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Starting business

STEVEN MARKS Member Posts: 154
I have been thinking of starting my own business. I have a contractors license for the state of ct and 20 years experience. I have a full time job in house with great benefits that I plan on keeping. Health insurance to expensive to buy yourself and I have a family to support. I would plan on doing mostly residential and light commercial evenings and weekends.
I currently work per diem with a local oil company but sales have been slow and I'm looking for more.
Any suggestions for a rookie business man?


  • Ranger
    Ranger Member Posts: 210
    All I can say is...

    ...Beat me with a brick 'cause it feal's so good when you stop.Good Luck and God Bless You.
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884

    It sounds like you are not talking about starting a business. Your talking about moonlighting.

    If you start a business, you have insurance, enough to cover all your needs. These are cost that all business must incur and is One of the many things that set your labor rate.

    If you need help setting up a full time business I and and others would be more than happy to help.

    If your going to moonlight .... good luck. If I misunderstand your post, please give more info.


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    STEVEN MARKS Member Posts: 154

    Moonlighting only gets you so many jobs. (All word of mouth)
    I already have insurance, would'nt moonlight without. I have been afraid to advertise since I am not properly set up as a business. Need to find out how to get the right tax #'s and best way to advertise and collect payment.
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884

    " I have a full time job in house with great benefits that I plan on keeping. Health insurance to expensive to buy yourself and I have a family to support. I would plan on doing mostly residential and light commercial evenings and weekends. "

    Sounds like Moonlighting to me Steve, what am I missing ?


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  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    by the light of the moon

    is your current employer clear with your moonlighting intentions? Not all companies are comfortable with the concept.

    Check out a free "Numbers Cruncher" demo, and other products, at www.barebonesbiz.com to get you started on developing a plan. This software was built by a NJ plumber that is very familiar with the costs associated with running a plumbing company.

    Good luck.

    hot rod

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  • jackchips_2
    jackchips_2 Member Posts: 1,338
    What do you

    mean by "per diem", Steve. Are you working with the oil company as a full time employee with benefits but only getting paid for the actual days you work?

    If this is the case, could you start your business by changing the agreement to a sub-contract? You could negotiate a continuation of some of the benfits (health insurance, specifically) while you build other customers.

    If you are planning on keeping your current situation, I agree with Scott and Hotrod that it sure looks like, smells like, etc. Moonlighting.

    Going on your own is a great experience but in todays day and age you must do it different than some of us old timers. A business plan is an absolute must and this is a great site to lead you in the right direction.

    Best of luck,

  • Dale
    Dale Member Posts: 1,317

    Moonlighting doesn't sound good, how about "consultant" alot of professionals of whatever variety start out by running a side business as a consultant to see if there's enough demand to give up the day job. Whatever you do the risk is 95% in the financial side. Most states have courses for small business owners that you should take after reading the basic books, the local chamber of commerce may be of help as well as the local colleges. A good clear idea of how much cash in a pile you will need to cover a few start up years is also very important and maybe scary. A good business plan is a must, that should be in place before starting anything. Good luck in the American dream.
  • sarah_4
    sarah_4 Member Posts: 15
    go for it

    I started my own business the day after I got my license, and because I was a sole proprietorship (ie, no employees) it was pretty simple. If you are already paying insurance, it seems to me that the benefits of going legit would vastly outweigh the negatives. You'd have to pay self employment tax, but think of all the things you'd get to write off! Use of a home office, the insurance, a portion of your vehicle, etc, etc. If you are a sole proprietorship, you can use your social security number as your tax id number. Just go down to city hall, pay a few bucks and file a form saying you are operating a business under whatever name you've chosen.

    You can still get a lot of business by doing guerrilla marketing--passing out business cards to everyone you meet, and then *following this up* with giving great service--returning phone calls, showing up on time, calling if you will be late, and being a fair and honest pricer. I am always a little shocked at how far just these steps have taken me.

    Good luck and let me know how you make out.

  • Dave Yates (PAH)
    Dave Yates (PAH) Member Posts: 2,162
    sounds like

    A cake & eat it too syndrome. If you're shorting your day time employer by reserving energy for the night and weekend work, you're not being fair to the employer. If you're devoting company time to ordering your materials and/or handling those materials during your day-job hours, you're stealing time that belongs to your employer.

