Do You Have What It Takes to Scale?

Do You Have What It Takes to Scale? Here Are the Top 3 Traits of Elite Contractors and Flailing Duds

Ever wondered what the best contractors do differently? Now’s your chance to peer behind the curtain and learn the qualities that enable them to dominate their industry. And take serious vacations.

Why do some contractors grow their companies to stratospheric heights, while others languish in the mud pits?

Is it luck? Magic? A protein-rich diet?

Gather round, dear friends, because after working with hundreds (over a thousand, actually, but who’s counting) contractors, Breakthrough Academy has nailed down the top three traits that distinguish the movers from the stagnant.

We’ve spent nearly a decade working with businesses across every trade, with collective revenue in the billions – yes, billions – of dollars. We’ve seen first-hand what works… and what doesn’t.

And we’re ready to reveal all.

The only question is… are you ready to absorb these lessons?

3 Traits of Elite Contractors

Great leaders aren’t just born. They’re made. And the superstar contractors that grow the most prosperous contracting businesses have carefully cultivated both their leadership skills and their personal mindsets. They’re optimized for success.

In other words… this is what you’re up against. No pressure.

We present to you the top three traits of the highest performers.

#1 - They think BIG 


Elite contractors have intentional, grand-scale visions… and not just in terms of revenue. Their goals frequently encompass lofty aspirations such as to:

  • Be the #1 company in their industry or region
  • Expand their business into multiple verticals or franchises 
  • Run an efficient operation that allows them to take time off (imagine!)
  • Provide both themselves and their staff with a good quality of life

But they don’t stop there.

As Stephen Covey has said, all things get created twice: first in the imagination, then in reality. While elite contractors envision their goals with crystal clarity and vivid detail, they don’t just dream… they plan, and then they execute. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a key element that differentiates the crushers from the wannabes. It’s easy to walk around like an idea factory, spouting maxims from strategy books. It’s an entirely different matter to put an idea – especially a big one – into action.

Top performers know how to: 

  • Break a goal down into a measurable and manageable plan that can be carried out by year, by quarter and by week.
  • Test their vision with small experiments before launching into their big initiatives.
  • Avoid getting overburdened by doing too much at once.
  • Go after the easy wins first in order to build momentum and confidence.
  • Prioritize - they don’t chase fancy tech when they need to be chasing jobs.

Basically, they get started and they follow through. Which is why they also get results.

🤔 Question: Are you the biggest thinker in your organization?

As the business owner, complacency is your enemy. If you’re not pushing the bounds of your capability, it’ll be difficult to inspire your team to do so, and it will prove nearly impossible to retain exceptional talent. “A” players tend to become disengaged, or just simply walk out the door, when they realize their ambitions overshadow the boss.’

#2 - They’re decisive


One of the hallmarks of elite contractors is their ability to make choices quickly and definitively, especially when the stakes are high. They’re also skilled at doing so across two levels:

  • At a macro level: they navigate crises such as market crashes, pandemics, or wars. (Welcome to the world today…)
  • At a micro level: they respond to the daily fluctuations within their operation. 

While weak leaders tend to be wishy-washy, strong leaders recognize when it’s time to pivot. For instance, when Covid hit, elite business owners learned how to close deals via video calls, or recognized the need to shift from residential to commercial projects. 

They make decisions based on solid input and reasoning. They spend the time analyzing data or bonding with their financial statements so they understand the current state of their projects, their business, and the world. They also develop a steadfast intuition that allows them to trust their gut, because…

The best leaders aren’t afraid to break things.

At least for the short term, if it ultimately brings substantial benefits. For example, implementing a new CRM system may invoke a painful transition for a couple months, but it will improve reporting for years to come. 

These folks don’t fear the fallout that may result from their decisions, because they view every situation through a long-term lens.

Top performers know how to:

  • Pick their battles and avoid compromising on quality or bottlenecking the organization by trying to push through too much in one go. 
  • Admit when they’re wrong. 
  • Use their values as their guide and do the right thing, even when it’s hard. 
  • Seek counsel from others who have been through similar experiences.
  • Relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor, after the work is done.

Fundamentally, a leader’s job is to make good decisions. 

🤔 Question: Can you get comfortable with the worst-case scenario?

There’s an element of risk in any decision, but when faced with a fork in the road, try picturing the worst that could happen. Figure out, hypothetically, how you could weather that storm. It’s probably highly unlikely to occur, but if it does, at least you won’t be caught off guard.

The trades are unique, in that there’s no technology that can take the place of genuine craftsmanship

 

#3 - THEY POSSESS AN EYE FOR TALENT


The best contractors have a keen eye for talent and are always striving to develop their team. They realize what sets them apart from their competition: 

  • The quality of their people 
  • The service they deliver to their customers 

Elite business owners are like dedicated scouts, able to spot and appreciate high-caliber players in two arenas:

  • Externally: they attract and recruit people who match their ideal employee profile
  • Internally: they invest significant time and effort to nurture and retain talent

Elite contractors never stop recruiting. They’re always reaching out to the market and letting people know they’re growing, successful, and hunting for good people. They don’t wait until they have a vacancy to fill. 

