Author Topic: Equipment Rental Business  (Read 2208 times)

MrsDinero

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Equipment Rental Business
« on: June 15, 2017, 08:51:04 PM »
Does anyone have experience with a rental equipment business?  I'm working on an idea right now, that I think is actually doable.  I'm looking for advice on how to make it profitable.

The basic idea of the business is an individual customer, not another business, rents equipment through my website or via phone.  I take the equipment to their location of choice, set it up, then disassemble and bring it back to my storage facility (my basement at first). 

I want to keep it moderately priced $15-20/day for the bigger items, with a minimum amount.  How should I calculate the gas/mileage? Is this something that should be built into the price or charge an amount outside a certain milage range of my basement?  What other costs do I need to consider?  I've read that a lot of businesses set themselves up for failure by not thinking about all the costs associated.

Starting out, this is something I can see running out of my home, however if it grows then I will have to buy/rent a facility to act as a storage facility. 

There is a similar business on the other side of the state but they specialize in high end/designer equipment, I want to focus on people like me.  People who are willing to pay to rent this equipment but not pay too much.  I think there is room for quality at a more reasonable price.

I'm still in the idea phase and would love any and all suggestions and feedback.

Thank you!

SC93

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2017, 10:14:22 PM »
What will you be renting? No need to be secret. I'm sure 1 million people have THOUGHT of doing what you want to do. It's very rare that an idea is the 1st. The difference between the 1 million that have thought about and hopefully you is that they are still sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and watching Dr. Phil while you are acting on the idea.

Step37

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2017, 10:28:56 PM »
In my experience, the simpler you can keep the billing, the better. For example:

Set up/disassemble = flat rate of your time plus vehicle expenses (and be reasonable to yourself here - don't give away your time. If it takes 1-3 hours, make sure you're covered for 3. If it works, you may need to pay someone else to do this and you don't want to have to jack your prices way up to be profitable), plus a surcharge of $x per mile outside of your service radius.
Daily rate = $x
Weekly rate = daily rate x 5
Monthly rate = weekly rate x 3.5
(Something like this if it's an item that could be used for longer periods)

What is your expected payback? On big-ticket items that companies I've been with rented, the goal was generally that 100 rental days should pay for the piece of equipment (and the lifespan was far longer, of course - the things could make money for years). On a lower value item, perhaps 10-20 days would be the goal. What is the expected lifespan of your rental items? Can they be sold for anything after their rental life?

Make sure you have a good rental agreement (start date/end date/customer responsible for damages/any special arrangements noted) in place. Some legal advice here is probably money well spent. You'll need accounting software to track your equipment/customers/income/expenses. This is not a huge expense, and worth it to have consistent, professional invoices and good track of everything. Will you need business insurance? A business licence to operate out of your home? Incorporation costs? There will be charges for operating a business bank account, accepting credit cards.

Without knowing what the business might be, it's hard to offer more specific advice than this. Id say that losing track of the "business" end of the business is what sinks a lot of new businesses. If you don't have experience with accounting or bookkeeping, take an introductory course (I took one at one time called Basic Accounting for Nonaccountants - it gets you familiar with the terminology, WHY things are done a certain way, understanding a balance sheet and income statement). If you're posting on the mustachian boards, I'm sure you're on top of your money, so this is likely not going to be an issue for you. :)

Feel free to PM with more details if you'd rather not divulge them here, and I'd be happy to give more specific advice.
"Not wanting something is as good as possessing it." ~Donald Horban

MrsDinero

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2017, 07:10:53 AM »
What will you be renting? No need to be secret. I'm sure 1 million people have THOUGHT of doing what you want to do. It's very rare that an idea is the 1st. The difference between the 1 million that have thought about and hopefully you is that they are still sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and watching Dr. Phil while you are acting on the idea.

It is certainly not a unique idea.  In fact I have used this type of service before, I'm just not ready for the face punches yet.  Especially since the only decision I have made is to start writing a business plan to see how doable this really is.

