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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,
I've been checking out the site for a while now, but just signed up. I've been building decks for years now as an employee to a large deck business in Kansas City. I'm sick of working as hard as I do (you guys know how hard we work) for little pay (under $14/hr) I can do anything in the field from building to running a crew. I have done a few side jobs for friends and family but I would like to start working for myself.

I don't have too much start up money, maybe enough for 3-5 jobs. I have all tools and a good truck. My problem is I don't have much cash for marketing. I have plenty of heart, passion, and work ethic that I know I can make it work.

I know I won't make as much as a subcontractor, but with little start up cash I feel this might be the best way to go for now. I figure if I can get a GC that builds new homes I won't have to deal with tear downs and everything that comes with it (trailer or dump truck to remove all trash). My problem is I don't know any contractors who build homes.

  • Am I crazy for wanting to try and do this?
  • How do I get in contact with a GC without annoying/offending him on building his decks for new homes?
  • Can I ask what his current subs are building for so I can see if I can either beat it or just sell my quality for the price I can give?

Any tips or advice helps. Let me know if you need any other information. I have attached a photo of a deck myself and others on my crew had build with the company I'm currently working for. For legal reasons *I DO NOT claim the picture as my own work, just something I helped build* However I design, manage, and build something like it without a problem. Thanks in advance I welcome any comments, both good and bad, I can handle it.
 

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Footbridge Media

They can hook you up for more than you'd expect for a lot less than you'd expect.

The thing so many fail at in this business is getting paid right. I don't mean being paid on time although that helps, I mean getting paid what you are worth.

Just because you get $14 and you think you deserve $20 (or what ever it is) don't be too tight on your pricing. If your $800 slide decides to quit working you need to replace it, or you don't work for three weeks but your bills keep rolling in and that $500 paycheck on Friday to count on you have to count for yourself. So get your money where it needs to be.

Good luck, oh the standard stuff: taxes, insurance, OBAMACARE, ect ect ect.
 

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Not sure I'd start a deck building co in November. I don't know many carpenters making 14 an hour that are ready to strike out on their own.
 

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I have done a few side jobs for friends and family but I would like to start working for myself.

I don't have too much start up money, maybe enough for 3-5 jobs. I have all tools and a good truck. My problem is I don't have much cash for marketing. I have plenty of heart, passion, and work ethic that I know I can make it work.

I know I won't make as much as a subcontractor, but with little start up cash I feel this might be the best way to go for now. I figure if I can get a GC that builds new homes I won't have to deal with tear downs and everything that comes with it (trailer or dump truck to remove all trash).

Any tips or advice helps.
Im not sure im following you here. Why do you feel you dont want to deal with tear downs and removal of debris? Do you have any idea what I charge to tear down chimneys and remove them :laughing: Whats a builder.....:no:
 

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I don't know your region but just building decks is way to specialized of a business imo. What do you plan to do in the middle of winter when the last thing people are spending money on is a deck they cant enjoy.
What other skills do you have? Whats your network of potential clients look like? Will your previous employer be a big competitor? There are so many variables. Take your time planning because there will be many many weeks where that 14 $ hour check will look awful good.
My best advice. Pay everything off you own or sell it. Pay all bills for a year, or set aside the money to do so. Good luck!
 

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You know how to build decks.

Do you know how to make money building decks?

If you're tired of working hard for 14$ an hour I got news for you. You'll probably spend the next two or three years making about that much and working 40% more.

As so many have said before, when you start out you are the accountant, attorney, web designer, seo guru, estimator, salesman, tax preparer, laborer and project manager. All of these roles take time and when you start out only one of them is paid.

Unless, you are sufficiently capitalized and you have a business plan that turns marketing into leads, leads into sales, sales into checks, checks into taxes and avoids injuries, lawsuits and audits ... for a profit.
 

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Sounds like the age old dilema that so many face. You don't feel like you're getting what you're worth so you want to grab the bull by the horns and do it yourself.

Number one reason small trade based businesses fail is because the owner/operator has the technical skills, knowledge, and ability but no business sense.

I would keep taking your $14/hr and start developing a good business plan. Get your ducks in a row in regards to how you will keep your books, manage jobs, get jobs, get paid what you need, save money so you have capital etc. Then when you are more prepared strike out.

And don't forget the grass is always greener on the other side. I would have to agree with what someone said above, if all you're worth to you local market is $14/hr you're probably not ready....YET.
 

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I'm a Mac
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So you want to go from $ 14.00 an hour to $ 3.50 an hour?

The Department of Employment, claimed a boat owner wasn't paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent to investigate him.

GOVT AGENT: "I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them".

Boat Owner: "Well, there's Clarence, my hired hand, he's been with me for 3 years. I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board. Then there's the mentally challenged guy. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of Lamb's rum and a dozen Labatt Lite every Saturday night so he can cope with life. He also gets to sleep with my wife occasionally".

GOVT AGENT: "That's the guy I want to talk to - the mentally challenged one".

Boat Owner: "That'll be me. What'd you want to know"?




