I ate lunch in Oregon recently with a consultant who patiently heard me describe REMODELING as a magazine devoted to providing advice that will help contractors run successful businesses. “So,” the consultant replied, “what you have is a magazine that every month tells you to eat your vegetables.”

Well, yes—and for good reason. This consultant had just been telling me how, in his decades of work, he had met untold numbers of remodelers who got themselves in trouble because they were much more interested in picking up a hammer than poring over a spreadsheet.

That’s the case for many of you as well, I’d bet, so if you need us to serve as your company’s chief nag, we’ll be glad to play that role. But I would prefer to think of REMODELING as being more like your exercise buddy, someone who helps you set goals, spurs you to get into top form, and steers you away from the table (or bar) when you’re tempted to take too much. And since successful management requires discipline—the operational equivalent of eating your veggies—we’re more than willing to dispense it.

The trouble with trying to get disciplined these days is that it’s bloody hard to do when you’re busier than you’ve been in years. Remodelers nationwide tell us that they’re seeing increased demand, as well as increased strain because they’ve been unwilling or unable to hire more staff. That pressure to answer calls and replenish coffers can lead to sloppiness. It’s easy for potential profits to dribble away when the savings go unnoticed. Resolve to begin the year by building a solid business for yourself, not just a kitchen for a customer.

We started our winter of transformation last month by providing the financial, marketing, and social media benchmarks that are most likely to help you succeed. We also presented 15 of your best ideas from our “Cheapskate Challenge,” in which we asked for ways to cut $10,000 from your expenses. This month, we’re building on those articles with stories about ways to maximize your cash flow, limit workers’ comp costs, manage your document creation process, and measure how many days it takes for your customers to pay their bills.

As Dickens’ Mr. Micawber said in David Copperfield, the difference between ending the week with a sixpence of profit or a sixpence of debt can be the difference between happiness and misery. We aim to help assure that you stay on the positive side of the ledger.