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· Super Moderator
12,143 Posts
We need someone to take over when us old farts retire.
You sound pretty serious about getting into construction.

You should probably pick the one trade that interests you the most and pursue it with the same type of guts that it took to write your post.

You sound very ambitious. However the GC thing usually comes after some experience in the trenches and some more education. (Depending on where you are) Unfortunately, most people will not take you too seriously as a GC until you have a few grey hairs, or no hair at all.

Your articulate post with good grammar leads me to believe that you have great potential.

Any other dad's out there tonight with good advice?
This kid could be a keeper!

· Balding quickly
965 Posts
I started my business at 18, Its great and it sucks at the same time. Im from Montana so licensing is nothing like california. I would only do handyman work if you are a legitimate business because if you do become a contractor and expand it can come back to bite you. One of my biggest services was stocking sheetrock when I started, I literally made card that were hot pink and said "Stocking Drywall Sucks We will do it for you" and put them on everyhouse and would drive around all day and shake hands with contractors. I was moving probably 1500 to 2000 sheets a week on top of my other jobs 2 months into starting my business and I didnt really take it seriously I was just pumped on making bank and actually taking off. I used some friends here and there and thats where I screwed myself. That was almost 4 years ago and I just got introuble for it a month ago. I havent paid cash or dont anything illegal really in years but I never saw that as illegal jut as a phase and I had totally forgotten about it really. Moral of this story. If you are going to start a business get your poop in a group first and just do it right.
With that said. My partner and I were fresh out of highschool and we just hustled every contractor we found until someone gave us a house, which was about a 2 weeks after we started. That probably wouldnt happen now in this market. Biggest thing was? I dressed need with a shirt tucked in let my hair grow a bit and had a little scruff. Just acted confident and didnt tell people how old I was. Thats key. I did a few projects where I was half done and I would get in a convo with them and somehow they found out I was 19 or 20 and they would be all suprized and start asking me questions about how I learned about what I do. Most would say they thought I was 24ish thats key.
If you are going to do it young you have to be into it. I made it my life, I was pumped because I just wanted to build houses and be a big timer so bad I would just pound the pavement non stop. Thats big because you are going to get reject alot, especially contractors that are older that think you need 10yrs experience to do a 4/12 gable to gable composite roof. I got a referall from the first house I built to this company to frame another house about 6 months later and they emailed me plans I bid them out and they liked my price and told me to meet him at the foundation to do a walkthruand when he met me he smiled and looked at the ground and asked me how old I was and then told me that it was a "serious" job and he doubted I could do a quality job in a reasonable amount of time. That was it. Made me so mad but thats just how it was. Ironically that guy called me last winter because he didnt recognize my business name because he just got my name the first time around. He asked me for some work because we were putting up a couple houses next door to each other with my signs out front, told me the market sob story, I just reminded him who I was and said we needed them done in a timely matter so we'd do them ourselves, thanks. You probably wont get most back but point of the story is, you will have to try alot harder to sell jobs. I would say 50% of mine were PURE luck at the beginning. Hopefully some of that helps. I would say go for it if you are good at a trade.

· 13 Licenses & Counting
197 Posts
I started selling wells at the age of 21 - I've been field labor for years prior to that, but that's when I went into the sales end. Since selling is the first half of any job, here's my set of tips (recognize that most of my competitors are men in their 50's to 80's who have grown up performing this type of work).
  • Get some gear that makes you look professional & older - sometimes this means over dressing.
  • Learn the lingo of the trade, constantly educate yourself, and show clients that you know you're on the cutting edge.
  • Remember that most of your competition just goes home and drinks a beer or goes fishing.
  • Don't let them use you because of your age - some people will catch on that they can push you around like they're your father. Tell them to fly a kite.
  • Never be afraid to say 'no'. This is the hardest lesson to learn in contracting - there are things you can do, there are things you can't do, and there are things you just don't want to do. You can make money at them all, but you want to make money doing things that you can do.

Anyway...I'd finish this list....but it's dinner time.

· wannabe
2,316 Posts
Ruskent comes to mind....I see him post still once and a while, but if I remember correctly, he started off young without much more than passion and desire. edit: Not including inherent talent....

At 19 with your ambition I would go for have a lot going for you right now. Keep your formal education in mind and try to fit in some business classes at your local JC.

Get your required liscensing, insurance before you get too involved....I also suggest some form of a business plan to work on continuosly. After you've completed your business plan you'll know what your goals are and how to get there....
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· Starving Tile Artist
1,235 Posts
Wow more typing and run on sentences than planned. apologies lol
Geez Battle.....Edit it before us old guys go blind! lol

To the OP, i'm sorry to disagree with everyone else. At this time I would probably turn to something else; staying on someone elses payroll.

This up and down on the economy and no one really having a solution leads me to think the way I do. IMO it's just too big of a risk for someone to jump into owning any business right now.

