When construction professionals turn to CSLS, they usually have one thing in mind: growing a successful contracting company. It doesn’t matter whether they are just taking the first steps toward earning their California contractor’s license, or are seasoned professionals who want to improve their skills – they are dreaming of the day when they can take on more projects, earn more money, and possibly even hire some new employees.

Those are all great goals, but let us give a word of caution:
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    As we noted in a recent newsletter article, success as a licensed California contractor can be two-sided. It sure is great to finally make it to the top, but there are also new problems and issues that have to be dealt with as your career and company progress. One of those – and one that few contractors ever …
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Most construction professionals who come through CSLS for the first time are simply concerned with passing the two major portions of their California state contractor license exam: the law and trade section, and the section for individual classifications. What many don’t realize at the time, however, is that your career can keep growing from there – in fact, by earning an additional l license, you can add new specialties to your permit.

Why would you want to “go back to school,” so to speak? Each construction professional has his or her own motivations, of course, but here are the three best reasons to add an additional license to your business:
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Safety and accident prevention are big topics in the world construction, and for good reason: The combination of long days, hectic job sites, and high-powered tools can be a dangerous one.

At CSLS, we emphasize safety on construction job sites as a top priority for our students. Once you graduate, though, it’s up to you to ensure that the risk of an accident is low. Here are two important things to remember about construction safety and job site accidents:
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There probably aren’t a lot of things you can get nearly every contractor to agree on, but experience has taught us that most construction professionals simply hate one part of the job – doing paperwork.
There is no escaping it: Once you become a manager or business owner, there are lots of forms and office activities to stay on top of, from taxes and billing to things like insurance, payroll, and new project bids or proposals. If you let them, these details can quickly get out of control, and either take up a lot more of your time than they should, or stop your company from growing because it isn’t as organized as it should be.

If you are dreading the stack of paperwork in your office, or feel like you’d rather spend the day on a job site than sitting behind a desk, you’re in luck. Here are our top five tips contractors can use to reduce their paperwork burden:

1. Batch your projects to finish them together. In other words, don’t pay bills or complete other office work one at a time. Instead, put aside an hour or two each week where you can complete everything. You’ll go faster if you don’t have to start and stop, or keep finding things like pens and paper.
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Not long ago, we provided some tried-and-true tips for taking courses and becoming a licensed California contractor. Today, we’d like to do something similar and share something that experienced construction professionals know, and a piece of advice that could help you do more in your contracting career while avoiding some of the biggest sources of stress.

What is this magic piece of information and insight? To always spend a little extra time getting to know about a project, and ask a few more questions, before you put in a bid or get started.

In other words, slow down and take your time, especially at the beginning of any new construction project. Although you might feel like you’re just taking longer than you should – a lot of new contractors like to rush into jobs – you’ll get a few important advantages and benefits:

You’ll get better at bidding on construction projects. The more you know about the project, the better you can estimate how much it will actually cost to finish. Be careful about rushing through this step in the process, because the assumptions you make now can be expensive mistakes later.

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A lot of new students and potential students come to CSLS with one specific question in mind: “is it hard to pass your exam to become a licensed California contractor?”

Of course, there isn’t any answer that will work for everyone. A lot depends on your professional background, confidence as a test-taker, and even your available study schedule. As a general rule of thumb, though, it isn’t incredibly difficult to get a passing score on your exam – as a school, we have a 99%+ first-time passing rate, so it’s definitely something you can do.

For a lot of the men and women who come to us, the key to passing the exam can really be broken down into four pieces:

1. Recognizing that preparation is everything. Passing your California licensed contractor exam isn’t something you actually do, but more of a process that ends up in a certain way. In other words, it’s all about the preparation, not the actual exam. By the time our students sit down to take their tests, they feel very ready for any kind of question that will be thrown at them; the hard work was already done in the classroom.
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If you were to ask CSLS students what they thought the biggest obstacle to successful contracting business might be, their answers would probably revolve around the economy, the challenges of finding good employees, or maybe even the competition they get from other contractors and construction companies.

