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October 19, 2011

Who Shouldn’t Start a Construction Business?
Filed under: Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

If you know you could perform your job much better, but aren’t going to for your (pick one) jackass boss, low wages or company that promotes idiots, then you shouldn’t start a construction company. Customers are harder than all the above annoyances. The folks that excelled for their previous bosses tend to do well in their own firm. The complainers, malcontents and brilliant guys that won’t waste their efforts without appropriate rewards go bankrupt.

If you can’t manage your personal finances and are always on the verge of fiscal ruin, then you shouldn’t start a construction company. The same self control that allows folks to make their ends meet in tough situations cause prosperity in business.

If you are a liar, a chisler or a theif, you shouldn’t start a construction business. In a small business, reputation rules. The poor character and bad moral choices you made in your previous jobs probably won’t change when you run your own business. What will change, though, is that others can much more easily avoid you. Word spreads quickly about bad behavior and no one has to use your firm. In short, good character pays.

So, it’s a great time to start thinking about your own construction business, but not for the knuckleheads described above.


July 9, 2011

When to Start Your Construction Business
Filed under: Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

My wife tells me, “Timing is everything”. While she’s not talking about business issues, I find the timing of ventures matters. A good concept, executed at the wrong time, does’t fair better than a bad concept. So if you’ve long dreamed of being your own boss in this crazy construction industry, make sure to consider the timing of the launch as a key point.

Guess what? I think it’s getting close to being a great time to launch a new construction business. We all know that John D. Rockefeller quote, “The time to buy is when the blood is running in the streets”. If you have capital, you want  to make purchases at the bottom of the market cost cycle. If you plan to start a new business, though, you don’t want to start at the bottom of the cycle (too much market confusion with firms going bankrupt and crazy low pricing). You want to use the bottom to be planning your business launch and gathering needed equipment.

Then, as the industry outlook becomes clearly better, you want to launch your firm towards the beginning of the upswing. Don’t try to time the bottom and hit it exactly, but use that time to be intensely planning your firm.

The exciting idea I mentioned the end of last week? We will be adding lots of resources to to help Construction Start-Ups navigate the road to success. Whether you want to  start a trade firm (concrete contractor, masonry contractor, electrical contractor, etc.) or a general contracting firm or a CM firm, we will be providing lots of free (or low cost) resources to help. We’ll be addressing how to topics like:

  1. Get customers
  2. Estimate pricing
  3. Track job costs
  4. Manage design documents
  5. Deal with changes
  6. Set-up banking and insurance
  7. Do the work
  8. Get paid
  9. Get more customers

Whether you are the entrepreneurial or helping the start-up team grow, you’ll find more practical, simple resources for getting the most important things done. We’ll try to be your Dutch Uncle, telling you the things you need to hear.

As I considered this new direction for, I realized no one else in the industry helps  new firms trying to break into the business. Obviously, existing construction firms have a strong disincentive from helping their employees break out as competitors. Consultants tend to avoid start-ups due to the almost universal shortage of cash in young firms.

Because of the breakthroughs in cloud computing, some new technologies can drastically reduce the cost of entry into the construction business. We will be highlighting lots of these technologies.

So, if you have the hankering to work for yourself, to start a construction related company, what should you be doing now? Take time every day to work on planning. Think about the areas that will be challenging (like job pricing or getting new customers) and work on better understanding them. Use your current job as a specific training ground for your proposed business. Don’t just scheme randomly, but work specifically, with a clear plan for things you need to learn and do.

Please don’t in any way cheat or steal from your current employer. Give them a better than a good day’s work for a day’s pay. Just pay attention to the things you can learn as you do your job. Bide your time and be ready to launch as the industry curve rises.