What Do You Need to Know to Run a Successful Construction Business?

It Has More to do With Business and Less to do With Construction

There’s something exciting about the thought of starting your own business. It seems like a great idea initially. The problem is that most people don’t realize what it takes to operate a successful construction company.

We’ve all seen construction companies get started and then go out of business.

 According to the Small Business Administration…

60 percent of US construction companies fail within the first five years of operation.

These companies reportedly blamed several factors for their failure, including labor shortage, politics, insurance, taxes, natural disasters, and subcontractor incompetence. While these things may be a part of the problem, if we look a little deeper, we’ll see…

The real factors that brought about construction company failures are internal and within the owner’s control.

The reasons are more likely poor planning, inaccurate scheduling, hiring the wrong people, inability to innovate, poor management, and bad or no business system.

The good news is, that the next generation of construction businesses can learn from their forefathers’ mistakes and avoid failing for the same reasons. 

Owning or managing a construction business is a hard thing to do. And to do so successfully is especially hard.

The solutions to problems that can put construction companies out of business may not be easy. It takes a lot of planning, production management, hard work, and discipline to keep the business running successfully. But at least…

Most issues faced in a construction business are controllable.

Finding out what challenges are likely ahead can help construction companies be prepared.

Here are some reasons construction companies fail –

Lack of funding and/or poor cash flow – One of the reasons construction companies fail is not enough funds or unwise use of funds.

The ultimate dream of any professional in the construction industry is to earn more by owning and running a business, rather than collecting a paycheck working for someone else. But keeping a business operating at a profit is never as simple as just doing construction work.

There are processes and systems that need to be in place for collecting from customers and paying the bills. Construction requires tools, vehicles, and equipment, and these aren’t cheap.

It’s critical to maintain positive cash flow, have a budget for bills, and money saved for emergencies.

Overlooking these things can quickly lead your company to failure.

Poor project performance – One bad project can lead to a construction company’s closure.

Project performance is more than the physical construction work. The internal business systems for proposals, change orders, project management, invoicing, etc. are often not thought off when thinking about construction projects.

Construction projects are about good results. This includes starting and completing projects on time and within budget. Meeting contract requirements and customer expectations.

Failure in any of these areas may mean the closing of your company.

Failure to plan – Just like good planning can lead to a successful construction project, the same is true for building a successful business.

In project planning, you define goals and processes according to the customer’s requirements. You are intentional and clear on where the project is going and how you’re going to get it there.

A good builder will do the same when it comes to their business.

Consistant clear communication with customers, production teams, and suppliers is one of the important pieces of a good business plan.

The likelihood of companies going out of business without a plan increases exponentially.

There are a lot of risks lurking on a construction site that can cause a project to go poorly. The best way to avoid these risks is through awareness, understanding, and preparation.

The same is true for your company. If you become aware that there’s a problem and understand it, you will be more likely to avoid it. Instruction and learning can lead to building your dream business.

The road to success in the construction industry may be long and rough, but it’s worth it.

Become more successful through improved processes, systems, and management; take it one step at a time, and soon enough, you can achieve your ultimate business dreams.

Let us know what your biggest construction business struggles have been in the comments below.

How Do You Measure Success in Your Life?

Things Almost Always Look Better from the Outside Looking In

As we go through life, most of us try to present the best version of ourselves to the outside world. We want to look like we have it all together, whether we do or not. This is not to say that we shouldn’t try to be our best. We just need to be careful why we’re doing it.

We live in a very materialistic world. We see people and think, “Wow, if I just had their life, things would be easy.”

When looking at other people’s lives, most of the time, we only see what they want us to. They try to keep the ugly parts hidden.

In the rat race to succeed, we often forget who we are and whose we are.

Here’s a story about someone who forgot. (Excerpt from the book Uh-Oh by Robert Fulghum)

There’s a man in my neighborhood. He’s always in a hurry—and always late. I’m not exactly sure just what he does for a living, but it seems to involve buying and selling something downtown. He’s a businessman. His choice of appropriate transportation for his coming and going is a brand-new Range Rover, a vehicle built by the British for high adventure. It is equally capable in steep canyons, quicksand, and blizzard conditions. It can outrun a lion and take a rhino charge head-on. This vehicle is equipped with a winch, a gun rack, and a CB radio, as well as an impressive stereo system, two cellular phones, a fax machine, and a coffee maker in the glove compartment.

Mostly my neighbor takes his Range Rover as far as downtown. So far it has faced the dangers of the underground parking ramps of the First National Bank, and the hostile natives at a car wash. As for animal encounters, rumor is he backed over either a cat or a squirrel. Maybe both.

Daily I see my neighbor rushing out of his house, burdened with the impediments of high adventure. Carrying golf bag, gym bag, lunch bag, raincoat, umbrella, coffee cup, a sack of garbage for the dumpster, and his briefcase. On the day I shall describe, he has two little pieces of bloody toilet paper stuck to his chin from a hasty encounter with his razor, and a knitted brow from a hasty encounter with his wife. So far, it has not been a good morning.

About the briefcase. It is made of the purest, unblemished belting leather, a quarter of an inch thick. The best part of the hides of four carefully selected cows, who gave their lives that he might carry this talisman of success. Solid-brass hardware, combination lock, lined with watered silk, and his name embossed in gold. By itself, empty, the briefcase weighs maybe ten pounds. Twenty pounds full. A heavy item in every sense of the word.

So it’s a Tuesday morning around seven o’clock on a fine day in June. A neighbor lady and I hit the street headed for work about the same time. She’s a social worker for the Episcopal Church and drives an eight-year-old Ford Just-Get-Me-There-and-Back-Please-God sedan. And I drive a 1952 GMC two-ton Go-Ahead-and-Hit-Me panel truck.

