Author Topic: Employment as a contractor  (Read 999 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Employment as a contractor
« on: May 18, 2016, 08:01:02 AM »
To all Mustachians with real estate experience:

Inspired by the MMM blog and by a strong desire not to become a self-loathing doughy office worker, I recently left my cushy corporate job to build a contracting business, with a focus on finish carpentry and tile work. Any advice on how to break into the market and start getting referrals?  I have been networking every day for 3 weeks, but don't have so much a single lead yet.

Background: I am 30, single, and not quite to the early retirement stage yet. My passive income of $1550/month roughly matches my living expenses, but I would like to grow my stash a bit more.  In the past I have worked in construction and high-end woodworking, and recently finished a complete remodel of a 2000 sqft Victorian house.  I live in central NJ, and the demand for contracting services is fairly high here.

Networking Plan (Currently completing Level 1): 

Level 1--Low-Hanging Fruit
Order business cards and liberally distribute them to close friends/colleagues along with an elevator pitch. Give each person 5-10 extra cards and urge them to spread the word
Create Yellow Pages listing (free)
Create Angie’s List listing (free)
Assemble a portfolio of the work I have already completed to show interested clients
Create business web page

Level 2--Medium Difficulty/Investment
Attend free/low cost RE conferences to advertise
Reach out to distant contacts
Property owners in my neighborhood
Former landlords
Business School classmates
Friends of friends
Join social media groups and attend in person meetings when possible
Update LinkedIn profile
Work for an expert contractor (to build skills and contacts)

Level 3--High Difficulty/Expensive Strategies
Renew NJRESN membership ($650/year)
Enhance web page and purchase online ad space
Obtain RE Agent license (~$500) and begin working with a local broker, to meet property owners/investors
Subcontract for other contractors

J Boogie

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Re: Employment as a contractor
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2016, 08:43:29 AM »

I'm 30, married with 1 kid (so far), and I plan on going a similar route in a decade. I am purely interested in woodworking and furniture primarily, but plan on doing built-ins to stay busy if I'm not selling enough furniture.

I think you've got a thorough list of groups to mingle with.  I think real estate professionals could be great contacts to have.

What I've learned about networking is pretty straightforward.  The ideal scenario - The person you met goes on to hear their friend/colleague mention they're going to have X Y or Z done pretty soon and the person lights up and says "YOU HAVE TO MEET MY FRIEND nbock! His work is incredible.  Look at this! Super nice guy too."

My belief is that people have an intrinsic desire to help others fulfill their dreams.  If your passion and enthusiasm for your craft come across, the people you meet will remember you.  I think referrals will slowly begin to snowball once you complete a few projects all on your own.  Even mediocre carpenters and tradesmen that I see stay busy.

If you're not getting the kind of jobs you want to build the portfolio you want, you could always get creative and buy a house in need of remodeling and do a 2 year slow flip.  Might be a little late for that seeing as you left the corporate job already though.

Good luck!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Employment as a contractor
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2016, 08:50:02 AM »
I use BNI.  You meet once a week and attendance requirements are strict.  The idea is that the members actively work to refer business to each other.  There's a vetting process and the results have been good for me.  I don't refer to people who don't meet my standards nor do I force relationships. 

Here's the downsides - It's a bit expensive ($500 or $600 per year) and some of the members can be cultish.  The positives outweigh the negatives for me.


  • Bristles
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Re: Employment as a contractor
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2016, 03:40:37 PM »
What about posting on Craigslist to help get you started and putting a portfolio together? Even if you need to lower your price a bit it to compete on price, it may help you to get work now and build a reputation. From my experience on looking for contractors on CL, if you answer the phone/call back/show up when you said you would, you will be better than at least 70% of those on there.