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Anyone self-employed?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by 84blazend, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. 84blazend

    84blazend Registered Member

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    Is anyone on here self-employed? What do you do?

    I am at college in a small town (5,000 or so), and it hard to find a job here. Also, I'm tired of working for other people. I sold a Camaro that I have owned since my junior year in high school, so I have been living on that.

    I am very serious about starting my own business. I have sold a bunch of stuff on ebay (cars, motorcycles, tractors, etc.), and I'm good at repairing computers.

    Anyone have any advice?
     
  2. onlychevy6

    onlychevy6 1/2 ton status

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    what do you like to do? what is your passion?
     
  3. gjk5

    gjk5 3/4 ton status

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    7 years self employed. I own a small mortgage co., do some developments, and some real estate sales.

    My first bit of advice would be to form an LLC (or like entity) before taking dollar one from any clients.


    Other than that, it depends on what you like and are skilled at.
     
  4. 84blazend

    84blazend Registered Member

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    I would like to do something automotive related, but I go to class for automotive technology from 9am to 3pm, so that kind of limits what I can do. I worked at an auto parts store for over a year, and I loved it.

    I like computer repair, and I enjoy selling junk on ebay. The only bad thing about the computer repair would be competing with a small computer store in town that does repair work.

    If I were to start a business, how should I market my services? Put flyers up around town? Make some business cards?
     
  5. gjk5

    gjk5 3/4 ton status

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    Depends on the business. Flyers work well, I would think for computers or auto repair there are plenty of free places to put them, laundromat, supermarket bulletin board etc. Direct mail if you can find a way to get a list of customers who may need your service.

    Market yourselef as the mobile comp. guy, they don't have to unhook their machine and bring it in, you'll come to them.
     
  6. onlychevy6

    onlychevy6 1/2 ton status

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    exactly computers are one of the easiest businesses to start i think. you can start off just doing repairs. then get into the building and so on. however automotive is a whole nother creature. if you have a shop or not. starting out in your own garage is fine but it is tuff. or if there was a shop you have to worry about the rent and bills. not to mention tools and equipment. as well as what type of automotive you want to do.

    on a side note physical training is real easy also. such as a personal trainer. if that is your cup of tea.
     
  7. 84blazend

    84blazend Registered Member

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    Thanks for all of the great replies.

    I'm not at the moment interested in starting my own shop for auto repair work. It's just what I am going into at college right now. My dad owns his own shop and does repairs. I'm going to school because we are going to get into the restoration side of things over the winter.

    I am planning on doing some type of computer repair work. I like the suggestion of doing mobile computer work. I think there would be a small demand for it between home users and small businesses here in town.

    So am I to assume anything i do is going to require insurance?
     
  8. Skigirl

    Skigirl 1/2 ton status

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    Been self employed since 1984. Business consultant.

    Do what you like, but preferably something that requires little to no start up costs.

    As mentioned already do business thru an LLC.

    Make sure your customers are walking advertisements for you. Always keep your word, provide excellent service and don't undercharge (be fair to you and the customer).

    It typically takes about 3 years to make any money to speak of, 8 to become known in your niche. Be patient and keep at it. I think most businesses fail because the owners don't persist long enough. I had to work a regular job and run my business for a while (few years) until it started paying for itself. The hours were long, there were no vacations. Money was very tight. But there are pretty cool rewards at the other end.

    Learn about business and management. Read lots of books on the subject. Some of it is BS, but after a while you'll figure it out. Good management is key to earning profit. A decent product or service, accompained by excellent management and customer service wins every time against some kicka$$ product and shoddy management.

    Oh, and find a niche. Then be the best at whatever it is.

    Re: insurance. I don't know too many small biz owners that carry it. Especially start-ups.
     
  9. 77crewcab

    77crewcab 1/2 ton status

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    I have actually had several small businesses. I have done yard work, mobile car wash/detail, home repair/remodel, and transmission rebuilds. Each was done because I had a very odd schedule with school or family responsibilities and needed something where I could work my own hours. As stated above look into a LLC or S-Corp business license before doing any income generating work. If you have a conflict in schedule like class times look for something mobile i.e. mobile comp work, carwash, yard work, hauling scrap. This will help keep your overhead down and also allow you to count your vehicle payment, insurance, fuel, and maint expenses as business expenses. If interested in something like ebay sales the biggest thing is to have a good supply of what you are trying to sell. For instance when I was doing trans rebuilds I had to have a supply of cores to rebuild to begin with, it took some time before I had enough rebuildable cores being returned. But at the time I had a connection with a local salvage yard to get cores from so it wasn't a problem. The biggest thing is to think of for a student trying to make ends meet is to find something that can be done with very little initial investment, little overhead, good supply of product, and make sure that customer service is #1. I have had people agree to pay me more that competitors just based on my customer service.



