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Old 01-18-2017, 06:50 AM   #41
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Re: Starting New Business


I worked by myself for years. I liked it. Then for years I had various laborers. That helped alot when it came time to pack materials and end of the day when it was time to pick up.

In the beginning I was up at 5 and on the job at 7. Worked til at least 4. I didn't take a lunch for 10 to 12 years. Then go home, check the answering machine, return calls, and then go meet with potential customers. (no cell phones then)

Paperwork in the mornings and evenings and Saturdays and half day on Sunday.

Now I'm to the point I'm up at 5 on the job at 8, usaually take 30 minutes or less for lunch, done at 4. I can usually get away from the job site for a few hours, a few days a week.

You keep mentioning leaving a laborer to work while you go look at jobs. I doubt that's going to happen. Besides, how many of your customers want to meet during the day? Most have jobs and they are at work also.

Your $10,000 will be gone quick. I suggest getting to a bank and setting up a revolving line of credit. Get a line of credit set up with your suppliers also.

As far as paying yourself, there are times that won't happen. There are alot of circumstances that come up. You either pay your bills or pay yourself. The problems come up when you complete a deck, pay for the materials, and then the check isn't there. You protect yourself as much as possible. Money down. But, it will happen. Not everyone pays their bill when they get it. Imagine doing 3 decks in 3 weeks. Due to the timing, you use the down money to pay the materials bill. End of 3rd deck and nobody has paid in full, yet.

I think most of my replies come off as having a negative tone. That is not the case. Just want you to be aware. I still think, at least a few days ago, you were thinking you could pull it off, like your boss. Hopefully you are starting to see it better.
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Old 01-18-2017, 08:33 AM   #42
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Re: Starting New Business


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Originally Posted by DeckLife17 View Post
How long does it take to frame a deck alone? Do you cantilever everything, so joists are easier to hang? I've built plenty of landings and short decks by myself, but never needed to with the larger decks. I can think of a few ways, but I guess never thought about it.

Does being a one man show cause you to only take easier decks, or do you sell what you can, and just make it work?
A normal deck takes me about a week. Of course this all depends on height, access, railings etc. Too many variables to say 1 week across the board.

And again, every deck is different in design. For sure it would be nice to only build higher decks that I can cantilever joists on but it seems most people want low decks. Flush beams, lots of careful layout/precision setting of concrete footings, joist hangers etc.

I will build anything. Some are very difficult solo, and I most certainly wished I had a helper, but not impossible if you have the know how.



I built this entire deck solo, roof and all. Took just over 2 weeks. The beams weren't hard because of temporary blocking and multiple plys. The single hardest part of this deck was the roof fascia. Feel free to go to my gallery for more pics.

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Old 01-18-2017, 08:36 AM   #43
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Re: Starting New Business




That is tongue and groove cedar topped with plywood topped with ice and water, felt and shingles.

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Old 01-18-2017, 09:01 AM   #44
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Re: Starting New Business


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Originally Posted by DeckLife17 View Post
Yeah, I know the whole 200k seems low with employees, etc., but I have to have enough guys to build a deck without it taking a year, then have myself selling (occasionally building if I'm slow). Obviously some decks will bring in big bucks, but I would guess as a new business, I'm not going to land too many of the big ones while I am trying to prove myself. My actual goal for the year is $300k (starting to sell beginning-ish of Feb., and building as soon as I get some jobs lined up and hire some guys), but I thought 200k sounded more realistic. Assuming a few weeks total off due to bad weather I assume I'll be able to build about 40-42 weeks of this year. 40(weeks) / 1.2(average time to build a deck) gives me about 33 decks for the year. If I average that at $9k per deck I'm looking at $300k in sales/builds for the year.

Assuming this is my first year, and I've never had anything work out the way I plan it on paper, I was giving myself $200k sales for the year.



