By Jim Mastin Sr
I have never filled out an application for work since I graduated from college. I did work at a couple of places after graduation for the experience, but they came and asked me to work for them. After that, I became an entrepreneur and created my own destiny. I have served in several organizations that I started or acquired when very small and grew them.
In addition, I have started several companies over the years that hit on hard times. In the 80’s I started a construction company that ran along pretty well until the stock market crash and people quit spending money. Kind of like today. At the time, I didn’t know enough to modify to get through the tough time, so shut it down.
In 1992 I started a company that did service work on the equipment in fast food restaurants. All went well until 9/11/2001 hit. For a short time people quit going to restaurants and many went out of business. As a result, we lost over $200,000 in receivables due to bankruptcies, in a couple of weeks. Our company was not big enough to absorb that kind of loss and we went out of business.
I began training to be a home inspector at a time when it seemed everyone was doing the same thing. So I slowed that direction down and a door opened to start a company doing local inspections for banks needing construction inspections done for their customers. After working alone for a while, I was able to bring a partner on and we went nationwide with the company.
Well, that went well until the recent housing crisis in 2008. But we had learned enough by then to not close down, but just revamp. So we opened a division in the company to deal with the foreclosure problem. We have stayed busy with that, and when that ends the housing will be picking back up.
In addition, I saw another opportunity arise due to the housing construction going down. People started remodeling instead of building new homes. However, it was difficult to obtain loans and they were much more conscious of over spending. I thought, now it the time to open a simplified type referral company that can provide quality contractors for homeowners, particularly for smaller construction projects and remodels. So, we are starting Preferred Contractor.com.
I suppose many of you are small business owners. Many have no employees, no bookkeeper, no office. Just you, your note pad and your truck. But, you are in business for yourself. Is the economy hurting you these days? I’m sure most will say yes to that. Next questions is, what are you doing about it? Sadly, many will answer, “waiting for it to turn around”. Well, that could be awhile. Maybe there are some things you could be doing in the meantime.
One is to spend some time improving your knowledge of your trade. Stay on the cutting edge. Remember, there are a number of small businesses that won’t be around after the crisis ends. That brings down the competition, and with your improved skills in your trade, you will be in a great position to capture a larger market share of the business in your area.
Another thought is to expand your skills. Maybe there is a similar type trade you could learn to double your availability. I was talking to a plumber in Georgia recently that was working on getting his electricians license. Though those are not similar trades, it is possible.
I know a drywall installer that started doing dropped ceilings. I met a tile installer that is learning how to lay hardwood flooring, and install carpet. I have a guy with a small grading company that now installs septic systems.
You get the idea. If you have some spare time, learn a complimentary trade you can expand your business with. Now, to be sure, you want to be proficient in anything you do. There is no substitute for quality work.
In summary, spend time thinking. That’s how you come up with ideas to get through difficult times. What can you do to generate a few dollars? What can you do to cut expenses a few dollars? How can you spend your time the most wisely? What do your past customers want done right now that you can provide? Call them and ask, you might be surprised.
Hang in there and we’ll get through this!