For some Australian tradies who run their own business, life is good – they earn enough to live comfortably, have a great work-life balance and are well on their way to enjoying an early retirement. But there are plenty who are finding managing their business extremely challenging and can’t seem to get ahead no matter what they try.
So, what is it that makes some tradies successful, while others struggle?
Producing quality work is clearly important, but no matter how good you are at your trade of choice, if you don’t manage things behind the scenes effectively, you’re always going to find it tough. Here are three things that the most successful tradies have mastered – plus a few pointers to help the others turn things around.
Manage Your Money
When it comes to your finances, things can go south fast if you don’t have a good accounting system in place. Successful tradies know exactly where things are at and pick up (and rectify) any potential problems early. Today, there are some excellent digital tools available that make managing your money simple. You can use software like MYOB or XERO to record expenses, generate invoices, keep track of your bank balance, identify outstanding accounts and pay your employees. Plus, add-on apps allow you to do it all on your mobile device, so you can get things done on site, and spend less time on admin at home.
If your accounting is straightforward, a simple spreadsheet works too – but be prepared to spend a bit more time on your books. The most important thing is to find a method that works for you. So be sure to research the options, because the right system will save you time and help you maximise your money.
Managing the everyday tasks of your team on the building site is definitely a challenge – especially if you’re juggling a hectic schedule and working to tight deadlines. To get things done (and keep your sanity), finding an effective way of communicating your daily workflow is a must.
There are many handy project management tools that make life for tradies simple. Apps like Asana are great for setting tasks, prioritising work and getting progress updates – and the best part is, that they’re available to everyone on your team, all of the time, on their mobile phone. Getting everyone on the same page and working smarter will ensure the job gets done on time and on budget – which is of course, vital to your success.
Keep Your People Happy
As every tradie knows, finding (and keeping) good people is half the battle – and can be the difference between your business succeeding or failing. So, what’s the secret? When it comes to hiring, unless we’re talking apprentices, previous experience is an advantage. But no matter what position you are looking to fill, the right attitude is the most important attribute by far. Whether your hiring process consists of print or online advertisements, job agencies, word of mouth recommendations, or all the above, trusting your instincts will serve you well when it comes to finding the right person.
Having a happy team makes work much more enjoyable for everyone. Plus, it also has a huge influence on your crew’s motivation, productivity and the quality of work they produce – which in turn has a massive impact on your level of success. There has been plenty written on the best way to manage and lead a team, and there are valuable lessons out there if you care to do some research. But when it comes down to it, when you provide good working conditions, treat people with respect, and offer opportunities for your team to grow and learn in their role, you’ll be richly rewarded.
There’s more to running a successful tradie business than simply mastering your craft. If you run your own business you’ve also got to be skilled at money, project and people management. But thankfully, it’s not as hard as it sounds. When you set up solid systems, find some useful digital tools and build the right team, you’ll be well on the way to success – and to that early retirement.
Over to You
Are you a successful tradie and have a useful tip to share? We’d love to hear it! Tell us in the comments below.