Times are good now. That means most contractors are not going to pay much attention to this post. Which is a shame, because while many contractors do well during good times, the longevity and fruitfulness of their careers is directly proportionate to the work they do at times just like these — not when projects slow and times get tough.
Which is not to say that you have to change the way you do things when projects slow. It means that the work you do now, when things are good, will lead to circumstances being easier for you when projects, inevitably, slow. Put another way, as someone once told me, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”
1. Understand that when the market slows, you may not be able to bill as many hours annually as you do today. Also, a slow market may not afford you the same pay rate as you enjoy today. In order to make slower times easier, it’s wise to put some funds aside now. The amount you’re getting paid today and the number of hours you’re working are both as high as you will probably see. If your hours worked or your pay rate drop during slower times, being able to draw from funds set aside today will lower your stress level.
2. Build relationships with a select number of contracting or consulting firms. As you make your way through these next few years, will you secure most of your contracts through a limited number of firms or will you continually switch to the highest bidder? Understand that the firms with which you work have favorite candidates. When times slow and these firms have multiple candidates from whom to choose for upcoming projects, they’re going to turn to their favorites. So, as you’re making your way through these times, also make sure that you have a couple of firms that view you as one of their favorites. They will come to you as a first option when you need the work the most.
Moving forward, keep these points in mind as you take on new projects. By doing so, you may avoid the degree of downturn experienced by many of your peers.