These are all good answers, but there is an even tougher obstacle that’s usually in the way – ourselves.

Why are you your own biggest hurdle, when you so obviously want to succeed? Typically, we tend to be our own biggest enemies for a number of subtle reasons:

A fear of success or failure. Sometimes, the fear of feeling something can be so paralyzing that we fail to take action in the first place, or set goals for ourselves that are much lower than we really deserve. Alternatively, psychologists say that many people are afraid of success, feeling on some level that they either don’t deserve it can achieve it. Make sure that neither belief holds you back.

A tendency to procrastinate. The idea that you’ll do something “later” is the basis for an unfulfilled life. Learn to become an action-oriented person, rather than putting things off, and the small steps you take towards achieving your dreams will start to add up – and eventually pay off.

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Obviously, we can’t give you unbiased opinions about whether you should sign up for classes with our school or become a licensed California contractor. What we can do, however, is encourage you to take a step that you have probably already been dreaming about for months or years.

In fact, we can even give you seven good signs that you should probably get in touch with us right away:

1. You’ve been looking at our website and trying to make a career decision. If you’ve been to our website several times, you’ve probably been thinking about taking the next step. Why wait any longer?

2. You don’t know what you’re going to do in the construction industry going forward. If you’ve hit a roadblock, then it could be the perfect time to sign up for a class and see what sorts of options are available to you, and what kinds of construction specialties you might prefer.

3. You’ve hit a plateau in your career and don’t seem to be moving ahead anymore. Sometimes, you like what you’re doing but there just isn’t any room for advancement. So, getting an education – and eventually becoming your own boss – could be the perfect answer.
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To get the best advice on anything – especially in the California construction industry – you have to find the men and women who have been there before. They know what it is you’re going through, what still lies in front of you, and the best ways to overcome different professional challenges.
With that in mind, we want to pass along five pieces of advice that you might get from an experienced contractor:

1. Don’t wait to take action on your dreams. There are always going to be obstacles in front of you, or excuses not to take action. But, the sooner you get started on your dreams – and especially your dream of becoming a licensed contractor – the sooner good things can start to happen for you in your life. Don’t procrastinate on the things that matter most.
2. Your California construction career will always be what you make of it. Although people may like to talk about contracting as a “good” or “bad” career choice, the reality is that it’s almost always going to be whatever you make of it. If you put a lot of time, energy, and focus into your work, then you’re always going to be able to enjoy the rewards.
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We are definitely getting to that point in the year where people are starting to complain about the heat, and even use it as an excuse to sit around watching daytime television… but why not turn the dog days of summer into a new career opportunity?

We are talking, of course, about taking the first step toward becoming a licensed California contractor – enrolling for an online or in-person class at CSLS. Here are a few of the best reasons to come study with us during the summer months:

You truly can beat the heat in our classrooms. You’ll probably be looking for some way to get out of the heat anyway, if possible, so why not spend that time in one of our modern, air-conditioned classrooms? You’ll beat the heat and grow your career potential at the same time!

Taking a CSLS course is a great way to make friends and professional contacts. Studying to become a licensed contractor is a great way to network with other construction professionals in your area, as well as meet experienced instructors who can give you valuable insight. Whether you’re looking for some good advice, a bigger circle of friends, or just a better sense of the construction community, taking a class is a great way to find what you’re looking for.
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If it hasn’t happened already, we can assure you that there will probably come a time in your career as a California licensed contractor that you’ll want to bid on a very large project. And when you get it, you’ll quickly discover two things: first, that it’s a great feeling, and second, that you might suddenly start to wonder if you’re in over your head.

