Reinventing Yourself: How to Strike Out for On Your Own as a Contractor
The world as we know it has fundamentally changed. For those who have enough entrepreneurial spirit to strike out on their own, they may be able to take advantage of these massive cultural shifts to put themselves in a better place overall.
There are probably very few of us who grew up not hearing that we could do anything we put our mind to. We carried that attitude with us through our naïve childhood years, through drama-filled high school, and using it as our bulwark in arduous college years, only to realize upon graduation that there’s only so much room for success. Very few get to rise to a level of success where they are in charge of their own destinies; the rest of us just go where we can, subsisting off the scraps of the rich and powerful, taking what jobs we can to pay rent and avoid losing our homes. Often these jobs are underappreciated and underpaid, despite making up the bedrock of how modern society functions, jobs like retail and fast food.
Since the pandemic struck, however, the American working class has realized that the messaging passed down from corporations for decades (the message that no one is irreplaceable, that workers are a dime a dozen for these kinds of jobs) is no longer true, and are beginning to seize control of the modern economy. This struggle between big business and their “lower-skill” workers is the cause of the labor shortage many business owners are bemoaning: and also the source of a whole new world of opportunity for workers looking to strike out on their own. And one of the most viable industries to switch to, one with the most opportunity post-pandemic, is the construction industry.
If you’re looking to switch jobs and start your own contracting company, you couldn’t have picked a better time. Here’s everything you need to do to obtain your license and get started managing your business as a general contractor.
Table of Contents
Choose Your Class and Specialty
Before you do anything else, you should decide which type of license you want to shoot for and what kinds of jobs you’ll take on, as the latter will greatly influence the former. Class A contractors can work on projects of any dollar amount, whereas Class B and C licenses are more limited in their scope: Class B licenses typically are restricted to projects equal to or less than 200,000 dollars in value, whereas Class C is limited to 10,000 dollars. Your fees and the requirements for obtaining your license will vary depending on which license you choose, and you’ll want to pursue the license that will allow you to pursue the kinds of jobs you want to take on: if you go outside the bounds set by your license once attained, you could be legally liable.
Pass the Contractor’s Exam, Get Your License
Before you can set your company in stone, you must first pass the contractor’s exam in most states. Requirements for obtaining your license vary from state to state, so exams will likely focus on different aspects depending on which state you’re taking them in. Luckily, there are online courses you can take that will help you attain your license, making sure you are well prepared to crush the exam and move to the next step, getting through the red tape of bureaucracy and finally getting to work.
Name and Register Your Company
One last thing you’ll need to do before taking on your first job is to reach out to your local state government, register with them, and let them know that your company will be operating in the area. You will need to, at this point, choose a name for your company, as well as state the structure under which your company will be run (sole proprietorship, partnership, etc). Once you’ve gone through this process, paying any fees required by your state government and getting their official stamp of approval, you’ll finally be ready to start taking on jobs.
Get Your Company Insured, Purchase Bonds
Depending on which state you’re operating in, your state may require you to get contractor’s insurance or surety bonds. Whether your state requires it or not, it may be a good idea for you to get your hands on both, as insurance will cover you in the event something unexpected happens on-site (construction is, after all, famous for being an accident-rife industry) and surety bonds will cover you if, for any reason, you aren’t able to finish a job. The latter may be especially important in the event of another nationwide lockdown.
Starting your own business won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding. Working for yourself is at the core of the new American dream, and you may find that as time goes on, taking advantage of this opportunity to strike out and forge your future may have set you (and your family) for life.
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