Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

21 - 40 of 54 Posts

·
wannabe
Joined
·
2,283 Posts
Coming from someone who has been walking the fence for quite some time.... here's my two cents.

I think you can over analyze and psyche yourself out. You join a forum like CT to get the best information to hedge your bet (smart)... IMO the more time you spend researching and comparing yourself to other models the more you doubt your preparedness. I don't speak for the membership here, but I'm willing to bet most folks weren't a lot more prepared than you.

Don't get me wrong...There is no better community than CT to offer insight along the way, but only you can decide whether or not you're ready. The best advise offered is from the members who just did it and learned along the way....

Most likely it is my own reticence coming out, but the point I'm trying to make is you're never going to feel/be prepared enough. Don't burn any bridges, set a date or a $$figure as a goal and stick to it! You're going to make mistakes no matter how fool proof your plan is....

Be honest, return calls, and communicate!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Read E-Myth Contractor, Mark Up and Profit, and just small business books in general. Make sure you have a lot of cash in the bank because you are most likely not going to have steady profitable work for the first few years. Also...figure out what it cost you to do business and base your rates on that. You situation is unique and only you know what it cost you to do business. Do not and I repeat do not take on jobs that are not profitable and you cannot predict the profitability of...that is a quick way to lose all your reserves...I've seen it happen a lot in this business.

Also you need to realize that most contractors fail at business because they are good tradespeople but horrible business people. You have to be good at both in the beginning and in the long run you must hone your business skills if you want to survive.
 

·
Vendor
Joined
·
22 Posts
I'd put finding a successful mentor at the top of the list. It's a lot easier to learn from others that have developed a system for success. Next would be to have a strong marketing plan in place, followed by keeping your overhead low until work is flowing in.
 

·
Head Grunt
Joined
·
3,270 Posts
I too agree with Mike about having enough money to start with, one of my mistakes was putting myself in way too much debt. Over use of credit cards, over running your accounts, etc will lead to wasting money on payments and interest. We are not in business to support banks or creditors, we are in business to prosper. These poor spending habits has hurt my business but a learning lesson too. I am almost paid off on all my debts and have found cash in my pocket more frequently. As said it takes money to run a business, if your handing it all over to the bank and creditors it becomes a real struggle to survive. From here on i pay cash for everything up front. If i do not have the money than the customer is required to front the money for large purchases. No more putting purchases on credit where i have to pay interest, that interest comes out of profit, that is poor money management!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
23 Posts
Charge more. :thumbsup:

Most startups (myself included when I started my company) don't charge enough because they don't think the customer will go for it. Know your numbers. They don't lie. If your numbers say you need a 35% markup on your costs to pay the bills, don't mark up your jobs at 15% because you "feel" 35% is too much. It is what it is. Now it's your job to sell.
Best advice anyone can give right here. People will treat you worse if you make it cheaper or the will value you more when they pay more. Well in most cases.
 

·
Kitchen Cabinets NJ
Joined
·
1,099 Posts
1) Know your target market
2) Know how to reach them.
3) Have the budget in place to do so
4) Keep your customers happy, and they will keep you happy with more referrals to grow your business.
 

·
Hack
Joined
·
3,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #31
Bump...UPDATE: I am in the process of registering my name, and will be in talks with the city Licensing Manager soon. I am also shopping around for insurance rates, because while most of the insurance companies here in town offer contractors insurance; they also offer a lot of what I will not need.
I am going to focus on interior renovations for now, with the focus on non structural changes (insurance), and I plan on expanding my services to deck design and installation come spring. I will be contacting the realtors in the city to see if I can generate some leads (but from what I have read in the forum, this is not always a good idea).
There is a website in development...but I need a portfolio. I have been involved in commercial construction for the majority of my short career, and never really had any projects that I did on my own that I could add to a portfolio.
So, it is on the go, and I expect to hit some snags...still won't be up and running for a while yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
491 Posts
Any work that you do should be added to your portfolio at this point. That includes work done on your own home, moms house, grandmas, cousins etc. it would be worth it to work for family for free a couple weekends if it meant you could get some pics of your quality work.
 

·
Hack
Joined
·
3,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #33
Didn't really plan on dragging this corpse up, but here we go.

My startup never got off the ground. Looking back.. I was completely unprepared financially and fundamentally. I did manage to get a good estimate of what I would need to get started financially though.
I went into it without really thinking it through, and now when I go to try it again I'll have a better idea of what I'm getting in to.
I'm thinking that I may be able to start up on two years with the right planning and financial security in place.
I've certainly learned a lot from the forum and its members, so thanks, all of you.
For all the employees that want to strike out on their own : make a plan, be prepared, know your skills and who you want to market to, and don't be afraid to say no to a job.
I'll stick with my current employer now because I think that they can provide the mentorship I need, and they already know I'm planning on going out on my own one day. At least through them I can continue to build my skills and experience.
 

