Everyone who’s starting a new business is bound to make a few mistakes along the way, but with so much information out there, you can go a long way by avoiding at least the biggest mistakes.
The contractor business is no joke, as it can easily overwhelm even the most resilient of us with the sheer amount of roles you have to play. No one is an expert at everything, but in this business, you have to be good at everything, at least when you’re starting… which can lead to obvious mistakes.
To help you out on your journey, let’s talk about the biggest mistakes a contractor can make – not only when you’re starting out, but in general.
1. You don’t focus on a target audience
Every single business has a defined target audience – sometimes more than once, but it’s still a crucial piece of information that rules all of your marketing efforts.
Many contractors forget to determine this when they start out, which makes it painfully difficult to know how to market themselves.
And to be fair, a lot of this comes from the fact that many contractor services are pretty universal. For example, plumbing and painting are services that tons of people need, not just a specific gender, age, or income range.
But even then, you can focus on a target audience. For example, if you want to gain a reputation for high-quality painting, you might want to market yourself to customers that are middle-aged and above with a higher income. You will get fewer jobs overall, but get paid more for them.
The opposite is also true: maybe your city doesn’t have a high demand for this kind of luxury, so you instead focus on affordable and efficient service for anyone who owns a house or a business. It’s a subtle difference, but it changes how you market yourself, and even how you determine the price of your service.
2. You think that effort equals results
This is a common misconception, just as common as “practice makes perfect.”
Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. If you only practice incorrectly, you will make the incorrect permanent. This is something a lot of music teachers will remind their students of because if you practice the wrong technique, you will only ensure you’re doing it wrong forever.
Likewise, effort does not equal results.
You can devote tons of effort to something that was never going to work in the first place… had you taken a step back early to stop yourself from dedicating so much time to it.
Your time as a contractor is very limited, as this job can get extremely busy. If you’re going to dedicate weeks or months of your time to something, you should be reasonably certain it will yield favorable results.
In short, yes, working hard will get you places. But you have to be working hard on something that is worth your time!
3. Poor online presence
In this day and age, your online presence is of vital importance.
There’s a lot that goes into it, but in short, I’m talking about your social media pages being well-kept and always updated with your contact information. It should be easy for potential clients to find you online and get in touch with you.
Having a website is also a big deal, as well as positive reviews on any online aggregator where your name is present. Encouraging your clients to leave reviews is also part of the process.
There’s a lot to discuss on this subject, so I’ll recommend our previous guide on how to improve your online presence!
4. You don’t manage your reputation
Your reputation will be your greatest asset over time, and it will grow one way or the other regardless of your input… which is why it’s so important to guide it in the right direction.
This can basically be broken down into two parts: word-of-mouth and online.
Word-of-mouth is way more volatile and hard to control. The best way to ensure a good reputation is to earn it by providing good work and good customer service. Unfortunately, people tend to be a lot more vocal when they have negative experiences rather than positive ones, so try to ensure that clients recommend your good work as much as possible.
Online reputation is a bit easier to manage since it mostly boils down to reviews and ratings. Always encourage your most recent customers to leave positive reviews, but also learn to reply to negative reviews when necessary – it’s better for your reputation to handle these quickly instead of ignoring them.
Since this last one is a bit easier to understand but just as necessary, here’s a guide on how to manage your online reputation.
5. You work without contracts
Contracts may seem like a hassle when the service you provide is so simple and quick, but it will save you a headache in the future.
If the process of typing out a contract is too time-consuming for you, there are many ways to streamline this process to be fast and easy. But it’s absolutely necessary because:
- It gives your service more credibility
- It gives you a lot of leverage in the case of misunderstandings
- It offers the clients confidence in the price you ask
- It gives you a legal advantage if a client tries to say you agreed to something you did not
- It gives you a way to ensure you get paid in time
- It scares away clients that intended to not pay in time
It doesn’t really end there, but having a contract does a lot more for you than you think. It’s a powerful tool that can become a weapon, should you ever need it to!
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