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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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.

Brian Phillips
 

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Brian, you are absolutely right. I appreciate you taking the time to spell out that a business is not a job-this was a very humbling thing for me to realize personally this past year.

How do you want your $100?
 

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Brian,

Point taken and thank you. I've really only experienced this slap in the face just recently, though at least I know why I was slapped. Like I told you, I'll be looking for your posts as I try to figure it all out.

Mack
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Brian, you are absolutely right. I appreciate you taking the time to spell out that a business is not a job-this was a very humbling thing for me to realize personally this past year.

How do you want your $100?
Billary,

It was a rhetorical bet, so you can keep the money.

It was humbling for me as well when I realized it. I had to do something different or I was going to be one of the 90%.

I love your photo by the way.

Brian Phillips
 

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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.
Brian Phillips
Get job, do work, get paid, get job, do work, get paid. Many of us have been on that treadmill and, obviously, many still are. That becomes the comfort zone - living check to check with no sustainable business foundation in place. It's like fighting a fire with water in one hand and gasoline in the other. Been there, done that, no future in it.

Theres alot of food for thought out here on Painttalk that goes way beyond hearing what everyones favorite brush is. And Brian, you have just served up one hell of an entree. Thank you.
 

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it's evident even in here-I don't see the same guys in here that used to be and I just popped in over at Contractor Talk and saw very few of the same guys over there...

This post has been Brian's stance from the beginning, and I constantly try to figure out why he's so right on with this fundamental lesson.

I think when painter's get "good" at painting, they immediately get this crazy notion in their heads that they must get out on their own, a "Screw this working for someone else mentality!"

what a dangerous mentality...from that point it's no use...this person is set on being their own boss and feels like they've earned it or deserve it in some way :no:

the problem is that painting well is not the driving force of a business, it actually has nothing to do with the operations of a business


-here's an analogy I though of, some food for thought-

say you have a very impressive job history or even a great degree and are looking for a job. Great, so you type up a resume and apply to a million jobs. Now you are sitting around wondering why no one is calling you for interviews. Your getting upset. What could you have possibly done wrong? you are a great person, someone has to call you. Simple-you didn't research how to properly set up your resume and that piece of paper was just that to someone, a piece of paper. If only you had put less focus on yourself and more effort in setting up your resume properly, you'd be working the job of your dreams.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think when painter's get "good" at painting, they immediately get this crazy notion in their heads that they must get out on their own, a "Screw this working for someone else mentality!"

what a dangerous mentality...from that point it's no use...this person is set on being their own boss and feels like they've earned it or deserve it in some way :no:

-here's an analogy I though of, some food for thought-

say you have a very impressive job history or even a great degree and are looking for a job. Great, so you type up a resume and apply to a million jobs. Now you are sitting around wondering why no one is calling you for interviews. Your getting upset. What could you have possibly done wrong? you are a great person, someone has to call you. Simple-you didn't research how to properly set up your resume and that piece of paper was just that to someone, a piece of paper. If only you had put less focus on yourself and more effort in setting up your resume properly, you'd be working the job of your dreams.
Rich,

You make a very good point. At the risk of taking this thread to another topic, I offer the following.

I am very selfish. Everything I do is for my benefit. But I also know that the only way I can accomplish anything is to have the cooperation of others. A business exchange is a simple example-- I offer someone something and they offer me something in exchange. It is mutually beneficial.

Every business transaction should be mutually beneficial. I go to the store because I want milk. The store has milk and wants money. I trade money for milk. I'm happy and the store is happy.

But too often we are selfish in an unhealthy and irrational way-- we want something for nothing. We want what we want, but aren't willing to offer something of value to the other party. So the transaction doesn't happen, or doesn't happen in a mutually beneficial way. So instead of it being win-win, it becomes win- lose or lose-win.

If we looked at business as a process of creating win-win we would see a lot more opportunities. There are a lot of unmet needs/ desires. Henry Ford saw this, met the need, and made a ton of money. So did Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and countless others.

I hope this doesn't take this thread somewhere else.

Brian Phillips
 

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thanks for saving the thread, whoever did it
 

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So what's the point?

Who are you trying to convince, us or you?

Most of the business posts and business wisdom has been around for years and years. Some good tips, but nothing new. Every single tidbit of wisdom is already well known. Exactly what is the point of saying YOU will be out of business....

It's old stuff man. Tell us the purpose of this post and the upcoming posts along the same lines? You have a business system to sell? You worried that we'll all go out of business? Are you feeling defensive about your fanaticism? I don't get the point man.

I had to laugh at the post about what a cup of coffee and doughnut costs.
Those are the sales tactics I used on my first job selling vacuum cleaners. I would never ever use that type of sale approach to selling my work and skills. Hell, I wouldn't use those tactics to sell chips work.
 

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Brian is soooo right....
It is easy to start a business, whether it be paint contracting, a hamburger stand, garage, whatever.

