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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay so I'm 27 and it's time to walk in my forefathers footsteps and start a small construction business. I have been in home construction for as long as I can remember, and occasional commercial work. My entire family is an owner/operator of many trades all over this wonderful country. They do it with ease, and really impress me with their ability to be organized, talented, and professional. This is on both my mother, father, and in-laws side of my family tree. So after years of working and watching family, friends, and employers run their own biz, I now have the fever... Now they have all had ups and down to say the least, but they stay busy, or make ends meet come January 1st at the very least. So this brings me to the point of this discussion, "WHY DO I FEAR STARTING MY OWN BUSINESS!!!!???".
So before turning it loose I will let you guys in on a little bit about myself. I have been in residential construction since the age of 12 I have built numerous houses with my father, father-in-law, friends, employers. The problem I have today is I have plenty of good working knowledge, great sales sick, but I can't seem to organize the beginning stages of my company. I'm afraid of how to find leads, and if work slows down where well I find the means to provide for my family. I believe the Lord puts us all where we need to be and I feel like he is telling me to pull the plug, squeeze the trigger, poop or get off the pot. If any of you old-timers in the business have any suggestions or ideas, or even your personal experiences please feel free to post. Once again I thank you for reading and taking the time. God bless! And for those who are wondering what the exact topic is it's basically how you run a business for beginners a lot of the people new here are new to opening their own business so basic's are a plus.
 

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I would say the first step is to define your roll in the business. If your goal is to work alone it is not all that hard to find enough work for one guy. I would actually say it is easy if you do great work. If your goal is to be in the field and run a 3 or 4 man crew it is still not to bad. You are paying yourself for your hours of work. The downside is you have to sell jobs and do your books when your guys are resting (drinking). If your goal is to run the business but not execute the work you have a very different starting point.

So I guess what I am getting at is, how much work will you have to find to have a successful first year or two.
 

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I would say the first step is to define your roll in the business. If your goal is to work alone it is not all that hard to find enough work for one guy. I would actually say it is easy if you do great work. If your goal is to be in the field and run a 3 or 4 man crew it is still not to bad. You are paying yourself for your hours of work. The downside is you have to sell jobs and do your books when your guys are resting (drinking). If your goal is to run the business but not execute the work you have a very different starting point.

So I guess what I am getting at is, how much work will you have to find to have a successful first year or two.
Completely agree...and may add that you'll end up being awake at 3:30am thinking about what that crew is gonna do...or how much you're gonna need to be pushing them...or...well, you'll be awake some nights, other nights you'll sleep like a baby, you know, like when the customer finally pays the bill :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow! Ask and you shall receive. Thanks for the great advice. I currently contract for two handyman companies to do their larger scale jobs (or at least what they consider larger scale), and I also contract for a large remodeling company. All my guys are temps, just some of my pals that know their way around a site. So a step up would be having at least one or two employees and moving up to a larger tax bracket. I guess I'm afraid of success because my work it great, and I'm pretty good at closing, but living in small town metro Atlanta makes it difficult at times to muster up work. I have heard good things about a lead finding website that one went by the name service magic. How would y'all get your name out there if you were new to the trade. Should I find one trade ie drywall, carpenty, flooring or can I run the gambit with all the other guys out there that do "general home works" and be successful.
 

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I have to laugh!

Hiring a couple employees right off the bat will certainly NOT put you into a higher tax bracket. There will be initial growing pains. Fed,State,Local taxes, FICA, WC, Fed/State Unemployment. Most starting businesses eventually will have some trouble finding work. Heck, I have been in business for almost 20 years and there are still slow times. Networking is the key to staying busy. I have about a 3 tier list of people that I call depending on how slow we are.
 

