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#22537 - 02/24/03 08:07 AM When to take the plunge?
Big A Offline

Registered: 01/22/03
Posts: 47
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Hello All,

As some of you may know, my day job is working for a municipality as a traffic signal electrician. By night I do residential work. I am fully liscensed and insured.

My friend's, wife, and some of my customer's say that I should do this full time. They say that with a little advertising, I would be on my way. So far all of my work has come by word of mouth with one or two jobs coming from the sign on my truck.

My question is, how do you know? My day job is constanly looking worse and worse, (not because of lay-offs, just general BS) but it could be one of those "the grass is always greener" things. Any words of wisdom?

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#22538 - 02/24/03 09:01 AM Re: When to take the plunge?
Electric Eagle Offline

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
It's always a though call to make.

I'd say if you have enough money to live off for a few months, especially if your wife has a job, it might be worth trying. But if you live 100% paycheck to paycheck, then you might want to wait until you save a little cash.

Don't go overboard with advertising, it's expensive and only marginally effective. A lot of times you end up working to pay for the ads. Just let everyone you know, know that you are on you on, especially old customers. They will be your best source for work. Don't promise work you can't deliver. Good Luck.

#22539 - 02/24/03 11:08 AM Re: When to take the plunge?
gramps Offline

Registered: 08/25/02
Posts: 120
Loc: ohio
i agree with eagle there, "big A". if you are going to focus on residential and light commercial work, set some time aside, and gas money, and go around your area, introduce yourself to the GC's, be "up front" with them and tell them what your attempting to do, what your qualifications are, and why you think you can save them some money and time, while meeting all compliance requirements. you know what i mean, , "smooze" with them a little, sell yourself and your new company. you'd be surprised at how much work you can generate that way, through "word-of-mouth" and evidence of past successes. probably wouldnt hurt to put together a little one-page "line card" type of thing, with the name of your company, your "specialties", and methods of contacting you. sorta like an 8 1/2 by 11 "business card."
be advised, unless you are particularly "blessed", you will lose a lot of bids, compared to the ones you get; and some of the ones you get, you'll probably lose your butt on. the nature of the "beast", but, it gets better, and, after each bid package, you'll learn something new, (hopefully)..

hope this helps,


#22540 - 02/24/03 11:56 AM Re: When to take the plunge?
HotLine1 Offline


Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6792
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
In addition to the words of the two sages above, here's my two cents.
If you decide to "jump in with two feet", ponder this:
Medical Insurance
Retirement (Pension, 401, IRA, Nest Egg)

When you are the boss, the only benefits that you have are what you can give yourself.

I'm not trying to diisuade you, but "working" for a town does have "bene's" right??

If you take the plunge, then "Best of Luck" to you.

#22541 - 02/24/03 06:13 PM Re: When to take the plunge?
harold endean Offline

Registered: 02/16/02
Posts: 2248
Loc: Boonton, NJ
Big A,

I was in this business for 25 years. I worked for an electrician, and was in my own business, and now I work full time as an inspector. There is both good and bad on both sides of the fence. ( Isn't there always. )In being my own boss. I could start work when I wanted and take off when I wanted. With a full time job I have to do what my boss wants. Being in my own busniss, I had to do all the emergency work even though I had 5 employees. So if a building went doqn at midnight, I was the first one on the job. When I work for the town, it is rare that I have to go out at nights or on weekends. Only when a contractor needs a service inspected. When I was in business I had to constantly chase for my money and I always had to make sure my guys were paid each week. I was lucky to be able to cash a check once a month sometimes. With the town, I get paid every two weeks. For vacations, my men would cover for me, with the town, I have to find a replacement for me and work at his schedule. Sometimes I can't take two weeks off at one time. In my own, no benes, but the town gives me some dental and doctor. When I drove down the street and had 4 trucks it looked inpressive. Now I drive a town truck. When I worked for GC's they use to always yell and try to get the job down faster and cheaper. For the town, I tell the contractors when a job passes inspection. Shall I go on? I can list another dozen or so. Long story short, there is good and bad about being in your own business.

#22542 - 02/25/03 02:43 AM Re: When to take the plunge?
lwinter31 Offline

Registered: 11/23/02
Posts: 41
Loc: Texas
Welcome BIG A

Indeed a big step to take.
Take it very seriously and wiegh your current benifits against your opportunities.

At the city you must have some access to the building dept. Talk to your electrical inspector(s) and permit clerk, knowing your competition before you jump in, would be very helpful in your decision making.

Credit, assets, and liquefiable funds will play a huge part in your ability to conduct business. Know what your limits will be.

Good Luck

#22543 - 02/25/03 07:27 AM Re: When to take the plunge?
rowdyrudy Offline

Registered: 11/02/02
Posts: 171
Loc: Mascoutah, IL USA
The world for smaller EC’s is fashioned with hazards and they should be conscious of the numerous circumstances of potential liability.
The NFPA is not liable for any errors, omissions, or ambiguities in codes.
The AHJ is not liable for “green tagging” or “red tagging” accomplished due to misinterpretation or erroneous application of NFPA 70.
If it is proven years after completion that a system was unsafe at the time of installation, the EC bears total and complete responsibility for personal injury, death, property damage, etc to the exclusion of the NFPA and/or the AHJ. The courts have ruled time after time that the EC “… is the expert and should have known of potential hazards…..”
Set up your company whereby you are not personally responsible for actions of the corporation. Speak with your attorney. A small legal bill is better than losing everything.
A major concern is that smaller EC’s maintain minimal liability insurance due to cost concerns. Another is that the smaller EC’s fail to challenge rulings by AHJ’s that they know are incorrect. Larger EC’s, for the past nine years that I have info, emphasize gross incompetence on the part of the AHJ. This has been the most successful argument for EC’s to get AHJ’s rulings overturned. Regrettably, small EC’s won’t challenge rulings due to monetary considerations as well as having to deal with the AHJ in the future. Never forget that in court cases running the array from financial to criminal charges you have been ruled the expert, not the NFPA nor the AHJ.


#22544 - 02/25/03 08:17 AM Re: When to take the plunge?
Big A Offline

Registered: 01/22/03
Posts: 47
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Hello again All,

Thanks for the replies. All have given me a lot to think about. Rowdy even scares me a little but I know he's right. I think I'll give myself another year. Pay down some bills and have at least a couple of month's expenses in the bank as Eagle suggests.

The gravy train I'm riding has a fully funded retirement plan and good health and dental, but then again, so does the wife. Besides, there is a standing joke around here. We come to work to rest and go home to work! Thanks again for the input. This forum is great.



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