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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.
good advice here
 

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You most certainly can start a business with no money in the bank, but you have to be able to leave money in the register as things will come up unexpectedly. I went on my own at 25 with about 1500 bucks in my pocket. A friend/builder fronted me a chimney and I bought some scaffolding and a used mixer the brick yard had been sitting on, I think they repo-ed it. Life has been rainbows and unicorns ever since. ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I want to thank you all again for your helpful comments. When I made the comment about competitors number I meant more as to what they net a month or year. I know pretty well on what I would personally charge. My savings sits right now at about $12,000 but I had planned to pay off my truck (about $3,200 left on big red) and will have to get about $500 of work done on my plow (pray for some good snow!). That leaves me with about $8,000. I figured a could pay for maybe 2 jobs worth of materials, depending on size. I had planned on using a good GC who would pay in a reasonable time, so I didn't have to sit on the material cost for too long. Also with getting business from a GC (at least in the beginning) I didn't think I have to spend too much on advertising and marketing. I've had a little experience in sales (worked in an electronic store in high school for commission and have done it for christmas lights (by the way if any of you are slow in the winter you should look into holiday lighting) so I know it's just something you have to practice with. I am going to wait until this spring before jumping in. I am going to put most of what I make back into the business. I currently have all my taxes set up, a business name, GL insurance (it's just me so no WC yet), and all my licensing. I have it so I can do side jobs legally. I'm also lucky enough to have a long time girlfriend who's sister is an accountant/tax lawyer. I will have to get WC and learn a bit more about having an employee before I start. I appreciate all who are willing to help a new guy out. Oh and I have been doing this since I turned 18. I started doing drywall (hated it) for about a year and for the last about 7 years I've been building decks.
 

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I want to thank you all again for your helpful comments. When I made the comment about competitors number I meant more as to what they net a month or year. I know pretty well on what I would personally charge. My savings sits right now at about $12,000 but I had planned to pay off my truck (about $3,200 left on big red) and will have to get about $500 of work done on my plow (pray for some good snow!). That leaves me with about $8,000. I figured a could pay for maybe 2 jobs worth of materials, depending on size. I had planned on using a good GC who would pay in a reasonable time, so I didn't have to sit on the material cost for too long. Also with getting business from a GC (at least in the beginning) I didn't think I have to spend too much on advertising and marketing. I've had a little experience in sales (worked in an electronic store in high school for commission and have done it for christmas lights (by the way if any of you are slow in the winter you should look into holiday lighting) so I know it's just something you have to practice with. I am going to wait until this spring before jumping in. I am going to put most of what I make back into the business. I currently have all my taxes set up, a business name, GL insurance (it's just me so no WC yet), and all my licensing. I have it so I can do side jobs legally. I'm also lucky enough to have a long time girlfriend who's sister is an accountant/tax lawyer. I will have to get WC and learn a bit more about having an employee before I start. I appreciate all who are willing to help a new guy out. Oh and I have been doing this since I turned 18. I started doing drywall (hated it) for about a year and for the last about 7 years I've been building decks.
Unless precluded by state law your client should pay ahead on the project. You are not a bank. What would happen if you walked onto a car lot and said I'm joe, I want a car I'll be back in 90 days to pay you what I think the car is worth. They'd laugh their asses off!!!

But that is what you are setting yourself up for if you go work for people, especially gcs, without getting deposits and progress payments. If they won't pay at the beginning chances are they won't pay at the end. Sometimes you have to take the chance to earn someones trust but if you can't afford to lose the bet you shouldn't make it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Unless precluded by state law your client should pay ahead on the project. You are not a bank. What would happen if you walked onto a car lot and said I'm joe, I want a car I'll be back in 90 days to pay you what I think the car is worth. They'd laugh their asses off!!!

But that is what you are setting yourself up for if you go work for people, especially gcs, without getting deposits and progress payments. If they won't pay at the beginning chances are they won't pay at the end. Sometimes you have to take the chance to earn someones trust but if you can't afford to lose the bet you shouldn't make it.
In the passed I have always required 25% down. Most of the jobs around here are going to composites so I don't think that will cover all materials. Do you guys ask for more upfront? I have read some articles on "protecting yourself against bad contractors" that tell homeowner not to give more than 10% upfront. I've never had anyone say anything, but I also haven't done much. I have never done a job for myself that takes long enough to require progess payments (just weekend jobs). How much do they slow down, if at all, progression on the job?
 

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If you want it bad enough you'll do well. Find out what you want and fight like hell to get it.

Read many of the marketing threads here and take notes.