    I once had a guy who was doing what you're doing and, as it turned out, he was advertising 24-hour emergency service! Now, at least 8 of those 24 were supposed to be devoted to this company. His comment when confronted? "Hey, I'm trying to start a business here." He was officially in business & on his own immediately following that comment. Being both an employee and a compettitor doesn't work. He was out of business within a few years.

    If you're working for any of their customers and competing for business, you're stealing and a competitor. If you're getting work because you're undercutting legit business while avoiding the overhead required to be ligit, that's not right either. They're the ones providing insurances and other benefits so their mechanics can have a decent salary.

    HR is on target. Crunch the numbers and make a clean break if you're serious about having your own business. It's no picnic, but the satisfaction when things go well can't be beat. Then again, it's a heart breaker when things don't go right(G). Remember the 7 P's.

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  • sarah_4
    sarah_4 Member Posts: 15
    true enough

    You bring up an important point. Anyone who steals customers away from their employer or does their own work on company time is not being ethical. when I started my own company I quit my other job first, so it was all I was doing. But if Steve wants to spend weekends working for himself (which he's already doing anyway), why not make it legit?
  • Ken D.
    Ken D. Member Posts: 836

    I believe it will be tough getting profitable by moonlighting as the customers who use moonlighters will not pay the extra money required to run a "legitimate" business. All they want is a deal and pay as little a possible for it. The liability aspect alone is enough to discourage you from side work. You had better have liability insurance as you can lose everything if something happens and you are sued. Do it right.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    Just one more thought on this subject

    I would also recommend you consider how you will be dealing with warranty issue's during the cold month's. If and I am not sure you have call with your present employer how will you deal with a call from your personal customer's? And what if they need it fixed during the day? I don't want to say not to do it just make sure to dot your I's and cross your t's before you do it...
  • joel_19
    joel_19 Member Posts: 931

    "Insurance is too exspensive to buy on your own" My friend I pay 100% of all insurance for my guys that's THOUSANDS a month i could put in my pocket. If your going into buisness do yourself and everyone else a favor and get health insurance and all the rest and build it into your price!!!! That's what the company you work for is doing right now! The money they are paying for your insurance didn't just magically show up in thier check book. If you don't get insurance and then go out and underbid the companies with insurance this puts more presssure on us to take those benifits away from our people as well, lowering the safety net for everyones familly. Ultimately you will hurt the industry and yourself if you pursue that type of idea. Hot rod is right on with Numbers Chruncher program , it's simple, cheap, and will help you set realistic rates, get that and get all your book keeping and pricing ducks in a row. This is the hardest part to do after your allready started . Take it from someone who has been down that painfull road.

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  • Mad Dog
    Mad Dog Member Posts: 2,595
    Just be prepared for the beatings.........................

    They will come. Sounds like you got a real good gig going, bro - don't blow it. Think you got what it takes to be the boss? Better buy a case of aspirin, case of bourbon, and have some $$$ in the bank. And as crusty, old Phil told me years ago: "ya gotta have a good setta b---s." Mad dog

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  • John Felciano
    John Felciano Member Posts: 411

    Sure sounds like what your talking about is moonlighting.

    What lic. do you hold?In Connecticut you HAVE to show intent to go into business before you can take the contractors exam and are suppose to turn it in if you are not in business.This law was passed to help business deal with the moonlighting problem.

    If your going to do it,"go for it" but don't start your business at your employers expense.Are you planning on charging less because you don't have to pay for your own insurance?

    Hotrod had some great advice.Do a buisness plan,crunch the numbers and charge what you need to cover your overhead and show a profit.I wish I know what I do now.When I started my business 14 years ago I had no clue and spent many years working long hours just to stay afloat.
  • Ken C.
    Ken C. Member Posts: 267
    You speak the truth

    This is the second post I've read from you, and I've gotta say, you're one smart guy. Not too many business owners pay the full ticket for their employees' health insurance. It's nice to see someone taking the high road and bettering the industry.
  • It hit me the same way

    Insurance is very expensive.

    Keep on the high road, Joel. It sure feels good to read about a company striving for the betterment of the people that make it up.