Welcome to owning the company
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the quick replies. Winters are covered. I have a plow for my truck and have a Christmas light company (marketing with that was easy, I had time off so I printed out some fliers and now work on all word of mouth. Now I have repeat customers and put most of the profits back into the company for new inventory and marketing) that pay the winter bills and then some.

I don't plan on running out tomorrow, quit my job, and just sit and pray that jobs come in. I am currently finishing my business plan for the company. I am trying to figure out realistic numbers based on my competition. Please don't judge my carpentry skills or being able to do this just because my boss is too greedy to pay his employees what they're worth. No one on the 3 crews makes over $20/hr, even the one's who have been there 13+ years, everyone else makes under $15. Now with Obamacare he's taking away their benefits (he offered it to himself and his "top foreman" who's been there for I think 13-14 years) Now all of us can't get a decent house and start a family but he sure can live in a $400,000 house ( <--Sorry, a little built up anger)

I don't really understand why I would be going from $14 to less by starting my own company and working my ass off for something I want. You all do it and I guarantee you're not doing it for free. Now I'm not expecting to jump into this and become rich, but last year after rain days and everything else I made $20,000. Now forgive me if I want better for myself and my wife. I'd like to start a family, but without a decent income it won't happen.

One big thing I have against me is a good size savings for starter cash. I understand it takes money to make money, but I am doing everything I can. I can't get a second job to build my savings because we never know if we're working weekends and what time we're getting off at the end of the day. I have seen guys been "let go" because "this is your full time job, it comes first." Instead of shooting me down maybe give me some advice (some of you have, thank you) on what the best ways to approach this, not just that it's a stupid idea.

I apologize for being rude and a little angry. I know it's not a good way to start out on the site. I just feel so stuck, but I love what I do. I just feel I could be making more $$ if I worked 40 hours flipping burgers. I just want a good life for myself and my loved ones.
 

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Thanks for the quick replies. Winters are covered. I have a plow for my truck and have a Christmas light company (marketing with that was easy, I had time off so I printed out some fliers and now work on all word of mouth. Now I have repeat customers and put most of the profits back into the company for new inventory and marketing) that pay the winter bills and then some.

I don't plan on running out tomorrow, quit my job, and just sit and pray that jobs come in. I am currently finishing my business plan for the company. I am trying to figure out realistic numbers based on my competition. Please don't judge my carpentry skills or being able to do this just because my boss is too greedy to pay his employees what they're worth. No one on the 3 crews makes over $20/hr, even the one's who have been there 13+ years, everyone else makes under $15. Now with Obamacare he's taking away their benefits (he offered it to himself and his "top foreman" who's been there for I think 13-14 years) Now all of us can't get a decent house and start a family but he sure can live in a $400,000 house ( <--Sorry, a little built up anger)

I don't really understand why I would be going from $14 to less by starting my own company and working my ass off for something I want. You all do it and I guarantee you're not doing it for free. Now I'm not expecting to jump into this and become rich, but last year after rain days and everything else I made $20,000. Now forgive me if I want better for myself and my wife. I'd like to start a family, but without a decent income it won't happen.

One big thing I have against me is a good size savings for starter cash. I understand it takes money to make money, but I am doing everything I can. I can't get a second job to build my savings because we never know if we're working weekends and what time we're getting off at the end of the day. I have seen guys been "let go" because "this is your full time job, it comes first." Instead of shooting me down maybe give me some advice (some of you have, thank you) on what the best ways to approach this, not just that it's a stupid idea.

I apologize for being rude and a little angry. I know it's not a good way to start out on the site. I just feel so stuck, but I love what I do. I just feel I could be making more $$ if I worked 40 hours flipping burgers. I just want a good life for myself and my loved ones.
So to recap you have no money and no plan but feel you deserve a 400000$ house and are going to pay all of your help a wage that would allow them to do the same. Lol

All kidding aside I never said a single word about flyer maker being a necessary position. I say this for your benefit, go back and read what I wrote.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Metro, no I don't expect a huge expensive home with no money lol. I understand he's been building his company for years. I'll take the advice of everyone and just keep on in the same place I'm at until I get a little more saved up? What do you guys recommend to save to? Is there a rule of thumb? 6 months of pay, for bills and needs plus x amount to invest in the business? How did you guys start?
 

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With a good plan and the right timing i would do it with six months saved including marketing. I would see what it takes to make the phone ring at least once a day to start. They say you need four phone calls or two face to face meetings per day to have a successful business and I have certainly found that to be true.
 

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I don't plan on running out tomorrow, quit my job, and just sit and pray that jobs come in. I am currently finishing my business plan for the company. I am trying to figure out realistic numbers based on my competition.
This is mistake number one... your pricing should have nothing to do with what the competition is doing... if you want to NET $75K per year and the other guy is OK with $50K, are you going to base your pricing off his?

You have three levels of pricing to worry about... you have the low-ballers, who just give it away and their product usually reflects that, you have the guys who are established and get different pricing than you, from materials to operating costs to salaries, and you have YOU...

