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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi! I'm new and since finding this forum last week I have been reading it whenever I have time and decided to introduce myself and seek some advice.

For the past two years I have been working as an utility/punchout carpenter for a local custom builder. I took the job because I was just getting back into carpentry after a five year stint managing restaurants and wanted to relocate to the area. I agreed to work for a laughably low wage (trust me, you don't want to know) and even though I am a full time employee he is 1099ing me and imo taking advantage of me and the rest of his 'employees'. Now that the economy has slowed he no longer has full time work but expects me to come running whenever he has a little job he needs taken care of.

So, I have been using the cut in hours to work to start my own company and am pretty much ready to officially launch it. I've done a few small jobs on the side while still working for this builder but now I want to go ahead and start advertising my business which I know will upset this builder. If he sees truck magnets on my truck he is going to be shocked. I am going to have to approach him and let him know my intentions. Ideally I wouldn't mind continuing to work for him part time while growing my business but cannot afford to work for peanuts any longer. He will probably try and convince me that I am on the hook with him for two weeks until he can get some desperate guy in.

Given the state of the economy many people I have talked with think I am insane to be doing this now. The way I look at it this recession is an opportunity for me to rise to the top instead of sinking to the bottom.

So, what do you experienced contractors think? Am I foolish to leave behind a steady paycheck in these tough times regardless of how small it is or should I take the gamble and go for it?

Any and all advice is welcome.
 

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Does he set the time to show up?
Do you use his tools?
Does he pay you or your business

The IRS has very strict guidelines about 1099 vs employee and he can get into some serious trouble by abusing the 1099 way.

www.irs.gov will get you started
 

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Tiling & Bath Contractor
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I definitely don't think you're crazy but you just have to make sure you have done your research to make sure there's enough business to sustain you. You really have to plan out a business strategy and have a contingency plan in case business is slow. Business is usually good in the summer but it can dwindle down to nothing in the winter and you need to have money to fall back on (like a credit line).

I doubt that your employer will allow you to continue working for him as you 'build' your business. You're competition to him now and he'll be pissed.

Best of luck! :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, he sets the times. I use most of my own tools. He pays me - he has me fill out an hourly employee time sheet. He was offering paid holidays and one week vacation for all his employees (which he considers me to be one of). One guy has been with him for 10+ years, 40 hours a week, 1099 the whole time. Now when he gets laid off he can't draw the unemployment that he should be entitled to.

What he is doing is very wrong but I'm not sure I should turn him in. I'm sure the local building inspector would love to learn that they fired the licensed electrician and all the wiring has been being done by helpers for two weeks (he plans on hiring an electrician when it is time for an inspection).
 

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Smart phone? Scan me!
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If he sees the magnets then screw him. Sounds like he was getting out of you what he wanted, you don't owe him a damn thing other than the quality of work you have done for him as long as you agree to work for him. Sounds like an unhealthy agreement/situation and if I were you I would get all the advertising started and end your guys' professional relationship quick.
 

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You can not 1099 an individual, they are supposed to be used when dealing with business entities. If you did not have a business license you are not a business. If you did not have a contractors license you are not a contractor. If he controls when you work (Exp.Mon-Fri 7:00 am-3:30pm), the quality of your work, or provides tools for you to use you are an employee. If he's not willing to pay a fair rate and do things on the up and up I would not worry about what he thinks about signs on your truck or anything else. If he tries to force you to stay two weeks and you don't want to ask him how he feels about paying back payroll taxes.

As far as going off on your own, it is rough right now. There are a lot of unlicensed and uninsured people and companies doing work at well below going rates. You can go to Craigslist and find dozens of them. That said going into business at any time is risky. If you have enough money saved to take you for six months or longer and you are willing gamble a bit then by all means give it a shot.

A bit of advise though, make sure you have the full support of your family. Make sure you all understand the ins and outs of starting a business and what it takes to succeed. Last but not least make sure you have a good business plan.

Whatever you decide Good Luck.
 

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When you put the signs on and he questions it, point out that he's paying and 1099'ing you like you're a seperate contractor anyway. ;) As an employee, you wouldn't nned any signs. WIthout burning the bridges, of course.
Get your website up and all your licenses in order and go for it. Your relationship with him should remain unchanged. At least until you find out what givernment overhead really is and start adding something to your prices to cover it. No to mention your SE tax which it sounds like you've both been avoiding. ( One way or the other.)
 

