Anyone Started a Handyman Business? Need Career-Change Advice...

Discussion in 'General Bushcraft Discussion' started by SonsOfLiberty, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. SonsOfLiberty

    SonsOfLiberty Student of Life Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Mods- if this isn’t appropriate please feel free to move to an appropriate forum.

    I’m facing a crossroads at 38. I’ve been a corporate America (fairly well-paid) medical sales rep for over a decade, but after being laid off for the 3rd time in a decade I’m really considering go in another direction. Quite frankly I hate my career. It’s unstable financially, I work with snarky fake, corporate climber people, and I don’t get personal satisfaction from the mission. I’m very good at sales, but I’ve been wrapped up in 3 downsizing of the sales force in 12 years and now I’m recently re-married and have 3 little ones and a wife who need to count on me. My wife doesn’t make a ton of money, and would like to go to part-time so she can take care of the kids after school and we can save money paying for daycare.

    The first photo is what I usually look like at work, the second photo is the kind of work I actually enjoy doing, and the 3rd photo is what’s at stake.

    I have a BA in Communication Studies, but I’ve never worked for myself, and I’ve found working for others has been less-than-stable. The rich guys running these companies are happy to make financial gambles with other people’s careers and I just can’t tolerate that risk anymore.

    I’ve realize after speaking with family and friends that I have a really broad base of blue-collar Handyman type skills that people would potentially pay good money for me to fix. I’m scared to take a big leap like this, and I’ve been praying on this, but I’m also looking for some inspiration and courage from folks who may have done this.

    Has anyone made a big career leap like this?

    Thanks,

    Chris
    12BA73F1-8A5F-4F94-AE7B-C6B8F0BAF5FF.jpeg C93CB6AF-DA29-484D-9D52-F853D58934EF.jpeg DF9AAAF2-E085-49EA-A151-11FE7DCFADCA.jpeg
     
  2. CSM1970

    CSM1970 Supporter Supporter

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    Great looking family! I will be praying for you.
     
  3. central joe

    central joe Wait For Me!! Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Prayers offered. One thing to consider is the benefits of working for a company, insurance is a big one. Individual health ins. can be very cost prohibitive from my experience. joe
     
  4. PVF1

    PVF1 Supporter Supporter

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    What about applying for an apprenticeship program for something like being an electrician (or similar)? Uses a lot of the handyman skills, steady work, and pays well once you're full time! Only question is if you can find a way to set aside enough in savings to cover the shortfall while you're in the program, or if your wife's income can help cover the gap during that time.
     
  5. Bonekrakker

    Bonekrakker Not a chiropractor Supporter

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    My dad started a handyman business after he "retired" the first time. He's one of the old school folks who can build or fix just about anything. Lots of family in construction/trades. He was fairly disappointed when he got started that most of his calls were from apartment complexes wanting him to paint because they thought a "handyman" would be cheaper than a painter. Or somebody would call him to fix one thing and then try to call him back for something else that was totally unrelated and say they expected him to fix it for free because it was working before he fixed something else. Got tired of folks trying to nickel and dime him or con him all the time. He was really just doing it to get out of the house and decided after getting a bunch of his tools stolen off his truck that it wasn't worth it.

    Long story short, I wouldn't recommend the handyman option, but would definitely encourage you to go get certified in a trade and do it as a specialist if you have that passion. You'd probably have to work for someone else for a while, but could definitely grow it into a career working for yourself at your age. If you like working on cars, ASE certified mechanics do pretty well around here, and a good one will never have problems finding a job.

    I certainly understand your frustration. One of my old neighbors was in medical sales, and he dealt with a lot of the same issues. I wish you the best and will definitely keep you in our prayers.
     
  6. AdamD1776

    AdamD1776 Scout

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    Don't forget that even when you are working for yourself, you are still working for others, just a lot of different people instead of one boss/company. I once worked for a guy who ran his own remodeling business, and was doing quite well, but he went through his share of issues too: not enough customers, customers shorting him for jobs, jobs that went south either financially or in the amount of labor required, difficult customers. I'm not trying to scare you away from doing it, as it can be very rewarding, but it can be a lot of work too, which sometimes gets forgotten.

