If you love construction work and have a passion for project management, you could find a lucrative career working as a general contractor in North Carolina. With a growing population and continuing development, North Carolina has a large demand for contractors. But becoming a professional contractor involves way more than being good at building things. Let’s take a look at the essential steps to launch your contractor career.
Back to the Books
That’s right, it’s time to hit the books! You need to study and take a prep course to prepare for your NC general contractor’s license. The prep course will go over what’s covered in the state and national licensing exams so that you can go in confident and prepared. Once you’ve finished your course, it’s time to take the exam. You can choose to be licensed just in the state or nationally.
To become an official contractor, you need to be at least 18 years old, have the finances for your chosen license, and pass the exam.
Set Out a Business Plan
Being a contractor includes running your contractor business. And if you’re just launching your career, you’re likely starting from scratch and by yourself. You need to have a plan in place for your business. This provides a roadmap for you, but it also opens up the ability to appeal to investors who may help fund your startup.
Your business should include what type of entity you’re creating, such as a proprietorship or an LLC, as well as financial and growth goals. Work out a marketing strategy as well. You’ll need to distinguish yourself from the competition and start building up clients— and reviews from said clients.
You should also plan out expenses, such as tools and insurance fees, so you have a solid goal to get what you need.
Contracting can be dangerous— you and any employees could be at risk, your customer’s property could get damaged, or the clients themselves could get injured on the work site. Liability insurance protects everyone in the case of a construction accident or work-related illness.
Additionally, many consumers will absolutely not hire an uninsured contractor— and for good reason. Having work done uninsured is too large of a risk, and the costs to fix any damage or treat any injuries can be insurmountable without coverage.
Cover Your Legal Bases
Contracts are binding legal documents between you and your client. Consider speaking with a small business attorney to learn how to create a clear contract that protects your business and lays out a clear plan for your client, including stop of work, timeline, payment terms, and change order process.
Another thing to track is accounting. Make sure to save all of your receipts and document profits and expenses. You need to keep certain records for a number of years, if not the lifetime of your business. Set up a filing system you can keep up with to store receipts. Bookkeeping software can help you keep track of everything, or you can work with an accountant.
You should also maintain a database of different permits that you can reference quickly when planning a project. As a contractor, it will be your responsibility to get the necessary permits from the local government, not your client’s. You must display the permit in an easy-to-see location near the work site.
Showcase Your Capabilities
To help draw in more clients, you will need a strong web presence and a visually impressive portfolio. Your web presence should include a website and at least one social media profile. Your website needs to have a clean and easy-to-navigate interface and include your portfolio as a gallery. You should also include a section detailing certifications and accolades. For social media, you have options.
Always take before and after photos to showcase your work; make sure you include that these photos will be posted on your site and profiles in the contract. You can also have your clients sign an additional waiver to let you post in-progress photos on your timeline. This gives you a chance to walk viewers through your process and see how projects progress.
Other things you can do on social media are discuss trends in design and decor or post about old projects, detailing the work done and any challenges overcome.
Build a Strong Network
Professionals in the construction industry do well to network with vendors, other contractors, and other professionals they can refer to clients.
Contracting with vendors and suppliers ensures you have access to high-quality materials at low costs, allowing you to price your services competitively. Sub-contractors and other general contractors can help you get the job done efficiently or put you in contact with other professionals to help you get projects done.
A professional network will generally involve people like interior designers, real estate agents, architects, and lenders. People whose services your clients may need in addition to yours. By working together, they will also refer you to their clients.
The final network is clients. You want to make a great impression when doing work so that your clients will leave stellar reviews and recommend you to people in their circles. This helps your business and your reputation grow.