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Okay so I'm 27 and it's time to walk in my forefathers footsteps and start a small construction business. I have been in home construction for as long as I can remember, and occasional commercial work. My entire family is an owner/operator of many trades all over this wonderful country. They do it with ease, and really impress me with their ability to be organized, talented, and professional. This is on both my mother, father, and in-laws side of my family tree. So after years of working and watching family, friends, and employers run their own biz, I now have the fever... Now they have all had ups and down to say the least, but they stay busy, or make ends meet come January 1st at the very least. So this brings me to the point of this discussion, "WHY DO I FEAR STARTING MY OWN BUSINESS!!!!???".
So before turning it loose I will let you guys in on a little bit about myself. I have been in residential construction since the age of 12 I have built numerous houses with my father, father-in-law, friends, employers. The problem I have today is I have plenty of good working knowledge, great sales sick, but I can't seem to organize the beginning stages of my company. I'm afraid of how to find leads, and if work slows down where well I find the means to provide for my family. I believe the Lord puts us all where we need to be and I feel like he is telling me to pull the plug, squeeze the trigger, poop or get off the pot. If any of you old-timers in the business have any suggestions or ideas, or even your personal experiences please feel free to post. Once again I thank you for reading and taking the time. God bless! And for those who are wondering what the exact topic is it's basically how you run a business for beginners a lot of the people new here are new to opening their own business so basic's are a plus.
If you gonna listen to your Lord, you not gonna get far.

Follow whats in your heart since you already have so much experience as you say.
Do honest good work, put your heart into your business, don't take more than you can handle and you be just fine.
As winter business goes, don't worry about it, 98% of businesses have good and bad days, so as long as you have more better days, you will survive the s^*t days.

With that said, if you afraid, or keep having negative thoughts, this business will eat you up and before you know it will burn you out, so this is not for you.
In this business you need to have a strong mind, positive thinking, don't allow anything to bring you down, always move forward, don't be afraid to take risks (but do your homework before you do) when opportunity arises, and you will do just fine... and who knows, maybe after 20-30 years you will be looking forward to slow times and winter season so you can enjoy some time off to f'k around and spend some of your hard earned money you make during busy times :thumbsup: :laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have to laugh!

Hiring a couple employees right off the bat will certainly NOT put you into a higher tax bracket. There will be initial growing pains. Fed,State,Local taxes, FICA, WC, Fed/State Unemployment. Most starting businesses eventually will have some trouble finding work. Heck, I have been in business for almost 20 years and there are still slow times. Networking is the key to staying busy. I have about a 3 tier list of people that I call depending on how slow we are.
I meant start taking on larger projects to put me in a higher tax bracket, I know more employees don't define who you are in a business. I guess what I was trying to say was I want to remove my labor and project $ cap from 18'000$ to whatever I can reasonably do and what my insurance will cover, and I just don't want to shoot myself in the foot and end up looking like a hack at the end f the day. Thank you for you wisdom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If you gonna listen to your Lord, you not gonna get far.

Follow whats in your heart since you already have so much experience as you say.
Do honest good work, put your heart into your business, don't take more than you can handle and you be just fine.
As winter business goes, don't worry about it, 98% of businesses have good and bad days, so as long as you have more better days, you will survive the s^*t days.

With that said, if you afraid, or keep having negative thoughts, this business will eat you up and before you know it will burn you out, so this is not for you.
In this business you need to have a strong mind, positive thinking, don't allow anything to bring you down, always move forward, don't be afraid to take risks (but do your homework before you do) when opportunity arises, and you will do just fine... and who knows, maybe after 20-30 years you will be looking forward to slow times and winter season so you can enjoy some time off to f'k around and spend some of your hard earned money you make during busy times :thumbsup: :laughing:
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
 

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14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Shine your light on a thirty grand unpaid invoice and see if it gets paid! Having faith will allow you to search for a way to get through but it wont get you through, only and iron will and hard thought will do that.

Heres what I tell every newb, I learned it here, marketing will solve all of your problems. Need more money, better clients, new tools, health care, new employees all solved with marketing. You need four points a day. Each phone call is one point. Each meeting is two points. If you get twenty points a week you will thrive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Maybe it would have gotten paid if you got out of Gods way, and let him be the head of your house. Only reason people play a victim in a financial dispute is if they did hacky work and would loose in an arbitration hearing, or the customer was a real life criminal. Happened to my Dad at least four times in 38 years of being in business, but he always made it work despite financial trouble, he was a God fearing man, and made God the CEO of the company. Anyways back on topic what did some of y'all "start with" as far as essentials. Advertising, specialty vehicle, any kind of contingency money or did anyone just shoot the dice? Thanks again
 

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If your whole family are contractors why dont you ask them what you need?

