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View Poll Results: You have 50k available in home equity for a business start-up...what would you do?
Service industry (genereal contractor,painting,windows,insulation etc) 29 39.19%
Self-storage industry 12 16.22%
Food/restaurant/bar 6 8.11%
Retail 1 1.35%
Buy an existing business with some cash flow 20 27.03%
Buy into a franchise 6 8.11%
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-07-2005, 04:56 PM   #21
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

I'd suggest that you look for something that has minimal start up costs as well as minimal fixed costs on an ongoing basis.

For example, let's say you decide to open up a machine shop. *We'll presume that you are already a trained and skilled CNC machinist, not just someone who loads pallets of materials and presses the "go" button after someone else has programmed things and done the setup work. *You go out, buy a $250K machining center, and then get to find industrial space big enough to run it in, that has a lot of power (which you get to pay for), maintain it, buy your tooling, and probaby charge about $60/hour for doing machining work. *Don't forget any EPA concerns for disposing of old coolant or anything else that might be considered toxic waste.

You might be able to work as a self-employed Saab/BMW auto mechanic with less than $5000 worth of hand and diagnostic tools in a rented garage, and potentially charge $80-90/hour.

Or maybe start a housecleaning business in which you use your existing pickup or van, a $500 in cleaning equipment, and charge $40/hour.

You've got to pay attention to your return on investment, and keep in mind that a lot of businesses go belly up because they are undercapitalized and can't deal with some unexpected problem that interrupts their cash flow or requires a big chunk of extra capital. *If you've got a $2000 (or maybe $5-6K if you've had a lot of equipment to buy or leased equipment or loans to service) nut to make every month just to keep the doors open and the lights on, you've got more effort to put out before you get to the point of actually making any money for you.

It also doesn't hurt if you can do something that doesn't make you dread the morning of each new workday.

A friend of mine recently opened up a UPS/Mailboxes Etc franchise. *I think it took him half a year to find a good location that was affordable, and start up costs were around $100K by the time he actually opened for business. *Now he's got to build his clientele up to the point of breaking even before he can even think about profit.

cheers,
Michael
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-07-2005, 05:25 PM   #22
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

Never had the ducts cleaned in my* 20 year old house.* One of the smartest, honest, house guys I know told me the duct business is a major scam.* Many of the duct cleaners in our area have been investigated for all kinds of questionable practices.
Nope, I put most ducters right up there with traveling roofers.
Now if you happen to think your dust problem is due to your ducts, I can share a secret fix if you like.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-07-2005, 05:35 PM   #23
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPatrick
Quote:
Originally Posted by thefed

Never had the ducts cleaned in my 20 year old house. One of the smartest, honest, house guys I know told me the duct business is a major scam. Many of the duct cleaners in our area have been investigated for all kinds of questionable practices.
Nope, I put most ducters right up there with traveling roofers.
Now if you happen to think your dust problem is due to your ducts, I can share a secret fix if you like.
funny you mention that. that's kind of what i used to think. however after talking to several duct business owners, it seems like may people want this work done.

i've talked to 3 business owners, all of which seem to do well. but, like i said, who knows.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-07-2005, 05:43 PM   #24
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

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Originally Posted by thefed
Has anyone here ever had their ducts cleaned? If so, tell me hwo it went, if you enjoyed the service, if you'd reccommend it to anyone, how much it cost, setc.

Thanks
We live in a very dust part of the world. This compounded with the presence of an opeating concrete mixing operation a short distance away adds to the dust. We have had a lot of dust in the house and even after putting in a better air filter we still saw lots of fine dust. I had the ducts inspected (with me there) and they were nasty!! I had them cleaned out and now the house is a lot less dusty. Some of these guys are a sham but I used COIT and I would call them again if I ever thought I needed to. The crap they found in there was unbelievable! The prior owners must have had a herd of cats due to the quantity of fur in the ducts. Also, the orginal construction guys must have used them as garbage cans and who knows what else.

We were happy with the result. I can't recall how much it was since we also had some other stuff done at the same time like sealing grout on the tile floors and cleaning the wood floors.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-07-2005, 06:03 PM   #25
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

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Originally Posted by SteveR
We live in a very dust part of the world. This compounded with the presence of an opeating concrete mixing operation a short distance away adds to the dust. We have had a lot of dust in the house and even after putting in a better air filter we still saw lots of fine dust. I had the ducts inspected (with me there) and they were nasty!! I had them cleaned out and now the house is a lot less dusty. Some of these guys are a sham but I used COIT and I would call them again if I ever thought I needed to. The crap they found in there was unbelievable! The prior owners must have had a herd of cats due to the quantity of fur in the ducts. Also, the orginal construction guys must have used them as garbage cans and who knows what else.

We were happy with the result. I can't recall how much it was since we also had some other stuff done at the same time like sealing grout on the tile floors and cleaning the wood floors.
any ballpark idea of what it cost you? ive heard answers ranging from 100 to 1000
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 08:44 AM   #26
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

Hey fed,

Only one thing for me to add to fine advice here. Anytime you hit a low point in your next venture (we all do) and you need some cheering up just log on here and read a few of the mega-corp/civil-servant prisoner posts (current and ex prisoners included). You'll know you made the right decision. Good luck.

