According to recent studies, 85% of young people and 94% of parents surveyed believed that skilled trades are a quality career option.
Trade skills are in demand more than ever, and enterprising entrepreneurs are striking while the iron is hot, hanging out their shingles and hoping to make it.
However, becoming highly skilled in a trade such as electrical work, plumbing, masonry, or welding is just part of the battle. Learning to run a successful business around a particular trade is another beast entirely — one that requires attention to key details, management and marketing acumen, as well as a clear understanding of the industry.
The Biggest Mistakes
No matter what their specialty, business owners are bound to make some mistakes along their journey. The road of entrepreneurship is littered with potholes ready to trip up the unprepared. For those who own trade businesses, knowing what some of the biggest mistakes they might face ahead of time can help them anticipate those issues, avoid them, or solve them quickly when — rather than if — they arise.
Ignoring the Competition
Competition exists, especially in the trades. If a skilled trade worker is in a large enough metro area, the competition can be heavy, and just as talented and hungry to succeed. It benefits small business owners to acknowledge their competition, pay attention to their processes and practices, and even work together with them if such a circumstance arises.
Having a Weak (or no) Marketing Strategy
Those in the skilled trades may not have the foggiest idea of how to market themselves. However, one cannot start and scale a business without a bit of marketing. Business owners need to harness the power of social media, paid ads, and word of mouth to get their business out there and in front of their target client market.
Hiring the Wrong People
The hiring process for the trades has changed immensely in the last few decades, and business owners cannot rely on the old ways to attract top talent. Businesses need to refine their job descriptions and utilize new methods to find good employees. Building a fantastic team is an ongoing process and should involve small, consistent everyday tasks.
Ignoring the Importance of Ethics and Doing What’s Right
Contractors and those in skilled trade work can sometimes get a bad rap — earned or unearned — for being unscrupulous, or even all-out scam artists at times. Especially in areas where the work is plentiful, some business owners have their eye on the almighty dollar and nothing else. Going forward in one’s business with ethics and a keen sense of the importance of customer service will contribute significantly to one’s success in the long run.
Teaching a Proven System
I come from a long line of contracting entrepreneurs. As Dibara Masonry became more successful, people in the industry started to ask me how I was pulling it off. That sparked the idea for a system that could be taught to contractors and help them build and scale successful trade businesses.
The Contractor Consultants was developed to solve the biggest problems that trade business owners face. Utilizing courses in contractor marketing, recruiting, and business development, the program leads busy trade business owners through the often murky waters of scaling and succeeding. The program designs a personalized “Guide to Freedom” for its partners, allowing business owners to set end goals, make a 3-, 6-, and 12-month plan towards achieving those goals, and get coaching from long-time contracting professionals along the way.
We designed The Contractor Consultants to fill a much-needed niche in the trade industry. The comprehensive course is the first of its kind to be offered to trade professionals. The information is handed down in easy-to-understand, “bite-sized” modules for busy contractors.
A Framework for the Future
Many people, from parents to politicians, are singing the praises of the skilled trades. The current shortage of skilled tradespeople is one that many are trying to remedy through support for trade schools and marketing campaigns that sing the praises of a career in the trades. This labor shortage suggests that, for the foreseeable future, skilled trades will be in demand and could even command higher wages than in past years for the top-tier talent they provide.
Income inequality and wage disparity are growing, especially in the United States. Betting on skilled trades for our future economy could be a saving grace for the lower and middle class, providing a way up and out of poverty. While misconceptions about the trades persist, it’s clear that starting a business in the trades — and running it successfully — can provide a strong legacy for future generations. As a 4th-generation contractor, I’ve seen and experienced firsthand the benefits that the trades can do for a family legacy.
The future looks bright for the trades. Entrepreneurs interested in striking out and starting a trades-based business should conduct their due diligence, research, and become aware of common mistakes others before them have made in order to best educate themselves on the clearest path to success.
Author Bio: Matt DiBara is the founder of The Contractor Consultants – he’s the fourth generation of an Italian immigrant-built masonry that is ranked five stars on Google, Yelp, and HomeAdvisor. He’s known as the ‘undercover contractor’, who works with celebrity clients and everyday homeowners to provide advice and insight about how to manage construction projects. He is now passing along his knowledge to other contractors via his course “The Contractor Hiring Course” and by way of growing their businesses directly with The Contractor Consultants