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For those that took the leap... #20193
01/10/03 07:05 AM
01/10/03 07:05 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 45
Pennsylvania, USA
Hello all. I have lurked around this site for awhile, but never posted. So...

For my first post, I have a somewhat 'thought provoking' question.

I am a 20 year veteran of this trade. I worked my way up from answering an ad that read "Electrical helper wanted, no experience necessary", to being a large commercial foreman, running projects nearing the $2 million mark.

I have built Nursing homes, 18 screen movie theatres, medical office buildings, A UPS facility, and a large variety of warehouse stores (Home Depots and Builders Squares)and other things I'm probably not recalling at the moment. I do quite well with all ends of the spectrum, from power distribution to all types of Low voltage systems (fire alarm, security, nurse call)and control work.

Through my years with various companies, I have worn all the hats, from foreman, to estimator, to project management.

I have always contemplated going into business for myself. As of late, I have become bored and burdened with my trade. I have realized that I have these feelings because I have become tired of performing for 'someone else'.

I know that going to work for 'myself', with the full benefits of such an endeavor going to my family, and not someone else's, would respark (no pun intended) my love for this trade.

Here's my question.Through my years, I have also seen the struggles, the stress, and the financial losses my employers have struggled with.

I am wondering, for those that took that leap into self-employment, was it truly worth the efforts. Is being your own boss worth the additional efforts, hours, and stresses. Or, having done it, do you sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be better to just put in your 8 hours, collect your check, and go home and forget the job until the next day?

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Re: For those that took the leap... #20194
01/10/03 09:52 AM
01/10/03 09:52 AM
bobp  Offline
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 70
Puyallup, WA, USA
Spent 23 years working for others, now have 16 years working for myself. Starved for the first five years, I work longer and harder than I did for any body else, the hours are grueling, the paperwork ridiculously excessive, the employees exasperating,I have wished I had done some things different AFTER I went to work for myself. But I have NEVER regretted going to work for myself. If my businesses (I have two) go under I will start another one. I never want to work for another again. But, I also have an extremely supportive wife, probably the most important thing you need, more important than any business or electrical experience.
Good luck.

Re: For those that took the leap... #20195
01/10/03 03:03 PM
01/10/03 03:03 PM
HotLine1  Offline

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,916
Brick, NJ USA
I worked for a company for 17 yeras, they said "see ya" one day..Oh well.
I went to work for a local contractor..put in 5+ years...did the apprentice thing, went to school, etc.
Took the test, passed
Started out alone in ' I have 4 real good employees, and we all make a living. Not crazy, but steady. Have a good customer base, and the $$ rolls in regularly.

Yes, it's good to "do 8 & go home", but it's better to do what you do for you.

Would I give it up?? Probably not
I took a PT AHJ position to get in the door, and the "boss" is a really nice guy, so it wasn't hard to answer to someone after 16 yrs.

I do my AHJ time, (8 hrs a day), and then go back to "Business". YOU NEED GOOD EMPLOYEES.

If you discussed the situation with your family, and they are with you, then GO FO IT!! In the event you have a problem down the road, there usually is someone looking for good help.

Re: For those that took the leap... #20196
01/10/03 06:31 PM
01/10/03 06:31 PM
sparky  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,342
welcome to the forum MONOLITH

i think our trade creates it's own EC's in many ways,
out of boredom for adventure seekers...
or the need to compete on the 'edge'...
maybe those whom seek to elevate perfectionism to artistic levels in thier work...
to those whom simply have no viable employment other than to EC...
(as in my case)

after 5 yrs on my own i would simply advise any prospective EC to carefully gather thier available resources beforehand.....
(like this forum)

then hang on for the ride..... [Linked Image]

Re: For those that took the leap... #20197
01/12/03 03:11 PM
01/12/03 03:11 PM
John Steinke  Offline
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 518
Reno,Nv., USA
The most important thing, in any business, is to have a core of repeat customers who can be relied upon to provide a steady stream of work- enough to cover your minimum expenses. I see too many stumble while chasing the "big jobs."
In my case, I'm not all that thrilled to do residential work, but- I do have two "property management" companies that are loyal to me and provide this steady work. Because of this, they mean more to me than any one-time "prevailing wage" job. I also do some lighting maintenance work.
It is also critical that you don't have the majority of your work come from one or two sources. I was offered the chance to service all the stores of one chain, but that would have made me totally dependent on them, with no time for other jobs. I call that "employment," not "independent contracting."


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