    Edit: one thing you might consider is doing a mobil oil change. There has been a guy doing it here for a few years and it has really caught on just because of the convenience.
     
  10. 84blazend

    84blazend Registered Member

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    Sounds good. I guess the only start-up costs that I am going to have would be my advertising (flyers, decals for my vehicle, business cards, etc).

    What is involved in forming an LLC? My dad recommended it, but didn't really go into great detail about it. Basically, if I am sued for something I did, then all that is at stake is my business, not my personal financials?
     
  11. 77crewcab

    77crewcab 1/2 ton status

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    Basically that is correct. All I had to do was go to the county courthouse fill out some forms and pay a fee. That may vary from area to area but I would start asking there to find out what needs to be done for your location. Doing so will also allow you to look at getting business credit cards, car loans etc. When I was doing it I know I was able to get a couple cards that were for business expesenes. I also was able to get financing under the business entity for a work truck.
     
  12. 4X4HIGH

    4X4HIGH 1 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    Be careful about this, here in California you must have a mobile billboard permit to have any advertising on your vehicle and need one for every city that vehicle enters into.
     
  13. 84blazend

    84blazend Registered Member

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    I'm definately going to check that one out. I see vehicles around all the time with business logos and the such on them. I would rather do it right than not at all, I guess.
     
  14. gjk5

    gjk5 3/4 ton status

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    Yep. Insurance is not a must, especially for a relatively low risk endeavor such as the computers, and if you work in people's homes then it's more to protect them and their homeowner's policies than you.

    In Colorado you can form a business entity almost entirely on the Secretary of State's website for next to nothing (under $20).

    Don't start off dropping a bunch of your own money on advertising and such, try some free methods (or close to free) first to try and get the ball rolling, then use company funds to pay. A big mistake a lot of business owners make starting off is to blow their nest egg on a fruitless attempt to start up.
     
  15. MTMike

    MTMike 1/2 ton status

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    I'm most of the way there....

    I run a web design & hosting/computer repair company out of my home office. It's essentially a full time job on top of my full time job. I make more with the business than I do at my job. The 2 reasons I havn't left my day job are: 1) I have AWESOME health coverage and until my wife is done with school and gets a FTJ with benefits this spring I'm pretty much SOL. 2)I don't feel comfortable diving in and quitting my FTJ until I have all debt except my house paid off. We've got a bunch paid off and have a bunch more to go (bout halfway there)

    The best way to start is debt free. As I started out I put things on a CC (furniture, computers, supplies, cell phone & the bills while I wasn't making any $) on a CC and I'm finally getting to a point where it's being paid off. The biggest mistake I made was taking out debt on a CC to get started.... it's slowed my progress significantly. If you can swing it without incurring any debt, you increase your chances for growing into a successful business several times over.

    Also make sure you price yourself high enough, but not over the top to where you lose clients. Comp-shop your competitors and find out what they charge and what kind of services they offer, then set your prices accordingly. My second biggest mistake was my first 3 years not charging "enough" I essentially doubled my prices to be more inline with my competitors in Jan 05 and was just busier than I was in 04. I more than doubed my income over '04 while doing the same basically the same amount of work.

    Good luck!
     
  16. Cmoe

    Cmoe 1/2 ton status

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    If you want to start with low funds on computer repair and setup is talk to your local Senior Center.... Also womens clubs and any other clubs that are in your area.... I hear of stuff here all the time about someone wanting to have their computer re-configed or repaired Internet set-up and wireless network set-up......
     
