7 Skills Every Contractor Should Know

When you’re a contractor, you have to manage your time, money, skills, jobs, contacts, and resources. Therefore, you are your own boss. It’s important to remember that and apply the same time and effort to be your boss as someone else would. While you may see yourself as an expert with tile tools who can handle the installation of small and large format tiles better than anyone else, there is much more to being a skilled contractor than just your honed trade skill.

Source: Amnaj Khetsamtip/Shutterstock.com

Being a Contractor Is Being a Business Owner

Most people tend to think of business owners as men or women with suits who spend their time in boardrooms and meetings. At Contractors Direct, we understand that more businesses have owners who spend much of their time at job sites, not in air-conditioned conference rooms. As a contractor, you should know that just as well.

Being a business owner places the responsibility for your success solely on you. That means you’re going to need more than just the knowledge and expertise to perform a skilled trade. It’s not enough to be able to handle large format tiles or lay tiles with tile tools that your customers don’t even know the name for. You’ll need to be able to use the same skills as any other business owner to succeed.

Skills All Contactors Should Know

Unlike management positions at a large corporation or a brick-and-mortar store, you won’t have anyone to fall back on and check your management skills or business’s well-being. That means you’ll need to be self-sufficient in financial management, gathering clients, procuring resources, and maintaining the quality of performance. With the following key skills, you can do just that.


Communication is key. Not everything will be written on paper. Relationships with clients and other contractors are what can make or break your business. One bad day with the wrong client or contractor can result in a difficult time getting work in certain circles. It’s best to learn how to communicate efficiently and effectively. While your clients may not have the skill and understanding to know what you’re doing, you should be communicating the importance of each step along the way. This can help you overcome problems with deadlines due to weather or permit restrictions. Also, it can help you develop a working relationship with other contractors. It will most definitely increase your rapport with clients.

Forming a good working relationship with both clients and contractors is the best way to generate good marketing by word of mouth. It can also lead to the same client or contractors reaching out with projects in the future.

Financial Understanding

It may be a given that you’ll need to manage your business funds, but some contractors have a difficult time with this. As a contractor, you’ll be making contracts between yourself and your clients to create a budget that includes your labor costs and materials costs. You’ll need to be able to handle creating a budget for any possible needs you have. On top of this, you’ll want to understand what to do with profits to improve your business.

Source: RossHelen/Shutterstock.com

Project Management

No matter the project, contractors must be able to estimate time frames, materials needed, the order of processes, licensing requirements, and staffing needs. As most clients are trying to get the best bang for their buck, your business can suffer greatly from time mismanagement, cost differences, and project setbacks.

Critical Thinking

Not every project is as straightforward as the project plans may indicate. Sometimes, you’ll need to be able to work out solutions to unforeseen problems. You may even want to think about possible obstacles before they even occur. Experience will help you understand some of the issues that can go wrong, but critical thinking is what you’ll need to find a way around it. Whether it’s staffing issues, scheduling conflicts, weather interruptions, or a miscalculation of the project at hand, you shouldn’t leave anything to chance.


When it comes time to write your contract with a client, you’ll need to be able to justify your costs. It’s important to remember that most clients are looking to get the best work they can for the cheapest price. That means they’ll be shopping around for different rates. As a contractor, you’ll need to be willing to justify your value effectively. That means you’ll need to know your industry including the quality of work of other contractors and what the competition charges.


You won’t get much done without a solid grasp of basic mathematics. From geometry for construction integrity to arithmetic for budget creation, you’ll want to make sure your math skills are top-notch. Don’t let fast math mistakes become a big problem when it comes to materials shortages or improper cuts.

Ongoing Specialization

Last, but certainly not least, is the skill to continue learning. You may already be a professional in your trade, but so is the competition. You’ll want to put your skills to the test. Never stop putting in the effort to learn more about your craft. Practice and development of your skills can be exactly what you need to put your business at the top. Although you may never know everything about new advancements, you can always do better. Branch out to related trades and learn new techniques that can make your skill better and more efficient.

Source: Virrage Images/Shutterstock.com

Infographic created by West Side Tractor Sales, Offering Top of the Line John Deere Excavators


With a mastery of these seven skills, your contracting business will be better than ever. It will take time to get to the top and some never do. The contracting industry is a highly competitive field. You will need to put in quality effort and learn a variety of skills to be successful. Remember to keep yourself motivated and to always build your skills.