Learn to filter information to find out what's best for your business.

Is there a shortage of information on how to be successful in the contracting business? Nope!

Plenty of great books, great trade associations, great online forum websites with active chat rooms and a load of very talented industry consultants are available to you.

So is it a lack of good information or a lack of good implementation that’s holding you back? It could be both.

That’s one of the reasons I have offered a free 30-minute consulting call to contractors since I began my training and consulting practice more than 10 years ago. I need to know what you’ve been doing to be better able to help you, whether that means working with me on some level or sending you someplace else.

I offer this free service because I feel I’ve been given a gift by all the mentors who came into my life. If not for them, I’d still be in a dark basement turning wrenches late into the evening. I also appreciate not just what they did for my business but for helping me get my life headed in a better direction. If you’ve been helped, you know there is a debt to be repaid, too.

 It also helps me get a greater sense of what’s going on in the contracting world by visiting with people around the country - from coast to coast, from big cities to little towns - engaged in a whole bunch of different trades.

One frightening trend I notice from these calls is that contractors are overwhelmed by the ready access of information from too many sources.

Let’s face it. The Internet is one powerful tool for knowledge. But how do you know if you’re talking to an expert or a knucklehead? You don’t!

Another problem with multiple sources of information - no matter where they’re coming from - is how you make them all work together. In fact, some really good information is downright contrary to other supposedly good information. Opinions can be worthless because everyone has them.

In the end,youhave to be the filter.

Even if you’ve been wise enough to have one-to-one consulting or join an industry education group, it’s easy to get overloaded with information from them.

So, this knowledge leaves you wondering … which thing gets done first? How do you get it into place at your company and keep it in place? Can you pull pieces from multiple places and make them all work together?

Information overload

An example of overload became obvious to me after a recent call. This contractor said he was currently working with four different consultants. He’s been gathering advice from other consultants and industry groups for more than 10 years. And he actively participates in an educational trade association.

“How is this approach working for you?” I asked.

“We’re speaking because it isn’t working well at all,” he said. “I know I’m still missing a lot of critical pieces but I don’t know where to go to next.”

I explained: “All the information and programs you now have don’t necessarily go with one another because they were created apart from one another. And adding more programs is just like adding gasoline to a fire that’s already out of control.

“You’re building a Frankenstein.”

Think of it this way. Would you build a car with a Chrysler engine, Ford chassis and Chevy interior? No! You’d end up with a jalopy (if it ran at all) and anything but a well-oiled dream machine that’s fun to drive.

When it comes to systems working together, I have specific scripts for customer service reps and dispatchers that work together because they’re integrated with the technician manual and other manuals. They were created that way. I told the contractor his scripts would contradict each other since they’d come from different sources.

The tough work for you, the reader, is to become a better filter. You need to discern the helpful information from the not helpful. And you need to make sure that what you’re pulling together fits perfectly or you’ll need to find someone from outside your company to be your filter.

Your goal is to get great advice from a great source and make sure you can trust your instincts that you’ve made a wise decision. Incorporating all the information you will be working on is essential.

One of the strongest ways people  feel more comfortable about trusting the information they’re getting is to see if others like them  have used the information and had success. We all want and need testimonials to be comfortable. I don’t head out on the road without getting recommendations on where to stay and  eat from clients and friends or going online to trusted websites.

Testimonials are the best way to trust that your learning has value and that it can work for you.

And testimonials help you feel comfortable about investing your time, energy and money wisely. You can do this with an industry trade association, an online contractor forum or a consultant.

Then, you can feel confident that the parts fit together and you are building the dream company you’ve always desired.