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Old 09-27-2011, 02:14 PM   #1
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Hey guys I'm Nick, im one of those 100 daily "guests" always lurking on the forum but never posting. I work for a painting contractor in chicago and decided to join because I have a few questions about starting my own business, hopefully I don't get as scolded as some other 1st time posters I've seen here... I have about 10K and am entertaining the idea of starting a residential interior painting company. Where I live, about an hour north of Chicago, there are new townhomes being built in bulk every week. There are thousands of townhomes and single family homes within 10 miles and from what I can find online there is not an abundance of painting companies in the area, the closest I can find on the PDCA website is 25 miles away. My question is really in regards to the money. I have all the necessary tools to do interior painting other than a sprayer which i could burrow for now if needed. The one thing I don't have is my own truck or van. I have 10k at the moment, is it feasable to consider starting a business with only that amount and no vehicle, I don't have the best credit either but could get a cosigner. As far as I can find painting contractors are not required to be liscensed or bonded in Illinois, other than a general business liscense, can anyone verify? So is it possible? Any suggestions? How much did you guys have when you first started out?
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Old 09-27-2011, 02:22 PM   #2
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Nick, have you done new construction painting before?
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Old 09-27-2011, 02:30 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum Nick! You are correct about licensing in Illinois, there is none for painting contractors at this time. Although every year they talk about it.

If you do decide to go out on your own, I would suggest going for the residential repeat market. Quicker payout, and you will get your name and services in front of more people, thereby building up a referral base faster.

GCs are great, but you will generally need to wait to get paid, and it sounds like you are not able to carry the jobs at this time.

I'm also a member of the local PDCA chapter, and would strongly suggest checking it out if you make the plunge. We meet once a month in Elk Grove Village. Come and check out a meeting or two with no obligation to join. PM me if you want more details.
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Old 09-27-2011, 03:09 PM   #4
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Hey Nick...first off, good for you saving some money.

Second, your timing is terrible. Thinking of 'going on your own' at the beginning of winter is a extra unnecessary hurtle.

Take this winter to plan and get ready for next spring and summer. Stay doing what you are doing, but start lining up some work. Get some contracts in order. Set up your licensing, work on a logo, business name...that sort of thing.

Yes, you will need a vehicle. Busing it with tools seems pretty impossible. Minivans are a dime a dozen and cheap. Don't go "Joe Contractor" and buy a new vehicle because "its a write off".

Get a credit card and work on your credit rating.

Will 10K keep you going for at least 3 months?

Not being prepared will eat up 10K faster than just having 10K.
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Old 09-27-2011, 03:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paint and Hammer
Not being prepared will eat up 10K faster than just having 10K.
Amen to that! Some of the best advise I've read on this form so far!
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Old 09-27-2011, 04:35 PM   #6
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Ya, I agree hold on to your 10k for personal back up. I'd start with simple repaints that only require hand tools and build up from there. Before doing so it would be best to study up on some business material. Painting is the easy part in the painting business.
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Old 09-27-2011, 05:13 PM   #7
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Old 09-27-2011, 05:20 PM   #8
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Nick, You are getting great advice here.

The reason I ask about NC is becuase it can eat you alive if you don't have a lot of experience in that kind of production work. Paul is right is suggesting you start with residential repaints and more manageable jobs. NC requires you to cover your employees and supplies while waiting to get paid out. The margins are tight.

P&H is smart to suggest that you spend the winter getting your ducks in order.
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Old 09-27-2011, 08:34 PM   #9
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I wish I would have had 10k when I started.. I had 4k but had all tools, ladders, sprayer, truck etc.. first of all get the business name and licensing taken care of, take the winter to put together a professional website, find a decent work vehicle... 4 grand can get you a decent vehicle to work out of.... wait till February and publish your website start working on SEO AS SOON as you publish and line up some work in the mean time.. save more if u can... I think the 10k is plenty for a small operation start up...
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Old 09-27-2011, 08:42 PM   #10
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Don't know whether it's required in Illinois as it is in most states but make sure you have liability insurance that covers your business activities. This would go along with becoming a registered business. Do you know a lawyer who you could do some painting for in exchange for helping you with the legal end of getting started?
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:29 PM   #11
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I dunno, some of this stuff seems a little bit over the top - Yea its good to know all that stuff but I would bet most here had no idea they were even starting a business in painting. They just started doing side jobs, or got laid off and did a few jobs here and there. Next thing they knew they could make more money painting then working at Target or Walmart.

If there is no license required then chit. you got nothing to worry about. Just buy a 500 dollar car, a few drops, few brushes and get to work. It would be just a matter of time before you would be running a painting business. That is if you are good, honest with your customers. Believe it or not, being honest will go a long ways. won't make you rich quick but over time it will.