    Prayers offered for guidance and success, whatever path you take.
     
  7. SonsOfLiberty

    SonsOfLiberty Student of Life Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I’ve strongly considered this route. I have 2 cousins who are Electrician’s and they do very well. In the past I have installed new breakers and run conduit and installed lights in an industrial building. I looked into becoming a licensed electrician but from what I understand you have to apprentice and basically make peanuts for a couple years?
     
  8. AdamD1776

    AdamD1776 Scout

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    I had a buddy who was going to go this route after graduating high school, he was convinced he was going to make a fortune, and that all of us who were going to college were making a mistake. He ended up going to college after a couple of years, because he wasn't making as much as he wanted (it was okay money for a young, single guy, but certainly not enough to raise a family on or to do to much).
     
  9. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    It's a leap. I'll tell you right off that I'm not the best to take advice from. :)

    There is a real shortage of people who can fix things. It's a dieing breed. I have found that the best money is in handyman type work. Quick jobs. Doing some painting. Change a window or door. Drywall work, etc. I make pretty decent money doing this.

    I would suggest keeping your main job and setting up the handyman stuff as your "side hustle" :) Come up with a catchy name, get some business cards and away you go.
     
  10. SonsOfLiberty

    SonsOfLiberty Student of Life Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I think that’s what I’m going to do. I’m keeping applying for career jobs and I’m going to do the handyman thing as a side hustle and see what kind of money I can make
     
  11. Torrin

    Torrin Pan Supporter

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    I have contemplated doing this many times, specifically mobile RV tech. I worked for a guy in Hawaii that had an appliance repair business. We did do appliance repair, but our main bread and butter was the vacation rental market. I can't tell you how many times we made $100+ to reset a GFI. With the service call fee based on travel time and a minimum hourly rate charge you can so quite well on easy fixes if you are efficient.
    Ultimately customer base is everything.
    If you take pride in your work and leave happy customers in your wake you should have endless work before long these days.
    The trick is getting the ball rolling and knowing what customers (not jobs) to take and which ones to avoid.

    If you can find some good realtors to work with they should be able to refer you to steady amounts of work.
     
  12. randyt

    randyt Guide

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    when I went on my own in 1988, I incorporated and set up a regular type paycheck. I contributed to SSI since then, maybe it will pay off maybe not. Writing things off with pre-tax dollars is a great benefit. However our health insurance costs about 1300 a month now. I 'm a workaholic, it's nothing to work seven days a week for weeks on end at times. It's been good, it's been bad. The last administration money got tighter than a bulls but in fly season. I used up everything I had keeping the doors open. There simply was not enough work to pay the bills. Things are better now, never thought it would be good again. Hopefully it will last awhile.

    If I could do it all over I wouldn't. Missed way to many family functions, too many brother in law weekends, too many things put on hold. I have no retirement to speak of, some assets. Instead I should have went to work for the pipefitters union, I probably could retire now. A buddy of mine went into electrical contracting, he was union. Once his kids were raised he went back working union. He makes much much more working for someone else. I'm probably the wrong guy for advise, I'm a cynical old bastard.
     
  13. TheGeoSquirrel

    TheGeoSquirrel Supporter Supporter

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    Check out your state laws. Some states you have to be licensed by the state and in the case of NM as a licensed handyman you are only allowed to make so much money. They dont want you competeing with licensed contractors and taking their business.
    If you choose to do it with out a license and under the table then you run a whole new set of risks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  14. randyt

    randyt Guide

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    I'm not a handyman but a plumbing and heating contractor . I have a friend that is a handyman. He became a building contractor and just the other day he told me he was getting back into the handyman work. He says there is more money in it.
     
  15. Torrin

    Torrin Pan Supporter

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    The age old question really. Can you make a good living for a family doing what you love?

    Usually it's the dealing with people part that makes it actual work. I wish I could go back to the age when I believed, everyone truly cared about eachother, it made dealing with people easy.
     
