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#19605 - 12/30/02 04:55 AM Contractor Business-solo or no?
macwire Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/02
Posts: 42
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA
(Getting WAY ahead of myself with this question-I'll be applying for my apprenticeship in April)

You sparkys who are contractors, how many of you are one-man shops? If you are, are you planning to expand? And for you ECs with employees, how do you deal with employee issues and other demands of running a growing enterprise?

I've always thought that if I do become an EC years down the line, that I'd like to stay a one-man shop. That way I avoid the hassles of having employees, keep overhead low, have more personal control over my work and my interactions with customers, and avoid the demands of running a larger enterprise. In many ways, a one-man shop is simpler.

However, I can see the downsides of a one-man shop-can only take on so much work which limits income potential, if injured or taken ill your business is on hiatus until (unless) you recover, must wear many hats (marketer, bookkeeper, etc).

Still, I think keeping my future business small would be the best course for me. Comments?

The MacWire

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#19606 - 12/30/02 06:02 PM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
HotLine1 Offline

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6804
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Macwire:
I started as a "1 man shop", and quickly got 1 employee. Then I added another, and another...
Got to six & all was well.
Yes, you can "lone ranger it"; it's a good way to start unless you have a big bankroll, and work lined up first.
Yes, payroll, paperwork, insurance, taxes, etc., etc. are a pain, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

John
_________________________
John

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#19607 - 12/30/02 06:23 PM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
Electric Eagle Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
I also started as a one man shop, but soon learned that it wasn't the route I wanted to go.

1. The demands from my customers were more than 1 man could handle. I was working 60-80 hours a week which leaves no time for me, not to mention a family.

2. Alot of jobs are much harder with one man than 2. (Fishing wires from a basement to the attic) I can't count the numer of times I've gone up and down stairs to find a wire when a helper could've cut out hours.

3. I made pretty good money by myself working 60-80 hours a week, but I make a lot more working 50 hours.

I think you'll do better with some helpers, but don't rush it. You have to build a customer base and you don't want to have workers getting upset because you can't pay or don't have enough work. Be patient.

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#19608 - 12/30/02 07:08 PM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
Bjarney Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
For me, the hardest thing to learn was when to say no to prospective [or newer] customers. Early on, you don’t want to turn down jobs, but you can only work so many hours in a day.

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#19609 - 12/30/02 07:15 PM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
harold endean Offline
Member

Registered: 02/16/02
Posts: 2248
Loc: Boonton, NJ
I started out as a 1 man shop, then 2, 3, etc. til I had 4 trucks and 5 people in the field. (also 2 part timers in the office.) Then I went from 5 to 4 to 3 then back to myself. Within a period of 7 months. Then I was hired as an inspector and gave up the business.

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#19610 - 12/30/02 08:45 PM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
macwire Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/02
Posts: 42
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Electric Eagle:
"I also started as a one man shop, but soon learned that it wasn't the route I wanted to go.
1. The demands from my customers were more than 1 man could handle. I was working 60-80 hours a week which leaves no time for me, not to mention a family."

Eagle, how come you didn't take the route of turning down customers and raising prices on your existing customers? That may have cut down on customer demands. Is the nature of electrical work really such that most jobs are more difficult to do alone?

harold, what caused you to reduce your business so drastically in a few months time? Not enough business or a voluntary move on your part?

I really appreciate your comments, please keep them coming.

MacWire

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#19611 - 12/30/02 11:51 PM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
lwinter31 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/02
Posts: 41
Loc: Texas
Mac
I think what Eagle meant is there is a limit to how far one can stretch himself hour-wise.

Example; Thurs I was trying to complete a rough-in (by myself) that I started Mon.

GC calls- Got Two (new homes) need finished out by Mon. want POCO to heat 'em up Tues. Can you do it?

I say ok. (even though i have another rough-in planned for the next week)

Fri. Rough-in done, AHJ - Nice Green Tag. then off to pick up materials so I can now work all week end.

Sat./Sun. I and helper (my little bro. off on wkend from local POCO) finish out the two houses inside and out.

Mon. I finished the second storage bldg. on the second house, whew -- all ready for POCO to heat up. Pick up supplies for Tues. rough-in.

I do plan on takeing off early for New Years, But as you can see work will be waiting, more 10-15 hr days to make up for the Holiday.

Same GC says two more frame ups in 30 days.

Somtimes you just got to have help to get it all done. Nobody wants to loose work from the GC's that provide regular $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Larry

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#19612 - 12/31/02 01:13 AM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
macwire Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/02
Posts: 42
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Do you charge extra for weekend rush jobs like these? Just out of curiosity.

MacWire

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#19613 - 12/31/02 07:32 AM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
Scotts Offline
Member

Registered: 01/17/02
Posts: 224
Loc: Ventura, CA, USA
Iwinter,

I have always said that when you work for yourself you would rather be busy than not.

Scott

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#19614 - 12/31/02 02:22 PM Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?
Electric Eagle Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
MacWire, I guess I could turn work away, but once you do that those customers will find someone who can help them on demand. Don't get me wrong, I do turn away some work, mainly if it's too far to drive for the size job or if I'm not comfortable with the customer or the job isn't quite up our alley. Also, if I worked 40 hours a week by myself, I wouldn't make nearly enough money to live the lifestyle I want to live. I could go on and on, but 1 man shop just wasn't for me.

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