Tom Reber is the founder of The Motor Group, where he and his team help contractors build stronger lives and businesses. Here, he offers advice to contractors on being better leaders and smarter managers of their contracting businesses. Read on:
What’s something you learned during your time in the Marine Corp that has served you in your contracting career?
I learned many things that carried over to running contracting businesses, but the main thing was being a better leader. A leader can’t just show up and throw orders around and be a jerk about it. The people that you lead must feel safe on your team. When they do they will perform better. Allow them to play loose, make decisions and be themselves.
How do you define the word “Strongpreneur”? Why are the qualities of a strongpreneur well-suited for those interested in launching a contracting business?
My definition of a Strongpreneur is someone who chases greatness in life and business. They despise the thought of living an average life and are waging a war on mediocrity. When they fall, they recover quickly. They make no excuses and find a way to win.
I’d say these are qualities that will drive any business owner to success. The owner of a contracting business faces some crazy challenges. If you want to succeed in this industry you must have a mindset of excellence in not just the work you do, but also the experience you provide. Mediocrity is not an option.
What are the most common mistakes you see contractors make when it comes to managing their businesses?
The biggest mistake is they won’t get out of their own way. They think they need to figure everything out. The next biggest mistake is they don’t take the time to understand their numbers and end up working for way less than what they’re worth.
How can these mistakes be prevented?
You become the average of the people you hang around with. A contractor can solve a lot of problems just by being picky regarding who their friends are. When you get around other like-minded contractors, you’ll learn to think at a different level and the result is growth.
Why should contractors consider continuing their education?
If you’re not growing you’re dying.
For a time-strapped business owner, taking classes might seem overwhelming or out of the realm of possibility? How can these business owners make time for their education?
We all make time for the things that really matter to us. Any contractor can find an hour a week to read, learn something on YouTube or take part in a Mastermind Group. We are all busy and need to make choices. You can choose to get better or continue to make excuses.
What types of skills do you think are essential to be successful as a contractor today?
The most important skill is dealing with people. Be likable. Communicate clearly. Be respectful and trust the intentions of your people. Respect your suppliers, clients and employees. You need all of them to win.
What skillsets do you find most contractors overlook or don’t invest enough time in learning?
In addition to the leadership stuff I mentioned earlier, I’d like to see more contractors become students of the sales process. Too many of them spend their time running around and chasing jobs for people who are not a good fit. This alone causes a ton of stress. If you want to make more and run around less, take time to get sales training.
What are your favorite resources for contractors who want to continue their education and/or grow their businesses?
I am a big fan of podcasts. They are easy to consume and are great to help you learn to think differently. Some of my favorites are:
And, I know it’s self-serving, but I have a podcast called The Strongpreneur Podcast. The sole purpose is to help contractors build uncommon businesses. I interview some amazing people that add a ton of value.
Each industry has associations as well that work hard to add value to its members. There are many webinars and local events that are specific to the needs of contractors.