  16. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    I think any time you switch careers completely, you should expect to have to put in some time and effort learning the new stuff, and proving yourself, and not expecting to get paid top $ at first. But once you've earned the license, certification, or whatever, then you should be ready to really get your teeth into it and start making good money. You may have to switch jobs a few times, until you find the right combination of $, work you like, and people you have to work with. One thing that looks pretty obvious to me is that providing health insurance for that family is going to be tough if you don't work for a company (or govt agency) that gives you some help in that area. Being your own self employed handy man is great for a guy who is old enough to retire, but young enough to still have the stamina and energy for it, and who doesn't have a family to provide for any more. But don't expect big $. I know a young couple, the man is a journeyman electrician. He was able to go wherever his wife needed to be while going thru college and veterinary school. Then when she got a vet job, he was able to go wherever her job was. No problem finding work anywhere he needed to go. And good money too. But he had to learn the trade from the bottom up, and he did that when he was younger. Now he's pretty much got it made. It's not easy work, tho. Electricians have to deal with some difficult situations sometimes. Emergencies, big nasty dangerous equipment, miserable weather, working in ceilings and walls and roofs and ditches, etc. It's very physical work.
     
  17. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I make a lot more money on the smaller jobs than the larger ones, if figured by the hour. I am actually getting more and more hourly time and material jobs.

    Being self employed certainly isn't for everybody. I make it sound probably better than it is, because it works for me. I've been self employed at least half of my career, my wife is self employed as is my son. There are many benefits, there are many downfalls. There are times we work 7 days a week, there are times I take a week off just because I want to. We are at the point where we can pick and choose our work, but it wasn't always this way. I did a lot of crap work when times were tough.

    If I could do it all over again, I would have stayed in business for myself all of my life. I will never be employed by anyone again, unless it's that dream job that probably will just remain a dream. :)
     
  18. Bobsdock

    Bobsdock So long, and thanks for all the fish Supporter

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    IMHO, Customers are a pain in the butt. :4:
     
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  19. Swamp Pirate

    Swamp Pirate Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Prayers Sent For Your Journey.
     
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  20. randyt

    randyt Guide

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    I do far better on a quoted job, I despise time and material jobs but everyone has a niche.
     
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  21. wingnuts

    wingnuts Hunter/Gatherer Provider/Protector Supporter

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    BINGO!! Was laid off for the 4th time about 9 or. 10 hrs ago (RF tech) couldn’t find work and was spending more time looking for it than it should have taken. Started small (handyman stuff that was too small for most contractors to bother with) and painting /faux finishes. That business lasted 4 yrs and had over 200 clients!,!. Did home improvements/make overs and tons more. The reason it was so successful was I returned calls and showed up for estimates that others would not. I used my Dad and son when available and required. Problem was INSURANCE it killed me! Liability and property damage was cheap. Medical/dental ended up killing me. Back at the bench now for 5 yrs. Not sure how much longer I could have continued even if I could have made more money as it was taking a toll on my body. Hanging Sheetrock and slinging mud is abusive! Good luck with whatever you choose.
     
  22. fixits

    fixits Noble Savage Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    This 1000%

    I'm a remodel contactor/handyman. I have no employees but a few good subs. I hooked up with a handful of real estate agents and have been so busy the past 5 years I can't even tell you. I usually have worked booked out 6 to 8 weeks.

    If you do good work, show up when promised and have a personality you can earn a good living. A lot of my clients become good friends too.

    Good luck with whatever decision you make.
     
  23. Daniel82

    Daniel82 Tracker

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    llc or s Corp in your wives name. Keeps your personal assets safe in the event of something going to far south. Affordable care act insurance is neither affordable or effective. Find an alternate before you jump. Start small part time and build your reputation. Work exceptionally hard to treat people fairly but don’t be scared of charging for your services. Most people think doing a job cheap will pay off later - it is a serious mistake. Doing a job well and on time pays long term. Doing it cheap leaves you poor. I owned a tree company for 8 years. 6 part time 2 full time. I promise it’s not less work than you do now. You will be salesman operator accountant and everything else. Your 8 hours working quickly turns to 12 once the rest of the work is done. I enjoyed it, had to stop because of my littles and trouble going aloft. It’s a big decision take your time with it.
     