  • Ken C.
    Ken C. Member Posts: 267
    All this talk about moonlighting ...

    ... has got me confused. So, just because someone doesn't take calls during daylight hours, they're automatically a moonlighter? And just because someone takes calls at night and weekends, they're not a legit business? What about this case (and this is an actual guy I know): Suppose your uncles are plumbers. You spent many years working with them and earn your master's license. Suppose you have a falling out with your uncles and part ways. Suppose you take a 9 to 5 job at a hospital, because the benefits are good (not to mention regular hours). Suppose you decide to want to earn extra income and do what you really love to do (plumbing), so you print up business cards, advertise, get insurance, a van, inventory of supplies, etc. You advertise that you work on nights and weekends only. Customers find it convenient, since the majority work during the day. So you guys still want to tell me that this person is not a legitimate businessman, but a moonlighter? Give me a break! To me, a moonlighter is a guy working out of a station wagon, carrying tools in a five-gallon bucket, with no insurance. Now, before you jump all over me, I agree with you all that a plumber who is a full time employee of a plumbing company, who wants to keep that job, but work for himself outside of normal working hours, more truly fits the profile of "moonlighter." It also raises ethical questions. Even if he doesn't steal customers from his employer, he is still competition, especially if he advertises. But what is so wrong with someone who is licensed and works for a large employer, such as a factory, school department, hospital, etc., and also does plumbing (insured and legit too) after hours? There is no conflict of interest in that case. If he's doing it just to earn extra money, fine. If he's considering going into business for himself full-time, and is using the day job as a safety net while he tests the waters, that's fine too. In fact, I think it's kind of smart. But there seems to be a "holier-than-thou" attitude that if someone doesn't just quit his job cold turkey to start a plumbing/heating biz, they're just a "moonlighter," which, to me, has a negative connotation (might as well say "chump"). Don't get me wrong, I respect anyone who has the balls to make a clean break to go on his own, but don't knock others who may want to take a different route. There, I've said a mouthful, no disrespect meant, but I guess it's a touchy subject with me. Peace.

  • joel_13
    joel_13 Member Posts: 3

    Thanx guys I appreciate that. We are trying really hard to give a good benifits package but it's not easy.Our HMO (HMO stands for Hoards Money Obsesivly) plan is up to 840$ per guy per month! Ken you must be a Newbie! I've been hanging around here since the beggining, not much the last year or so been to busy working,smart? nope that's giving me to much credit. Sometimes i offend people here as I'm not always the greatest comunicator and come across as harsh.
  • Dave Yates (PAH)
    Dave Yates (PAH) Member Posts: 2,162
    Health insurance....

    there goes 10 grand a month! Then we could talk about workman's comp insurance, but I'd get too steamed to think rationally(G). A few years back, that took a 12 grand a year jump in premiums - all 12 grand due upon reciept of the bill, I might add. The insurance agent said I was suffering Workman's Comp Shock Syndrome, I said he'd be suffering some kind of shock too - if only I could wrap my hands around his neck! Then there's the miriad of liability insurances with new twists each year - like mobile property floater coverage. Or the need to increase to five million dollar coverage if we want to continue working in the commercial sector.

    I could retire quite comfortably on what I pay for insurance each year. Right on Joel.

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  • Ken C.
    Ken C. Member Posts: 267

    Yeah, I'm a newbie, both to the Wall and to heating (been plumbing four years, that's still kind of a newbie). My employer pays the full health insurance premium for both me and my wife. There's about 15 employees, so health coverage is a huge expense. Something you might want to look into, which my employer did, was to change plans (within the same insurer). They used to have Blue Cross Healthmate Coast to Coast, but switched to Blue Chip shortly before I was hired. The Healthmate plan is more expensive because there are no deductibles. The Blue Chip plan is cheaper because there is a $500 deductible for hospitalization. Since he will realize a cost savings every month, our employer told us that he will pay the $500 deductible for any employee who is hospitalized. So it's a win-win situation: It lowers the company's expenses for health coverage, without exposing employees to a big deductible. Well, there is one disadvantage: the Blue Chip plan has higher copays for doctor visits, but I don't mind because I feel fortunate to have coverage fully paid for. Not one penny is deducted from my paycheck.

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