Two contractors with similar backgrounds compete in the same market.  One succeeds stunningly.  The other plods along.  Here are eleven ways successful contractors separate themselves.

1. Dissatisfied With the Status Quo

Successful contractors do not accept that the way things are today is the way things will be tomorrow.  For them, the status quo is temporary.  They believe things can be better.  Whether you believe things can be better or not, you are right. 

2. Made a Choice

It seems trite, but successful contractors made a decision to be successful.  They decided they would be successful and do what it takes to make it happen.  If they were already contractors when they made the decision, they simultaneously decided that the industry could give them more than they had received thus far.

3. Big Picture Focus

Obstacles are inevitable.  For some contractors they are roadblocks.  For successful contractors they are impediments to be overcome.  This is because successful contractors see the big picture, not the obstacle. 

4. See the Glass as Half Full

Successful contractors are positive people.  They will find the positive in any news.  Even a bad economy or a stupid regulation can be a positive since the successful contractor sees it as an opportunity to thin the competition. 

5. Visualize Success

Successful contractors see themselves as successful, regardless of their current circumstances.  They create vivid pictures of their future circumstances and internalize them.

6. Believe in the Value They Offer

Successful contractors know they can make a positive difference in the lives of their customers.  They can give people a better night’s sleep during a hot summer.  They can help a child with asthma or allergies breathe better.  This is priceless.  People will pay for it.  Successful contractors understand the value they offer and are comfortable charging what they need to be able to serve their customers and generate a fair return.

7. Study Their Craft

Successful contractors never stop learning.  They are students of the business of contracting.  They study their craft.  They read the trade press.  They attend industry conferences.  They read books about business and the industry.  They subscribe to industry podcasts.  They are fascinated by business.

8. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Successful contractors have an active R&D process (i.e., “rob and duplicate”).  They are not ashamed to adopt successful methods pioneered by other contractors and companies in other trades. 

9. Pay the Price

Everyone has heard of the company that spent a decade becoming an overnight success.  Success is never easy.  Getting there requires a lot of hours, hard decisions, and the postponement of immediate gratification.  Successful contractors, like successful athletes, are willing to put in the effort over time that makes exceptional performance appear easy.  They pay the price.

10. Get Involved

Successful contractors may or may not be introverts, but they are not internally focused.  They are externally focused.  They get involved.  They network.  They are involved in their community, in local charities, in networking groups, in their local trade association, and in national contractor alliances.

11. Give Back

Knowing that they benefitted from the experience of those who went before them, successful contractors feel compelled to help others.  They give back to their communities.  This includes the local community they serve and their professional community.  They volunteer.  They mentor.  They give back.

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