It is building relationships, and determining what has to be done in a way that makes a profit. Yet that "what has to be done must be with ethics and a sense of professionalism that allows you to be profitable.
 

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Brian is soooo right....
It is easy to start a business, whether it be paint contracting, a hamburger stand, garage, whatever.

It is building relationships, and determining what has to be done in a way that makes a profit. Yet that "what has to be done must be with ethics and a sense of professionalism that allows you to be profitable.
Hard to mix ethics with business. Really hard. It's about capitalism. And in todays United States, capitalism has degenerated into capitalizing on people. This is why unions are in place. When you capitalize on people, your ethics go out the window.

I've edited both posts to try and keep a promise.
 

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When you capitalize on people, your ethics go out the window.
I really, really hope you arent suggesting that anyone in this thread is acting unethically. Take Brian for instance, I exchanged numerous posts and private messages with him and he never even mentioned to me that he owns a company that sells a model for business systemization. I learned about it elsewhere, and I purchased it. Best $130 I will spend this year hands down...about what I spend on coffee in a month. (sorry moderators...unfair aspersion cast toward original poster...had to respond).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So what's the point?
Who are you trying to convince, us or you?

Most of the business posts and business wisdom has been around for years and years. Some good tips, but nothing new. Every single tidbit of wisdom is already well known. Exactly what is the point of saying YOU will be out of business....

It's old stuff man. Tell us the purpose of this post and the upcoming posts along the same lines? You have a business system to sell? You worried that we'll all go out of business? Are you feeling defensive about your fanaticism? I don't get the point man.
Joe,

Certainly most of the business points I make aren't new. I've said so before. That doesn't change the fact that they are true.

There is a lot of turn over on these forums. New people join daily. These points may be new to them. Further, even when they aren't new, reading them again may spark an idea or give new insight.

The fact remains that 90% of small businesses fail within 5 years. If these ideas are so well known, why does this continue to happen? Could it be that they aren’t so widely known? Or that people don’t understand them? Or people don’t believe them to be true? Bottom line, businesses fail because they don’t implement sound business practices.

My purpose for these posts is really quite simple: to share the information I have obtained over the course of the past 20+ years in business. Certainly I want to sell things, but so what? I don’t push my web site in my posts and I don’t force anyone to go to my web site. My business has improved tremendously because others were willing to share on these boards. My posts are my way of repaying those individuals.


Hard to mix ethics with business. Really hard. It's about capitalism. And in todays United States, capitalism has degenerated into capitalizing on people. This is why unions are in place. When you capitalize on people, your ethics go out the window.
This is completely and utterly false. Capitalism is the only system that allows for ethical behavior.

But more significantly, since you claim it is” hard to mix ethics with business” I have to conclude that either you do not have a business or that your business is not operated ethically. If the former, then maybe you don’t understand business as well as you think. If the latter, all I can say is speak for yourself.

Brian Phillips
 

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The fact remains that 90% of small businesses fail within 5 years. If these ideas are so well known, why does this continue to happen? Could it be that they aren’t so widely known? Or that people don’t understand them? Or people don’t believe them to be true? Bottom line, businesses fail because they don’t implement sound business practices.
Brian Phillips
Call me idealistic, but I prefer to think that forums like this (which by the way is the best I have seen), as well as organizations like NAPP and PDCA exist to raise the professional standards of our trade by providing resources to help businesses succeed. Where else are you going to get this kind of support? Certainly not standing in line waiting for paint at your local paint store. The resources are out here. Guys who choose to be cynical and think its all a marketing ploy, thats ok.
 

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Forgive me for being blunt, but the odds are that you will be out of business within 5 years.

I am proud to be a exception to this rule. I have been in business, (or as some of the gods of the boards put it ) keeping myself in a job or just a painter still in the bucket, one man band, or what ever.
Fact is I have been a Independent paint contractor (remember that title?) for 25 of my 37 years in the busness. I have a DBA a EIN I pay quarterlys, and have plenty of over head to pay as well.
I don't believe for a minute that they fail because they don't know how to run a busness, it is simply most don't charge enough for the jobs they do and starve out.Some think they are sooo great as a painter they would never need to advertize and waite weeks for that call that doesn't happen often enough and that contibutes to the end for them as well. People don't know there neighbors anymore, believe it and advertize!!

IMO :notworthy:
 

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I don't believe for a minute that they fail because they don't know how to run a busness, it is simply most don't charge enough for the jobs they do and starve out.Some think they are sooo great as a painter they would never need to advertize and waite weeks for that call that doesn't happen often enough and that contibutes to the end for them as well. People don't know there neighbors anymore, believe it and advertize!!

IMO :notworthy: [/quote]


Some good points to ponder from all posts. I have been in business for over 27 years and know there is a need of balance between good business practice and practical know-how. If you have a degree in business management but you do not know how to paint you will not succeed ( I personnally do not think you will last 5 years). I think all would agree - we need both to succeed.
 
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