·
Pro
Joined
·
2,859 Posts
asevereid said:
Didn't really plan on dragging this corpse up, but here we go. My startup never got off the ground. Looking back.. I was completely unprepared financially and fundamentally. I did manage to get a good estimate of what I would need to get started financially though. I went into it without really thinking it through, and now when I go to try it again I'll have a better idea of what I'm getting in to. I'm thinking that I may be able to start up on two years with the right planning and financial security in place. I've certainly learned a lot from the forum and its members, so thanks, all of you. For all the employees that want to strike out on their own : make a plan, be prepared, know your skills and who you want to market to, and don't be afraid to say no to a job. I'll stick with my current employer now because I think that they can provide the mentorship I need, and they already know I'm planning on going out on my own one day. At least through them I can continue to build my skills and experience.
Can you tell us what played out . Was it just a money thing . Or your gut check saying no .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
179 Posts
what iga said ,I tried to be the cheapest when I started also. I was doing good work for free...save back a lot more $ than you think you will need. then market your self to everyone you know...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
819 Posts
when I started out I had saved up enough to live for 6 months and also $30k for a van/tools/stock........that's the proper way to start out.....$0 debt and 0 worries financially

sounds like no one does it that way though...typically they have $0 to start....which means if you don't find work your out of business quickly and in debt for your tools

im a believer in acting like you've been in business forever on day 1....have your logo on your shirt/van/cards/invoices...everywhere

my normal job was m-thurs 10 hour days....so I would work for myself fri/sat/sun.....I figured it would take a couple of months and then id be able to quit my normal job....I was fully insured and had all my own tools/van....I basically had 2 full time jobs(without my normal job boss knowing)

id come up with excuses to MY customers why I could only work on fri/sat/sun....and it worked....I wasn't all that busy...I rarely worked on Sunday.....and 1/2 days on sat typically...it helped starting out part time/slow...I learned how to handle things and didn't need to worry about money......

well 8 months later and I was still working 2 jobs...not moving up much on my own business...my Boss saw a yard sign and drove by my house to see the 2 vans there(his and mine)....he hired a replacement and had me train him (I figured it out quickly)..a couple of days later I was walked off the job and fired.....very scary to be 100% on your own......but now I had tons of time for sales.....and all those cash reserves...but my wife was 8 months pregnant with my 2nd child......I struggled a bit, but not too much....I never touched that 6 months cash reserve...now its like $140,000.....probably going to be a winter condo in Florida when I retire

I recommend starting out part time on the side.....when you have too much business to handle part time then quit your full time job...your boss wont be happy, but that's the most conservative way to do it....

if you have no cash reserves I would wait...maybe work a 2nd job now to build up those reserves
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
819 Posts
what iga said ,I tried to be the cheapest when I started also. I was doing good work for free...save back a lot more $ than you think you will need. then market your self to everyone you know...
I started out trying to be the cheapest also...didn't work well...after a couple of months I started charging what I felt I deserved and bring up quality/service instead of price and my sales took off....there's a price zone you need to be in to be considered legit...if your too low people are afraid you don't know what you are doing (and they are most likely right)

people can tell how long you've been in business..there is no way to hide the fact...its all in attitude and the words you choose....it took a year or so before people stopped asking me 'how long have you been in business'......it showed at the time...now it doesn't
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
I'm curious too as why the OPs deal didnt pan out. I'm in the same boat right now. Looking to branch out on my own here in North Dakota.

What say you established guys in regards to advertising?

I'm pretty much going into it not as cushy as Huggy thats for sure. I pretty much have to hit the ground running. The work is here. I'm just trying to figure out the best way of getting leads and getting my name out there
 

·
Livin the dream...
Joined
·
6,624 Posts
Huggy is the prime example of how it should be done. Problem is...if most of us wait for all those things to be in place we will be employed for the rest of our lives. The reason most of us jump off into the self employed sea is because we are spinning our wheels at a day job going nowhere. Sometimes you just have to make chit happen and not let failure be an option....and if you do fail....you should have started with the mentality that you would rather give it everything you have and fail, then stay where you're at going nowhere letting someone else make a killing off you're hard work...at least that's how I look at it. Necessity is the mother of invention...(and small businesses).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Huggy is the prime example of how it should be done. Problem is...if most of us wait for all those things to be in place we will be employed for the rest of our lives. The reason most of us jump off into the self employed sea is because we are spinning our wheels at a day job going nowhere. Sometimes you just have to make chit happen and not let failure be an option....and if you do fail....you should have started with the mentality that you would rather give it everything you have and fail, then stay where you're at going nowhere letting someone else make a killing off you're hard work...at least that's how I look at it. Necessity is the mother of invention...(and small businesses).
YES

I agree completely. Sometimes I have my doubts and then fear of failure kicks in and I find myself seriously questioning my decisions.

But I have confidence in my product and locally I'm only matched by few. My concern is getting my name out there. I already started the process of becoming an LLC, becoming insured, and pulling my license.

Thank you for your reply. Gave me new wind as I do my paperwork today.
 
21 - 40 of 54 Posts
Top