Anyone running a trades-based business knows it’s a stressful career path that can really take a toll. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some simple things any tradesperson can do to make their work situation more enjoyable.
Being self-employed means you have to handle the business side of things, on top of daily jobs for clients.
If there isn’t some bookkeeping or a tax return to sort out (both made easier with great online accounting software), there’s marketing and quoting tasks to do, or chasing up payments, hiring and training apprentices, and more.
Plus, cash flow is often a problem, and it can be tough trying to find work-life balance. Even worse, December and January can be particularly testing due to weather, workers and clients going on vacation and all the other running around that comes on at the end of the calendar year.
There are strategies you can utilise to help reduce the stress, though, and these are just as relevant at any time of year.
Read on for some tips you can put in place today to help you get through the silly season and beyond.
For starters, be selective about the jobs you decide to take on. Not all options will actually be worth your time.
Get better at saying no to potential clients when you can tell they won’t pay your going rate, or if you know getting paid by them will be a challenge.
This applies to working for building and construction companies, too.
If you hear from other tradies that certain firms are months behind on payments or quibble over bills, steer clear of them. Use the time you free up to go after more profitable, easy-going clients instead.
You probably won’t want to fit another task into your week, but if you spend more time planning, this will help you claw back more time, and reduce stress.
For many tradies, stress increases during the week because job site issues arise, bills can’t be paid, work falls through, and so on.
But the more you plan, the more you will feel in control of your work life and be able to avoid such stressors.
For instance, plan out client jobs weeks in advance, and put back-up plans in place wherever possible.
Keep a close eye on your bank account and bills, and plan for how you will pay for expenses, especially larger ones.
Create a plan for your marketing, at least a few months in advance, so that you can be taking small steps to action this each week and keep client enquiries coming in.
Don’t try to do everything alone.
When you’re running your own business, it’s natural to want to handle everything. But, while it’s good to know where everything is at, trying to handle each task will just lead to burnout.
If you have the right people working for you, you should be able to delegate things to them and trust them to take care of it.
This kind of responsibility and accountability actually makes employees more motivated and committed, too, which is a plus.
If you don’t already have an apprentice or other staff members, look into ways you might be able to afford the help.
You don’t have to start off with people working full-time; employ casuals and build hours as your business grows. Seasonal workers are often easier to find during the summer months, so make use of the available talent.
You might also have a partner or family member who can handle certain tasks for you, or you can outsource work to people such as accountants, bookkeepers, administrators, receptionists and the like.
While these options do cost money, they free you up to concentrate on tasks you actually enjoy, and which are usually a better use of your time.
These days there’s also a lot of fantastic technologies you can utilise to get more work-life balance.
There are wonderful accounting, invoicing and budgeting apps, for instance, plus tools which handle expenses, payments, rostering, time tracking, inventory management, marketing and much more.
Check out the wide range of add-on services provided by MYOB for some suggested software options.
Lastly, take specific steps to protect your mental health.
With tradies being at such high risk of breakdowns and suicide, you must guard your mental health and be vigilant about seeking help when you need it.
For example, there are over-the-phone, online and in-person counselling services available for an affordable cost.
Talking about what’s stressing you not only enables you to vent, but also makes it easier to find solutions to your problems.
Make sure you take time off work, too. Holidays aren’t just for everyone else!
At a minimum, give yourself at least one whole day off per week where you don’t work at all, and have a longer holiday at least once or twice during the year.
Getting enough rest is also essential to mental health, so take steps to get to bed at a reasonable hour each night.