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!

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