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Here at CSLS, we are always writing about the perks of becoming a licensed California contractor and starting your own business. And when potential students come to visit us, we let them know we think every construction professional should earn their certification and at least have the option of branching out on their own.

But maybe we’re overselling the upside too much. To even out the other side of the equation, we want to share a few of the downsides with you, too. Here are three serious problems you’ll likely have to deal with once you become a licensed contractor and start your own company:

1. How to spend the extra money you make…
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Although thousands of construction professionals turn to us every year in the hopes of becoming a licensed California contractor, a growing number are coming to CSLS for another popular course – our licensed building inspector training program.

If you’re reading this now, chances are you’ve at least thought about becoming a licensed California building inspector in the past. Is it the right career path and/or business opportunity for you?

Only you can answer that, of course, but here are a few things you should know:

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As we have noted in the past, even the very best excuses for putting off your education won’t bring you any closer to becoming a licensed contractor and owning your own business. If you really want to take the next step in your life, it’s important to get started and generate some momentum regardless of whatever other distractions might be affecting you.

To see what we mean, here are the four worst reasons to put off earning your California contractor’s license:

1. You think you don’t have the time. A lot of our new students are squeezed for time, but this is still a terrible excuse. Why? Because saying you don’t have the time now implies that you will have the time in the future. For most of us, that’s just not true – you either make it a priority and get started now, or you’ll keep finding excuses down the road when you’re just as busy.
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Most of your time and energy will be spent on projects you’re awarded, but what happens when a customer decides to go in a different direction? This can be an important question to ask, especially if you’ve put a significant amount of time or energy into a construction proposal.

Knowing how to react when you aren’t awarded a job is important. If you know what to do in order to recover and move on, you’ll stand a much greater chance of winning the next one. With that in mind, here are three things to do when you aren’t awarded a construction job:
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It’s not unusual for new CSLS graduates to tell us that working on construction projects is the easy part of being a self-employed contractor in California. What’s tough is managing everything else – staying on top of budgets, marketing, and staff members.

In fact, it’s the management aspect of the job that many find particularly challenging.
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For most new CSLS graduates who are beginning life as self-employed contractors, plans for the future looks something like this: start a business, grow and hire other construction workers, and finally enjoy the freedom and stability that comes with earning lots of money and being your own boss.

That can certainly happen, especially if you’re smart about the way you plan your future. One thing that often gets overlooked, however – and that every new contractor should remember – is that you’re going to make mistakes along the way.
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More and more, CSLS graduates are taking advantage of our corporation setup services to get their new businesses registered, legal, and up and running. Part of this undoubtedly has to do with convenience. Over the years, we’ve streamlined the filing and paperwork process so that it’s virtually “hands-off” for new contractors.

Another reason for this trend, though, has to do with the fact that more and more contractors are starting to understand the benefits of incorporating their companies. If you haven’t considered it yourself – or just haven’t gone through with it yet – here are three good reasons to talk to our team about incorporating your business right away:
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One of the greatest things about becoming a licensed contractor through CSLS is that we have learning options for virtually any schedule or budget. Regardless of where you’re at in your construction career, and what else might be going on in your life, our team of counselors can help you find a way to reach your dream of being a self-employed professional.

But, the question that comes up from time to time is: “Do I need to take a classroom course, or can I just learn online or through self-study?”

The short answer is that most students certainly can do just fine with online classes or at-home materials. Still, even though those options are generally more convenient, there are a few advantages to getting the full CSLS classroom experience:
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It’s an unfortunate part of life as a self-employed contractor, but occasionally you’re going to come across customers who either pay very slowly for their work, or don’t want to pay you at all after you’re finished. What should you do in that situation?

The first step is to assess the problem and find out why. If it’s because your work wasn’t up to the customer’s standards, or because there was a minor (but understandable) misunderstanding about the terms, you can probably fix things pretty quickly.

In other instances, though, more serious measures will have to be considered. Then you’re looking at dealing with lawyers and other collections professionals who are going to charge you a pretty hefty fee, and might not even recover all of your money. As any experienced contractor can tell you from experience, it’s best not to be in that situation in the first place.
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For a lot of CSLS graduates, the toughest part about being a brand-new contractor isn’t passing their exams or getting their business up and running… it’s marketing that brand-new business to potential construction customers.

