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From Financing to Thriving: A Contractor’s Handbook to Succeeding in North Carolina

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

If you love helping homeowners or commercial clients build their dreams, enjoy working with your hands and overcoming obstacles through innovative solutions, and want to take control of your schedule, then you should consider becoming a general contractor in North Carolina. However, starting your own business can be pretty daunting, especially when it comes to financing. To help you get started, let’s take a look at some of the available financial options, a good plan to get your business off the ground, and how to thrive in the competitive North Carolina market.

Understanding Financing Options

Exploring Traditional Loans

When it comes to financing your contractor business, traditional loans from banks or credit unions are often the first options that come to mind. These loans typically offer competitive interest rates and longer repayment terms. However, qualifying for a traditional loan can be challenging, especially for new businesses without an established credit history.

Exploring Alternative Financing

For contractors who do not qualify for traditional loans, alternative financing options come to the rescue. These may include equipment loans, invoice factoring, merchant cash advances, or business lines of credit. Don’t forget to look through North Carolina grants for small businesses— these may not be specifically for the construction industry, but they can still help you finance your supplies and marketing and get off the ground. If you have concerns with deciding what’s best for your future business, consider consulting a financial advisor.

Tapping into Personal Savings and Equity

Another potential financing option is to utilize personal savings or tap into home equity. This does involve a decent amount of risk, but using personal resources can help you avoid high interest rates or stringent requirements. Only do this if you are in a stable financial situation; your bank or credit union will likely have a loan officer who can help you assess your current financial situation.

Building a Strong Business Foundation

Creating a Comprehensive Business Plan

What financing you are after will be best decided after you have laid out a thorough business plan. A business plan helps lay out what you need to get started, set future goals, and consider necessary expenses like equipment and insurance. If you choose an alternative financing option, like reaching out to an investment group or applying for grants, you will need to have a plan laid out to apply. This document will be instrumental in convincing lenders or investors of the viability and profitability of your contractor business. Make sure to include detailed financial projections and market analysis to instill confidence in potential lenders.

Establishing a Good Marketing Strategy

You cannot rely on word-of-mouth to gain clients. Instead, you need a marketing strategy. This will include things like your logo and branding, your website plans and any social media pages, business cards, and other ways to spread the word. Your logo and branding are how people will learn to recognize your business apart from others in the field, and seeing your branding colors can help inspire your clients to remember you. Think of the color orange in construction— who doesn’t think of Home Depot when they see orange on branding for tools and supplies? Your website should be clean and easy to navigate. It will act as your portfolio, catalog of services, and testimonial board. You can also include a section for any accolades, certifications, awards, or features in local or national newspapers. Finally, your social media page can help you connect with your clients and potential clients. You can spark discussions, show off past projects, or post in-progress updates on current projects.

Building Relationships with Peers, Suppliers, and Clients

A major step in running a contractor business is networking and reputation. While contracting can be competitive when bidding for jobs, it can also be collaborative when taking on projects together or bringing in a subcontractor for their specialty. If you have a different specialty, other contractors may recommend you to their clients; if you have a strong reputation for quality work, you may be asked to collaborate on larger projects. You and your industry peers can also recommend each other when your own schedules are full and you want to ensure your clients are still satisfied with who they choose to hire. Networking with vendors and suppliers helps ensure you get quality materials when you need them, and a good relationship may lead to good deals and wholesale pricing. Finally, don’t ignore your client network. Clients are the bricks of your reputation, each building up your business and opening the door to more projects, either by returning themselves for more work or recommending your business to others.

Tips for Thriving in North Carolina’s Contracting Market

Navigating Licensing and Regulatory Requirements

In North Carolina, contractors must meet specific licensing requirements to operate legally. Familiarize yourself with the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors and ensure you comply with all necessary regulations. You will also need to get your license and any related certifications. In North Carolina, you must work in the industry for four years. During that time, you gain experience in the industry and can take a prep course for your NC General Contractors License.

Establishing a Strong Reputation

Word-of-mouth referrals and positive reviews are invaluable in the contracting business. Building a strong reputation takes time and effort, but it is essential for long-term success. Focus on delivering high-quality work, meeting deadlines, and providing exceptional customer service to leave a lasting impression on your clients.

Staying Abreast of Industry Trends

The contracting industry is constantly evolving, and it's crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. Join industry forums, attend workshops and conferences, and invest in continuous education to stay ahead of the competition. Offering innovative solutions will not only attract more clients but also position your contractor business as a trusted industry leader. You also want to watch the tech industry; while not every new software or tool is aimed at construction, there are many that help small businesses and communication. By making innovative use of new technologies, you can greater serve your clientele and leave an even better impression on clients.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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