Lorie Mitchell

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am a 54 year old, female General Contractor. I have been married 30 years. My husband is my business partner. We have been in business 28 years. We have 2 daughters, 27 & 22. We build high end custom homes along the coast of Southern California.

What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?

Plan ahead. When I was younger I thought life/business would never change. Life throws you curves. Have a five year and ten year plan. Review these plans quarterly. Hire a good CPA and/or money manager.

What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.

Years ago a client paid to double our General Liability insurance under the guise of adding protection for us all. He then sued us. Taught me to be VERY aware of other peoples motives.

Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?

Construction Project management will be even more technology based. The days of working your way up in the trades by just busting your knuckles are long gone. You need computer skills as well.

Using apps to track projects will be even more important. A knowledge of IT (or a good IT professional) will be very beneficial. Utilize social media for marketing. Learn how to develop and maintain a website (I recommend Square space).

What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

“Take on as many projects as you can.” Quantity does not equal quality, especially in my industry of very high end custom properties. You need to figure out what you, and your company, can handle and set limits. If you wish to expand do a lot of research first.

In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?

Clients asking for “favors/freebies” from us and our subcontractors. We work for very wealthy people who, sometimes, like to take advantage at the expense of others. I have become stronger at standing up to my clients, while still maintaining a high level of customer service. I have had to develop a delicate balance of pleasing the client and protecting my company and my tradesman/suppliers.

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

“Running a successful construction company” by David Gerstal. I also recommend podcasts by Buildertrend. I use Buildertrend’s management app to track all my projects. Their podcasts cover so many relevant topics for my industry.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Continue to educate yourself in your field. You should never stop learning. Seek advise from older, established people in your field.

If it seems too easy, or too good to be true it probably is. Go with your gut when getting advise. Consult with established business people you trust if you think someone else’s advise is a bit off.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” By Winston Churchill.”