need to make sure that you can still meet those requirements. Failing to do so can have bigger consequences than not trying. For example, if you’re accustomed to taking contracts in the private sector, you’ll be used to a fairly different workflow than if you shift to bidding on public sector jobs. Being able to bounce back and forth requires quite a bit of specialist knowledge, especially about contracts and liability.
What Are the Risks and Rewards of Expanding Your Services?
Of course, delving into new services always requires an investment. And as a business owner, you must pay attention to the return you get from specializing or generalizing. In many cases, offering a unique set of options or expanding into a different field requires getting another license. Specializing may call for additional education that might take months or even years, depending on what you hope to do. You must also keep opportunity costs in mind. If you’re going to focus your efforts on one thing, you want it to have a higher chance of success or bigger rewards than the alternatives.
Deciding if you’re going to be a generalist or a specialist is a question you’ll ask yourself every time your business needs a change, especially at the beginning. When you’re ready to begin your construction career, visit CSLS today!