Personally, I'd set up a website while you are still working and don't make it active. There's a ton of things you can do to prepare yourself before you take the plunge.

Come on in, the water is warm.
 

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Unless precluded by state law your client should pay ahead on the project. You are not a bank. What would happen if you walked onto a car lot and said I'm joe, I want a car I'll be back in 90 days to pay you what I think the car is worth. They'd laugh their asses off!!!

But that is what you are setting yourself up for if you go work for people, especially gcs, without getting deposits and progress payments. If they won't pay at the beginning chances are they won't pay at the end. Sometimes you have to take the chance to earn someones trust but if you can't afford to lose the bet you shouldn't make it.
I agree that a lot of GCs are not the best to work for, but many are good to work for. Two of my subs wont work for homeowners because of issues getting paid. If they work for me and other quality GCs they know they will get every draw on time if they complete their milestones.
 

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I agree that a lot of GCs are not the best to work for, but many are good to work for. Two of my subs wont work for homeowners because of issues getting paid. If they work for me and other quality GCs they know they will get every draw on time if they complete their milestones.
Thats exactly what im saying; you dont want to work for the you get paid when i get paid types. You work for the guys who are ready to say if you deliver i will pay.
 

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Sounds like your job sucks and you need a new one... Setting a goal to work for yourself isn't a bad idea but I think priority #1 should be finding a new job. 20k a year @ $14 an hour and you don't know if you'll work weekends? Thats a really bad deal if you ask me.
 

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What is the best way to find guys like this? Just trial and error?
Say this, im a little guy starting out, i need half up front and the rest when im done. anyone who bitches isnt who you want to work for. If they can hound you to build the deck then they can show the same enthusiasm to pay you too.
 

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DeckingOutKC said:
I want to thank you all again for your helpful comments. When I made the comment about competitors number I meant more as to what they net a month or year. I know pretty well on what I would personally charge. My savings sits right now at about $12,000 but I had planned to pay off my truck (about $3,200 left on big red) and will have to get about $500 of work done on my plow (pray for some good snow!). That leaves me with about $8,000. I figured a could pay for maybe 2 jobs worth of materials, depending on size. I had planned on using a good GC who would pay in a reasonable time, so I didn't have to sit on the material cost for too long. Also with getting business from a GC (at least in the beginning) I didn't think I have to spend too much on advertising and marketing. I've had a little experience in sales (worked in an electronic store in high school for commission and have done it for christmas lights (by the way if any of you are slow in the winter you should look into holiday lighting) so I know it's just something you have to practice with. I am going to wait until this spring before jumping in. I am going to put most of what I make back into the business. I currently have all my taxes set up, a business name, GL insurance (it's just me so no WC yet), and all my licensing. I have it so I can do side jobs legally. I'm also lucky enough to have a long time girlfriend who's sister is an accountant/tax lawyer. I will have to get WC and learn a bit more about having an employee before I start. I appreciate all who are willing to help a new guy out. Oh and I have been doing this since I turned 18. I started doing drywall (hated it) for about a year and for the last about 7 years I've been building decks.
When I started it was with very little money also. In the beginning all I had was a truck, tools and a couple grand. I worked side work until it was too much to be done on the side and then I quite my job. I think I had 2 months worth of work booked up. Most contractors DO NOT have much start money. That's why they are leaving their current job, because they feel underpaid which most likely means that they do not have much money.

What I did have was great credit and a wife ( girlfriend at the time) that was very supportive. So I got a credit card with rewards for all of my expenses. (It gives you instant money for material and it pays you back everytime you swipe it. Works well if you can be responsible with it.) We made sure we could live off of one income for a while (hers) before I made my move. I would like to say I saved all of my paycheck but we were building a house at the time and every penny I made went to that. ( We were very young and thought we could take on the world all at once) Then Shortly after I finished the house I made a went on my own. You will not make much money for quite some time so prepare now by living WELL BELOW YOUR MEANS. If that means getting rid of expenses or moving somewhere cheaper. It could just mean no fun for quite a while.

Now it is 10 years later and we both work full time for our company. It isn't always great and let me be clear, I'm not saying to be as ( by the skin of your teeth) as we were but it can be done. You really sound like you have your ducks in a row even more then I did.

Looking back now I realize how risky my choices have been but it all paid off in the end. If you are of the type to not take risks then being self employed is not for you and no one ever got rich by always being careful. Sometimes you need to stop looking so far ahead and follow your gut.

It also doesn't hurt to have a mentor. I have had quite a few that I learned what to do and what not to do from. Many late night phone conversations where I was given great advice but every single mentor I had stared with next to nothing! Good luck to you in whatever you do.
 
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