What to do when you AREN'T building?
Each year the season draws to an end and there is such an opportunity to make the next year better. I think as soon as the last piece of railing is installed you should consider working hard for a few more weeks. Get the business in order and then next season you will be in the best position possible.
1. Get your books done
It is the least enjoyable part of being a contractor. We are good with our hands and like to build things. Pushing papers through a computer screen is not visually productive and definitely not enjoyable. But this is important and as soon as you start getting the final touches on your year you will be able to start fresh. It helps your accountant give you some advice about how to spend your money. Maybe you made nothing and have to pay all that you have left to taxes, or maybe you made money and they would like you to spend some. Then you can buy some new tools, or a trailer or sign a lease on that new truck you've been looking at, but you won't know that until your year end is done. I suggest doing this right away because you are still in work mode so keep it rolling. You also have the freshest memory of where your expenses are or what invoices belong to which jobs. You will recall the year better.
2. Fix up those tools
This is a great time to take an inventory of what you need to replace, repair or just clean. I used to take my table saw apart in the winter, grease all the parts, wipe it down and have it ready for another season after the Christmas break. The timing can be any time, I used that week because it worked best for me. What is important is you take the time to sharpen the chisels and saw blades. These tools provide you a great work experience and the better shape they are in the better they will work for you. Once you have the books done your accountant can let you know if you can replace more of the tools that are on their last legs or if you can add to the trailer.
3. Review your Process
Were there some jobs that did not go well? Did you lose money or did it take too long? If you did then there is a chance to document why and how that can be improved. I know I always have a hard time looking internally and admitting that what I am doing is wrong or not good, but once you get through that awkward admission of failure you have an opportunity to improve your business. It will take work to make the changes but if you do not change how you do things then it is unlikely you are going to see different outcomes.
4. Do you have the Capacity to add a new Service?
Or do you need to drop one?
In the process of reviewing your year and the processes that you use it will be obvious if you have a service you are not excelling at. By dropping that service you will increase your success with the other services you provide. You will free up energy, time and morale. Think about something you do and don’t like doing. What would you do with your time if you did not have to do that job. The job I am talking about could be that you build pergolas but are scared of heights so you always procrastinate and then do a poor job when you finally start, or it could be that you try to do your own bookkeeping. Drop that job from your plate and add, say, 3D design service. If you add a skill you enjoy it will reflect in your business.
5. Finally, Take a Break
There is nothing more important that recharging the batteries. In your daily life you have to recharge the tools, and you are no different. I read a saying just this morning that said if you don't schedule a break your body will. I wholeheartedly agree with this. And if you think about it there is likely a time that you either got sick or injured yourself as you were getting run down. If you had taken the weekend to just recharge or allowed yourself a day of rest on that rainy day rather than trying to push through. I know it is hard to slow down when you are self employed but if you don’t you will be working on a half charged or dead battery and we all know how good those drills work.
5 Ways to better your business in the Off Season
- 1. Get your books done
- 2. Fix up those tools
- 3. Review your process
- 4. Add or take away a service
- 5. Take a break