  24. Roq

    Roq Tracker

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    been there ^^ as a home improvement contractor (did some handyman work after I shut that down, no thanks)
    Ride the wave, keep the jobs coming, work 16-20 hours a day 10-14 days straight, 3 off and back to it. Made mucho American pesos. In the end I had beat the heck out of my joints, dealt with a few dead beats (mostly contractors I subbed for, lesson learned stopped subbing), wasted much time and gas $$$ interviewing potential clients (in time you will learn how to read them and walk away from the clients you don't want).
    Union is the way to go, make less now, be the king later and more importantly, have time to enjoy your family.
    So what do you really want to be when you grow up?
     
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  25. squishware

    squishware Troubleshooter Supporter

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    If you can SELL , SELL! Perhaps you are selling the wrong thing. Can you troubleshoot electrical circuits? Install a pop-up? Hang a TV mount? Fish a wire through an interior wall? I would suggest being a salesman for a different industry while supplementing your income picking up handyman work.
     
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  26. bosque bob

    bosque bob Guide

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    "Quite frankly I hate my career." Guess that says it all, doesn't it?

    Life is too short, kids grow up too fast and those we're close to can drift away. When we only measure life by what we have it's easy to forget who we are and harder to remember who we want to be. And all those other platitudes that remain true.

    The things you learned in college, things you learned working, things learned in general is knowledge you still have. If you want to wrench, wrench. If you want to sell, sell. If you want to do both, well, you get the idea.

    Plan on some additional education and low entry level wages for a while in any career change. Start up costs for self employment can be a big factor to consider along with operating expenses. I operated a small construction business after college before spending time in commercial construction management. When I decided it was time for a career change, I knew it was time, for sure. Went a completely different way, took the cut in cash flow and have been very glad I did since it paid off in ways never anticipated.

    Money is good. Happy is better.

    Good luck with a new adventure.
     
  27. kronin323

    kronin323 the barbarian Supporter

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    I supported myself as a handyman for eight months while between jobs about 11 years ago.

    I don't know what the demographics are like in your area but it was really hard over here. Please nobody make this political - we do have a large immigrant population here that works hard for cheap. Lots of competition for that sort of work. Unless you have something that makes you stand out i.e. certifications, lots of positive customer feedback/history/references, etc, it can be very hard to get new customers to decide to place their trust, and money, with you instead of one of the many other, very affordable options. A friends and family network can be a launching point but that will only take you so far and, at times, it can start to feel like charity.

    And then, don't kid yourself - as attractive as a job getting out and using your hands may sound, it is quite a different environment than sitting on your butt in an air conditioned room during office hours all week. It's hard work.

    Maybe it's different in your area. Assuming you have some savings to get you through hard times, there's no reason why you can't give it a shot for a while and see how it goes. But I would also keep looking for a new job in the career in which you're experienced. If you find one but the handyman thing is working out, you don't have to take it. But if it isn't, it may be a timely out. The responsibility of supporting a family certainly does limit the amount of risk you can afford to take.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
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  28. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    A few randoms points:
    1. Absolutely everything around us was sold by someone. One could argue that sales is the most important job on the planet.
    2. There will never be a shortage of sales jobs. Ever.
    3. You said you are very good at sales. (And you're a dashing chap, which is a bonus.)
    4. Can you find a better sales job?
    5. Going into business by yourself requires that you have all your ducks in a row before you cut your money stream.
    6. YOU MUST LEARN FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING!!! You'll be flying blind without it.
    7. Going into business by yourself prematurely and struggling will likely take a toll on your marriage, because money stress just does that.
    8. I suspect if you do want to go into business, you'd be best to keep your job and start a business on the side. Tough, yes. But you're tough.

    Salesmanship is the difference between rape and rapture.
     
