Book Review: The Elements of Building
Most tradespeople know their craft, but relatively few know how to run a successful business. At a minimum, a lack of business training can lead to stressed relationships with clients, subcontractors, and suppliers. Even worse, poor business practices can lead to lawsuits, bankruptcy, even jail time. In his new book, The Elements of Building, professional builder Mark Kerson has compiled a collection of easy-to-understand business principles for contractors. The lessons, which vary in length from a few sentences to a few paragraphs, are based on his own experience and the valuable business articles and presentations that have helped him during his 30 years as a contractor.
The Elements of Building covers business topics from financial health and business ethics to getting the best service from bankers, lawyers, accountants, and insurance agents. He describes what should be included in contract documents and how to maintain profitable and mutually beneficial relationships with clients, employees, and subcontractors. He also provides sources of additional information for many of the business topics he covers. My favorite part of the book might be the appendix, which includes sample schedules, business forms, and a script for prequalifying potential clients over the phone. These tools alone are worth the price of the book.
I found the book engaging, educational, and easy-to-read. The entries are arranged by topic, so you can refer to specific sections as needed, but you might find (as I did), that’s it’s an enjoyable read all the way through. If you’d like happier clients, a more-relaxed work life, and a sound financial footing for your business, I think you should check it out. The Elements of Building which sells for $37 is published by From the Ground Up publishing in Santa Monica, Calif. You can order a copy at elements-of-building.com. and amazon.com.