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Smart Business for Contractors: A Guide to Money and the Law Paperback – Jan 9 2007
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About the Author
Jim Kramon is a founder of Kramon & Graham, a 30-person law firm in Baltimore, Maryland. Jim and his firm have represented small contractors and tradespeople for over 30 years.
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If you are looking to tighten your operation, learn more about a specific topic or ensure collection, this is not the right book.
The straightforward language of this book explains the business side of being a professional tradesperson, and shows the benefits of doing things properly. It is backed by many examples of what has worked and not worked for others.
The book also shows how to plan for your retirement and balance your business and personal life.
Whether you are just thinking about going out on your own, or you've been running things by the seat of your pants, this book will help.
Those CLE booklets all talk about the billable hour and how it is how to price your services. While I agree that all business people should price their company's goods and services so the owner has a certain amount of taxable income at year-end, it is very short sighted to worry about profit margins on each hour worked PER PROJECT. You will want to factor minimum hourly rates for time into your bid, but you should ALWAYS quote what the market will bear. And this amount is higher than what this book tells you to charge.
The biggest problem I had with this book is that it fails to talk about the importance of having a written business plan. A sound 25-35-page business plan would be the contractor's roadmap to success. And it covers all the things mentioned in this book and more. It would include financial reports, i.e., balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. And if the contractor fails to do business the way the plan dictates, then the contractor could evaluate why his company is coming up short and take corrective action.
Besides a chapter on why a business plan should be researched and written, I think the book should have had a nuts and bolts chapter on how to put a business plan together. And I didn't particularly like the outline of this book. I would have liked it lots better if it had been broken into four parts as follows:
I. Choice of Entity
6. Sizing up your options: Corporations, Partnerships, Employees
4. Managing the paper chase
5. Drawing the line: Business vs personal finances
7. Taxes: Plain and simple
III. Operations and Marketing
1. Money matters: Pricing, billing and collecting
2. Contracts and beyond: Protecting your business
12. Your first year in business
3. Running and growing a business
IV. Risk Management
8. Insurance: Money well spent
9. Medical insurance: How to live with it
10. Disability: Anticipating the solution
11. Retirement planning: Never too early
Ideally the first part of the book would be retitled "Business Plans" and Chapter 6A (Why You Need a Business Plan) and Chapter 6B (How to Write a Business Plan) would be added. I think Chapter 5 should have made some mention of QuickBooks Pro bookkeeping software. And I think Chapter 7 should have made some mention of TurboTax software. More could have been written about rainmaking (growing the business) in Chapter 3. My favorite chapter in the book was Chapter 2. I just think the author did a very nice job with it.
I think the chapters I label as risk management above were a little too involved for a general business book for contractors. There was so much more that could have been covered in parts 1 through 3 that I felt as though Part 4 was just too thorough. As a result, the book did not have an "even" feel to it for me. There are books that talk just about risk management and retirement planning. Why not just refer the reader to some of those books? 3 stars!
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