I started with seveten grand, no skills and sixty grand in available credit. I was twenty grand in the hole in two years. Because I did not effectively market. You have a temendous advantage over hwere I started with your families expertise.

My start up business plan would include a mock up of a particular kind of project I was going to do and then do mlmy best to sell that profitable project with a marketing campaign. Marketing might come to roughly ten percent of gross sales. You want to do 100k you need to spend ten on advertising. In subsequent years the figure may be less. Figure one third of gross sales will be actual money in your pocket!
 

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You definitely need some cash assets to start any business. If you're looking to increase the size of the project you can handle from $18k then you need to have a target number in mind and be able to bankroll that project. I don't mean that you should be lending the HO money. I always stay ahead on payments so I have the funds, in-hand, for the next stage of the project.

Things can go wrong on a job and you need to be able to handle them, I recently saw a architect eat $10k on a project because the window mullions were ordered in at 7/8" not 5/8" after a mistake in a revision. A line-of-credit might be the solution.
 

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Get your contracts in order. There are software packages to help you and then have it checked over by a lawyer. A good contract will cast you in a more professional light and prevent many troubles.

Keep the money coming. Set a good payment schedule for each job and let your clients know that when an invoice is due you expect to be paid ASAP. Set this expectation up front. Do not become a bank for your customers. You will be in business to make money, not lend it. Pay your subs as fast as you can. Same day is best if you can. They will trip out and always answer your call in the future.

Market like crazy. Email, Social, flyers, parties, invite folks over. Ask everyone you meet what they do, they will ask you back 95% of the time. Then tell them. Hand out cards daily. Send thank you cards. Give small gifts at the holidays. Let everyone know how great you're doing, even if you are in a slow period. Never complain about lack of work, instead make it a positive that you have some room in your schedule to take on more work and that you're happy to be expanding. Read every trade publication you can get your hands on, Fine Homebuilding, JLC, Woodshop News, whatever is applicable to what you do and then some.

Do not give away your time. This will be a huge challenge at first because you will be hungry at times, but the more unpaid time you spend on a Project trying to land it the more you will feel like lowering your prices to not lose it. Google up some info on a guy named Sonny Lycos and what he calls "the process" and then modify it for your own use.

Read Michael Stone's book, "Markup and Profit" and make very, very, very sure that you understand the difference between mark-up and margin. This is huge. Do not skip this.

Ask questions. Admit when you do not know about something. Nobody knows it all, so don't pretend you do. People can smell [email protected]#*! a mile away. I have got many great jobs after honest conversations about never having done something but having the knowledge and skill to try something new, within reason. Do not bite off more than you can chew.

Show up on time, like to the second. If you have an appointment at ten, ring the door bell at exactly 10. It freaks people out, in a good way.

Wash your truck. Wear a clean shirt. Take off your shoes even if people tell you you don't need to. Don't smoke or chew, especially around clients.

Make friends with clients' pets. I got $120,000 worth of work from a lady who told me later that it was because her dog liked me. I am not kidding. Apparently the dog doesn't like many people.

Stay out of debt. Buy used tools, trucks, ect. when possible and pay cash.

Get a part time weekly bookkeeper. Have him/her help you through all of the insurance stuff that you need and keep the books organized. They should give you weekly reports to help you understand how your business is doing.

Go to trade shows. They can be fun and you will learn stuff.

That should get you started.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If your whole family are contractors why dont you ask them what you need?

I started with seveten grand, no skills and sixty grand in available credit. I was twenty grand in the hole in two years. Because I did not effectively market. You have a temendous advantage over hwere I started with your families expertise.

