There are a multitude of excellent reasons for becoming a professional contractor. You get to call the shots when it comes to your schedule and free time, for one. You also have the ability to make a lot of money if you have any kind of business knowledge. Also, when you've grown tired of the business you can sell it to someone else and walk away with a healthy chunk of change in your pocket. What often gets overlooked, however, is the fact that this can be a very tough career that challenges the willpower of even the most motivated entrepreneurs.

If you're thinking about becoming a contractor I would ask you to first take an honest look at your personality and think about whether or not you have the patience and people skills necessary to make a go of it. It's not enough to be good at your work; you also have to be a master at dealing with people, especially if your service involves a lot of interior residential work. Understand that you will often have to deal with customers who you don't like very much. Some of them will be rude, they will insult you, they will grow weary of your presence, and they will nitpick about the most petty of issues. In short, you'll quickly learn that some people are downright insane when they have contractors working in their home for an extended period of time. Do you realistically have the humility and patience to deal with these kinds of people? If not, then this might not be the best career for you.

In order to become a successful general contractor you'll also need to be adept at managing others and organizing large projects. If you're not a natural leader then this would be a good time to force yourself to become one, because if those below you sense any sort of weakness they will walk all over you. You need to have the mental toughness to hold your workers accountable when they mess up and to stand up for them when they've done nothing wrong. It will also be absolutely essential that you are organized and have a game-plan before beginning work on any project. Your role is that of general, and everyone else will look to you when difficult decisions need to be made. Are you able to make tough decisions?

Finally, do you have the financial discipline and knowledge necessary to run a complex service business? Many construction professionals are shocked when they realize how much accounting and paperwork is involved. There are employees to pay, taxes to stay current on, and books to balance. You also need to balance spending because there will almost certainly be highs and lows every year when it comes to revenue. Winter months tend to be particularly difficult so you'll need to do a good job of saving and conserving earnings during the rest of the year to make up for it.

As should be evident, when you become a contractor you actually have to put on a lot of other hats in the process. You'll be a laborer, leader, accountant, employer, and customer service representative all at the same time. Don't get me wrong. If you can handle all the responsibilities then you can make a very handsome living, but if an honest evaluation of your talents and skills tells you that you couldn't handle it then it might be wise to pursue something else.