How to Learn from Your Mentors to Grow Your Contracting Business
In this industry, you learn as much from practice and guidance as you do from study. That’s why you have to spend a fair bit of time gathering experience under a licensed contractor before you can attempt the exam and get a license of your own. While you’re working on your own qualifications, you have an excellent opportunity to learn from someone who has already made success in your chosen field. Here’s how you can make it a valuable experience you can carry forward into your own business.
Start With an Open Slate
Up to this point in your life, you’ve learned that people respond differently to the same questions or comments. Now you have a chance to practice effectively getting your point across. If your mentor tends to give you short answers that don’t truly satisfy your curiosity, considering finding different ways to ask questions. Explore communication styles and take note of which ones work better than others. Some people might prefer a more formal communication that comes as phone calls and discussions in person. Others may feel more comfortable talking briefly via text message throughout the day. Keep trying until you discover an arrangement that works best for both parties.
Establish a Professional Relationship
In any industry that is heavily local, you’ll end up working with the same people again and again. If you view it as an opportunity to build a long-term working relationship, you will see the importance of getting this dynamic right. This is where all your time spent networking can come into useful play. With good nurturing, a mentor might turn into a professional who sees you as their favorite subcontractor. Remember that praise and consideration go both ways in any working relationship. Make sure that you’re contributing to their needs as much as they are yours.
Discern Technical Knowledge from Business Experience
Once you’ve been at this job for a while, you might have most or all of the technical knowledge you need. You can still glean a lot of business sense from working with your mentor. Ideally, you know how certain tasks are supposed to go. However, education and even a lot of on-the-job training sets you up for the best-case scenario. Ask questions about the business aspects of the work at hand, such as:
- What are reasonable parameters for today’s work?
- Are there unique expectations we have for working with this client, jobsite or project?
- What would success on this project look like?
This way, you’ll get a lot of good business sense at the same time as you practice the skills.
Take Constructive Criticism
Throughout your career, you’ll receive a lot of feedback about your work. Hopefully most of it will be great, but you will have to deal with criticism or complaints on occasion. Consider this negative feedback a way to refine your interactions with future clients. Remember that your mentor is supposed to correct mistakes, partly so that you’re less likely to make them in your own business. Criticism often feels personal, but it’s important to develop coping mechanisms so you can continue to learn from the experience. Focus on what they have to say more than the tone of the comments. In time, you may find that it’s easier to hear complaints without feeling badly.
Apply Feedback to Future Goals
Knowing what to do with the feedback you get is just as important as the way you receive it. Sometimes, commentary about the way you handle a particular job can be applied to other areas. At other times, it’s so specific to the task (or to the person you’re working with) that it might not be practical to use it elsewhere. When you get a piece of detailed, constructive feedback, think about how you can fit it into your business goals. This will give you a greater incentive to improve.
Construction is a field passed down from one generation to the next, and you can gain a great benefit from that. By cultivating a good relationship with your mentors, you’ll ensure a smoother introduction to the business. To start on your path to becoming a contractor, visit CSLS today!