Author Topic: Point out all the ways that my plan to start a business is stupid!!  (Read 1004 times)

intellectsucks

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I've spent pretty much my whole career (over 15 years) in retail banking but in October my department was eliminated.  Since then, I've been working at a friend's window installation business to help bolster the stache while I search for the job I want in finance.  It turns out I absolutely fucking love working in construction and now the thought of going back to my old career is sort of making my skin crawl.

I looked at what tools and skills that I have that I could realistically use in a construction business and figured out that I have nearly all of the tools needed to start two businesses: hardwood flooring and painting.  I've installed about 4000 sq ft of hardwood and laminate flooring in the last five or six years in my own homes and for family and the results were good enough that I'm confident I could do it professionally.  Same level of confidence with the painting.

My friend has said I'm one of the best workers he's ever hired and that I can work with him as long as I want to.  He's also extremely flexible with my scheduling since he knows I'm more of a part time fill in than a permanent worker.  My absolute bare minimum expenses each month are about $2500, and if I worked for my friend 3 days a week I could count on about $1950 in monthly income.  That means that between both businesses I'd have to generate about $600/mo in profit.

My plan is this:
1. Take off of working for my friend's company and work for a flooring installer for 3-4 weeks to learn as much as I can before starting the business.
2. Create the business, implement marketing (marketing plan is still in development, feedback here would be especially welcome!!!), start running estimates
3. Work at my friend's company three days a week while getting my businesses off the ground.  Possibly fill in doing day labor for other flooring or construction companies as needed to supplement income.

Please point out as many holes and problems in my plan as you see fit.  If you have solutions or advice to address those holes and problems, even better!!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice!!

Smokystache

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Re: Point out all the ways that my plan to start a business is stupid!!
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2019, 07:31:27 AM »
I have no experience starting a business like yours - but overall, your plan sounds quite sound.

Here are a few questions/considerations?
- You'll be working with a flooring installer for 3-4 weeks. Is this long enough to learn as much as you would need. Are their different tricks and tips for different types of flooring materials, different challenges (e.g., stairs? dealing with old flooring, replacing subflooring, etc.?).
Will this person be angry that they spent a month teaching you and then you will be a competitor?

As has been mentioned in other threads, if you can have a clear process for dealing with quotes and inquiries, you will have a huge leg up. The number of people who a) don't return calls, b) aren't polite and professional on the phone or in-person, c) still don't return calls, d) painless process for getting a quote, e) just return my f-ing call already!!

If you have a nicely done website - that will really help. Bonus points for a nicely done video that shows you and you talking to the customer. Just looking clean and professional in a video will set you heads and shoulders above your competition. Always remembering that you're entering someone's home (where their valuables, their children, and everything precious to them is located). Do everything you can on your website and your interactions to build trust and demonstrate your professionalism. I'd bet this will lead to high-end jobs where people are not as price-sensitive.

Good luck!!

thd7t

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Re: Point out all the ways that my plan to start a business is stupid!!
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2019, 08:46:15 AM »
A couple of questions:
-Do you need $600/month in profit or in income? 
-Have you looked into the margins on flooring replacement?
-Have you compared how long it takes you to install a floor to a professional installer?
-Do you have any experience with construction estimating?

I'm not saying that the business idea/ideas are stupid, but (with the exception of my first question) I think that the challenges are greater than just the labor of installing a floor (or painting) on your own.

However, if you're shooting for $600/month in income, that sounds fairly straightforward.

Uturn

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Re: Point out all the ways that my plan to start a business is stupid!!
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2019, 11:42:33 AM »
There are 4 parts to any business
1.  selling the service/product
2.  doing the service/product
3.  invoicing and chasing down customers for payment
4.  doing the books and any GRC that is required

Most small businesses that I have seen fail is because the owner loves #2, but not the rest.  You sound very excited about #2, make sure 1, 3, and 4 get done to the same level as 2.  If you don't like or want to do 1, 3, and 4, no shame in hiring it out. 

J Boogie

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Re: Point out all the ways that my plan to start a business is stupid!!
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2019, 01:23:37 PM »
Sounds fun!

I'd follow some of the premier flooring guys on instagram like Call Me Tito, sapwoodworking, and even some of the GC/remodeler types like TRG and Zack Dettmore. I have learned a lot from them about things I never would have even thought to ask about and some even offer business advice and such.

Keep your eyes out for ways to differentiate yourself. I think the trades are currently in greater demand than usual (at least in most metro areas) but demand might taper off leaving only the best thriving while the mediocre will probably go out of business and apply for jobs working for the best.

FINate

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Re: Point out all the ways that my plan to start a business is stupid!!
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2019, 02:07:44 PM »
Please point out as many holes and problems in my plan as you see fit.  If you have solutions or advice to address those holes and problems, even better!!

The overall idea has merit. But in the spirit of pointing out problems:

Step #1 may be unethical unless you're honest and transparent about your intentions with the flooring contractor. Getting hired for 3-4 weeks of on the job training, with no plan to stay, only to become a competitor...I don't think this is a good way to build a reputation, at least not the one you need.  This matters because much of your business comes via word of mouth.

Also, 3-4 weeks is not really enough time to learn. It's not about the total sq. footage of flooring, but rather, the variety of situations and challenges one encounters along the way. You may be able to slap out 4000 sq ft of flooring no problemo, but can you deal with lots of tight/odd corners, structures that are not quite square, problematic subflooring, moisture problems, and so on? If you enjoy the work, why not work for someone for 1-2 years before going all-in starting your own bus.? This will also give you a real sense for doing this type work day in and day out. And it will build your credibility as a flooring installer.

Licensing, insurance, bonding, workers comp., liability, building codes, regulations, taxes: These all become your problem the instant you go from doing work in your own home or within the umbrella your friend's business and start offering your services to the general public. Have you realistically factored these into your profit estimates?



moneytaichi

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Re: Point out all the ways that my plan to start a business is stupid!!
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2019, 10:10:51 PM »
There are 4 parts to any business
1.  selling the service/product
2.  doing the service/product
3.  invoicing and chasing down customers for payment
4.  doing the books and any GRC that is required

Most small businesses that I have seen fail is because the owner loves #2, but not the rest.  You sound very excited about #2, make sure 1, 3, and 4 get done to the same level as 2.  If you don't like or want to do 1, 3, and 4, no shame in hiring it out.

Agree with @Uturn, except on "hiring it out". Nobody cares as much about your business as you do. Hiring experts cost big bucks too. You should aim to learn as much as you can. Score.org offers excellent free mentoring and education.

When you say you want to "work for a flooring installer for 3-4 weeks to learn as much as I can", you should make sure to focus more on running business and how to getting the customers than becoming a better floor installer.

Finally, you should have at least 1 year of living expenses to set aside besides getting your business capital ready. Lack of fund is one of common mistakes for failed business because they can't stand some surprises.