  29. Nakadnu

    Nakadnu OBSERVER Supporter

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    I actually have done this same thing.
    I started off promoting myself as a handyman by going door to door, advertising in the newspaper and word of mouth. It eventually developed into doing yard work, tree trimming, decorative gardening, raking leaves, spraying pesticides and cleaning gutters.
    I did this for 3 years when I realized I had created an 80 hour a week job for myself. At which point I decided it was in my best interest to go to work for someone else and let them worry about things like taxes, insurance and liability.
    One good thing that came of it was that I met a lot of people and built a reputation as a good worker who could be relied upon which opened up a lot of opportunities.
    This could be a stepping stone into something much better.
    Good luck.
     
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  30. SonsOfLiberty

    SonsOfLiberty Student of Life Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Thanks for all the responses guys, I decided to look for a sales job in a different industry and just do the handyman thing as a side hustle. Until I get another career job with benefits however, I will try to work full time doing home repairs.
     
  31. hlydon

    hlydon Guide

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    @SonsOfLiberty If you are going to do it, do it right.

    I’m an attorney and when I was in private practice mostly represented sole proprietors who worked in the trades—electricians, roofers, home inspectors, etc. so I’ve worked with many people who started their own business. In fact, helping people set up a business was one of my services.

    You need a written business plan. Develop a true marketing and sales plan. Understand the financial side of business, and so on.

    If you aren’t going to or don’t have the funds to hire professional consultants such as CPA and attorney, then you are putting yourself at risk, and you are just winging it hoping things work out. It sounds like you have too much at stake (third photo) to just hope and pray it works out for you.

    This adage is on point. Those that fail to plan plan to fail.

    With that said, the housing market has generally been good the last several years, and as a consequence many people I know that are in the trades are doing well. If you want to do business in SW Ohio, give me a call. I sure could use you.
     
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  32. MisterE

    MisterE Scout

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    There are some really neat jobs that you could get doing sales. Most people I run across in sales that I enjoy and that I decide to purchase material and equipment through are the go-getter types that will do the research and design right along with me and are willing to take an extra moment to engage in thoughtful conversations about the processes and expected outcomes. Others just want to sling equipment.

    If I were to get into sales I would look into getting into a company that either offers heavy equipment for industrial use, a company that has their own engineering department that offers both designs and installation, or a company that offers unique industrial equipment or a process to a niche market.

    Best of luck.
     
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  33. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    I have to agree 100% with this gentleman. When you run a small business, YOU have to do ALL of the functions of any company ... well beyond the handyman stuff. In fact, all those other functions are more than a full time job in themselves.

    Again, you said you are great at sales. You are a good looking fellow, and I am sure, motivated, intelligent, and of very high integrity.

    The really big money is in sales.

    Dare to find a sales job that enriches you, financially and emotionally.
     
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  34. Bluegill

    Bluegill Scout Bushclass I

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    With handyman skills and sales ability, have you considered anything in real estate? Buying and renting while doing the maintenance yourself could set you up well for the future - full or part time.
     
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  35. SonsOfLiberty

    SonsOfLiberty Student of Life Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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  36. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    Awesome! Get out there an provide world-class service.
     
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  37. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    If I may add one bit of fraternal advice ...

    Triple down on safety! Especially eye protection, ladders, and lifting. If you get injured, that's going to be a huge setback.
     
  38. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    I’m not self employed and can say the same thing about how I work lol. Sometimes I work 7 days a week, other times I say eff it and take vacation... probably helps I have 6 weeks of vacation stashed atm and am up to 4 weeks of vacation a year. I can bank up to 8 weeks. Still though, I have crap work to do.
     
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  39. perrymk

    perrymk Supporter Supporter

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    I'd be wary of taking what I enjoy and turning it into a job. It might make it not so enjoyable.
     
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  40. boomchakabowwow

    boomchakabowwow Guide

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    great looking family!!

    i am not a business person. i think the handyman side would be the easy side. the insurance, bonding, health insurance, advertising, billing, tzes ..etc. that's the hard stuff.

    i know a sheetrock guy that quit being a sheetrock guy and became a "sheetrock" repair guy. he said jobs used to involve pallets of sheetrock. now he just shows up with half a sheet. he said he makes more money than ever. he just follows up behind plumbers and electricians..and moms/dads trying to hang up big heavy mirrors.
     
