If you’re considering self-employment, you’re not alone. Over 16 million Americans are self-employed. Sounds like people are onto something, doesn’t it?
Without question, self-employment brings in an array of perks. You create added layers of freedom and flexibility that simply can’t be attained by punching in and out of someone else’s time clock. You’re also creating a legacy that can be passed down through the generations.
As a general contractor, you’re in one of the best businesses to consider self-employment. There’s one thing homes will always need: improvement. And you can bring that to people within a wide radius of your city or town.
In the next few minutes, we’re going to break down the ins and outs of how to be a self-employed contractor. With these seven tips, we believe you’ll be well-positioned to take on this new task and succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
Take a moment to set aside your tape measure and the nailgun, and pull out your laptop. We’re going to work behind the scenes so that, in the end, you’ll be able to do what you do best: remodel homes and bring your clients’ dreams to life.
1. Learn About Self-Employment
Believe it or not, self-employment isn’t for everyone. Some people fall into secure employment with great pay and unbeatable benefits. Better than that, they actually like the people they work with and don’t mind showing up for work most mornings.
In which case, you might not want to leave such stability no matter how great it sounds to be your own boss. This is especially true when you have children to support, mortgages to pay, and a burgeoning retirement fund.
Now, with all our Debbie Downing out of the way, let’s consider the flipside. If you like a good challenge, know a thing or two about marketing, and really desire personal freedom (even more than a steady paycheck), then self-employment may be just the ticket.
If you’re a quick study, then you can learn programs like Quickbooks to handle your finances. You can also master the social media marketing game to gain new leads. Hiring (and firing) won’t scare you because you’ll be able to detect good talent from a mile away. Yes, if this sounds like you, then this completes step one on how to be a self-employed general contractor. Be sure you do your due diligence before taking the leap. Of course, anyone’s who’s done it will have their own two cents to offer. So, take it all with a grain of salt. But, do be sure you take it all in.
2. Draft a Business Plan
Folks tend to think of business plans as cover letters. Are they really required? Well, the smart business people of the world will tell you yes. And they’re not as overwhelming as they seem. Rather, they allow you to see the lay of the land and know what to expect (as much as possible).
We love the template put forth from the Small Business Administration. Here are the key elements of any good business plan:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Services provided
- Sales and marketing plan
- Funding request
- Financial projections
Why is this important? Well, in a moment we’re going to discuss capital and this is one of the best ways to secure capital from investors. They want to see – very clearly – what your vision looks like. The more concrete you can make it, the more likely you are to secure some sound financing.
3. Count Your Capital
Sure, securing a business loan isn’t a foreign concept. But, what if you could count more on capital than debt? Well, take some time to count the numbers with precision. Since you probably already work in the construction business, you see what kind of machinery you’re dealing with.
So, there’s the cost of machinery, marketing, and general income. How will you secure all these figures? Perhaps a business loan will secure the machinery. And maybe your stepson is a social media whiz and can market your new company like nobody’s business.
But, what about the pesky part about income? You may already have a full roster of clients lined up. That’s great! But, you won’t see much from them until after the work’s done (and who knows how long that will be).
So, in our opinion, one of the best tips for becoming a successful general contractor is to play the long game. Save as much as you can for as long as you can to reduce the amount of debt you may incur.
4. Name Your Business & Turn It Into an LLC
You can’t do much in the way of marketing without a business name. The first thing you’ll want to do is check to see if your business name is available. Typically, this is done through a search on your Secretary of State’s website.
After that, you might consider going all the way and forming your company into an LLC. Especially in the field of construction, you might want to establish a company that has limited liability. What this means is that, if the worst thing happens (i.e., a massive lawsuit), you’re only liable as far as the assets you owe. That means some client or employer can’t come after you for everything you’re worth. Rather, you’re limited in your liability. The process is surprisingly simple. We mention this on the heels of naming your company because it’s a one-shot deal through the state (and one that’s well worth the time).
5. Start Marketing
Now for the fun part. You’re legal; you’re legit; you’re financed. It’s time to reel in the customers. Which avenues will you pursue to market your business?
Well, you can pursue a few old fashioned means. This includes putting your business card in the menus at diners, in church bulletins, and advertising on your car.
You might also consider the expense of a local billboard in town. Linking up with local realtors is also a good idea because their clients tend to trust their recommendations and referrals.
But, if we’re being honest, there’s one stream of marketing that packs the most bang for its buck. We say that because it’s (mostly) free and can source an endless amount of new leads. Online marketing encompasses a few different methods but, for our purposes, we’re going to discuss a website and your social media presence.