  17. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

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    For many years I bought and sold cars. Never had a dealers license, but never got caught at it either. I would find cars that needed repairs, fix them up and sell them. I’ve found that two door cars sell better then four door cars. I love 4 wheel drive trucks, but they cost too much too start out with, so you don’t make as much money off them. Common cars like the Camaro, the Mustang, the Grand Am, the Regal, the S-10 pick up, …ect. Are good ones too look at. I’m not into body work, so I usually bought the ones that needed a engine or transmission. You can usually get those for cheap, and parts are easy enough too find at your local salvage yards. (Nothing wrong with a used engine or transmission as long as it’s in good condition) I also found the 6 cylinder cars sold the best. Did a few V8 conversions, but they took longer too sell then the 6 cylinder vehicles. Pass up on the ones with the crappy looking bodies. How the car looks is almost more important then how well it runs. Swapping seats and carpet is no big deal, and the nicer you can make it look, the more you can get out of it. I know it takes money too get started, but it’s money well spent in my opinion. Remember, the newer the vehicle, and the lower miles on it are also selling points. Do NOT make the cars look like hot rods !!!!! Most people assume that the hot rods have been beat on. I love the hot rods myself, but a more stock looking vehicle sells better, trust me on that. Another trick is to install a decent sounding Ebay stereo system. Some cheap subs and amp will get the high school kids attention. They’ll bring mommy and daddy into look at the car. Smaller cars sell good. Stay away from the land yachts. Sporty looking cars sell good. I usually only did one or two cars at a time. Just something too think about anyways. Another money maker is lawn care and snow removal. But there is a lot of competition doing that.
     
  18. 4by4bygod

    4by4bygod 1/2 ton status

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    For starters, keep up the ebay sales.. find auctions to go to, and buy stuff cheap.. you'd be suprised at what people buy..and sell more than just auto parts.. I know guys making a killing selling things like copier toner cartridges. ebay is a nice income stream when other things are slow.

    Set yourself up as an LLC or sole proprietor, and hire yourself out to fix computers, if you enjoy that sort of thing.. also, contract yourself out to an established computer shop or two. ..maybe they're busy, but can't afford to bring another guy on full time, so you can set your own hours, and take advantage of the incoming leads, rather than you killing yourself trying to get your name out there. offer to split the profits, and remember that you can deduct the half you give to the shop as "split commissions", as well as any additional expenses.

    also, learn the ins and outs of wireless network set up.. people are mystified by that stuff, so you can maybe make that your niche, and you can go after some commercial accounts.

    As far as anything else, what else do you like to do, and what are you going to school for?

    Myself, I haven't been employable by another person since 1997. I owned my own executive recruiting company until 2002, and since then I've been an independent agent for a company that helps diesel fleet operators save millions while meeting the clean air act mandates. ( American Clean Energy Systems).

    I've been lucky in that my self empoyment opportunities have literally fallen into my lap.. I've had to kill myself in order to make the opportunity work, but the opportunities themselves happened because someone noticed how hard I was working at other things, and decided there was enough raw talent there to be given a shot. let that be a lesson to you.. start with what you know and are good at, be persistent and courageous in developing your business, and the rewards will come.

    Tom
     
  19. rjfguitar

    rjfguitar 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Trying to set up your own business is not easy by any means. You are responsible for everything you do, and more importantly everything your employees do (or don't do, screw up, or destroy).

    My family has been self employed for 75 years.

    I am currently in partners with my dad farming 550 acres of rice, a large grain mill, and am an employee of my dad's commercial trucking business. We have well over a dozen employees. People think being the owner/big boss must be the cats meow or "it must be nice".....except for when everything goes wrong and everyone is saying "now what do we do to fix this?" with eyes staring at you.

    It especially hurts when a mistake is made and it costs 10-$20K to straiten out, as we've had a few of those in the last few years. Costly mistakes start pulling from the owners wages. Not to mention the huge stress burden all of that does to you with everything on your shoulders.

    As the owner of any kind of big business with many employees, equipment, ect.., everything you do echos through the company. YOu have to have the determination to push through hard times, busy times, and most importantly gloomy times that appear to have no solution to major issues and problems. If the owner/head manager doesn't contain the perseverance and leadership skills required they will never make it. You are like the coach of a major team and your attitude and drive echos through the players.

    Outside of all the problems of owning our own companies, it is definantly a little gratifying having a few million bucks in equipment, a few million in property, and to be the top guy that owns it all......

    when everything goes smooth anyway....:doah:
     
  20. 4by4bygod

    4by4bygod 1/2 ton status

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    good post, rjf.. what sucks are the times I've had to be my own collection agent, when the client decides they don't have to pay me this month..

    Tom
     

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