Not only can marketing be a challenge, it’s often an expensive one. Running print advertisements in newspapers or magazines can get expensive quick, and promoting your new company through other avenues (like television) can be downright impossible when you’re just starting out. For that reason, a lot of new contractors try photocopied flyers, going door-to-door, and advertising in “penny saver” types of publications.

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In just about every industry, construction included, there are lots of best practices and accepted notions,

but most of these can be ignored from time to time or in certain situations. In other words, a lot of the

best advice you’ll ever get is flexible and pertains to most, but not all, situations.

There is, however, one absolutely unbreakable rule of contracting that we’d like to pass along: do great

work.
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To a brand-new CSLS graduate, or someone who is hoping to earn their California contractor license

soon, having too much work can seem like a wonderful problem. In fact, your mind might start to drift

to fantasies about what you would do with all that cash, rather than focusing on the problem of being

committed to more hours than you have available.
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When new students come to CSLS, it’s because they want the very best in construction industry

education, and that’s what we give them. What many don’t realize, though, is there are actually two

types of lessons you get at our school…
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Generally speaking, there are two kinds of construction contractors you’ll find in California: generalists, who can build or repair just about anything (or take on lots of different jobs), and specialists, who might focus on a particular type of building or situation. There is an almost endless number of specialties, from solar construction to electrical, industrial, and so on.

If you’re just starting out in the industry, should you specialize your contracting business?

That answer is going to depend a great deal on your own goals and preferences. Here are a few things to keep in mind, though:

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A lot of new and prospective CSLS students assume that the hardest part of becoming a successful California contractor is passing their licensing exam. And while it’s true that some people do end up spending a few extra hours on studying, our 99.9% pass rate is proof that anyone who has the will and desire (along with the required work experience) can achieve their goal of self-employment.

So, if passing the test isn’t as big an obstacle as you might think, what is? Believe it or not, there isn’t necessarily one hard part about becoming a successful contractor – instead, it’s about being good at lots of little things at once. Here are just a few of the things you’ll have to juggle as a self-employed licensed contractor:
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When it comes to becoming a licensed California contractor, we often see firsthand the amazing way some people overcome just about anything to achieve their dreams. In the 125,000+ graduates we have had, there have been a number who have crawled their way up from nothing, arrived from distant corners of the world, and beaten perceived disabilities or shortcomings to become successful business owners.

On the other hand, though, we also see a lot of people who hold off on trying to reach their dreams because of misconceptions they are holding on to. In fact, there are probably thousands of construction professionals who could be enjoying more freedom and income right now, if only they knew there was no reason to wait.

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CSLS is an interesting school for a lot of reasons, but one of the things that really makes it stand out is that we get a lot of students who don't really enjoy spending time with books or sitting in classrooms. In fact, lots of them moved into the construction industry specifically because they would rather be out in the …
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One thing lots of new students ask about, as they contemplate the process of becoming a licensed contractor in California, is whether the exam they’ll have to pass is difficult.

The short answer, of course, is that it really depends on who you ask… or for that matter, who you are. Some people pick up the knowledge more easily than others, not to mention the fact that some people feel anxiety at taking tests that others don’t.

In general, though, the best question isn’t whether or not the exam is difficult; it’s how prepared you are going to be to take it. At CSLS, we have a reputation for helping our students to make sure they are ready to not only take the exam, but also pass on the first try. Here are a few things we advise them to do to make the process easier:
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There are a lot of reasons to pursue becoming a licensed contractor in California, but one of the biggest is undoubtedly to make more money. In fact, regardless of where you are in your career at the moment, you’ve probably at least thought about how much more you could be earning as a business owner or with better qualifications.

So, how much more money could you be earning as a licensed contractor? That’s tough to say – a lot will depend on your specific situation and ambition level. Here are a few things to keep in mind, though:

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Few innovations have brought as much excitement to the California construction industry as the growing trend toward solar design and installation. Does that mean you should be getting involved?

For a lot of construction professionals, the answer is a resounding “yes.” In fact, now could be the perfect time to round out your solar education and pick up skills that can help you for years (or even decades) to come.

Here are just some of the things that make solar such a good idea:

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