MrsDinero

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2017, 12:38:43 PM »
In my experience, the simpler you can keep the billing, the better. For example:

Set up/disassemble = flat rate of your time plus vehicle expenses (and be reasonable to yourself here - don't give away your time. If it takes 1-3 hours, make sure you're covered for 3. If it works, you may need to pay someone else to do this and you don't want to have to jack your prices way up to be profitable), plus a surcharge of $x per mile outside of your service radius.
Daily rate = $x
Weekly rate = daily rate x 5
Monthly rate = weekly rate x 3.5
(Something like this if it's an item that could be used for longer periods)

What is your expected payback? On big-ticket items that companies I've been with rented, the goal was generally that 100 rental days should pay for the piece of equipment (and the lifespan was far longer, of course - the things could make money for years). On a lower value item, perhaps 10-20 days would be the goal. What is the expected lifespan of your rental items? Can they be sold for anything after their rental life?

Make sure you have a good rental agreement (start date/end date/customer responsible for damages/any special arrangements noted) in place. Some legal advice here is probably money well spent. You'll need accounting software to track your equipment/customers/income/expenses. This is not a huge expense, and worth it to have consistent, professional invoices and good track of everything. Will you need business insurance? A business licence to operate out of your home? Incorporation costs? There will be charges for operating a business bank account, accepting credit cards.

Without knowing what the business might be, it's hard to offer more specific advice than this. Id say that losing track of the "business" end of the business is what sinks a lot of new businesses. If you don't have experience with accounting or bookkeeping, take an introductory course (I took one at one time called Basic Accounting for Nonaccountants - it gets you familiar with the terminology, WHY things are done a certain way, understanding a balance sheet and income statement). If you're posting on the mustachian boards, I'm sure you're on top of your money, so this is likely not going to be an issue for you. :)

Feel free to PM with more details if you'd rather not divulge them here, and I'd be happy to give more specific advice.

This is very helpful!  I'm going to look into some of these points you made and most likely will PM you.  Thank you!

bradne

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2017, 08:02:12 PM »
I personally think that if one was run correctly, there could be significant profit made.  It all depends on the type of equipment you are renting.  I actually worked for a construction equipment rental company for a couple of years.  Although it was a steady business, it became obvious that the business profit was directly related to how the new building industry was doing in the area.   I happened to work there for the time that the business was booming, however the housing market fell and the equipment rental business suffered.  This particular company would charge the customer for the equipment rental per day, plus delivery and pick up charges.   If the machine was out of fuel, we would fuel it (at 3 times the pump price).  If it was dirty, we charged a cleaning fee.  The customer was responsible for any damages beyond normal wear and tear. 

The town I live in now, used to have a equipment rental company for homeowners to rent trenchers, rototillers, small tractors etc.., they went out of business a few years ago.    Even though this is a decent sized town, I have to drive 100 miles round trip to rent a trencher.  I have often thought of starting a rental company here, but have been hesitant due to user injury and damaged equipment from customer misuse.   I have never actually looked into it, but I imagine that liability insurance for that type of company would be pretty high. 

I am not sure what type of equipment you are talking about, but there are also companies that rent tables and chairs for weddings and other functions.   I think there is less liability, but there is a lot of labor involved if you are delivering and setting them up.   It takes a while to set up tables and chairs for a 100 person wedding reception.   Oddly enough, I attended a wedding a few years ago for a distant family member.  This family member is very mustachian and managed to negotiate that he would provide the labor to take down and load the tables and chairs in the company's trucks.   Imagine my surprise when I was asked to stick around after the reception and help load a truck. 

anonymouscow

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 01:09:24 PM »
Lowe's does tool rental, you might see how what they have / charge to compare.

http://lowestoolrental.org/home/

The city I live in has a free tool rental

http://www.rtcentralohio.org/tool-library/

Although it's mostly smaller tools.

