Facts, Fiction & Valuable Shortcuts
No one gives you a blueprint when it comes to launching your construction venture. For such cash and labor-intensive industry, it’s essential to search for whatever advice and guidance you can get. It can be lonely in the beginning, especially when all of the risk and stress is on your shoulders, but you don’t have to learn things the hard way to get your business running.
We’ve been there. After three generations of family-run businesses in underground construction and excavation, I can tell you that starting
a business in this space comes with a few caveats. I still have fond memories of doing whatever it took to pull together a team at the last moment or interstate road trips in the dead of night to get a proposal in on time. In construction, you do whatever it takes to get the job done.
There will be times when you get through it by the skin of your teeth, but eventually, you’ll hit your stride. There are great reward and satisfaction in running your own company. You’ve likely been in the business for a while and want to do things your own way – the right way. We salute that kind of determination with every new company, the standards and best practices of the entire industry inch forward.
We want you to succeed for that very reason. To help you get there, we’ve put together a list of the most vitally important tips every construction business owner would benefit from knowing early on.
1. Find A Mentor
This can be a hard bit of advice for a founder or CEO to take, but don’t let your ego get in the way of finding a mentor that can fundamentally change the course of your company for the better. People often think it’s hard to find a mentor in construction, but all you have to do is ask. You’d be surprised at how many veterans want to pass on their hard-earned insights. Find someone who will let you take them for a beer and pick their brain. An old colleague or boss can be your best ally.
2. Create a System…For Everything
This is an important practice for anyone in any business. If you only learn one thing from this article, let it be this: document your systems for everything! You will never be able to scale if you don’t have symptoms that your team can quickly learn and copy. The worst thing you can do is be the bottleneck that stalls processes or ignores processes altogether and let everyone do things a different way.
3. Ask Questions
I wish I had asked more questions when I started our first company in 2005. Asking questions of anyone – OSHA, clients, the city, your team not only gives you greater clarity into how to improve your work but also builds rapport with the very people that will help you reach success. Don’t be afraid to ask your crew manager if they think they have the tools they need to be effective at their job or to ask your OSHA rep if there’s a workaround for a problem. Questions lead to solutions, and solutions lead to better relationships.
4. Get A Good Lawyer That’s Willing To Grow With You
Don’t wait until you need a lawyer before you get one. I know it can feel intimidating to find someone you get along with, or that the upfront costs may feel prohibitive. While those are totally valid concerns, they’re also easy to overcome. There are plenty of lawyers that specialize in working with entrepreneurs or those in the construction industry. They have cost-effective systems for getting you set up with the right paperwork, and are often open to growing their engagements based on the growth of your company.
5. Find Alternative Sources For Financing
Bank loans aren’t the only way to get money for your venture. If you’re finding you’re coming up short on cash with your financial institution,
be open to approaching family, prominent business figures in your community, or even small local investors. If you can make a case for why your business will succeed in your market over others, then you have every right to look for alternative financing.
6. Control Your Cash Flow
This is the single biggest mistake I see construction business owners making time and time again. It’s all very simple. To bill on time, you have to record on time. In other words, keeping concise, real-time records and reports of what is happening on the field is the easiest way to make sure your customers pay you on time, and your company stays solvent. That’s why we created powerful auto-recording features into the DocuSite app to help you create instant, professional reports that your customers will love.
A little foresight will go a long way in your new company. It’ll feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose at first, but trust in the fact that there’s a solution for every challenge… and many people before you have gone through the same thing.
Follow these tips and get to the next level with your construction company.