Just giving an idea on where I'm pulling these number out of.
A couple of red flags I see here. You mention "occasionally building" when you get slow. You are gonna be doing a lot of the building. Sales should not take too long for 33 decks. You then talk about working 40 weeks. Good luck finding employees who are good with only working 75% of the year.
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Old 01-18-2017, 09:28 AM   #45
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Re: Starting New Business


Id just like to say Im like others in that I work about between 50 and 60 hours a week and Ive been in business for twelve years. I generally hire three or four guys a year. Thats as much as I can stand to explain the same stuff and deal with the same problems. Usually they last 90 days and then I give myself a couple of months of profit, I mean relief from their bs.

I generally find I need to pay a laborer for 8 hours work to save me two hours a day.

I started with 17k. In three years the 17k was gone and I was 30k in the hole. Then we hit the recession of 2009. Good times. The last four years have been better but you have to remember construction is boom bust and its been booming for awhile, at least on the west coast. What do you think happens to construction when interest rates go up?

Decks are largely a want, a vanity. You HAVE to have a roof, you want a deck. When we hit the next recession deck building will stop. Its an elastic commodity. Food and gas not so much.

Since the recession I have learned to keep a years reserves on hand. A years worth of every bill, mortgage, car payment. Everything. Because when it stops you have to adapt and that takes time and money.

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Old 01-18-2017, 09:48 AM   #46
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Re: Starting New Business


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Good luck finding employees who are good with only working 75% of the year.
They'll be happy if they get a pay check 100% of the time...
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:52 PM   #47
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Re: Starting New Business


Today, it occurred to me, I'm not really the one to be giving you advice. I think when I posted earlier, I realized how much things have changed. Cell phones for one.

Also, I really don't know your market. There area areas that expect to hire a company and then never see that guy again. (yeah, I know, you want to visit the job site once a day)
That's not the case in my market.

I wish you luck. You've gotten good advice and you will get more.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:08 PM   #48
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Re: Starting New Business


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Today, it occurred to me, I'm not really the one to be giving you advice. I think when I posted earlier, I realized how much things have changed. Cell phones for one.

Also, I really don't know your market. There area areas that expect to hire a company and then never see that guy again. (yeah, I know, you want to visit the job site once a day)
That's not the case in my market.

I wish you luck. You've gotten good advice and you will get more.
I don't think that's the case. There's nothing wrong with your advice.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:10 PM   #49
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Re: Starting New Business


A quick article I found interesting:

http://www.deckmagazine.com/newslett...nclude-decks_c

It reinforces why I want to move towards decking and at some point be exclusively a deck builder based on my location.
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Old 01-19-2017, 03:34 AM   #50
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Re: Starting New Business


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Get a lot of speed clamps. They will replace most laborers for a fraction of the price. You will also have to make sure you have extra lumber on site to brace things off, prop things up, etc.
Yup, the Irwin quick grip clamps are the best employees I've every had.
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Old 01-20-2017, 12:39 AM   #51
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Re: Starting New Business


I am pretty sure if you start out with 10,000 dollars and work mostly solo, you will make money. If you try to hire a crew and start with the same 10,000 dollars, you will lose that 10,000 dollars within a few months. That is only a couple weeks of payroll and overhead.

Working solo, you can skimp and scrape to get going. Having a payroll makes that impossible.
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Old 01-20-2017, 01:34 PM   #52
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Re: Starting New Business


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I am pretty sure if you start out with 10,000 dollars and work mostly solo, you will make money. If you try to hire a crew and start with the same 10,000 dollars, you will lose that 10,000 dollars within a few months. That is only a couple weeks of payroll and overhead.

Working solo, you can skimp and scrape to get going. Having a payroll makes that impossible.
I agree 10k isn't enough to float payroll and overhead long for a crew, but if your running your business right you should get payroll and overhead back when paid.

One slip up and it's gone and your probably in the hole though.
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Old 01-20-2017, 07:48 PM   #53
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Re: Starting New Business


Well I started with probably $200 in the bank... But I also worked solo for a long time.
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Old 01-21-2017, 12:16 AM   #54
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Re: Starting New Business


Having started out a bit over two years ago, I find a meager salary to be adequate and much easier than trying to figure hours, percentages, and commissions. It's also easier to avoid overpaying myself.