I don't know if you would have an issue where you might either not have enough tools on hand to get noticed or have too many on hand not being rented.




FIREby35

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2017, 07:54:37 AM »
I'm of the mind that you can start renting things from your basement right away. You will set your own prices and probably over/under charge for a while. It's not a big deal. If you quote someone to much and they don't hire you then you just gained valuable information. If you quote too little, they hire you and you then realize you only made a few dollars for a lot of work then you just learned a valuable lesson. The thing is that you have to start acting to gain this experience. In time you will know the right price.

BTW - when you quote too little do not make it the client's problem. Keep your head down and ask for more next time. What many business owners eventually learn is that people will pay much more for their services than originally thought. I'm an attorney and I can tell you that I eventually got so busy I started asking for what I thought was crazy money. Guess what, people happily paid it. I was shocked I had been about 50% below market for years. But, as you are detecting in your industry, my raising of prices created an opportunity for some new attorney to charge less, get traction and start their own journey into the business world. Great for everyone.

The beauty of your current idea is that you can start small, test the waters, collect information and grow based on the demand and your experience. This kind of small business is awesome. Try and reduce your expenses (For example, by starting out of your basement) and be cashflow positive from the start. Cashflow positive might mean you make a pittance for your time, but you are not losing money and you can adjust your prices to get a better return on your time as you go. That's how you learn the "right" price.

One last thing, if it were me I wouldn't be spending time writing business plans (I NEVER wrote one myself). I'd just start renting whatever equipment you have or can obtain for as cheap as possible. Yeah, you'll make some mistakes. Those mistakes will pay you handsomely later when called experience.


J_Stache

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2017, 08:16:19 AM »
I agree with FIREby35 that there is not reason not to start immediately.  Depending on the equipment type, I'd make sure to get insurance (especially with tool rental...user error doesn't prevent you from being hauled in to court).

I would highly recommend a business plan even if you write it after starting small.  Writing down your plans is very helpful.

One recommendation I've given before is to apply for an SBA loan.  No need to take the loan, but the process of writing a business plan and presenting it to the SBA will reveal a lot of holes in your plan.

SpreadsheetMan

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2017, 08:20:12 AM »
I'm of the mind that you can start renting things from your basement right away. You will set your own prices and probably over/under charge for a while. It's not a big deal. If you quote someone to much and they don't hire you then you just gained valuable information. If you quote too little, they hire you and you then realize you only made a few dollars for a lot of work then you just learned a valuable lesson. The thing is that you have to start acting to gain this experience. In time you will know the right price.

BTW - when you quote too little do not make it the client's problem. Keep your head down and ask for more next time. What many business owners eventually learn is that people will pay much more for their services than originally thought. I'm an attorney and I can tell you that I eventually got so busy I started asking for what I thought was crazy money. Guess what, people happily paid it. I was shocked I had been about 50% below market for years. But, as you are detecting in your industry, my raising of prices created an opportunity for some new attorney to charge less, get traction and start their own journey into the business world. Great for everyone.

The beauty of your current idea is that you can start small, test the waters, collect information and grow based on the demand and your experience. This kind of small business is awesome. Try and reduce your expenses (For example, by starting out of your basement) and be cashflow positive from the start. Cashflow positive might mean you make a pittance for your time, but you are not losing money and you can adjust your prices to get a better return on your time as you go. That's how you learn the "right" price.

One last thing, if it were me I wouldn't be spending time writing business plans (I NEVER wrote one myself). I'd just start renting whatever equipment you have or can obtain for as cheap as possible. Yeah, you'll make some mistakes. Those mistakes will pay you handsomely later when called experience.

Good advice here.

I'd also agree with not wasting your time on business plans unless you need to borrow money - and you shouldn't be borrowing money unless you know there is a solid market for your service at a price that makes a realistic profit and also allows you to service any debt.

I'd also say to avoid leasing premises of any kind (unless you can terminate the lease without notice or penalty) and do not employ anyone except on a (legal) casual basis. There is plenty of time once your idea is proven to be a money-earner to add these, but go with absolute minimum overheads wherever you can.

