There was a dream. A dream to own a trade business and be your own boss. You’d be in complete control, working when you wanted, having the freedom to do the things you love, with the people you love, whenever you pleased. You’d do all this and money would never be an issue.
For many trade business owners, sadly the reality of owning a business is far from this dream.
Too often, trade business owners fall victim to their business. Instead of being in control of it, it starts to control them. They end up working longer work hours. They start earning less money per hour than their employees. All they want is to balance work with leisure but it seems like an impossible feat.
Is this all starting to sound a little too familiar?
If you’re thinking something along the lines of ‘yes, actually it does…’ then here are 4 of the warning signs that indicate that it’s time to rethink your trade business strategy.
- You basically do everything and if you aren’t there your business will not run properly
Being able to take on a lot isn’t necessarily a bad quality. But, seriously, you aren’t superman. Like everyone else, you only have two pairs of hands, one brain and 24 hours in your day.
Wearing all the ‘hats’ in the business is draining. Not only are you the head tradesman, you answer the calls, dispatch the jobs, do the bookkeeping, follow up payments, manage the marketing and hire and fire staff, to name just a few. It’s exhausting just thinking about it…. You need to draw the line somewhere!
Not only is this stressful for you and unhealthy for your business but if you’re the only one who knows how to do everything then it becomes impossible for you to take time off. Your business simply can’t and won’t function if you aren’t there.
If you’ve reached this stage in your business then it’s time to re-strategise.
It’s more important to do a job well than to do lots of jobs to half their potential standard. So, try outsourcing particular admin tasks in your business that aren’t your forte. This will buy yourself more time to focus on the moneymaking activities that you’re best at.
Yes, that’s right, I am telling you to spend more money. But, think about it like this – in the time it takes for you to complete this task (let’s say entering invoicing into the account package), you could be working on a job for a customer for triple the price it would cost you to pay a bookkeeper to simply complete the task for you!
Yes, you could be charging out $150 an hour and paying the bookkeeper $50 an hour and you are still better off!
- You work long weeks and rarely ever get time off
Lets face it; you started your business because you wanted to dictate your own working schedule. But now, the reality seems far from that.
Instead of buying yourself longer weekends, you’ve simply bought yourself extended working weeks.
Not only this, but perhaps you haven’t been on a holiday in a while either. In fact, it may have been that long since your last holiday that the only memories you have is seeing the photos on the wall down your corridor.
It’s understandable that the fear of not being able to make ends meet makes it feel impossible to take time off. But, if you don’t allow some down time for yourself, you will simply become physically and mentally exhausted. Owning your own business will become a chore.
You must give yourself freedom to breathe outside of your work environment.
To start, just book a simple weekend away. It’s amazing how 24hours away from your own home can re-energise the batteries, besides your family need you. Go have some FUN!
- You don’t have a consistent flow of work
The uncertainty of owning a trade business can be extremely stressful. Not knowing whether you will be able to pay the bills week-to-week is definitely not how you would have envisaged life as a trade business owner.
Unfortunately in this day and age customers are spoilt for choice. Simply owning a trade business that provides a high quality service is not enough to get customers ringing.
If you struggle to get a consistent flow of work in your business then you need to rethink your marketing strategy. You must actively work to get customers (and not just new ones). Creating a professional website, advertising with vehicle signage, sending existing customers newsletters and following up quotes are just a few ideas of ‘low-cost’ or ‘no-cost’ activities you can do to get more work.
And a hot tip: we know from experience that we increase our average dollar spend by 3X when a customer returns. What does that say about the importance of repeat business!
- You’re working hard but your business won’t grow
You are stuck in a rut. You are working hard day-in and day-out but your business isn’t growing.
Hiring more tradesmen will superficially make your business look like it’s growing but if your profits are diminishing then the fact that you have more tradesmen is only giving you false hope and WAY more headaches!
If you haven’t already, you need to look at two things – how are you going to save money (and perhaps cut expenses) and how are you going to get more customers?
Try streamlining your supplies, reduce the amount of wasted materials you have and experiment with some low-cost marketing activities.
No trade business is perfect but all trade business owners should be on the pursuit for something better. If reading these 4 warning signs made alarm bells ring for you then it’s definitely time to rethink your trade business strategy.
After all, if you continue running your trade business the way you always have, then you will continue to get the same results you’ve always got.
Look at your trade business strategy, make some changes and take one step closer to realising your ultimate dream of being the ‘boss’ of your business instead of your business being the ‘boss’ of you. Your dream can be a reality… if you want it to be…
- Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
- Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.