At the same time, the owner of the Range Rover rushes up. His life is leveraged to the max these days, and his mind is in three continents at once. Time is of the essence. He is in no mood to make small talk. He grunts at us as he loads his lorry for the expedition downtown, leaps into the front seat, and cranks the mighty engine in the spirit of a holder of a pole position at Indy.

Uh-oh—he has left his coffee cup and briefcase on the roof of the Range Rover, and there they remain as he rolls away.

To the rescue comes the nice lady social worker for the Episcopal Church in her old Ford. She chases after him, urgently honking her horn, which he ignores because he is already on his cellular phone talking to London. As a pin affects a swollen balloon, so does her unceasing honking affect his existential circumstance. He throws the phone to the floor of the car, leans out the window, and displays the middle finger of his left hand to the lady. But the lady is focused on her rescue mission and honks on while waving him to stop.

I, in the meantime, driving close behind as a kind of third float in this little parade, likewise try to get his attention. Mine is an “aaaoooogaah” horn salvaged out of an old Model A. The combination of “HONK, HONK, HONK” and “AAAOOOOGAAH, AAAOOOOGAAH, AAAOOOOGAAH” is too much. He jams on his brakes, flings open the door, and tries to get out—without first unlatching his seat belt.

At the same moment, his morning cup of coffee slides off the roof, bounces across the hood, and smashes into the street.

Followed by his brassbound briefcase, which crashes onto the hood, scrapes across the paint with a fingernails-on-blackboard screech, and flops into the street on top of the broken coffee cup.

The dear lady, mission accomplished, coasts slowly around the scene of the accident, smiles, waves, sings out “Have a nice day!” to her neighbor dangling from the car in the clutches of his seat belt.

Fulghum, Robert. Uh-Oh (pp. 155-159). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We don’t know this man’s back story. What was going on in his life. What kind of stress he was under that morning. What we do know is that in pursuit of his “successful dream life”, things weren’t very successful that morning.

Often people who seem to have everything feel that they are failures.

It is easy to get caught up in the material world of chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, forgetting where our focus should be.

God doesn’t want us to be failures. He wants us to be successful!

Success will come if we are focused on the right things.

Someone who would not have been considered a success by worldly standards was John the Baptist. Here’s a man living in the wilderness dressed in camel’s hair preaching and baptizing. But John was focused on the right thing. In John 1:28-34 we read that, John saw the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove and rest on Jesus. This sounds pretty successful to me.

It’s easy to get sidetracked and focused on the wrong things. This is made clear to us in Matthew 16:24-26. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul?

The price for the wrong kind of success is very expensive.

Making money and having things is not bad. The key to unlocking success is what you focus on. Who are you focused on…yourself or God? How are you living your life? How do you measure success?

Measure it the same way God does and live your successful dream life.

Hang In There!

It is hard to “Hang In There”. Holding on for dear life with the weight of the world on our shoulders. It’s lonely hanging there all by ourselves as our arms get more and more tired. We just want to let go. DON’T LET GO!

We forget or are unaware that we don’t have to do it alone. There are others around who will help us and who we can help (“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2). Not to mention God’s willingness to help carry the load (“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28).

Success isn’t the absence of failure, it’s the perseverance to continue moving forward in spite of it. Successful people fail consistently, over and over. A few examples are Walt Disney, JK Rowling and Steve King, all who were told that they couldn’t do what they ultimately did. They “hung in there”. Even Jesus had failures, i.e. when the people of His home town didn’t believe Him and took Him to a cliff at the edge of town with intentions of throwing Him over, Luke 4:14-30. Consequently Jesus did very few miracles in His home town. Do we put these same restrictions on miracles God would do for us?

Popularity is often how success is judged, but it’s a poor way to rate success. If we don’t feel popular or are passed over for a job we feel like failures. Rejection is hard to take, but Jesus was rejected. Just look at how His hometown treated Him. One of the tools in the Devils arsenal is rejection. If we get down and stay down we will never succeed.

 Persistence is the key that unlocks the door to success so “Hang In There”!

Move the Mountain One Shovel Full at A Time

The Size of Your Shovel Is Not Important

I had a conversation with Brett at Engineered Door Products earlier this week about how busy he was. He told me how he was working late into the evening and coming in early of a morning in an effort to keep up. I could feel his frustration. I have had this same conversation with too many people, too many times and deal with this myself almost every day. It reminded me of an earlier blog about spinning too many plates at once.

There are so many great things to do. How will we ever get them done? Why do we continually find ourselves in this place? Who’s fault is it that we’re so busy? 



I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m always so far behind and what I can do to get caught up? Looking at this huge mountain in front of me is overwhelming. How will I ever get it moved?

Looking at a blueprint for a new building can be one of those mountains. There is tons of information on all of those pages. Where do I even start? With the first next thing, that’s where. Determine the first next thing that needs to be done and do it. If I don’t stop looking and start shoveling the foundation will never get poured.


It doesn’t matter whether you have a teaspoon or a steam shovel. What matters is that you start shoveling and don’t quit. Failure only exists for the person who quits.



Another way to move the mountain is with help. Two shovels can move more mountain than one. Sharing the moving of the mountain can be hard for us micro-managers but is critical to accomplishing the task. If the mountain that needs moved is much bigger than a mole hill or unless you have a really really big shovel, some help moving the mountain will relieve some of the weight of that mountain.

Moving the mountain one shovel full at a time is one of my twelve core values. My core values are the root of who I’m meant to be. The list falls into two different categories. Some I’m naturally good at. These I want to constantly reinforce. The others…don’t come so naturally.

This post is to remind myself to keep shoveling my mountains and to let you know that you aren’t the only one standing in the shadow of a mountain that needs shoveled.


Here are some links to previous core value posts. We’re getting closer now, only four left.