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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It has been said that the greatest gift you can give someone (or give yourself, for that matter) is an education. That’s because the knowledge and skills we accumulate pay us back time and time again, allowing us to grow professionally and earn more money. Why bring this up today? Because as graduation season approaches, lots of people – both …
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At CSLS, we are proud of the fact that we have been able to help tens of thousands construction professionals to become licensed California state contractors and move their careers in the right direction. As virtually any one of them could tell you, however, becoming licensed is just the first step – there’s a lot more that goes into being successful, both financially and professionally.

Because we want to see you enjoy all the great things that can happen to you as a result of your hard work, here are the seven habits of highly successful construction contractors in California:

1. They do business legally. It goes without saying that successful contractors don’t just become licensed, but then follow the letter of the law when it comes to permits and regulations. The last thing you want holding your business back is a legal or liability issue.

2. They are always marketing. Although earning your California state contractor’s license makes marketing your construction company easier, it still takes a bit of steady work to find and keep clients. Smart contractors know that marketing is an ongoing process.

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When it comes to launching their businesses as licensed California contractors, many new CSLS graduates find that marketing is the hard part – at least for the first few months of their careers.

That’s understandable. It can be difficult to get those first few clients and projects when you don’t have a lot of references, or long track record, to draw on. And so, many of them turn to all kinds of complicated marketing techniques and schemes.That’s perfectly fine, but some people miss the easiest thing they can do to get more work as a licensed contractor: just be easy to work with.

In other words, clients (as well as other contractors) like to be around people who are helpful and have the right mindset. They dislike working with people who are late, rude, or unprofessional. That’s certainly not hard to understand, but it can mean a shift in thinking if you aren’t used to paying attention to behavior in that way.
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alk to any veteran contractor, and they’ll be able to tell you stories of projects that end badly, clients that they’d like to never see again, and headaches that just wouldn’t go away. To a certain degree, that’s just part of life as a licensed contractor – or being your own boss in any industry. But, there is a simple way you can avoid making the same mistakes… and stop yourself from taking the worst California construction projects in the process.

All you have to do is ask around before you accept any new work from a customer you don’t know. Simply phone other contractors or professionals to see what their experiences have been like.

Think about it this way: you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) take a job from an employer if you had no idea about the history of the company, how they treated their workers, etc. So, even though you might not be working for a person or company for a long time, why not do a little bit of digging to see if it’s worth the time or effort?
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Most people start every new year with big goals and ambitions, and 2013 is certainly no different. In fact, we’ve heard many former students and working construction professionals tell us that they have set big targets for themselves in the coming months.

And so, we invite you to ask yourself right now: are you on track to meet your personal and professional 2013 goals?

If you aren’t, don’t get down – you certainly aren’t alone. This is the time of year when most of us start to forget about the holidays and feel busy and rushed again. Things that seem like a great idea on January 1 don’t necessarily seem so important, or even possible, now that the year is back in full swing.

But, whether your goal was to become a licensed California contractor this year, earn a new certification, find more clients, or do something different, there’s still plenty of time to get back on track. Here are a few tips to help you out:

Take one step at a time. Lots of things in life – including becoming a licensed California contractor – can be overwhelming when you think about them as big projects. But, by taking things one little step at a time, you realize that the path in front of you is a lot simpler than you’d imagine.

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From time to time, we like to remind former students and current contractors that it’s always a good idea to come back and sign up for a new training session or seminar. But given that most construction professionals don’t love sitting in classrooms, is this really good or important advice?

We certainly think so, and the top professionals in nearly every field or industry seem to agree. If you don’t believe us, check out some of the best-selling books, most popular articles, or most famous speeches given by business leaders. They’ll all tell you that continuous education isn’t just important, but one of the most important things you can do for your business and career.
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As we’ve mentioned in our newsletters many times in the past, the hardest part about becoming a California state licensed contractor is usually making the decision to do it. In other words, once you have taken that first step and called our school, the rest of the process tends to fall in line.

So, if you’re looking for an easy way to push yourself and make the commitment, here is a great way to find the motivation: talk to one of our former students who has already taken the next step.

By speaking with someone who was in your shoes a short while ago, we think you’ll hear three things for yourself:

1. That making a change in your life and career is possible. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the material, studying, scheduling, and details that lie ahead when you decide to become a licensed contractor… until you talk to someone else who has already been through the process. They’ll tell you that, taking things one step at a time, it isn’t nearly as complicated or daunting as you might imagine. Tens of thousands of CSLS students have done it, and you can too.

2. That becoming a Licensed California Contractor is worth the effort. We have yet to hear of someone who wishes they hadn’t gone back to school or become licensed. That’s because there isn’t any other feeling like the one of being your own boss, or owning your own company. The ability to set your own pay, career direction, and schedule are more important than you might think, and are well worth the time and effort spent achieving them.
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If you were to ask enough licensed contractors, you’d probably hear dozens of different opinions on Internet marketing. Some think it might be the best tool ever for finding new clients and projects, while others prefer more traditional techniques like word-of-mouth and printed ads.

With that in mind, it’s reasonable for new (or future) contractors to ask whether Internet marketing can be a valuable tool for them. Here are a few things you can use a website for, even if you aren’t that well-known yet, or don’t have a lot of money to promote your contracting business:

Search engine marketing. That’s a complicated term for a very simple idea: if you’re like most people, you turn to Google (or maybe Bing) when you need answers. So do most customers, which is why it pays to have the ads on the sites, especially if you have a specialty business. For example, you might want someone who is searching for “best Pasadena cabinets” to find your website, since that could lead to a new project right away.

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If you believe musicians, then “more money” almost always equals “more problems.” But, as your licensed California contractor business grows, does that always have to be the case… does earning more have to mean more headaches, too?

The answer all depends on the way you manage your company and take care of the details. To see what we mean, take the following seven pieces of tried-and-true advice:

1. Managing money is as important as managing your work. You can be one of the best contractors in the world, but if you can’t manage your business finances, you ultimately aren’t going to be very successful.

2. You don’t ever want to get behind on your taxes. IRS problems aren’t just a hassle, but an expensive one. Take care to ensure that you are up to date with your filings, quarterly taxes, and other details. Hire an accountant or attorney to help you keep things straight if necessary.

3. A strong business savings account is a big asset. Having some business savings can help you make it through lean times or afford important repairs, pieces of new equipment, or even additional employees when you need them most.

4. Learning to bid correctly is a money-management skill. One of the easiest ways to be more profitable and take better care of your money is by making a bit more on each project. For that to happen, you have to become skilled at bidding and estimating new construction projects.
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Earlier this month, we noted that even the best, most professional construction contractors are occasionally going to have to deal with complaints and client issues. The same could be said of slow periods – nearly every successful contractor or construction company has them from time to time.

Although there are a lot of things you can do to keep yourself busy in a larger sense, it’s hard to avoid slow times altogether. That’s because economic turmoil, canceled projects, and other factors out of your control sometimes get in the way of an otherwise-smooth calendar. And when they do, you could find yourself with some unplanned downtime, trying to figure out how to put more projects back on the books.
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