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Build A Reputable Contracting Business Without Getting Screwed

October 24, 2019

Cecilia De La Rosa

Cecilia De La Rosa

The contracting world can be a cutthroat and unforgiving business. Unfortunately, there will be times that a general contractor, your subcontractor, or even a client will do you wrong. You work hard to be a person of integrity, live and work by strong ethics, and sacrifice a lot to build a contracting business that is highly reputable and trustworthy. How can you minimize someone coming along and wrecking that all in one instance? It can feel devastating when someone screws with your business and reputation unfairly. Unfortunately, it’s not totally avoidable. We all get screwed sooner or later. However, there are five things you can do to minimize bad experiences and protect your reputation and good name at the same time.

#1 – Keep Good Company

You may have heard the proverb, “bad company corrupts good morals.” It’s true. Be careful of who you associate yourself with in business. It’s important to work with those who share your values and ethics. When bidding on jobs or evaluating working with a general contractor, ask them a few questions such as:

  • Do they value profits and shortcuts over a project done right when things go wrong?
  • What was their worse experience with a contractor or client and how did they solve it?
  • How do they resolve disputes?

By asking a few questions, you can determine if they have thought about their own reputations and you are subtly telling them much about yourself and how you do business. It’s one way to ensure you find the right people to associate with upfront.

#2 – Get a Mentor

You need to find a mentor who has been there, done that and experienced a lot. There are always exceptions to this rule. However, finding a mentor who is a fellow contractor that you can trust is vital to your success. Mentorship is the best way to learn what you don’t know and who can offer guidance to help you both avoid problems and find solutions while you are going through them.  

#3 -Look Out for Others First

People don’t hire you because you’re a star. They hire you because they like you and believe that you can help them meet a need. Your job is not to look out for your interests, it’s to look out for the interests of your general contractor and the client. If you find yourself wondering what “it” will cost you, you are not looking out for your client you are looking out for yourself. This is hard, for sure. We all have self-interests and there is nothing wrong with that so long as you come back to what is best for your client. 

#4 – Operate with Best Business Practices

While there may be some debate as to what a best practice is, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them. Best practices for our context are simply core values that help guide your decision making when things get tough and there are areas of gray. If you don’t know what your core values, then you will ultimately make some bad decisions that will impact your reputation. The reason… you won’t be able to articulate a principle as to why you did or did not say or do something important and perhaps controversial.  

#5 – It Takes Time

Building a reputation that you can protect through the first four points takes time. There is no way around it. In the end, all business relationships are based on a few principles:

  • Do you do what you say you will do when you said you would do it… over-and-over again?
  • Are you consistent – Do you show up on time and are you timely in completing tasks?
  • Are you personable – Do people have a reason to like you or are you a jerk?
  • Is the quality of your work superior regardless of the price?

To establish your relationships, it takes time. There is no way around it.  


You may have had some bad experiences and feel a bit jaded. While that is normal, it’s not healthy for you or your business. If you follow the five points above, you will put your business on a path to building a solid reputation that can absorb those naysayers who are out to hurt you. Ultimately, the key to building a long-term, reputable business is to be reputable and do the right things over-and-over again with the right people. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.

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