My start up business plan would include a mock up of a particular kind of project I was going to do and then do mlmy best to sell that profitable project with a marketing campaign. Marketing might come to roughly ten percent of gross sales. You want to do 100k you need to spend ten on advertising. In subsequent years the figure may be less. Figure one third of gross sales will be actual money in your pocket!
My dad passed away in 2009, and I had a falling out with my family due to my own actions. My father taught me a lot about the biz, but we all know that this multibillion dollar a year industry is for ever changing and his word of mouth tactics don't do the job for a beginner such as myself. I defiantly want to start small so I don't end up in your particular predicament, so I won't be taking you advise lightly, the customers I've had have had to pay all material and 60% of labor up front and any add-ons will be paid after 2/3 of project completion, dose anyone else use this practice? I also pay a finders/referral fee for any & all contracts signed.
 

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As far as marketing is concerned, figure out what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is and push it until you're afraid it's annoying people. And then push it some more.

I see you're between Athens and Atlanta, which means you're going to have some serious competition for work. But it also means there's plenty of work to be had.

Residential construction is a crowded field but you'll likely find that most of your local players aren't making the most of the fundamentals of marketing.

Assuming you don't have a lot of money to spend on early stage marketing, I'd suggest you start on Craigslist. But even at this stage, you need a plan and a USP. Every "Chuck and a Truck" is on CL, so you need a way to set yourself apart. Get a website that drives home your USP and include it in your CL ad (I'd say, "link to it" but CL no longer allows that).

Take high quality pictures of EVERYTHING you do and add it to your website, ideally in the blog, and include location information (i.e. "Updates on our Lawrenceville, GA Bathroom Remodel Project").

What this will do is alert Google that you're updating your site and they will crawl it often. As they do, the "geo locators" are picked up and indexed with your company name and pictures. That way, you're building traction with Google.

Meanwhile, claim your Google local listing and G+ page. Ask every customer to review your work on your listing and you'll see that you're starting to show up higher and higher in the search results.

There's more to it than just this but I hope I've given you enough to start.

I should point out, this isn't something that's going to happen overnight. It might take you 6 months to a year to get any real results from this strategy. But it will work if you make a plan and stick to it. In the meantime, you've got the work from CL to keep the money coming in, while you're implementing a larger plan.

When it all comes to fruition, you can go bigger and start spending some cash on print or radio ads. But that's another ball o' wax.

The plan:
  • Find your USP
  • Get a website that sells your USP
  • Get work on Craigslist
  • Get reviews ("citations")
  • Use "geo locators" on your website
  • Scale up
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Carl, very helpful, and encouraging. I am on Home Advisor and have seen some luck for it so far. Idk how cl works out in your neck of the woods, but I have shied away from it in the past couple years even as a "chuck and a truck", mainly due to scammers and low baller. I have just made an order of flyers so I plan to do some papering soon, but I will more than likely pay to be on google so let me here your opinions on my new marketing scheme.
 

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Irishman87 said:
Thanks Carl, very helpful, and encouraging. I am on Home Advisor and have seen some luck for it so far. Idk how cl works out in your neck of the woods, but I have shied away from it in the past couple years even as a "chuck and a truck", mainly due to scammers and low baller. I have just made an order of flyers so I plan to do some papering soon, but I will more than likely pay to be on google so let me here your opinions on my new marketing scheme.
How's your home advisor experience .
 

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YW. Glad my advice is helpful.

Yes, CL is full of scammers but there's good potential there for someone who's just starting to get a toehold in the trade.

The key is to cast as wide a net as possible. Get as many sources as you can and then you'll start getting referrals and reviews.

As for paying Google, you have to have somewhere to point those clicks so a website comes first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
YW. Glad my advice is helpful.

Yes, CL is full of scammers but there's good potential there for someone who's just starting to get a toehold in the trade.

The key is to cast as wide a net as possible. Get as many sources as you can and then you'll start getting referrals and reviews.

As for paying Google, you have to have somewhere to point those clicks so a website comes first.
Took the words out of my mouth with the website idea. I'm going for general repair/ improvement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
How's your home advisor experience .
It's hit or miss, my competition are all hacks, so as far as getting in the door it's effective. Remember if you don't go make your bid, someone else will. Give it a shot, it's free to start and if you mention my name we both get 100$ credit for leads.
 
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