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I'm considering going into business for myself.

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  • #16
    Plan it - Do it! - Honestly I wish I had the smarts to start my own business in my 20's as going out on my own was the best thing I ever did (I did it in my mid 30's) & would do it again in a heart beat in my mid 40's.

    I focus on service type work & don't just settle on providing one or two services - I constantly look for opportunities to expand.

    The other thing is, I love variety (i.e. not being stuck onsite for several days or months).

    Other than the main expense in getting equipped, Service Work is lower loss risk in my opinion - if you've got $20 - $50K in materials on a construction job & the main contractor goes belly up, you're almost certainly screwed! Progress payment are good in theory, but the reality is you get busy, or don't want to rock the boat chasing up overdue payments as timely as you should & it all can happen before you know it - Seen this several times.

    I love the challenge of a new job every few hours & whilst I always get paid, sometimes it can take several months for procrastinators & waiting on $500 won't send me to the poor house - waiting on $50K or worst still having to pay $50K to a merchant when you haven't been paid will certainly create stress.

    I'm not sure how big your town/area is, but I've got plenty of competition & started out with a Karcher water blaster & later a second hand K-1500. I only had plumbing experience & had never cleared a drain except by rods. I was up against companies with over a $1000,000 in jetters etc & I now can't keep up with the workload coming in. There's nothing special about me, I'm a glass is 1/2 full kind of guy & succeeded by a few simple principles - I enjoy my work, make myself available when other can't, or won't (it's amazing how many service businesses claim to be 24/7 & really aren't).

    Be careful on advertising. I spent over $30K in my first 2 years & what a FAIL! For me I quickly discovered I had to find other plumbing contractors who didn't have the equipment, or want to do drainage work (trust me they exist) & focus on getting them as customers as they already have a solid client lists. Once I realised this - Boom! - no more advertising!

    There's so much to do as service contractor & you can even consider moving away from plumbing alone. I started with drain cleaning (its still my main business), but I do Thermal Imaging pipe & leak detection behind walls, cut concrete & walls to access pipes with specialist dustless saws, unfortunately I still repair drains & water mains for clients who don't want to do them - which is holding me up on expanding my service business until I hire someone.

    Other opportunities are leak detection (with listening equipment) - I always have a good old chat with specialist sub contractors & today decided I'm going to buy water leak detection gear as there are only two companies in my town & they are flat out busy + its not physically demanding. The plumbers I work for have asked over the years if I could do this for them & at $135/hr it's worth the $10K investment.

    I also have a fascination with vacuum/pump trucks & can see miles of opportunity in my area for this service even with some tough competition - Maybe think about what a second hand truck might cost you? Do the kind of work that makes you happy, but consider the possibility? - what if you fixed pipes, unblocked drain, located leaks, pumped out everything from grease traps to flooded basements - how much work could you generate?

    Its all in the mindset & at 45 you're still young, just look after yourself & back yourself 100%. If you built up a successful business in 5-7 years, you can have young workers do the hard physical yards & use your time to organise the jobs & fill in the gaps - but always keep you hand on the tools or be there regularly to keep the personal relationship. The owner of a successful pump truck business in my town comes out all the time & he's has no problems getting stuck into the work at close to 60 - I just think he loves it.

    Write up a simple business plan, learn from your competition, it's surprising how many gaps or opportunities can still exist in a competitive market. Also as per above, don't get stuck in the mindset that you have to do one particular area of work

    No risk - No reward. If you want to retire comfortably then you have NO choice but to give it a go.
    Last edited by DATS; 07-04-2014, 05:40 AM.


    • GreatLakesPlumber
      GreatLakesPlumber commented
      Editing a comment

      Thank you for the positive and encouraging post. I'm so darn torn about this choice that I'm at my wits end on the subject.

      If I was a young, single man without a family counting on me as the sole income it would be a done deal and I'd have done it by now.

      I really need to sit down and calculate overhead and what I'll need to bring in to cover that to maintain at least my current income level.

      Thanks again for the positive and encouraging response.

  • #17
    Dats, where have you been hiding the last 10 years on the forum. great post and excellant advise. Next time I head over to N Z. I'll have to look you up and ride shotgun. Would be a a lot of fun to go on a working vacation. Will work for lamb chops.

    phoebe it is


    • red1234
      red1234 commented
      Editing a comment
      Rick,you told DATS the truth,If I could,I to would ride along,I'am only good for soda pops and doughnuts,and now and than wishing a clogged sewer to be unclogged.

    • Plumber Punky
      Plumber Punky commented
      Editing a comment
      rick'll work for wittchity grubs n beer

  • #18
    Best of luck! My years as a business owner were very exciting and rewarding, but was too hard on our marriage, something else to consider.
    Last edited by Dave Crocco; 07-27-2014, 04:54 PM.


    • sewermonster85
      sewermonster85 commented
      Editing a comment
      Dude youre not lying my friend...thats the hardest part advice given so far sir!!!!!!