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Old 02-25-2020, 03:21 PM   #1
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Default I want to start a one man gig. Am I being naive?

I've had my heart set on buying a van, and being a one man shop for a few years. I just needed to get enough hours to qualify for the state exam. I hate working 40 hour weeks, I always have, so I'm actually looking to work 25 or so hours per week.
I don't have a family, and I don't plan on having one. I'm single, I own a house and I rent out the top floors. That rental income basically covers my living expense like a place to live and utilities.
It seems to me that there is very low risk in doing this.
I would buy a slightly used van with maybe 25k miles and get a van wrap. Van will be about 22k plus van wrap 3k. It does not sound like bonding and insurance is that much, a few hundred a month. My van would be my only vehicle I would drive. I would park it at my house. I don't plan on paying for advertising. I'm not on facebook now, but I have a lot of old high school friends that are on it , I would join basically to advertise my services. I would buy a major medical health insurance policy to cover myself, I'm a heathy 40 year old. Stalking a truck with parts doesn't seem like that would even break 1,000 bucks? Maybe if you have some garbage disposers and faucets maybe 2000 bucks?
I worked for a service shop in 2005 that charged a 25 trip fee plus 155 per hour. I worked for a service shop 2 years ago that charged an 80 dollar trip fee plus 175 an hour. I would probably start off at 130 or so an hour, just because I don't have a lot of service experience.
Am I being naïve about this? What am I not considering? It just seems so low risk to me, as opposed to say opening a restaurant downtown where you have the cost to rent the space, renovate that space, have employees there even if there is no business, food that will spoil if not eaten etc.
Thanks for you input.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:27 PM   #2
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It's doable, many of us here are one man shop. However you'll need to read over thousands of posts from this forum to see what it really is like. Read books, many of them, business books, accounting books marketing books. Be prepared for a ton of paperwork, crazy customers, complaints, going to court and preparing a defense case, marketing etc.

It's not for everyone and many will fail within the first 2 years because they didn't do their homework and don't have military like discipline.

You have to master these in order :

Business
Psychology
Laws and rules
Plumbing
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Old 02-25-2020, 05:50 PM   #3
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That’s a very vague question. There’s a ton of info needed before anyone can say “Yeah, go for it!”

A lot depends on you, your local economy, saturation of plumbers, local taxes, DBA sole proprietor, llc, general age of homes......

There’s a lot to think about!

As far as stocking your truck, you are way under on cost to stock. I only drain clean and minor plumbing that I can legally do. Wrote up a parts list and gave it to my supply house salesman. Granted, I ordered a case of 1 1/2 traps, a case of wax with horns because of volume discount.... he came back with around $3600 IIRC. Other than wax and traps, nothing beyond normal truck stock.

Also, don’t do time/material. Go fixed rate.
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Old 02-25-2020, 06:15 PM   #4
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Kinda in the same train of thought as you. Did res new construction for 4 years, commercial for 1 an service for 3 now.
28 yrs old,Got a mortgage spouse an no kids
Have a van now.
Id like to get some boiler jobs in the next bit. Got one comming up in the spring ( my wish was granted )
My ideal buiss plan would be get 1 builder that puts up 15 -20 homes a year an service calls in between.
My thinking is...there will come a time when i know what the right time is.
Iv gained a fair amount of knowledge in the past 8 years in different areas but i feel theres a bit more to gain first.
And i need to work on my patience and tolerance for other people.
This is somthing that i started thinking about for 6 months now, it shouldnt be a compulsive choice so as for now i will sit on it and wait for my intuition to guide me.
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Old 02-25-2020, 07:22 PM   #5
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.Am I being naïve about this?[/QUOTE]



Yes.

If your plan is to use the “I’ll just charge a little less than the competition” routine with no regard to the math of running a business while only working 25 hours a week, then do yourself a big favor and don’t do it.
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:22 PM   #6
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Another thing, you think you are going to work only 25 hours a week? Nope better plan to work 10 hours when you start because you aren't going to get many jobs in the beginning and plan an extra 80 hours a week behind the scenes to build up a company.
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:26 PM   #7
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Like that others have said, it’s doable but you’ll prob end up working way more hours then you want.
On thing You’ll need to do is Build a good client base, by doing good, hard, honest work, so they will refer you to others, but if you’re not reliable and not willing to head out to work when ppl need you you’ll lose them as clients, and the referral. Every referral leads to endless more good referrals(if you play your cards right).
You can’t just say “well it’s Wednesday night, and I’ve already worked my 25hrs for the week, can I come on Monday morning when my hour counter resets”...

