Beware “The Enemy Within”…

Why “The Enemy Within”?

Anyone who knows me well, will know that I read a lot of non-fiction, and thanks to our youngest daughter I am reading “The Art of Happiness” by non other than H H Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler. A bit out there, but very interesting nonetheless.

So, when I read the following passage it got me thinking, and it gave rise to this particular Wise Up Wednesday;

“This is very different from an ordinary enemy… This internal enemy, this inner enemy, has no other function than causing us harm. It is our true enemy, our ultimate enemy. It has no other function than simply destroying us, both in the immediate term and in the long term.”

Whilst the Dalai Lama was talking about the inner enemy within ones own mind, it got me thinking about the “inner enemies” within our own businesses. Because, day after day in my work resolving problems for Specialist Contractors I have a unique and objective view of their inner enemies, their very own “Enemies Within”.

The Specialist Contractors Top Ten Enemies Within

These “enemies within” manifest themselves in all sorts of different ways, lack of knowledge, the wrong people, wrong thinking etc. Or a combination of these and other factors, but however they occur, and in the words of the Dalai Lama; they have no other function than simply destroying us, both in the immediate term and in the long term.

So here they are;

1) Not understanding the contract

2) Not agreeing the basics of the contract properly

3) Ignoring contractual obligations

4) Failing to get written instructions

5) Failing to agree additional costs at the appropriate time

6) Not issuing proper notices when being delayed

7) Failing to understand and comply with the payment process

8) Failing to take remedial action when things are going wrong

9) Reluctance to escalate problems to the senior decision maker

10) Not taking appropriate advice sooner rather than later

Destroying The Enemy Within

Whilst it may never be possible to completely destroy the enemies within, we can take steps to minimise their impact on the success of our business. After all if we don’t take action they will destroy our business!

Maybe not today, maybe not next week or next month, but they are busy working away, and they have no other purpose…

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“This nuclear power deal with China is one of the maddest ever struck” So says Polly Toynbee in the Guardian and I agree with her!

Not much keeps me awake at night, (it’s currently 4.48 am – and this has nothing to do with politics), but the sheer stupidity and arrogance of our current bunch of buffoons beggars belief.

Why do we need a Chinese company to build a nuclear power plant in England? Are we so hopelessly incapable of designing and building such a plant? If so we should be ashamed. When I was a 16 year old kid we went on a trip to Trawsfynydd nuclear power plant in Wales.

According to Wikipedia The power station was designed by Sir Basil Spence, and built by a consortium involving Crompton Parkinson, Fairey Engineering and Richardsons Westgarth. It began in July 1959, and both of the reactors were in operation by March 1965, with the station opening fully in October 1968, at a cost of £103 million. The civil engineering work was undertaken by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts and Trollope & Colls.

All good British names and no foreign investment in sight!

So, why some 50 years later do we need the Chinese, or anyone else for that matter, to come and show us how to build nuclear power plants.

Why do we need the Chinese to build it when our Government’s says (see Construction 2025) :

“Construction is a sector where Britain has a strong competitive edge. We have world-class expertise in architecture, design and engineering, and British companies are leading the way in sustainable construction solutions.

Changes in the international economy are creating new opportunities for Britain. To help boost the economic recovery, Government is doing all it can to help British businesses grow and have the aspiration, confidence and drive to compete in the global race.”

Oh yeah that’s why its slashed the renewable subsidy by 87% sending solar and wind companies crashing, onshore wind is destroyed by the government’s refusal to grant planning permission, and thousands of jobs are lost at steel plants due to the flood of cheap Chinese steel.

Apart from the security concerns of having a Chinese nuclear bomb embedded in our back yard (don’t snigger read what our security service says), what does all this say about our once great construction and engineering industries? What does it say about us as a nation that we put up with this!

No wonder I can’t sleep!

Is Your Mindset Holding You Back in Specialist Contracting?

Your beliefs and thoughts about you and your Specialist Contracting business, i.e. your mind-set, could be holding you back.

Please don’t switch off, and please bear with me for 30 seconds on this.

Because of personal circumstances in my early life, I used to think that I just wasn’t as good as other people. Of course I would never have admitted that at the time. But then in my 30’s I discovered a whole world of possibilities, and now I know that “if it’s to be – it’s up to me”.

In the words of best selling author and psychiatrist Dr Howard C Cutler; “… a large measure of the way we behave, think and feel is determined by learning and conditioning”

In other words the way I thought was determined not by logic, but by my circumstances.

You might not realise it, but your mind-set about what you can actually achieve in the world of Specialist Contracting, what you have learned or been conditioned to believe, might just be holding you and your company back.

Achieving success is never easy (albeit that some people make t look easy), and it all starts with mind-set.

Developing The Right Mind-set

First of all do you think that the way the industry treats Specialist Contractors helps or hinders your mind-set about what you can achieve?

I know what I think. I think the industry in general treats Specialist Contractors very poorly indeed. And certain parts of the industry deliberately seek to make you feel inferior, and deliberately seek to condition you into feeling that way.

Ever heard a Contractor say “someone else will do it cheaper”,  or “we will just get another “subbie” to do it, and charge you for it.”