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Never burn a bridge even if you plan on never using it.
Just go about your business and good luck.
( The guy sounds like a piece of sh**. )
VERY SOLID ADVICE!!!!:thumbup:

Most trades excist in a community and sometime in the future on a large job that requires multiple subs this guy gets the bid and how you treated him(DESPITE him being a douschebag!) could determine whether or not you get some of the action.

As the others have stated PLAN IT OUT! If there is any big ticket items of his you use(i.e. compressor,hammerdrill,miter saw,table saw etc.) ? if so buy them with "his money" or take ALL side job money to do so.

Stockpiling money for operating AND living expenses eleiviates ALOT of day to day stress as your trying to turn out a quality product AND get paid to pay bills etc. If you're cut down from let's say 5 days 40 hours to 4 days 30 hours schedule your jobs for the off days. DON'T come to HIS job with YOUR magnets.:no: Why stop your income from him all together 'cause he is pissed? You want to quit the job on YOUR terms not his. When his work dwindles and yours' has picked up that's the time to tell him you can only work for him occasionally when it's conveinient etc.

Giving notice ( 2 weeks is standard)is an old school tradition which at one time I WHOLE HEARTIDLY agreed with UNTILL I (on occasion) as well as others were laid off or fired with no more then 4 hours to 3 days notice (if any). On my last job an incident happened over the weekend we showed up Monday was met at the door by the PM and told to fire ALL our punch crews(as I was punch crew Super it fell on my head and I had to comply:furious:)

As far as him "making" you work 2 weeks after you quit ONLY depends on if your paid 1-2 weeks behind. If he's current with you every Fri. for that week he's SOL!

So do what's in your heart as far as how to quit. As far as the rest..calculate 6 months to 1 year living and operating expenses save it up and SOAR!!!!!!!!!:clap:
GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I have a little money saved, no debt, lots of credit and no family to support other than my dog. In a few years I very well might want to start a family so now would be a good time to take this risk.

I do not want to burn any bridges. In this area everyone knows everyone and that could catch up to me fast.

I don't see myself being a competitor with the builder I am working for now. He only likes to build million dollar houses and I do not have my general contractors license and as such will not be doing any projects over $30,000. In the future I do plan on getting my gc license but that is a way off. One of the things I would like to pursue for now is being a legitimate sub for other more reputable builders. I also wouldn't mind continuing my relationship with my current employer but as a legitimate sub making a fair hourly rate or working by the foot ($3.50, of course).

Sounds like I'm going for it. I have lots of more questions (like where to buy my insurance) but will try and search the forums before I post!
 

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Cabinetmaker
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IMHO Keep your present job, do your research, get your insurance. I know in NC under 30K no liscense required :} What you do on your days off is nobodys business but yours. Build up what you can, take all the money the builder will give ya. TAKE NO jobs you cant really handle!!!!!!!! When you have reached the point where you are making more money STEADY on your own than tell him thank you very much however I think it is time I stepped out on my own and that you hope WE can do BUSINESS in the future.
Than it is on your terms.
Good Luck really.
Just dont take all my work ROFLOL I am movin to NC also :laughing::laughing: cept I am headin East near Raleigh, little town Zebulon.
 

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Sawdust Sweeper
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In your shoes

I was in your shoes last September...I was working for a custom home builder, who was one heck of a builder and a nice guy although the pay was pretty low, and when the economy took a dive, he ran out of work (the second builder in 2 years that I worked for that this occurred)... Instead of going on unemployment I talked it over with my boss and when into business for myself. Work has been steady to crazy but overall a marginal experience. Working for yourself is great, you get to set quality standards, you get to develop relationships with customers and build your own reputation... but as my organization skills are less than stellar, the biggest challenges are keeping up my paperwork, scheduling and getting quotes out in a timely manner. There is alot more to it than swinging a hammer-the business aspect is what kills me more than anything else...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
During my brief stint managing restaurants I learned business skills. When I left that job I was in charge of three separate locations doing millions in business. I learned how to hire, how to fire, how to schedule, how to order, how to track profits and losses, how to not forget anything... I learned a lot at that job and was quite successful. Leaving was very hard but at the end of everyday I was simply unfulfilled. My tool belt was calling me. So, I gave my notice and six months later I was working as a carpenter again (yes, my two weeks notice ended up being six months, it was that kind of job).

My hope is that the business skills I learned there will translate to my carpentry career. I know I will not wear a nail apron forever but at least what I am doing is something I will be passionate about :clap:
 

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Sawdust Sweeper
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You are better prepared than I was lol... and if an idiot like me can do it, you can do it!
 
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