What's your destination?

How can you get where you want to go if you don't know where that is? That's a question all contractors should be asking themselves. It's a question the four top-performing contractors profiled in this issue asked, and we take a look at how they answered it. But the key is not in the answer, which is likely different for every contractor; the key is in the asking.

Every business, on a regular basis, needs to step back and take a good, hard look into the future. Contractors need to ask themselves "Where is it I want to be?" "What kind of business do I want to operate?" This can mean a lot of things, from business size, to profits earned, to services provided, to region served, to the time you'll spend at home versus the time you'll spend in the office. But where are you headed? Too often contractors are so busy seeking prospects, making sales, hiring and training employees, and working in the field that they don't take the time to examine whether the business they are building is the one that they want to have.

But that's only the first step. Once you've looked into the future, you need to look at your company as it stands today. What do you have? What do you do? How well do you do it? Where do you do it? How are you perceived? This snapshot of the present is essential as you look toward your destination.

So take some time and think about what kind of business you want to have. Consultants say it helps to write this "vision" down because writing helps you better define it and also gives you something to measure your success against. Maybe that's the best way, but it doesn't have to be the only way. Think about where you want to be, about the kind of business you want to have, and then take a look at the company you run every day. The four contractors in this issue did that, each in his or her own way, each with a successful result. But if you don't ask the question you won't get the answer — and you'll have virtually no chance of developing into the business you wanted to have when you started out.