It's nice having reserves in the business account. It's not my money, it belongs to the business. Having this cushion allows me to say no to jobs that aren't desirable or profitable enough. It's also nice when the phone didn't ring for 10 weeks last year.




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Old 01-21-2017, 09:57 AM   #55
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Re: Starting New Business


Copy That Mordek. 2016 was the worst year I have ever had going back to 85 when I started my LLC.

The biggest mistake I made was not hiring a crew right after I got set up. A Man can be mean and lean only so long. Pushing those bones , over the years, and they will take revenge.

So you gutta have some workers. You also cannot just show up and leave expecting they will produce for you. You are the Foremen . Show up early, leave late and crack the whip in-between.

Something has to motivate a Man to do good work. Something extra that will keep them showing up on Monday. One thing I do is give a one hour lunch that I pay for, that is they are still on the clock while taking lunch. Most of the guys that work for me have business to take care of during business hours. Things like going to a parole officer that cant be done expect during business hours. The guys like that I pay for the time at lunch. Anyway things like that.

Looking back I tell you Mon, you have to have a crew, and you have to spend a lot of time on the job. Pushing pencils while the workers are hard at it does not get respect from them.

JonMon www.deckmastersllc.com
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Old 01-22-2017, 09:52 AM   #56
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Re: Starting New Business


I would suggest you get an in with some company that will feed you steady work, a home builder, mobile home manufacturer, or decking supplier. It takes time to establish yourself as a retail deck builder so you need that steady work coming in for your bread and butter. That steady work will keep your crew around, allow you to streamline your process, gives you a portfolio of your own work and gives you confidence when out on estimates.
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Old 01-22-2017, 11:16 AM   #57
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Re: Starting New Business


Sorry guys, been a busy week. I passed the exam, so now just have to get the license with the county.

have a guy that I work with now who is really wanting to come work for me when this happens. He is willing to even take a small pay cut (I don't want to do that, and he's not making much anyway) just because he enjoys working for me so much. I think I will hire him and just myself. He is someone I don't have to worry about slacking off if I have to leave during the day, and I trust his skill and don't have to baby sit. After taking everyone's advice on here, in the beginning (at least until I get the hang of running a business) I will only have him and myself as employees. I might also just take on a few jobs by myself, and contact him later once I know this will work out.

I am also terrified at only having $10k for start up. Like I said, I counted on a better winter to bring more and double that amount. Hopefully we can get a little more snow and I can at least have $15k...

I was planning on using a contractor to stay busy in the beginning. I would prefer to sell my own jobs since the margins would be better, but I also know I won't be able to constantly fill my schedule in the beginning. The last thing I want to do (besides running my new company into the ground) is hire an employee who is getting a steady paycheck now, and not having enough work for him.
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Old 01-22-2017, 12:19 PM   #58
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Re: Starting New Business


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Copy That Mordek. 2016 was the worst year I have ever had going back to 85 when I started my LLC.

The biggest mistake I made was not hiring a crew right after I got set up. A Man can be mean and lean only so long. Pushing those bones , over the years, and they will take revenge.

So you gutta have some workers. You also cannot just show up and leave expecting they will produce for you. You are the Foremen . Show up early, leave late and crack the whip in-between.

Something has to motivate a Man to do good work. Something extra that will keep them showing up on Monday. One thing I do is give a one hour lunch that I pay for, that is they are still on the clock while taking lunch. Most of the guys that work for me have business to take care of during business hours. Things like going to a parole officer that cant be done expect during business hours. The guys like that I pay for the time at lunch. Anyway things like that.

Looking back I tell you Mon, you have to have a crew, and you have to spend a lot of time on the job. Pushing pencils while the workers are hard at it does not get respect from them.

