I’ve been active on various painting and contractor forums for 7+ years. During that time I’ve witnessed quite a bit. I've seen a lot of people come and go. And I’ve made a few observations that I continue to find interesting.
There seems to be no shortage of questions and discussions regarding the right primer to use, the best caulk, or how much everyone is paying for paint. While technical issues certainly have some merit and can be helpful, they seldom matter in the long-term.
It is a statistical fact that 90% of small businesses fail within 5 years. Painting contractors don’t fail because of the primer they use or what they pay for a gallon of paint. They fail because they don’t know how to run a business.
Forgive me for being blunt, but the odds are that you will be out of business within 5 years. If I made a $100 bet with everyone reading this that they would close their business within 5 years, I would make a fair amount of money. And it’s a bet I would be willing to make, except it would be hard to collect.
(While this isn’t great proof, go to Contractor Talk and look at the first pages of posts in the painting forum. Very few of those people are still around. And this has been common on other forums over the years.)
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Forums such as this can be a great resource for technical issues. I occasionally run into something that is new, and being able to tap into the experience and knowledge of the members is incredibly helpful. But solving an occasional technical issue isn’t going to make or break my business.
However, if I don’t generate enough leads and sell enough jobs at the right price, I’m going to have serious problems. If I can’t manage my crews and run my office, I’m going to have serious problems. In other words, if I don’t take care of every piece of the puzzle, I won’t be around to worry about Mr. Smith’s door peeling.
I realize that each of us has different goals and defines success differently. But whatever your goals are, your business is the means to that end. And your business will not succeed if you don’t have a good handle on the business side of the operation. If you don’t market and sell you will be a statistic.
In another post I lamented my failure in working with other local contractors. I saw in them much of the same attitude that I have seen in these forums. I finally concluded that they were more interested in a job, rather than a business. They simply want a steady flow of work, and not the actions required to get that work.
There is nothing wrong with this. But they are fooling themselves. They think they have a business because their name is on the side of the truck, and that does not make a business.
Building a business is not easy. Statistics prove it. But it can be done, and statistics prove that as well. Building a business requires focusing on the right things—business things. Things like marketing, sales, and administration. In the end, business isn’t about primer or caulk. It’s about business.