The 5 Best Books on Business Development for General Contractors

The 5 Best Books on Business Development for General Contractors

Some of the more helpful resources for getting a better handle on the world of bizdev in construction

October 18, 2022

8 min read



Michael Sullivan

Senior Growth Marketer

As someone tasked with preserving, preparing, and predicting the future business outlook at a general contractor, the literal process of construction isn’t all you know or do. You’re a leader, an account manager, and an estimator all rolled into one. And with this assortment of hats stacked to the ceiling comes a major responsibility: business development, a role integral to any industry.

The thing is, business development can seem as complicated as the job description on LinkedIn would imply. Healthy business development calls for a mix of in-field knowledge and actionable insights into your target client's behavior, not to mention awareness of and keeping up with industry trends. In short, you can’t build a business based on experience alone; business-savvy is a must-have.

So, we’ve organized a list of books that cater to both construction-specific bizdev and famed leadership principles. While most existing literature on the topic is geared toward smaller, newer independent contractors rather than larger multi-industry builders, it's still worth gleaning through and collecting applicable nuggets you may find. Skim through the following summaries to see which book best suits your organization's current business development needs. Leaving the books out on your desk so that everyone knows you're dutifully self-educating is also highly recommended.

1. Contractor’s Survival Guide: Building Your Business in Good Times and Bad by Jason Reid

For a broad guide to get you through the most commonly faced challenges in the construction industry, look no further than this text by Jason Reid. Whether you’re searching for new lead generation tactics or strategies to cut costs during bad times, Reid offers insights into nearly every facet of business development for small contractors.

You’ll also find helpful tips on modern marketing practices, most notably in the realm of social media, and ways to identify your business’s weakest links. All-in-all, this book is your ultimate guide to staying afloat while your competitors struggle to tread water.

For an alternative resource on social media best practices check out out our blog on, you guessed it, social media best practices. We've also covered why LinkedIn is the best social media tool for general contractors today.

2. Running a Successful Construction Company by David Gerstel

As opposed to many of these texts which dive into the backend of your business strategy and development, Gerstel takes a different approach. In Running a Successful Construction Company, you’ll get a feel for the day-to-day business development operations carried out by general contractors.

Everything about day-to-day contractor functions is covered here, from drumming up business and picking the right jobs to bid on to making accurate estimations. He also shares his tips for writing strong contracts that exude confidence to potential clients. As a fellow builder himself, Gerstel’s insights are a must-read for budding bizdev folks at a younger GC making a name for itself.


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3. CRM or Die: Manage your Client Relationships or Perish by Courtney Kearney, CPSM & Chaz Ross-Munro

CRM or Die touches on the importance of protecting one's business intelligence, prioritizing client relationships, the philosophy behind long-game business development, the right ways to evaluate and implement CRM systems, and the fight against the creep of irrelevancy in a quickly evolving industry like construction. Kearney and Ross-Munro carefully examine why capturing data is so paramount to a business' future and why every industry in the world has made a CRM all but mandatory.

Said Chad Clinehans, President and CEO of Zweig Group: "CRMs are one of the most powerful, yet grossly underutilize tools by AEC firms. [CRM or Die] is a strong motivator inspiring the action needed to bring your CRM and data to life, aligning your people and processes to drive performance."

CRM or Die is a must-read for any business development professional at a GC deciding upon which CRM would be the best fit for their organization.

4. Markup & Profit: A Contractor’s Guide, Revisited by Michael C. Stone

As previously mentioned, business development folks at general contractors work hybrid roles. Along with keeping your finger on the pulse of the broader construction industry, you’re tasked with understanding how to price your jobs in a way that covers all costs while still turning a profit. This is precisely what you’ll learn from Michael C. Stone.

In short, Markup & Profit aims to teach you how to stay in business through three core considerations: writing good contracts, effectively managing your people, and collaborating with trade partners accordingly. It’s your secret weapon to becoming a truly profitable contractor, and will quickly spurt the growth of your construction management skills.

5. The Leader in You by Dale Carnegie

Leaders at general contractors wear plenty of hats. They’re managers, POCs for clients, and ultimately the thread that ties together concept and completion. In other words, contractors need a varied skill set to lead their people in a seamless manner. After reading The Leader in You, you’ll undoubtedly come out the other side with a polished managerial skill set.

This is a text that explores how effective leaders make meaningful connections and manage through high-pressure situations. Featuring insights from prominent corporate, entertainment, sports, and political leaders, Carnegie offers an actionable guide to identifying your leadership strengths, becoming a team player, balancing work and play, and getting through the most stressful of times—be it personal or professional.

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As you can tell, most of these texts are construction-specific (much like our CRM; hold for applause). Stone touches on things like building your business strategy, writing airtight contracts, working with trade partners, and effectively managing your team. For construction marketing tactics and survival tips during rocky times, look to Jason Reid. Gerstel will teach you how to pick the right jobs and make accurate estimations, and Kearney will tell you how to best manage your clients and data.

Then, there’s a bit of mainstream-but-true leadership guidance sprinkled in. Dale Carnegie is a must-read no matter your industry. Along with our trade-specific skill set, knowing the best practices for flawlessly managing your teams is at the core of any business’s development.

And as a general contractor, having that hybrid arsenal of leadership skills, business savvy, and trade-specific knowledge is key to developing a competitive and long-lasting business.

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