It takes time, but the following can help you to develop the right mind-set for success:

1. GET THE BEST INFORMATION ONLY

Try to find the very best information in your field. You could do worse than check out the free information on our web site;

Check it out here

2. ROLE MODEL THE BEST PEOPLE

Come and share your thoughts and ideas with 2,185 other owners, directors and senior personnel exclusively from Specialist Contracting companies and our team.

Join us on LinkedIn.

3. EXAMINE YOUR CURRENT BELIEFS

Examine your mind-set by looking at your current belief-system. Are these beliefs supporting you? Or are they self-limiting beliefs?

If your response to points 1 and 2 was I can’t be bothered with that, or I don’t have time for that, then you definitely need to change that belief.

4. FIND YOUR VOICE

We are helping thousands of Specialist Contractors just like you to find their voice so why not come and join us?

Join us on LinkedIn

5. DON’T LET ANYONE DE-VALUE WHAT YOU DO

Specialist Contractors are the most important part of the construction and engineering industries, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise or de-value your importance. Even the Government’s own report says so!

“BIS Research paper 118 highlights the ’system-wide importance’ of Specialist Contractors in the construction industry as a result of the high levels of trade credit that they supply to main contractors.”

So, there you are it’s official, don’t let anyone put you down. You are the back bone of the industry and you are entitled to achieve great things for you and your family.

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday email and that it gave you some food for thought, and I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

In the meantime if you need any help with any of your business problems, including onerous contract terms, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call on 01773 712116.

“Specialist Contracting Is Tough Sometimes!”

It certainly is, and that’s why our Wise Up Wednesday emails are exclusively written to help you in your battles as a Subcontractor or “Specialist Contractor” as we prefer to say.

Sometimes hard hitting, sometimes about the mundane but misunderstood aspects of being successful as a Specialist Contractor, but always, short, to the point and thought provoking!

Wow! – So Many Great Messages In One Quick Burst!

Today’s WUW is inspired by a quote from  Christine Burrows who is the MD of aSpecialist Contracting company. Here’s what Christine had to say;

“…it’s very hard being a subcontractor at times, you have many sleepless nights and it does your head in when you are messed around with your money.

We’ve learned some very hard lessons and taken so many knocks it’s a wonder we’re still standing! We are concentrating on the good contractors now who we know and trust and there is a lot of work out there at the moment.

No-one likes being labelled as too contractual, but with the big players you have to be to protect yourself. You only need one big bad job to bring you down and ruin all you’ve worked for.”

Message 1 Getting Paid

We share Christine’s view that getting messed around with your money “does your head in”. Money is vital to run your business!

Getting paid in construction is sometimes a major challenge, with complex payment mechanisms, and we all know that the unscrupulous Contractors will make it even harder for you. The only way to sort that problem is to play them at their own game.

As Christine says; “No-one like being labelled as too contractual, but with the big players you have to be to protect yourself”

You must know and apply the rules of the contract, and when you do you put yourself at the very top of the “pay these now” pile!

If you don’t know or apply the rules you will be scratching around in the dirt and the Contractor won’t give you a second thought…

So, if you missed all the great advice about getting paid that was on offer at our conference this year, here’s how you can access it; “Win Work-Get Paid-Make Money”

Message 2 One Bad Job Can Bring You Down!

Spot on again Christine. I have seen it happen so many times it’s like Groundhog Day!

Trust me, seeing everything you have worked so hard for, being broken up and sold for buttons before your eyes is a very traumatic experience.

Don’t go there. Take action.

But you need to take the right action, at the right time. Waiting to see what happens, or asking the wrong person for advice will not cut it.

Better to be “too contractual” than be broke and lose your business!

Protecting and growing your business was one of the key themes at our conference this year, access it here; “Win Work-Get Paid-Make Money”

Message 3 Concentrate On The Good Contractors

Christine says she is “…concentrating on the good contractors now who we know and trust”

Absolutely bang on, and if you are a regular reader of Wise Up Wednesday you will have heard me imploring you not to do “Call Girl Marketing”.

In other words you need to be selective. Getting enquiries is easy if you don’t care who you work for, and that’s no way to build a sustainable business.

If you’re not sure how to improve your marketing, there was a lot of great advice at the conference about that too; “Win Work-Get Paid-Make Money”

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and if there is anything you would like us to help you with, please email me at info@streetwisesubbie.com.

Once again thank you all for your support.​

Harsh Reality Check For Specialist Contractors

As the latest payment survey by Textura Europe reveals the grim payment situation you face, this week’s Wise Up Wednesday is a harsh reality check for Specialist Contractors;

  • Payment isn’t improving
  • Contractors are still out to screw you
  • The Government doesn’t care about you
  • Some Trade Associations have sold you down the river
  • The NSCC has joined the Contractors in Build UK and all talk about poor-payment has seemingly been expunged from the record

Sorry to be so harsh but even Construction News (who are not known for supporting Specialist Contractors) had this to report in an article this month about payment;

Almost all main contractors pay late without justification and poor payment practices are getting worse not better.

No one seems to be willing to tackle [the problem] and they get away with what amounts to fraud day in, day out. Then they have the nerve to ask us to sign non-corruption forms.