Top performers know how to:

  • Stay on the lookout for talent wherever they are, whether shopping at an electronics store, or ordering a sandwich at a deli. Mmm… sandwiches… 
  • Build rapport and trust, even within brief interactions.
  • Foster and support the development of new leaders within the team

The trades and construction are unique, in that there’s really no technology that can replace genuine craftsmanship - that can only be found in talented people. 

🤔 Question: Are you developing leaders within your company?

Of all your team members, this group is one of the most deserving of your attention. Staff in roles like the foreman (or forewoman), job site leader, and crew leader work directly with laborers and technicians and will eventually become your general manager or operations manager. By training and empowering them to be inspiring leaders, you’ll elevate the performance of your entire team.

Running a business is not the same as burning off steam at your local speedway.

3 Traits of Flailing Duds

So… what’s happening on the other side of the equation? Why do some owners struggle to unlock the full potential of their business? 

Let’s dig into the three most prominent traits of the lowest-performing contractors.

#1 - They lack focus 


Low-performing contractors tend to be “ideas people” who are eager to try everything, but ultimately accomplish nothing. Which makes sense, when you think about it. You can’t deliver results if you’re careening from one shiny object to the next. 

Today, the world comes at us from every angle all. day. long. Distractions have become commonplace, and low-performing contractors fall prey to them. These poor leaders frustrate their staff, who aren’t sure what they should be working on, or become demotivated because they expect priorities will shift before they’ve even had a chance to make any progress. Meetings are unproductive, because these leaders are more engrossed by their phones than their people.

Ideas are easy. Exceptional execution on the other hand, ehhh, that takes resources, time, energy… and attention. A LOT of attention. Feeble leaders need not apply.

🤔 Question: Do you understand the power of saying ‘No?’

Despite being the ire of parents with toddlers, the word “No” has immense power for contractors. ‘No’ keeps you focused. ‘No’ helps you filter out noise and distractions. It allows you to identify all the things that aren’t worth doing and narrow in on the few things that are.

Interested in learning how the right systems and skills could help you become an 8-figure contractor? Book a call with Breakthrough Academy today.

#2 - THEY’RE UNCOACHABLE 


Poor-performing contractors are often their own worst enemy. While being an entrepreneur demands a little swagger, there’s a fine line between a healthy ego and detrimental arrogance.

What’s the difference between ego and arrogance? With a healthy ego, there’s an openness to learning and adapting. Arrogance manifests as a resistance to feedback and an inflated sense of self-importance. It’s incredibly limiting. For example, arrogant contractors prefer their coach to be a “yes” man (or “yes” woman… ahem) who agrees with everything, as opposed to a sounding board who challenges their thinking or perspective. 

A decisive, high-performing leader balances self-confidence with the humility to recognize when arrogance obscures their judgment. 

🤔 Question: Are you the common denominator?

Leaders who claim to have everything under control while evidence suggests otherwise are fooling themselves. However, recurring patterns, such as high employee turnover, speak for themselves. Be careful not to dismiss constructive feedback too readily, especially if it comes from a trusted source. Humbling though it may be, taking criticism on board can prove an essential step towards having a thriving business.

Your sphere of influence can make or break your performance. It’s not something to take lightly.

 

#3 - THEY HAVE A WEAK SUPPORT SYSTEM 


One of the most profound and overlooked factors that impacts a contractor’s performance is their sphere of influence - the people who support and advise them. They can include anyone: spouses, business partners, friends, parents, and staff. You name it.

When their input is negative, toxic or discouraging, it can devastate a contractor’s personal and professional growth. But even worse, the contractor might be blind to its effect, especially if the influence comes from someone they have a long-standing relationship with. 

It’s not always ill-intentioned, either. For example, in a father-son business where the son wants to take the company to the next level, but the father is content with the status quo, the son’s opportunities, mindset, and the business itself are all being limited. 

High performers are intentional about who they learn from, whether it’s coaches, mentors, peers, role models… even authors. They seek out the best sources of wisdom, and they apply what they learn. They surround themselves with positive and supportive people who share their vision and values and avoid anyone who drags them down. Your sphere of influence can make or break your performance. It’s not something to take lightly.

🤔 Question: Who’s in your ‘thank you’ speech?

If you were to win the most coveted award in your industry tomorrow, who would get your public gratitude? High achievers from every area recognize that success is a team sport. They acknowledge that they didn’t get where they are on their own. They rarely praise their own skills or talent. Instead, they express utmost appreciation for those who supported, guided, and challenged them to improve.

Finally… one major takeaway

The lessons inherent in these traits can essentially be wrapped up in a single word: RESPECT.

Treat people with common decency, because you never know where a relationship might go. People are multifaceted creatures, and life can be a long trek. There’s no point digging holes to fall into down the road.

If you make one change to yourself and your approach to your business, start with that. 

In the meantime, if you’re ready to join the prestigious group of contractors changing the world through profitable and meaningful work, schedule a call with us now.

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