You need to work out what YOU need to live, how much income YOU need to make, how much profit your company needs to make... and by NET Profit, I don't mean what you pay yourself at the end of the job. The NET profit is what your company gets paid. Your salary should already be reflected in the pricing BEFORE you add profit...

Then you have to account for taxes, quarterly filing, accountant (if you don't know how to do this and will be some of the best money you spend), marketing, insurance (WC, health, vehicle, etc.), if you have employees - employee taxes, gas, vehicle maintenance, cell, etc... the list goes on...

You should have a minimum of 6 months operating capital to start with. It will most likely save you YEARS of struggling.

I don't know what 3-5 jobs worth of capital translates into in terms of available funds...

If you have debt, I would encourage you to retire it first BEFORE going into business, and pay CASH as you go... otherwise you will most likely find yourself stuck in rob Peter to pay Paul cycles...

What else do you want to know?....
 

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We have all been in your shoes. Most of us discovered long ago that we were very good trades people. What most of us failed to understand, is that we had zero business experience. That lack has cost me thousands of dollars. I had worked 9 years in the field before starting my own company. I had become a part owner of the company that I started with. I was able to learn a little bit about running a business, but not nearly enough. Payroll, WC, Unemployment, Insurance, Bonds, Sales, Marketing, etc. have been a learn as you go experience.
 

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This is mistake number one... your pricing should have nothing to do with what the competition is doing... if you want to NET $75K per year and the other guy is OK with $50K, are you going to base your pricing off his?

You have three levels of pricing to worry about... you have the low-ballers, who just give it away and their product usually reflects that, you have the guys who are established and get different pricing than you, from materials to operating costs to salaries, and you have YOU...

You need to work out what YOU need to live, how much income YOU need to make, how much profit your company needs to make... and by NET Profit, I don't mean what you pay yourself at the end of the job. The NET profit is what your company gets paid. Your salary should already be reflected in the pricing BEFORE you add profit...

Then you have to account for taxes, quarterly filing, accountant (if you don't know how to do this and will be some of the best money you spend), marketing, insurance (WC, health, vehicle, etc.), if you have employees - employee taxes, gas, vehicle maintenance, cell, etc... the list goes on...

You should have a minimum of 6 months operating capital to start with. It will most likely save you YEARS of struggling.

I don't know what 3-5 jobs worth of capital translates into in terms of available funds...

If you have debt, I would encourage you to retire it first BEFORE going into business, and pay CASH as you go... otherwise you will most likely find yourself stuck in rob Peter to pay Paul cycles...

What else do you want to know?....
Wanted to say great encompassing informative post.
 

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Dude, we're not trying to cut you down, just because your good at what you do doesn't necessarily make you a good business person.

Your not doing all this for wages, your doing it for dividends, or how much you can take from the business. My employees make more then me weekly, however I get the perks they don't, this includes many things like the nice vehicle, etc. I also get to pay myself the dividends from the business when I see fit, that's the value. And less taxes...in Canada anyways.

You need to be able to survive on minimal pay, expect to carry projects, carry materials, carry payroll, and still survive personally. Anything less and you may as well keep working for someone else.

Establishing a name and reputation takes time and luck....how long can you survive while this takes place? How long will it take? My crystal ball is broken so I can't help you with that.

I admit, I got lucky, I started as a teenager living in my parents basement, the two foreman for the biggest local builder were neighbors and friends who helped me get going and pushed the builder to pay me regularly...not everyone gets the advantage I had.

It ain't easy, be prepared to sit on 20-30k for a while...and that's just a rough guess for the little bit I know about the deck business.
 

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Yeah, save up a hundred grand first. Oh wait if you could do that, why bother.

Get your bills paid 2 months ahead, get licensed, pay for the first couple months in insurance & dive in.

Just do the math first. Your salary, anticipated company income & expenses (marketing plan & budget).

You won't become a good salesman until your outta gas & food. Then you will develope the fire in your belly to SELL your predetermined price. But until you get uncomfortable, until you get beaten up, & until things look lost and hopeless you will never truly develope that HUNGER, the drive, the grit to look at yourself in the mirror each day when you shave "never again will I have to be in this place".

That is when the true salesman will show himself. That is when you start truly paying attention to your quality of the work you do. And that is when you FINALLY start to be succesful.

Be ready to starve, buddy. Because there will be days you don't eat.
 

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Driftweed said:
Yeah, save up a hundred grand first. Oh wait if you could do that, why bother.

Get your bills paid 2 months ahead, get licensed, pay for the first couple months in insurance & dive in.

Just do the math first. Your salary, anticipated company income & expenses (marketing plan & budget).

You won't become a good salesman until your outta gas & food. Then you will develope the fire in your belly to SELL your predetermined price. But until you get uncomfortable, until you get beaten up, & until things look lost and hopeless you will never truly develope that HUNGER, the drive, the grit to look at yourself in the mirror each day when you shave "never again will I have to be in this place".

That is when the true salesman will show himself. That is when you start truly paying attention to your quality of the work you do. And that is when you FINALLY start to be succesful.

Be ready to starve, buddy. Because there will be days you don't eat.
Very true.
 
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