I also started my first company when I was young, 20. The problem is I look young. Even now at 39 I look to be in my late 20's and still have problems with some customers trusting my judgement and experiance.

In any case, you seem to be well spoken and to have a decent head on your shoulders. Stay tough and lets all see where this economy ends up.

· Carpe Diem
20,832 Posts
while PASSION + TALENT can = SUCCESS remember that in order to work for yourself, you need to be a good BUSINESSMAN too.

You absolutely need to always educate yourself in your chosen trade but need a solid business plan too. The most talented people aren't always successful in business. I believe one of the best decisions you can make early on is whether or not you feel you can be that businessman. If not, you know you'll need to align yourself with someone who is. A partnership isn't always a bad thing. You can focus on being the best tradesman while a partner can be a great business person. Or, if you feel you can learn the business ropes, more power to ya!

Finally, nothing beats experience. Books and classrooms are great but actually having your hands in the dirt....priceless! Don't lower you expectations and think you're going to be successful instantly. That may make you disgruntled. If you read enough around here, you'll see ups and downs are a part of the game but a stead, long road is most rewarding.

· Particulate Filter
4,530 Posts
As far as licensing goes watch out for those bureaucrats. Whenever I have a question about what I can or can't do I always use an alias when I talk to them on the phone. So when you want to know how they check credentials don't start by saying, "Golly gosh I'm 19. Do you guys even verify the experience a contractor has?" You never know when you'll run into to someone who is bored and vindictive enough to remember your name just so they can rain on your parade at a later date. Trust me; it happens.

And btw. In my state I asked that same question. They said they require the experience but there is no mandated law or allocated money to verify that the experience you claim to have is legitimate.

· Registered
4,219 Posts
I say no way, you're taking too big of a risk, especially in California. There's a lot of liability in construction, if you start your own business with the little experience you have then you can dig yourself into a hole real easy. If you're serious about being a contractor, work for somebody even if it's for low wages, and go to school, find a construction management program at a college in your area. Then start your own business when you're about 30 and you think you're ready for it, you'll get to where you want to be faster if you don't rush.

· The Duke
15,100 Posts
Will someone want to hire me since I am only 19, although I am very mature for my age, it might seem like I am a joke since I am so young, please be honest about this.
you will only be a joke if you think you are a joke. You are throwing darts at the dartboard and you don't realize just how close you are. You need to fill in some blanks about the big picture and if I told you right now, I would seriously be doing you a great disservice to your future.

Keep at it, don't get discouraged. I would highly suggest over anything you have heard or read to go to the bookstore and find books by Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey, and numerous others, and read until the day you die. If you apply what they teach, are commited, and enjoy what you do, you WILL be successful.

· Registered
78 Posts
19 years old without any responsibilities, endless energy, desire and some basic skills could work for you.

Start small

Focus, study and become a master of one trade. You'll understand the other trades and work flows as time goes on.

Take some business/ project management classes.

Make a business plan.

This site is a good place to start. There is alot of good information here and some banter as well.

Don't be afraid to ask questions as long as you can't get the answers yourself.

Good luck

· Registered
1,262 Posts
I've often found that some of the best tradesmen fail in business, whereas the chancers with the gift of the gab and some savvy do really well.
Good tradesmen usually concentrate on doing the best job, and often forget the cash aspect.
Ideally you need to find the right balance between doing top quality work and making money.
As Angus has said partnerships are often formed because of this, but you usually find that the skilled worker is left on a freezing cold scaffold all day, while his partner is down the pub with future customers all afternoon, which can cause some discontent.
Being young will make some of the punters wary, but others are quite happy to give young people a chance. Remember that every day you are getting a bit older and gaining more experience so things can only improve in that aspect.
Being fully qualified in one of the trades does have some advantages, as it gives you a good idea on the correct approach and standards that are expected, and you can apply this to the other trades when doing the simpler jobs.
Also you are young enough to start again if things go wrong, even in another country if enough people are looking for you:laughing:
Having a trade also sounds better when the Lady of the Manor says' and what is your professional trade young man', and you can reply I'm a fully qualified carpenter luv, now get the kettle on its tea time.

· Registered
255 Posts
I would advise against getting a California Contractor's License. Keep your jobs under $500 and you're golden, even if you go over, it's no problem because nobody's policing this. Anything that requires a license, refer to a friend who is licensed and get him to pay you a finders fee. Never use a contract, and get money up front for each phase of work. Get cash or if you do get a check, cash it at their bank, don't pay taxes.

Always do good work. Never document anything and never pull permits or buy insurance. This may sound like bad advice, especially coming from a licensed contractor, but I know plenty of UTR (Under The Radar) unlicensed contractors who make 6 figures and their only overhead is their cell phone.

28 years ago, when I became licensed, that was the only way to really make money, but things have changed drastically since then. If you stay lean and mean and hustle, it's all gravy.

Best of luck!
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