JonMon www.deckmastersllc.com
It is surprising to me that 16 was so bad for you, maybe it is a regional thing where you are. 2016 was my best year since 99. I think 17 will be similar. You do have to take care of your employees. Making sure they get their paycheck without interruption is the number one thing. There have been times when my funds got tight and I did not get a paycheck. That's how it goes sometimes, especially when you are getting started. Even now, with 4 employees I find that I need about a $40,000 reserve to make sure that all of the bills are paid immediately, even when the money from jobs gets backlogged.
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Old 01-22-2017, 03:38 PM   #59
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Re: Starting New Business


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I was planning on using a contractor to stay busy in the beginning. I would prefer to sell my own jobs since the margins would be better, but I also know I won't be able to constantly fill my schedule in the beginning. The last thing I want to do (besides running my new company into the ground) is hire an employee who is getting a steady paycheck now, and not having enough work for him.

I don't know that it has to be either/or.

In 2015, probably 35% of my business was subbing labor for another one man show general contractor Who remodels and updates kitchens and bathrooms. He mentored me and taught me many good things. Maybe 25% was from real estate agents. The rest was my own, generated through my contacts and word-of-mouth.


In 2016, probably 10% was from the same GC. Repeat real estate agents gave me probably 35% of my work. The rest was from word-of-mouth. No advertising, unless you count 50 bucks on goSmith.com. I had a bit of part-time help, maybe a months worth.

This year, I have some part-time help that I worked with previously, that I am paying through a temporary agency. This works for him, because he is finishing a degree. When he works for me, he's insured, and I hand off small jobs I don't want to take on to him, explaining that he is a formerly self-employed contractor who is not currently licensed, but is capable of doing fine work. Leasing a PT employee works for me, because I'm not responsible for the Financial stability of a family. Dishing off side jobs to him works for both of us. I keep in good standing with my contact, they get their needs taken care of, and my helper can negotiate his own price. I'm also doing some punchlist items for another GC friend of mine. It's probably going to be about the same percentages for sources of income as 2016.


Running lean for the first two years, with low overhead, has helped me to build reserves and cherry pick my jobs. The meager salary I pay myself is not too hard to generate in a week or two each month.

In short, you don't have to put all your eggs in one basket. If you run a lean one man show when you start out, you do not bear the responsibility of an employee, a truck payment, and too much advertising overhead.



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Last edited by Mordekyle; 01-22-2017 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 01-22-2017, 05:40 PM   #60
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Re: Starting New Business


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I don't know that it has to be either/or.

In 2015, probably 35% of my business was subbing labor for another one man show general contractor Who remodels and updates kitchens and bathrooms. He mentored me and taught me many good things. Maybe 25% was from real estate agents. The rest was my own, generated through my contacts and word-of-mouth.


In 2016, probably 10% was from the same GC. Repeat real estate agents gave me probably 35% of my work. The rest was from word-of-mouth. No advertising, unless you count 50 bucks on goSmith.com. I had a bit of part-time help, maybe a months worth.

This year, I have some part-time help that I worked with previously, that I am paying through a temporary agency. This works for him, because he is finishing a degree. When he works for me, he's insured, and I hand off small jobs I don't want to take on to him, explaining that he is a formerly self-employed contractor who is not currently licensed, but is capable of doing fine work. Leasing a PT employee works for me, because I'm not responsible for the Financial stability of a family. Dishing off side jobs to him works for both of us. I keep in good standing with my contact, they get their needs taken care of, and my helper can negotiate his own price. I'm also doing some punchlist items for another GC friend of mine. It's probably going to be about the same percentages for sources of income as 2016.


Running lean for the first two years, with low overhead, has helped me to build reserves and cherry pick my jobs. The meager salary I pay myself is not too hard to generate in a week or two each month.

In short, you don't have to put all your eggs in one basket. If you run a lean one man show when you start out, you do not bear the responsibility of an employee, a truck payment, and too much advertising overhead.



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I never even thought of hiring through a temp agency. Just from my little knowledge about them, you tell them you'll pay them say $15/hr (easy numbers) and they pay the temp maybe $12/hr right? They take care of all the work comp and everything involved in that right? Might be a good idea for those jobs high up that I'd feel safer having a helping hand on the other end of the joists, of large jobs I could have help carrying lumber and other materials to the back yard. I assume other than your guy you personally know, that the help wouldn't be the greatest, but maybe for a laborer that wouldn't be a bad way to go as needed in the beginning.

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