The Perils of Staying Small

In Electrical Contracting Articles, Electrical Estimating Articles, ramblings by David Parden

What would happen to your electrical contracting business if you became ill or injured today? Would it continue to function or would business come to a stand still? If you take a vacation does your business also or does it continue to make money? If you answered no to either of the previous two questions you, your family, and your business are at risk!

Many people new to the business of electrical contracting do not fully understand what it means to run a business. They believe that only their ability to crank out jobs is the only way to make money and grow. They know they want to expand and hire foremen or two but how? You must realize that you are running a business first and foremost. As a business owner your primary concern should be acquiring and maintaining new clients not installing various pieces of electrical apparatus. If you are turning screws in the field you are not acquiring new work which will eventually lead to a work slow down.

The second step is to realize that the owner’s salary is a function of the overhead. What does this mean? For most small contracting companies it means increasing your volume. Quit trying to make your living off of the hourly wage from the labor hours in the job! If you are small and you want to have a legitimate business you are going to have to learn to estimate in order to increase your volume or hire an estimator which can be quite expensive for the small company just getting started. Most small business owners hate estimating jobs. They would rather work on jobs during the day and estimate at night. Many do not have a clue how to estimate an electrical job. The two most successful electrical contractors I have worked for were not even master electricians. They simply hired them. Both were first and foremost excellent business men!

In today’s economy small business owners must proceed with caution! You must find a balance between wearing your tools and running your business. As previously stated, turning screws is not running your business. If you want to have a real and legitimate business you are going to have to embrace running your business which includes marketing, estimating, safety, project management, purchasing materials, and payroll. After you have processes in place for dealing with these various task you NEED to train someone else to perform these task so when you become ill, injured, or take a vacation your business doesn’t miss a beat.

 If you do not know how to go about becoming a businessman first I highly recommend that you seek out help! You likely will not learn this own your on.