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EP 26: 10 Books Every Contractor Should Read – Benji Carlson

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1 (not boring) book on budgeting that has you taking out profit before expenses
A book that shows you how to structure your team when everything seems chaotic
Which book to pick up when you want to hire the right people to replace you
Where you can find information about a top tier interviewing system
2 Marketing and sales books that give you game changers to implement into your customer journey
The undisputed most effective book on leadership as voted by Breakthrough Academy members

Watch Episode 26 of the Contractor Evolution ShoW

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Read a Summary of Episode 26

We have a saying at Breakthrough Academy: Leaders are Readers. Why? Because whatever challenge you’re facing right now, somebody has already solved it – and chronicled their solution in a book.

This episode is dedicated to our must-read list, and we’re targeting six areas of business that we think are under-systemized, super important, but difficult to master.

Let’s dive in.

TOP 10 Books For Contractors (Organized BY TOPIC)

Budgeting & Financial Tracking

If you don’t have a clear picture of your financials, it’s like driving a car on a windy road in fog.

We recommend:

1. Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine, by Mike Michalowicz

You’ve heard it before: you pay your employees and suppliers, settle expenses, and then take whatever’s left over. But Mike Michalowicz completely reverses this pattern. His book will show you how to set up your financials in a way that automates profit and pays you before everyone and everything else.


We have a saying at Breakthrough Academy: Leaders are Readers. Why? Because whatever challenge you're facing right now, somebody has already solved it – and chronicled their solution in a book.

Organizational Structure

Business by nature is multi disciplinary, with lots of people great at different things. But your team needs to operate in a coordinated fashion for your company to be successful, and that’s difficult to quarterback.

We recommend:

2. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman

This book is really popular among our contractor members because it lays out exactly how to get your team back on track and move towards a predetermined goal.

3. The E-Myth Contractor: Why Most Contractors’ Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, by Michael E, Gerber

If you find yourself working to the point where you feel drained, then you own a job, not a business. And that’s what the myth E-Myth addresses. This book shows you how to become an entrepreneur and close the gap between where your business is and where you want it to be in the future.


Recruiting & Hiring

Finding team players is difficult; retaining them is even harder. There are two great books our contracting leaders love that address this specific issue.

We recommend:

4. Who: The ‘A’ Method For Hiring, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Who discusses the importance of looking for culture fit over education or skills. It also goes into detail about the importance of implementing a top tier interviewing system. Highly recommend this!

5. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues, by Patrick M. Lencioni

Someone may be highly skilled, but if their ego won’t let them roll in the same direction as the rest of your team, you have a serious problem. This book defines the ideal team player as hungry, humble, and smart – it details how to assess these qualities in prospective employees.


Training & Onboarding

Training people takes time and $$. You want people to learn for long-term success (and not get frustrated).

We recommend:

6. Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, by Sam Carpenter

If you spend your time constantly fighting fires, this book will teach you how to stop the chaos from happening – by tweaking your systems and giving you guiding principles from basic checklists to standard operating procedures.

7. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

This is one of my all-time favorite books. Made to Stick breaks down how to make your ideas sticky (memorable). It’s a must read, and it’s going to make your training sessions 10x better – and impact a bunch of other aspects of your business as well.


Sales & Marketing

Most construction companies suck at explaining who they are and what they do for their customers, and this hurts your ability to build trust (not to mention grow your brand).

We recommend:

8. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, by Donald Miller

I read this book 18 months ago and it has totally changed my life.

Miller says the best way to communicate your brand is by telling customers a story portraying them as heroes and your business as their guide. My sales team have implemented this and we’ve seen massive improvements in almost every metric we track.

9. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence details 6 principles of persuasion that can influence human decisions almost automatically: Reciprocity, Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. If you use these principles (and they’re easy to implement), I promise you will see your sales ratio soar.


Goal Setting & Execution

Running a business can be chaotic. Life is distracting. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to veer off course. Time to stay the course and get rid of the chaos.

We recommend:

10. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Jocko distills his lengthy career as a Navy SEAL commander down to 12 principles that couldn’t be more relevant to the busy lives of contractors. His lessons about prioritizing, executing, and checking your ego will help you block out the noise and lead your team out of chaos and into order. This is a must read.

We know you have only so many hours in a day but they are available as audiobooks too, so great to listen to in the truck. You may be surprised by the impact they have on you and your business.


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Benji Carlson

Benji Carlson

As the son of two proven entrepreneurs, Benji’s spirit for self-starting business runs deep. Since he was a young teen, Benji has been starting and running profitable small businesses; most recently culminating in a highly successful 4-year career as a franchisee with College Pro Painters. Benji’s enormous heart and passion for people is what drove him to produce over $1,000,000 in revenue while taking the highest quality care of his employees and customers. He was consistently acknowledged for having the most productive staff in the company, while leading more junior franchisees to fulfill their potential. Benji’s uncanny ability to find the right people and put them in the right place make him a natural fit for Breakthrough Academy’s Assessment Team.

Upon finishing up his career with College Pro, Benji set out on the ultimate victory lap: a nine-month transcontinental motorcycle trip from Canada to Peru.

Benji lives in beautiful Kelowna BC. During the summer you’ll usually find him on two wheels: either bombing down a trail on his mountain bike or cruising the pavement on his motorcycle. When the snow falls, he escapes to the mountains for steep and deep powder.

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Welcome to Contractor Evolution, a show created for high-performing contractors that are focused on scaling up, working less and increasing profitability.

While a lot of other shows focus on early stage growth challenges, we focus on real life scenarios faced by contractors that are scaling at a rapid rate, and how they keep everything dialed in without losing sight of work/life balance.

If you’re ready to evolve from a contractor into a better business owner, you’re in the right place.

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