Oh, and make sure that you have suitable insurance to cover the service you are offering right from the start. (and have a good hire contract covering damage, losses, non-payment etc.)

MrsDinero

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2017, 11:51:22 AM »
In the past when I have traveled with kids, I will rent baby equipment at my destination so I don't have to haul everything with me.  Usually what I need is 1-2 cribs or play pens, 1-2 high chairs and a stroller.  A couple of  my friends rent car seats  at their destinations so they don't have to lug theirs or risk the airline losing it.

The process when I rent equipment is, I call or go to a website, pick what I want, they deliver and set it up, my rental agreement says I'm not to dismantle any of the equipment.  If I want the crib moved, I have to call them and have them move it.

The idea I have been looking at renting baby equipment to vacationers. I live in an area where people from all over come for vacation.  They either come for the lakes, the changing of the season, or snow sports.  Around me are thousands of properties people rent to others.

The things I have taken into consideration is the safety of the equipment.  I would only use JPMA certified products, register all equipment for product recalls and check often.  Everything would have to be cleaned and sanitized and stored appropriately.

Obviously I would need liability insurance and a really good rental contract.  I've actually been reviewing all the ones I've signed in the past and would have a lawyer look it over.

When it comes to start up cost, I would not need a loan.  I would dip into savings.  I would not need a lot of equipment in my inventory to start and would buy as I needed. 

The challenges I see are with marketing.  Website, social media are all things I can do on my own.  Getting the word out is the challenge.  Ideas for marketing:
- Buy ad space
- Reaching out to property management groups/people to tell them about this service
- Reaching out to real estate agents who specialize in rental properties
- Facebook marketing

I'm still working on pricing and delivery costs, however for a crib, mattress, and sheet like the one my own babies use would cost me $180 to purchase.  Renting it out for a minimum of $18/day means I need 10 rentals to break even on this set.  If course that not counting delivery and other associated costs.  There would have to be a minimum amount rented to qualify for free delivery.

There is another company that does it on the other side of the state from where I am and they charge $150/day for a crib rental.  Theirs are all high end, designer items.  I want to target the average vacationer. Personally I have rented cribs from as little as $6/day to $25/day, but usually rent several items at the same time.


« Last Edit: June 22, 2017, 01:06:20 PM by MrsDinero »

FIREby35

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2017, 08:05:07 AM »
Sounds like a great idea to me. Go for it!

I built my business on word of mouth and only now, six+ years later, am I starting to get into more systematized digital marketing and other more expensive marketing strategies. I highly recommend staring a business page on facebook (it's free) and cross posting with your own personal page (free). Also, the realtors and property managers are a great idea. They are the ones most likely to talk with the family and, as part of their service, solve the problem of baby equipment (and land their rental) by calling you (win-win). So, go find them at chambers of commerce, networking events or, even calling them out of the blue and going to coffee. At the beginning, this is more time intensive BUT it is free. Keep the costs low, become cash flow positive and then grow.

If you can take calls, return calls, be responsive, listen, eat bad contracts, invoice/f/u for payments, be nice - you'll be shocked how fast the word spreads if there is a market. It sounds like you know there is a market - seize it!

On the liability insurance - call your insurance agent and get a cheap general liability policy and then forget about it. I'm actually a personal injury attorney who sues people. I can tell you - we want to get to insurance policies. I have no interest in taking people's personal assets. I know other PI attorneys who have been in the biz for decades, are the best at what they do and they actively discourage lawsuits against people in their personal capacity. We want insurance money, plain and simple. So, get a general insurance policy and rest easy.

