(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?
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.
Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?#19607 12/30/0209:23 PM12/30/0209:23 PM
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.
Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?#19608 12/30/0210:08 PM12/30/0210:08 PM
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.
Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?#19610 12/30/0211:45 PM12/30/0211:45 PM
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.
Re: Contractor Business-solo or no?#19611 12/31/0202:51 AM12/31/0202:51 AM
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.