Many contractors complain bitterly about their lack of cash flow. That's no surprise, given that employees, subs, and vendors all expect to be paid — whether or not the customer has paid the company.

This problem would not exist if customers paid up front, but in some states it's illegal to front-load construction contracts. Even where doing so is allowed, not every customer will agree to do it. The fact that most construction companies are underfunded to begin with only makes matters worse. Once cash-flow problems appear, they tend to...

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