Working for yourself can be incredibly rewarding, both financially and creatively. You can set your own hours, provide exactly the types of services you excel at, and really find your niche. But it isn’t without its pitfalls. With over 30 years of experience as a successful business owner, David Klingenfuss knows a thing or two about how to make working for yourself work.
The California native started working on construction projects with his stepfather, a general contractor, when he was just 13 years old. One day on a job site, he saw the electricians doing their thing and knew it was what he wanted to do with his life. So, at the age of 20, he decided to attend hands-on, live-in training at Job Corps in Reno, Nevada. A few years later, after a contractor he was working for recommended it, he looked into starting his own contracting business. With a successful apprenticeship under his belt and a few years of on-the-job experience, Klingenfuss made the leap to working for himself.
The veteran handyman, electrical contractor and expert in all things lighting has plenty to say about the dos and don’ts of successfully starting and growing your own business. Here are four top tips from David Klingenfuss.
- Prioritize customer service
According to David, if you aren’t prioritizing your customers, you aren’t doing it right. After all, they are the reason you’re in business. Covid 19 hasn’t been kind to most businesses, but Klingenfuss has been able to stay afloat in large part because he maintains his relationships with his customers. If business slows down a bit, he makes a few calls and checks in with previous clients. You never know, they might just need some work done. Keep in mind that if your customers know and trust you and your brand, they’re more likely to call you the next time they need your services.
- Know the ins and outs of your chosen business field
Klingenfuss is a true veteran, having gone to work with his stepfather on construction sites since the age of 13. While not everyone has the chance to grow up on their future job site, it pays to do your homework. Besides getting the appropriate training, certifications and licences, seek out a mentor, if you can. Read up about your chosen field, and never stop learning. There’s nothing worse than disappointing a client because you made a rookie mistake.
- Ask for reviews
Like it or not, we live in the digital age, where online reviews can make or break your business. Make sure to have a website and social media page(s) where you highlight positive reviews and testimonials. This is also a great way for you to interact with both former and potential clients, helping to maintain a steady stream of business.
- Don’t overspend
One of the biggest mistakes Klingenfuss sees overeager new business owners make is buying lots of expensive equipment right off the bat. This can add up to a lot of debt. While you will likely need to invest some money in the beginning, try to be frugal and only buy what you really need. You can always pick up more equipment later once your business grows.