A Contractors Guide on How to Start (And Grow) a Small Business


Starting a small business from the ground up may seem daunting, but fear not, as there are many resources at your disposal. From getting started to marketing strategies to insurance coverage plans, here are some tips to get your construction firm up and running successfully-and safely.

Create a Business Plan

First and foremost, it's time to build the blueprint of your newfound business. This means coming up with a catchy name for your brand that doesn't already exist, estimating your startup and ongoing costs, determining the exact services your contractor business will provide (full-service offerings vs. a specialized scope of work), acquiring any necessary business and state licenses, laying out the structure of your team and nailing down who your key audience is-to start. While this part of the process sounds time consuming, be as thorough as possible. Remember, your company is only as strong as its foundation!

Types Of Insurance Coverage for Contractors

It's no secret that running a construction site has its risks. Between the potentially dangerous terrain to the heavy machinery, equipment, and tools, there are countless opportunities for your employees to get hurt on the job. That's why proper coverage is crucial. Not sure where to start?

Here are the essential coverages for contractors:

General Liability

One of the most common and recommended types of coverage for contractors. If an incident occurs and your business is found legally responsible for bodily injury or property damage to a third party, general liability insurance can help cover the costs.

Workers' Compensation

With workers' compensation insurance, your employees will have peace of mind knowing that if an incident does occur, their lost wages and medical expenses can be covered.

Commercial Property Insurance/Inland Marine Insurance

If you have a designated workshop, you'll need commercial property insurance-however, work materials and tools that get moved in and out of your business property need to be covered by an inland marine insurance policy.

Professional Liability

Even with years and years of experience, mistakes on the job can happen. Professional liability coverage is used to protect your business in case of construction errors or claims of negligence.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Much like personal auto insurance, commercial auto insurance offers coverage on business vehicles used to transport tools and/or employees.

Contractors Pollution Insurance

As a contractor, it's important to follow the strict environmental laws put in place. Contractors pollution insurance can help protect your business from pollution-related risks should you accidentally violate said laws and get sued get

Excess Insurance

As an added layer of protection for your business, excess insurance can cover the remaining cost of a liability claim not covered by your primary coverage.

While insurance coverage is there to protect you when you need it, be sure to develop a thorough safety plan to prevent accidents in the first place. Brief all staff members, including new employees, on the rules and regulations, and ensure they know what to do in case a work-related incident occurs.

Tips on How to Market Your Small Business

Now that your construction company is up and running, it’s time to promote your business both online and offline. While marketing may not be in your wheelhouse of expertise, here are a few simple ways to advertise your small business:

  1. Set yourself up for success with a user-friendly website that clearly lays out what services your company provides-and be sure your contact information is up to date. Your website will likely be a prospective client’s first stop when your company’s name comes up in their research or via word of mouth. This doesn’t have to be difficult or costly; there are plenty of budget-friendly website builders with easy-to-use templates.
  2. A business built on trust heavily relies on referrals and reviews. Ask clients in person, over the phone or follow up with them via email once a project is complete prompting them to share their experience working with you. Happy customer reviews can be why a client chooses you over a competitor.
  3. Network, network, network. Join industry associations, go to your neighborhood council meetings, connect with local communities, chat with local small business owners, introduce yourself, and spread the word about your contractor services. You never know when a friendly chat could turn into additional work.