So, we want you to know that the Specialist Contractor’s champions StreetwiseSubbie  already have lots of resources exclusively for Specialist Contractors, and will soon be launching a multitude of new ones.

We want to engage with, and bring together every single Specialist Contractor in the UK, and help you secure your company’s future whatever the economy, and discover solutions that will make an immediate and positive difference in your business.

Here is what’s already available;

Exclusive Guides

First off, StreetwiseSubbie have published a whole range of easy to read guideswritten specifically and exclusively for you the Specialist Sub-Contractor.

You can find them here; Guides For Specialist Sub-Contractors

And to ensure that we cheer you up we are giving away a copy of;

The Little Book of Crap Advice for Specialist Contractors

Here is your copy

An Intelligent Forum

If you prefer to get answers via an intelligent and exclusive forum (none of the drivel you get in other forums), you are invited to join our exclusive group of over 2,185 owners, directors and senior staff of Specialist Sub-Contractors on LinkedIn.

You can find this exclusive group here Join Your LinkedIn Group!

The group is an exclusive alliance of Specialist Sub-Contractors in the Construction and Engineering Industries, and it will help you to interact with over 2,000 other Specialist Contractors irrespective of your size or specialisation.

And Because We Know Times Are Tough…


We know these are tough times and we are already helping lots of Specialist Contractors just like you to market their business for bigger profits, and help them hang on to those profits in this tough commercial and contractual environment.

Here’s a great way to watch our very best ideas to help protect and grow your business over the next 12 months. It’s a series of presentations enjoyed by over 120 delegates at this year’s conference, and here’s where you can access it;

Protect and Grow Your Business

Trust me, the consequences of not having the right advice on your side can be catastrophic.

Don’t go there. Take action.

But you need to take the right action, at the right time. Waiting to see what happens, or asking the wrong person for advice will not cut it.

But, don’t take my word for it, watch what several delegates thought about it here;

Protect and Grow Your Business

We look forward to keeping you up to date and helping you to resolve all your business problems, and watch out out for our news about… (sorry can’t say yet!!)

Ever Heard Of The Four People That Said “That’s Not My Job”?

All Four Failed…

We’ve put together our Streetwise Wise Up Wednesday Guides to give Specialist Contractors a quick burst of useful information that will help you in your business life.

Sometimes quirky, sometimes hard hitting, but always guaranteed to make you think and take no more than 2 minutes to read.

The ‘everybody somebody…’ story (also sometimes referred to as a poem) appears in a wide variety of forms – often with the title – ‘That’s Not My Job’ or ‘Who’s To Blame?’

The sequence of the words (everybody, somebody, anybody, nobody) also varies in the headings of different versions, but the message(s) remains the same. Messages that are very pertinent to Specialist Contracting businesses, where lines of communication can easily be disrupted.

“That’s Not My Job” aka “Who’s To Blame?”  – take your pick…

This is a story about four people: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did.

Somebody got angry (about that) because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody knew that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Somebody wouldn’t do it.

And because it didn’t get done, Everybody blamed Somebody because Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

or the alternative last line:

Everybody blamed Somebody because Nobody actually asked Anybody.

The Message(s)?

The last line of the first version is appropriate to demonstrate the principle of individuals taking personal responsibility, irrespective of delegation.

The alternative last line is more appropriate for illustrating principles of responsibility and delegation.

Whichever version is right for your situation don’t let Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody screw up your Specialist Contracting business.

Trust me, the consequences of leaving it to Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody can be catastrophic.

Take action, but take the right action, at the right time, and put the right systems in place to protect your business.

And if you want to hear some great advice from experts in your field, take a look at the link below. But, don’t take just Anybody’s word for it, watch what lots of other Specialist Contractors thought about it here;

Protect and Grow Your Business

Don’t Fall Into The Trap Of Saying ‘Next Year Will Be Better…’

Here it is already – October.

Suddenly, we’re into the final quarter of 2015. And whilst there’s still a way to go this year, I’m sure your mind will soon turn to 2016 and how to make it the year when everything changes.

But here’s the problem that most Specialist Contractors face.

You’ll make plans. And do it with good intentions. But come January, you’ll have fires to fight, and new priorities that push your plans to the back of the queue.

Suddenly it’s April…August…November…

You’re still not making the returns your hard work deserves and you’re still falling into the same contractual traps that stop you getting paid on time, and stifles your company’s growth.

Then “2017 will be different” and the cycle continues…

Sadly, this keeps happening, because it’s tough being a Specialist Contractor in today’s construction and engineering industries.

So don’t let Benjamin Franklin be right about you! As he said over 200 years ago;

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result”.

So, if you want bigger and better next year, take a look at this;

Protect and Grow Your Business

Trust me, the consequences of not having the right advice on your side can be catastrophic.

Don’t go there. Take action.

But you need to take the right action, at the right time. Waiting to see what happens, or asking the wrong person for advice will not cut it.

But, don’t take my word for it, watch what lots of other Specialist Contractors thought about it here;

Protect and Grow Your Business

We look forward to keeping you up to date and helping you to resolve all your business problems.