First, a website is important because it’s your shopfront. This is where you’ll tell clients what you do, explain why you’re the best in the biz, and showcase your portfolio of work. It’s also a great place for them to get in touch with you once they like what they see.
On your website, you can attach a blog (which may help you rank well on Google). So, as you write articles, you should include industry keywords like “home improvement,” “top contractor in San Gabriel,” or, “how to become a general contractor,” and, with the right placement, people who Google these words may stumble upon your website.
Each blog article can feature a new how-to or just talk about the state of home improvement these days. The point is, you’re getting your name out there in the place where people live (the world wide web) and building a trusted brand.
This is also a nice place for testimonials from former clients and links out to other pages, (i.e., your social media accounts and YouTube channel). Let’s discuss why those outlets are important.
Second, social media must be a consideration, whether or not you think Facebook is the devil. Here’s an astounding statistic from Global Web Index: 97% of digital consumers use social media.
That means you have the possibility of making contact with nearly everyone who shops online (and that’s mostly everyone). Like it or not, you simply must explore the big three: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. YouTube is also growing, if you have someone in your world who can help you record video and tutorials as you work.
With that said, the key to social media is pictures and videos. If you can capture a “before and after” for every project you complete, then you’re going to pause people in their scrolling, at least for a minute.
Every photo and video must be hashtagged (i.e., #construction, #contractor, #beforeandafter). That’s how you find followers who are interested in what you do. And you must interact with your followers when they comment, etc.
YouTube is the space to really draw out your expertise and develop some wonderful how-tos. What better way to show future clients you know what you’re doing? You can also expound upon your expertise with a robust blog.
Sounds like a full-time job, doesn’t it? And you thought you already had one of those, didn’t you? We’re not going to pretend social media marketing isn’t a bit of a time-consumer; it is. But, it’s also the way you’re going to collect new leads and build your business. Set aside an hour three nights a week to tackle this task. Or, rise with the sun on a Saturday morning to handle some of these digital tasks. The point is, it’s worth it. Here’s a step-by-step guide from someone who’s helped us in the past: online marketing guru, Neil Patel. He’ll help you break it all down and build a plan.
6. Learn Your Books
At least initially, you’re probably going to want to handle your own accounting affairs. It’s expensive to consider any other route (unless, of course, you’re fully funded by a generous investor).
There are plenty of accounting software options out there that make it easy as pie. QuickBooks put out a program called Freshbooks that a lot of self-employed entrepreneurs like to use. Zoho and Wave are other big names in the industry.
You can track your expenses and income easily with one of these apps. They’ll help you generate invoices and track your payments. You can also look into other common outlets like PayPal and Zelle to receive payments. PayPal can also generate invoices and help you track your payments.
7. Don’t Do Everything Yourself
When you got your general contract license, did you ever expect to be a social media marketer and accountant? Probably not. We know we threw a lot at you, but here’s the key: don’t try to do everything yourself.
Yes, it’s important to understand what needs to be done and – to an extent – how to get it done. But, don’t try to hammer in your nails, lay your sheetrock, run your marketing campaign, and be your own tax advisor.
Sure, this new business is your baby. That makes it difficult to relinquish control. But, you’ll find that, when you do, you actually have a lot more brainpower to help your business flourish. Best of all, you don’t have to hire staff members to help you complete all these tasks. There are more freelance social media marketers and bookkeepers out there than we can count. Yes, being a virtual bookkeeper is very much a thing and you can totally hire one of these freelancers to help you balance your books.
You can also hire freelance writers to build out that blog and run your smokin’ social media campaign. It’s a bit of an investment, but you can read about the figures for yourself: social media marketing works, and hiring that freelancer will pay for itself in time.
You Will Be a Successful General Contractor
That’s right. We said it. You will be a successful general contractor. Just the fact that you’re here doing your due diligence and learning how to master the game shows you have the right hutzpah.
Sure, being self-employed comes with a lot of detail, but it’s worth its weight in gold when you consider the freedom and flexibility you’re awarding yourself.
When its time to install those glossy new cabinets in your future clients’ kitchens, bathrooms, and more, we hope you’ll come on over and check us out.
Here at Best Online Cabinets, we’ll give you the best price on everything you need so you can turn around and maximize your profit margin. Our staffers are only a phone call away to help you make the right purchase.
We’ll also be glad to send you sample doors to help make the decision process even easier. Your clients will like putting their hands on their future cabinets, as well. Finally, we also offer free design work so you can create free 3D kitchens to wow all your new clients. These tools will help you load up your briefcase and establish the best consultations with everyone you meet. Your success matters to us and we’re here to help you usher it in.