I knew I’d have to work hard long hours to get to where I am, but I didn’t know that I’d be working even harder when I got here.
Most of my work comes from word of mouth, I can’t give up on my clients now.
I work 50-60hrs a week(give or take) and that includes most weekends, + time for paperwork and other Business related stuff.

I’m not complaining, the $ is great, i make your own hours, I take time off when ever i want and no one can tell what to do.
you can turn down bad jobs, but in the end all the $ earned goes into your pocket not an employers pocket.
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Another thing, you think you are going to work only 25 hours a week? Nope better plan to work 10 hours when you start because you aren't going to get many jobs in the beginning and plan an extra 80 hours a week behind the scenes to build up a company.



Not everyone is an area with a dirth of plumbers, hacks or otherwise. For instance, where I live there are never enough plumbers to go around and all the one man shops I know are constantly turning down work.


People around here like the one man shops. They get to know a guy, they trust him, they know what to expect. They want to stick with that guy.


We have a ton of guys and most of our non-seasonal customers ask for the same guy to be sent each time. Even years later if they don't remember exactly who came last they will ask us to send the same guy. It's a psychological comfort.







.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skoronesa View Post
Not everyone is an area with a dirth of plumbers, hacks or otherwise. For instance, where I live there are never enough plumbers to go around and all the one man shops I know are constantly turning down work.


People around here like the one man shops. They get to know a guy, they trust him, they know what to expect. They want to stick with that guy.


We have a ton of guys and most of our non-seasonal customers ask for the same guy to be sent each time. Even years later if they don't remember exactly who came last they will ask us to send the same guy. It's a psychological comfort.







.
That's what I find really strange, I'm in a place where it's so damn complicated to obtain a contractor licence I haven't seen any other place in North America where there are so many hoops to go through but the big but is that there's a ton of companies and one man plumbers, I get to see all the new contractors in a magazine and I'm not kidding I'd say at least 6-10 new plumbing and related companies pop up each year. My estimate is over 115 companies in the area.

Then you have places where you can declare yourself a company overnight and there aren't many and you have all the jobs in the world.


If I'd put all my jobs bunched together I'd still have wednesday, thursday and friday and weekends off and sometimes half of tuesday. August to December that's where it gets a little more busy but still way way lower than what logtec has.
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Old 02-26-2020, 09:07 AM   #10
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You state that you "hate working 40 hour weeks" and that you are only planning on working 25 hour weeks.

I hope for your sake that I am misunderstanding what you are saying.

If I understood it correctly then here are my thoughts.

Yes you are naive and will without a doubt fail in business. If you only want to work 25 hours a week it means you really only can bill for 15 hours, that would not be enough to run a business.

If you meant to actually have 25 hours in field billable hours a week then you would end up with your hated 40 hour week but now with alot more headaches to deal with.

To me you sound just like me when I was 20 years old. Foolish, lazy and absolutely clueless. Thinking I could work less and make more money. It has taken me 14 years but now I'm ready again to try and be my own boss. This time around I know what it takes. Work double as hard as I currently does as an employee and work more hours.

So unless you are willing to work more than 40 hours and deal with alot more headaches. You will not be successful.

I would happily take all the extra responsibility and late hours for a small amount of extra freedom. In slow times take work on evenings and weekends if that is what it takes to get the job so you can eat. I will happily deal with double the headaches if they are mine and mine alone to chose how to deal with, instead of having a to deal with a few of my bosses headaches the way he wants me to.

I am not trying to be mean but when the first thing I read in your post is that you hate to work 40 hour weeks and only wants to work 25 then I wonder if you are actually understanding what it takes to be your own boss and if you are ready for it.

Also like someone said $1000 is not enough for stocking a service van. I would count on $3000

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