To help relieve that second feeling and make your first few big projects into profitable successes, here are our top five tips for managing and executing a big construction job:

1. Plan meticulously. The easiest way to fight nervousness (and to prevent unexpected emergencies) is to have a detailed plan for the project. Put down hours, dates, materials, and any other factors you can think of into a detailed spreadsheet or flowchart. That way, you can always stay on top of the things that matter most.

2. Get the right advice. If you really want great advice, talk to someone who has been there before. Specifically, seek out a contractor who has worked on similar types of projects, or maybe one who has dealt with the client or project site in the past. They can tell you what matters, and what to look out for.
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It has been said that the most expensive thing in the world is regret, and if you’ve ever looked back on an important moment in your life wishing you’d taken the next step forward, you can understand the wisdom in that statement.

So, if you’re reading this online because you’ve been thinking about becoming a licensed contractor in California, we encourage you to sign up for classes with CSLS today. That way, you won’t have to look back a year from now and wish you’d gotten started sooner… or wonder later in life why you never got started at all.

Whether you come to one of our 24 campus locations for classroom-style courses, or learn with us online, we make the path to becoming a licensed California construction contractor as smooth as possible. All it takes from you is that first commitment to click on the link below and get started.

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Often, improving your business as a California licensed contractor doesn’t take a huge effort or a mental breakthrough; it’s usually just a matter of learning a few new tricks and putting them into practice.

For that reason, we want to share one of those tips with you today – something that can make a big difference to you and your clients, and typically takes less than 30 minutes: put together a list of “trusted vendors” that you can share with clients and colleagues.

Your list should be filled with other contractors and construction companies that you know do great work. Chances are, you’ve probably come across lots of professionals during the course of your career. Those relationships can save other people a lot of time that would have been spent evaluating different contractors. And of course, your colleagues are in a better position if they get lots of referrals.
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When it comes to finding new clients for construction work in California, you can’t beat a referral from another licensed contractor. After all, when customers have already heard good things about you from someone they know and trust, it doesn’t just increase the odds they’ll hire you, but also that the project will go smoothly. But, there is an etiquette …
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Most licensed contractors in California have two types of schedules: “too busy” and “not busy enough.” When you’re just starting out, the idea of having more work than you can handle might seem like a great thing, but the reality is that striking a balance – having enough projects to stay profitable without overburdening yourself – is extremely important. Too much work can cause as many problems as too little.

At the same time, you can’t afford to let details slip away. Forgetting to order important materials, not submitting invoices or tax payments on time, or simply failing to return a phone call can all carry expensive consequences.
With that in mind, here are two of our best, industrial-grade tips for managing your workflow as a professional California contractor:
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As we have noted before, marketing is a key skill that can make or break your success as an independent licensed contractor in California. At the same time, though, it’s a part of the business that most contractors don’t truly enjoy, and don’t really understand. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to attract new clients and projects, however. …
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When you are trying to succeed in the competitive California construction industry, few things can compare to hard work and a little bit of luck. But, there is one thing you can do to help yourself once in a while that most new contractors never consider: take an extended bit of time off from the job. How can you get …
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Most people regularly dream about quitting their jobs and becoming their own bosses. For CSLS graduates, that dream is often realized quickly after graduation.

But, even though running your own company can be a wonderful step forward, making the transition isn’t always as simple as new contractors would like to think. All of a sudden, there are new tasks and responsibilities to deal with – not to mention challenges that are difficult to anticipate.

The key to starting off on the right foot and making a smooth transition to self-employment is to follow a few simple guidelines. Here are five that we can give you from our own personal experience:

1. Don’t necessarily move into self-employment all at once. There is no law that says you have to quit your old job immediately and move into contracting all at once. In fact, it’s often easier to make the transition in stages while you’re still earning a paycheck every two weeks.
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For most of the country, late April and early May mean that temperatures are finally starting to feel spring-like. Here in California, though, parts of the state will already be heating up. That might be a good thing for surfers and sunbathers, but it can bring challenges and dangers to licensed contractors, who often spend much of their working days …
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