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The 11 Secrets of the Millionaire Tradies

Timeless principles for running and growing your trade business.

Revised 2020.


By Peter Wesley

Timeless principles of business that relate to any trade contracting business. 

If you run a business with ambitions to grow and succeed then this is for you.

If you aren’t going to read the book - read this summary.

I wrote the 11 secrets because I don’t want other trade contracting businesses to have to learn all the lessons the hard way as I did.  I know when you started your business you had ambitions to grow and succeed. I also know these can be overtaken by the daily efforts to operate and survive in a competitive environment. Throw a global pandemic in the mix and a recession looming, we have a very difficult business environment. The only businesses to survive will be those that stick to the simple first principals - but please do not confuse simple with easy. Building a business is hard.

This is the short form version of the 11 Secrets, designed to give you some useful information quickly. The devil is in the detail so follow the link below and subscribe for the full version delivered to you one chapter per week covering each secret in more detail. 

The lessons and principles are from some of the best trade businesses in the country. The examples are real and include my own successes and failures. With over twenty years in the industry I have learnt plenty of valuable lessons, which are by definition expensive, keep that money in your pocket and learn from me, I have paid the price so you don’t have to.

The full version of the 11 Secrets includes case studies and examples from the very best trade businesses in Australia. I have also included useful book summaries and practical tips on how to implement some of these elements for your business.It’s written for trade businesses and whilst the principles apply to any business this book is tailored to trade businesses and those who run them.




Secret #1 - Get off the tools

Secret No. 1 of the Millionaire Tradie is they’re not on the tools – swinging hammers, mixing cement and changing oil filters was something they gave up long ago. This is important so that you can focus on growing your business. You may have stopped doing the physical work and you now run the jobs or you’re focused on quoting - these are your new ‘on the tools’. 


Getting off the tools is a constant process. You’ll work your way through your business performing different roles and keep learning and evolving. Getting off the tools is NOT something you do once. You need to keep growing so this is where you Delegate and Elevate. Delegate to others and Elevate them to do better work. If you are now the key project manager, you need to replace yourself as the project manager so you can keep growing. If you’re the key estimator it’s the same deal, get someone else estimating.

Secret #2 – Develop a Market Niche

Secret No. 2 for the Millionaire Tradie is that they operate in a particular market niche or market segment.  Working in a specific market niche allows a millionaire tradie to focus their marketing effort, become efficient at their work, and charge a premium – all factors that contribute towards making them more profitable.  They become the industry leaders and are very difficult to knock out of pole position because of the knowledge and expertise they develop.  Market niches can be either industry, geographical, or technology related.  Let’s start with a look at positioning within an industry niche.

Secret #3 – Know the Numbers

You cannot operate a business without understanding the numbers. There is a new language to learn and some basic theory you need to understand. Spend time with any founder of a successful trade business and you will soon hear them talk about their margin, their productivity rate, stock turns, debtor days, etc. They will know the numbers like the lyrics to their favourite song. The numbers are the dashboard, and without the dashboard it’s very hard to fly the plane.

Secret #4: They’re not Price-Driven

Secret No. 4 of the Millionaire Tradie is that they don’t compete only on price.  Generally speaking, they’re more expensive than the competition, however they’ve positioned themselves so that they can charge a premium.  They’ve created a perception that they offer something different from the rest.  This perception is commonly termed a ‘unique selling proposition’.

Secret #5 - Peanuts and Monkeys

It’s all about the People

Secret #5 is that the very best trade businesses have the very best people. Like attracts like and good operators want to be on a team of professionals. Successful leaders are always looking for good people and looking at the potential and experience in their team. 

Secret #6 – The Power of No


Secret #6 of the Millionaire Tradie is that they consistently say no to work.  Let me clarify that statement; they consistently say no to the right kind of work. The right kind of work to say no to is the wrong work for your business. You can’t be all things to all people and knowing who you serve, who your customer is, and what their needs are is key to building a successful business.

Secret #7 – Active Referral Sources

Secret number 7 of the Millionaire Tradie is that they have several active referral sources; that is they deliberately build relationships with people in a position to refer work to them.  Opportunities for referral are not left to chance and these business owners are proactive about developing the right relationships and understanding who’s who in the zoo.

Secret #8 – Have a plan 

Secret Number 8 of the Millionaire Tradie is “they have a plan” and it’s a hell of a lot more useful than your typical business plan.  I’ve seen and written a lot of business plans in my time and I can tell you from experience that although they may occasionally be used to make bankers feel happy, they are not easily communicated to others.  In fact, in terms of helping others quickly and easily understand your business the traditional business plan is pretty much a complete waste of time.


Getting a business plan onto one or two pages is considered best practice today. Keeping it simple is important and it should be easily understood by the 1st year apprentice and your advisory board. 

Secret #9 – They Have Asked for Help


Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Michael Jordan…..they all have coaches and people around them to help them perform at their best. Don’t pretend you can do everything yourself.


Secret #10 – Systems & Processes

The main idea of a business is not just to make money but to make money without you. If you don’t have systems and processes in place you will never get out of the weeds and your team will never deliver the level of service you need.


Secret #11 - They are action orientated. 


There is no talk of excuses or blaming the market, the economy, COVID, the staff, the client, the MillionaireTradie will make things happen. They will crawl over broken glass if that is what is needed to grow their business and serve their customer. They are the type of person that takes responsibility and does the hard work when required. 


They fail, they stuff it up, get it wrong, make mistakes but they never, ever let that stop them. I’ve seen the best businesses get it wrong but they always get back up and have another go. 


They are ordinary people just like you and me.  Most have never run businesses before they haven’t even come from families that have run businesses.  They’ve all made mistakes along the way and there have been times when they haven’t known what decision to take.  But what really sets them apart from the rest is their ability to learn from their mistakes and make decisions rather than procrastinate.


Millionaire Tradies are also not afraid of taking steps to change their business.  They realise that what works today may not work tomorrow.  Such an approach is not without its risks.  And that’s why I think it’s important to stress that they are all ordinary people, they don’t have a crystal ball that tells them what to do.  The simple fact of the matter is they are at least doing something.  They recognise that their customers don’t owe them any favours and as such they have to work hard to keep them and keep their business profitable.


Without a shadow of doubt the most outstanding trait of all these businesses that really comes home is that they’re all taking action. They’re doing things where the others are not.

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