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Old 09-27-2011, 11:10 PM   #12
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when I left my boss I had a truck/tools an my last paycheck.......$750............never though id still be painting by 35 but it is what it is.......my advice to you would be to get a truck, used F-150 maybe then stay with the boss an bank more money till you get back up to that 10k mark then maybe next spring give it a go on your own. I wouldn't worry about all the business crap as that will come on its own if your serious enough
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Old 09-28-2011, 01:06 AM   #13
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Welcome aboard. Pretty much what everyone else said. Its not easy, but not much in life worth having is. I started 18 months ago with a $500 mini van, 16 ft ladder and 6 ft step ladder doing residential repaints. I had no pump and no money. It may look like I have a lot of posts here, but I can assure you I spend a lot of time here just reading. I couldnt begin to say how valuable this site has been for me. Also, PDCA membership is priceless. Best move I ever made. Best of luck to you
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Old 09-28-2011, 02:24 AM   #14
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Save the money for bills. Buy a beater truck and get to work. Knock doors, talk to everyone that you know and place a few ads.
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Old 09-28-2011, 03:01 PM   #15
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Guys thanks so much, all of your advice is great and seems right in line with what I was starting to put together myself. Heidi, I do have NC experience doing drywall tape and paint but that is not the market I would be going after initially. Like Paul, Gabe, and Pat suggested I plan to start start small with residential repaints. The neighborhood I live is middle class and mostly town homes and I feel these residents have enough money where they would pay to have their kids room or kitchen or basement painted. I still have work over winter so I plan to invest in a used truck and continue to save while I work on my website, SEO, and marketing. I suppose I need a name for the business first... Paul I will contact you soon in regards to attending a PDCA meeting, Elk Grove is not far at all. Soon as I get the name thing figured out I'm going to get to work on a website, I'll keep you guys posted. Thanks for the advice!
-Nick
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Old 09-28-2011, 07:53 PM   #16
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In your shoes here is how I may budget.

$4000 reserve cash and do not quit your day job (or get one)
$3000 for halfway decent van that will run when you need it to.
$2500 in advertising with at least half of that put into a basic website with some SEO work.
$500 for shirts, business cards and other odds and ends that make you at least look semi established.

Other things that may help:

- Constantly budget from each job for additional advertising. You know how to paint. Making the phone ring is the hard part.
- Budget from every job for "company money". That's so you can buy things as you need them for cash. A sprayer would be an example. Rent them for the time being.
- Spend the winter educating yourself on selling and business in general. Whatever you think things will cost, you can triple that and still probably not be close to true costs.
- Don't price to get work thinking it leads to other business. It doesn't. Even if it does, it leads to more unprofitable work. Keeping your day job prevents you from dropping your pants on price.

Good luck!
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Old 10-01-2011, 03:22 PM   #17
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You know... I'd like to point something out here. Many times people get flamed on these types of posts. Some pretty damn bad (can't say I don't enjoy the read). Then you get a bunch of people wining and crying how rude everybody is here on this forum.

This post should be a model post for people with touchy questions. Introduction, little about experience (and actually is experienced before starting to do business), ready to invest more than $50, and shows he has done more research than just straight up asking to be spoon fed by people who busted their asses building their company.

AND LOOK! He got a some good responses from good members, and I didn't notice any sarcasm or flaming.
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Old 10-01-2011, 05:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JNLP View Post
You know... I'd like to point something out here. Many times people get flamed on these types of posts. Some pretty damn bad (can't say I don't enjoy the read). Then you get a bunch of people wining and crying how rude everybody is here on this forum.

This post should be a model post for people with touchy questions. Introduction, little about experience (and actually is experienced before starting to do business), ready to invest more than $50, and shows he has done more research than just straight up asking to be spoon fed by people who busted their asses building their company.

AND LOOK! He got a some good responses from good members, and I didn't notice any sarcasm or flaming.
Good points JN -
I too usually notice a direct correlation between how a person introduces themselves and describes their situation and how they are responded to. Just some basic background info and at least a hint that you have some idea of what you are doing and are serious will get you a long way here. It's the ones that post requests for somebody to just flat out give them all the answers NOW, or the posts that have you asking, "WTH - is this for real?", that typically get beat up. Most here on PT are willing to help out - just not do it all for them.
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:33 PM   #19
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We all have to decide when the right time is to venture on our own. I would suggest riding it out until next spring, this will keep you working and keep a check coming in. Many established contractors slow down during winter and as a start up it could bleed you of all your saved capital.

I think a 10k investment will be fine but you will want to advertise and hit the pavement trying to sell everything that moves. Once you start selling some jobs referrals and word of mouth will be your bread and butter but that will only last so long, as you continue to grow you will want to invest more into advertising websites and anything else you can think of to get an upper hand. Good luck to you.
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JNLP View Post
You know... I'd like to point something out here. Many times people get flamed on these types of posts. Some pretty damn bad (can't say I don't enjoy the read). Then you get a bunch of people wining and crying how rude everybody is here on this forum.

This post should be a model post for people with touchy questions. Introduction, little about experience (and actually is experienced before starting to do business), ready to invest more than $50, and shows he has done more research than just straight up asking to be spoon fed by people who busted their asses building their company.

AND LOOK! He got a some good responses from good members, and I didn't notice any sarcasm or flaming.
There is truth to your post but I can think of a few members who have asked a similar question that have been encouraged and discouraged to the pros and cons of this bizarre trade. Just depends on mood and who is replying.
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