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  41. SonsOfLiberty

    SonsOfLiberty Student of Life Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I agree. I think taking small jobs and doing them very well and quickly is a good way to get referral business
     
  42. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    Have you come up with a tag line?
     
  43. AdamD1776

    AdamD1776 Scout

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    If you don't have an LLC set up yet, do it. If something goes wrong, and you get sued, you don't want to lose everything
     
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  44. SonsOfLiberty

    SonsOfLiberty Student of Life Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    No tag line yet. Busted my ass today demoing a fence and pouring concrete/ posts. 95F today. Fence/gate goes in tomorrow

    It’s the Pastor of my church. I don’t think I’m going to chose manual labor a whole lot for anyone else LoL

    Should I do a sole proprietorship or LLC? I need to research the difference. Also I. We’d to call my insurance company and see if I’m covered or if I need to get a different kind of policy. Last thing I need is someone going after my house. Thanks for the advice.

    2FBFC604-6CA3-4C4F-BB42-719F8D566470.jpeg 39189D15-F49A-47D0-82E6-DAF4F9900832.jpeg 42886056-7418-4845-95F9-85E306C93293.jpeg 32F6E60C-0F7E-4420-B06D-DC7C0F901CDB.jpeg
     
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  45. roadwarrior

    roadwarrior Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    With self employment comes insurance, state license or registration, tax on your equipment and you still need to bring in enough money to draw a regular check. I recommend doing it on the side at first to see if you can build up a customer base and make enough to support your family. I am a carpenter 35 years on my own and I went the other way and joined the union.
     
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  46. SonsOfLiberty

    SonsOfLiberty Student of Life Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    ugh. want to avoid all that shit.
     
  47. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    We would be negligent here as your friends if we didn't not respectfully admonish you that that is absolutely the wrong attitude.

    If you want to be self-employed, even part-time, there is an unavoidable list of nasties that you MUST deal with, up front, thoroughly and properly. Trust me, every self-employed person hates that stuff has much as you do, but those who side-step it eventually get a serious smack-down, in the form of lawsuits, the jaws of the IRS, the state coming after you, ... or all of the above at once.

    And there's a significant setup cost, in the form of legal advice, accounting/tax advice, licensing, insurance, etc..

    For the sake of your family, suck it up, and confront the crap-pile head on. I'm sure our attorney friend, @hlydon, will agree with me here. And I'm sure he'd add that setting up properly now is by far the cheaper -- much cheaper -- way to deal with going into the business.

    Once you're set up, you'll be happy and good to go :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  48. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Oh, that's the fun part of the business. Getting home after a long day and sitting down to spend a couple of hours doing paperwork. Sweet! :)

    Naw.. it's not that bad. Organization is the key to it. I have a spreadsheet that I made up for my business. I have a page for each month. Each months page has a place for mileage, hours worked, expenses broken down in columns for materials-tools-expenses-etc. Takes just a few minutes to fill it out. Tallies everything up for me. The front page tallies by the month, so I have all of my info at a glance. All of my receipts get labeled and put in a manilla envelope. One envelope per month, so I can find a receipt if I need it. At the end of the year, all I have to do is print out the main page and I'm ready to do taxes. Easy peasy. :)
     
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  49. AdamD1776

    AdamD1776 Scout

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    LLC. Sole proprietorship someone can go after anything you own: cars, house, savings, everything. With an LLC, you can only be sued for the assets of the business: not great, but you don't lose everything.
     
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  50. krflol

    krflol Tracker

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    I did that kind of for about 12 years. It was hard times. Being good at fixing stuff does not equate to being good at business. Saw a lot of people go under. I learned from some of the best, I was lucky. Network with residential real estate investors. Not necessarily the guy that owns 20 rentals. Someone that owns one rental. Maybe two. Mow the yard, do an inspection. If you have a good eye you can find a ton of deferred maintenance. Get about 5 of these people and you'll have work. You'll get referred. Get your inspectors license. There is a lot of good knowledge in that course. Ethics dictate you cannot do work on a property that you inspected officially, however, there will be cases where you are asked to find things to fix. Change of tenant or looking to sell. Looking to buy. It's good to be good at inspections. It's how you establish a scope of work
     

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