On the rental contact, do your best with the first draft. It won't cover everything. Also, I've found that these types of documents really aren't very valuable. I follow the golden rule - customer is always right. Someone breaks our stuff? Feel them out, see if they are a good person who recognizes they messed up, send them a fair invoice, see if they pay it. If they don't? Do not get in a pissing contest over a few dollars. I see attorneys put their former clients in collections over an unpaid bill and I think they are so dumb. Cutting of their nose to spite their face. If I have a unpaid accounts receivable that I know I'm not going to get and I make a phone call to the client, who is now avoiding me or embarrassed by the balance, and I say, "Tough times right now, huh? Well, let me help, I'll waive your outstanding balance but I want something in return. I want you to go around town and talk about how I'm the best and nicest attorney you know. I want you to write me a good Facebook review and I want you to actively look to get me a referral. If you do that I'll be able to make up for the money I'm losing by writing this off. Can you do that?"

I've never had someone refuse that offer. Consider the difference in attitude compared to suing someone. Dumb, dumb dumb.

Also, set up payment systems where you do not accumulate a large accounts receivable. 50% down and payment upon delivery or something like that. I only get in arrears on "special" cases. So it's not like I write off huge sums of money - but it happens sometimes. For you it will happen with damage to your rental. Don't fight, turn it to your advantage.

Anyway, if you have liability insurance and you know you are not going to get in a pissing match with your clients then your problems are solved. Go forth and be profitable.

Smokystache

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2017, 11:39:35 AM »
.... If I have a unpaid accounts receivable that I know I'm not going to get and I make a phone call to the client, who is now avoiding me or embarrassed by the balance, and I say, "Tough times right now, huh? Well, let me help, I'll waive your outstanding balance but I want something in return. I want you to go around town and talk about how I'm the best and nicest attorney you know. I want you to write me a good Facebook review and I want you to actively look to get me a referral. If you do that I'll be able to make up for the money I'm losing by writing this off. Can you do that?"

I've never had someone refuse that offer. Consider the difference in attitude compared to suing someone. Dumb, dumb dumb.

I've never heard anyone approach it that way before ... and I think it's genius.

Jrr85

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2017, 01:01:33 PM »
In the past when I have traveled with kids, I will rent baby equipment at my destination so I don't have to haul everything with me.  Usually what I need is 1-2 cribs or play pens, 1-2 high chairs and a stroller.  A couple of  my friends rent car seats  at their destinations so they don't have to lug theirs or risk the airline losing it.

The process when I rent equipment is, I call or go to a website, pick what I want, they deliver and set it up, my rental agreement says I'm not to dismantle any of the equipment.  If I want the crib moved, I have to call them and have them move it.

The idea I have been looking at renting baby equipment to vacationers. I live in an area where people from all over come for vacation.  They either come for the lakes, the changing of the season, or snow sports.  Around me are thousands of properties people rent to others.

The things I have taken into consideration is the safety of the equipment.  I would only use JPMA certified products, register all equipment for product recalls and check often.  Everything would have to be cleaned and sanitized and stored appropriately.

Obviously I would need liability insurance and a really good rental contract.  I've actually been reviewing all the ones I've signed in the past and would have a lawyer look it over.

When it comes to start up cost, I would not need a loan.  I would dip into savings.  I would not need a lot of equipment in my inventory to start and would buy as I needed. 

The challenges I see are with marketing.  Website, social media are all things I can do on my own.  Getting the word out is the challenge.  Ideas for marketing:
- Buy ad space
- Reaching out to property management groups/people to tell them about this service
- Reaching out to real estate agents who specialize in rental properties
- Facebook marketing

I'm still working on pricing and delivery costs, however for a crib, mattress, and sheet like the one my own babies use would cost me $180 to purchase.  Renting it out for a minimum of $18/day means I need 10 rentals to break even on this set.  If course that not counting delivery and other associated costs.  There would have to be a minimum amount rented to qualify for free delivery.

There is another company that does it on the other side of the state from where I am and they charge $150/day for a crib rental.  Theirs are all high end, designer items.  I want to target the average vacationer. Personally I have rented cribs from as little as $6/day to $25/day, but usually rent several items at the same time.

