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For a lot of our students, studying to become a licensed construction contractor in California isn’t just about choosing the right school, but also finding a good study partner. After all, learning material is almost always easier with a friend, and it’s a good idea to have someone else around who can quiz you and reinforce key topics.

For that reason, we encourage our students to find others to work with. Here are five tips for finding (and working with) a study partner as you move toward your dream of becoming a licensed contractor:
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As a self-employed contractor, getting reviews from satisfied customers is an important part of marketing your business. That’s because people don’t believe what you say in your brochures and on your website as much as they believe one another.

In other words, if they want to know whether you’re really good at what you do, they’re going to read the reviews.

In fact, what customers say about you on Yelp or Angie’s List can go a long way toward determining whether you’ll be successful in your business or not. With that in mind, it makes sense to do everything you can to encourage them to leave positive feedback. Here are a few tips you can follow to get them started:
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Was your New Year’s resolution for 2015 to become a licensed contractor?

If so, you certainly aren’t alone – thousands of your peers are also dreaming about starting their own businesses, being able to control their own schedules, deciding which jobs to accept or decline, and of course earning more money as a licensed professional.

And yet, only a small number of those construction professionals will actually take the next step, become licensed contractors, and achieve their dreams. Why is that? In our experience, it usually comes down to a few common misconceptions:
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When students first come to CSLS, they’re usually focused on achieving their dream of becoming a licensed contractor in California. Naturally, most of their energy is going toward passing their exams. Once in a while, though, they might also start to think about what life will be like as a self-employed professional… and even feel a little bit nervous about the prospect of going into business on their own.

With that in mind, we’d like to offer you an easy tip for making the transition to life as a licensed contractor: Imagine your new career taking off, and then work backward.

In other words, envision what you’d like your life to be like after you graduate from CSLS, and then start to narrow in on the specifics. Here are a few things you might want to think about:
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Although there are dozens of reasons to become a licensed contractor in California – and improve your income and lifestyle as a result – it’s a dream that a lot of otherwise-qualified construction professionals will never reach. It’s one thing to have the goal and another thing to turn it into a reality.

The biggest mistakes are easy to avoid when you’re watching out for them, though. With that in mind, here are four mistakes that can keep you from becoming a licensed contractor:
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Is There a Good (or Bad) Time to Launch a Contracting Business?

If you know a few self-employed contractors or business owners, you’ve probably heard them talking about different business and economic conditions. That can be confusing, especially if you’re thinking of becoming a licensed contractor yourself.

In fact, knowing that there are ups and downs, you might be asking yourself: Is there a good, or bad, time to launch a contracting business?

Certainly, there are times when conditions are more or less favorable. Seasons and weather, the economy, and even construction laws or tax incentives can all make it easier or harder for contractors to find new business. Yet if there is one thing we have seen among new graduates over the years, it’s that the best time to start is when you’re ready.
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If you’re considering moving forward and becoming a licensed contractor in the state of California, you might be wondering how long the process takes.

That’s a good question, and the answers depend on a few different things:

You have to meet a certain set of requirements to take the California state contractors license exam. You can find specific requirements on our website, but generally speaking you’ll need four years of experience in the construction industry or a lesser amount of experience with a college degree.
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At Contractors State Licensing Schools, we are proud to have so many graduates and industry professionals singing our praises. And yet, we think it’s the fact that so many people who want to become licensed California contractors – more than 125,000 to date – have turned to us that says more than any one individual endorsement can.

So, why do more students choose CSLS than any other California contractor school?

Part of our popularity undoubtedly has to do with our unmatched track record. Not only have we helped a quarter of a million professionals reach their goals, but our schools boast a 99.9% first-time passing rate. Simply put, our graduates do well.

Beyond that, we make the process of becoming a licensed contractor in California as easy and convenient as possible. Here are just a few of the advantages we have that other schools don’t:
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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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