For marketing, it sounds like rental property management companies/realtors is the biggest bang for your buck.  The only thing I would suggest is not to start off with the biggest ones, as they may realize this is a service they should be offering to their tenants and to the tenants of other properties.  I'd look for people not managing more than a dozen properties, who may not get asked about baby equipment enough to make them want to deal with it. 

The other thing I would think about are "pack-n-plays".  These are pretty much interchangeable with cribs for kids up to young toddler age (there are also ones with accessories that essentially convert them into a bassinet/crib for infants) and also give a place to corral the kids during the day.  This will also be what you are likely "competing" against as far as people bringing their own baby equipment. 

FIREby35

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2017, 01:19:31 PM »

For marketing, it sounds like rental property management companies/realtors is the biggest bang for your buck.  The only thing I would suggest is not to start off with the biggest ones, as they may realize this is a service they should be offering to their tenants and to the tenants of other properties.  I'd look for people not managing more than a dozen properties, who may not get asked about baby equipment enough to make them want to deal with it. 

The other thing I would think about are "pack-n-plays".  These are pretty much interchangeable with cribs for kids up to young toddler age (there are also ones with accessories that essentially convert them into a bassinet/crib for infants) and also give a place to corral the kids during the day.  This will also be what you are likely "competing" against as far as people bringing their own baby equipment.

As a slight response, counterpoint to JRR, you absolutely have to be strategic about who you approach and how you build your business. But, it's important not to take a scarcity mindset into it. Someone who might be perceived as competition could still be an ally. What happens if they get a contract to big to fill and they want to do it as a joint venture? What happens if they decide to close that part of the business and they are willing to give it away? Maybe they want to buy your business for a big profit someday. Maybe they have no interest into expanding into your service and are happy to integrate you into their business for systematic predictable referral stream. Who knows what can happen. If you keep your business a secret from the competition, you will also hide from your customers. Compete openly and with the best business :)

Just as an example, our website has an "attorney referral" page where we openly solicit other attorneys to send us cases and referrals. We pay as much as we can within the rules of professional conduct to other attorneys to send us that business. I'm happy to work with all comers.

Also, we sometimes have to compete with non-attorneys who under charge us by significant percentages. In this example, like a pack and play, you can't compete with that. But, you can offer a service the saves baggage fees, hassle, etcetera. Some people will go the distance to bring their own stuff - more power to them. After they have climbed the Mustachian Mountain Top and can afford a luxury, they'll pay for your services :) For us, they hire us when the non-attorneys screw it up and they pay double to clean up the mess.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 01:22:14 PM by FIREby35 »

Hotstreak

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2017, 03:01:07 PM »
I don't have any comments on cost, just on time.  It seems like you'll need to set up in the morning of check in and take down on the afternoon after checkout, is that correct?  You will have to take down before housekeeping turns the unit, and you will need to set up before the clients arrive?


Considering people come for vacations all days of the week you may find yourself driving/working 7 days a week without making much money.  That phase of your business is to be avoided since you will have high transportation costs without the related high rental income.  Once you are doing enough volume it makes sense to drive over town all day (assuming you don't have anything else you'd like to do that day).

MrsDinero

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2017, 08:42:57 AM »
Yes I have thought about time it could take.  It would be a short window and it could be a 7 day job.  I would like to get to the point where I could hire people to do the setup (after required training), but in the beginning it would be all me all the time and I'm ok with that. 

FIREby35

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2017, 10:38:37 AM »
You posted originally a couple weeks ago. Any action? Have you done your first job(s)?

MrsDinero

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Re: Equipment Rental Business
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2017, 12:50:03 PM »
You posted originally a couple weeks ago. Any action? Have you done your first job(s)?

No action.  We found out a week ago my son might need surgery.  I've been running around getting second opinions (diagnosis confirmed) and tests.  I have put this idea on hold for a couple of months.  I understand there is no ideal time to start a business but there is a difference between "no ideal time" and "SOO not a good time".