[No need to do a search, the prisoner theme is always current here.]
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 09:16 AM   #27
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

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any ballpark idea of what it cost you? ive heard answers ranging from 100 to 1000
I looked for the receipt last night and cannot find it. I am not sure how relevant it would be without a breakdown by duct length or number of some other factor to compare it with other quotes. In my case, I have two furnaces, (basement has it's own) and a separate air conditioner system (upstairs), so the number of ducts is more than your average house. The unit was undersized for the house and when a previous owner finished the basement they installed a whole system just to heat the basement and later a system for the second floor because it gets so hot up there in the summer.

Sorry, but that is about all I can tell you. I did like the camera and fiber optic evaluation system to show before and after...even have a VHS tape of it. Nice touch I thought and was included in the price.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 09:30 AM   #28
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

I like the video imaging option too.

I've researched this industry a lot, and that's one thing that strikes me in ads....free imaging (instead of having 2 pay for it). The systems usually run about 2000.00.

Considering the minumal start-up costs of this business (12k or so,including ads), it may be a good option. Then again, it may be worthwhile to wait on a 2k system until it's a little more establised.

Marketing is what I'm researching now. Yellow pages is a must. I just cant decide on a size of an ad. I'm calling around tomorrow to talk to businesses to see how the YP worked for them. Costs range from 400/yr for a simple listing to 2k/yr for a 1" b&w ad, to 5k/yr for a 2x2" b&w ad, to a LOT more. I like the idea of hooking up with a carpet cleaning guy, and even some HVAC guys who DONT clean ducts. That'd be free advertising, except for the cut you'd give them for the jobs. Direct mail or one of those "Dollar Saver" magazines is anoher option. I'm torn on those....not sure if they'd work or not.

Any input on these marketing options?
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 09:39 AM   #29
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thefed
I like the video imaging option too.

I've researched this industry a lot, and that's one thing that strikes me in ads....free imaging (instead of having 2 pay for it). The systems usually run about 2000.00.*

Considering the minumal start-up costs of this business (12k or so,including ads), it may be a good option.* Then again, it may be worthwhile to wait on a 2k system until it's a little more establised.

Marketing is what I'm researching now.* Yellow pages is a must.* I just cant decide on a size of an ad.* I'm calling around tomorrow to talk to businesses to see how the YP worked for them.* Costs range from 400/yr for a simple listing to 2k/yr for a 1" b&w ad, to 5k/yr for a 2x2" b&w ad, to a LOT more.* I like the idea of hooking up with a carpet cleaning guy, and even some HVAC guys who DONT clean ducts.* That'd be free advertising, except for the cut you'd give them for the jobs.* Direct mail or one of those "Dollar Saver" magazines is anoher option.* I'm torn on those....not sure if they'd work or not.

Any input on these marketing options?
It is entirely possible that I am just old-fashioned, but when I need to buy services for my home (chimney sweep, gutter cleaning, etc.) I usually look to three sources, assumng I don't already deal with someone or have a friend or neighbor to ask for a recommendation:

- yellow pages
- a local newspaper that is distributed for free (not pennysaver, which seems to be just ads; this one has local news coverage)
- direct mail, specifically the envelopes of small (3X5?) ads for many local businesses that often include coupons.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 09:45 AM   #30
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

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- yellow pages
- a local newspaper that is distributed for free (not pennysaver, which seems to be just ads; this one has local news coverage)
- direct mail, specifically the envelopes of small (3X5?) ads for many local businesses that often include coupons.
I agree with Brewer. I find and use most of the contractors I use for stuff I don't want to do, don't have time to do, or cannot do from the local newpaper and those direct mail cards. I have had good experience with most of them and continue to use them as needed.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 09:54 AM   #31
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

FWIW, I have also noticed that several local businesseshave continued to advertise in the little slips direct mail thingy for years, so it must be effective.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 01:25 PM   #32
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

Yes the paper is a viable option. But I for some reason dont see people looking up DUICT CLEANING in a newspaper. If I could run a BIG ad in one of those free oens thoguh, it may help....like a 1/4 or 1/2 page ad with coupons. I'l l look into it for sure.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 03:26 PM   #33
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

You may wish to check out Home Instead (www.homeinstead.com). they provide non-medical care, assistance and companionship to the elderly. I know of a couple of people who work at the home office and others with franchises. Seems like this biz is positioned in a growth sector.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 03:42 PM   #34
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

In ref. to the duct cleaning idea. I recently priced having the work done but didn't want to spend the $900 (2-story 2300 sq ft).

Hubby has been talking about starting our own lawn mower service. Yes there are lots of guys who do this but many are getting out of the business all the time. Since we're both mostly retired we'd have the time to do it. We also have the machinery for 1 acre lots and under which are plentiful in our area. Matter of fact the new next door neighbor approached us last night and wants to be our first customer. That one will be easy.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-08-2005, 04:07 PM   #35
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

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In ref. to the duct cleaning idea. I recently priced having the work done but didn't want to spend the $900 (2-story 2300 sq ft).

Hubby has been talking about starting our own lawn mower service. Yes there are lots of guys who do this but many are getting out of the business all the time. Since we're both mostly retired we'd have the time to do it. We also have the machinery for 1 acre lots and under which are plentiful in our area. Matter of fact the new next door neighbor approached us last night and wants to be our first customer. That one will be easy.
900 is pretty steep for a 2300 sf house. Although location is a major factor. An "average" house around here would run 300 dollars....based on my market analysis. Look at it this way:your 2300 sf hosue MIGHT take 4 or 5 hours...and about 50 in chemicals if it was to be fogged with a biocide. Thus, they're charging about $175.00/hr. I'd plan on charging about 100/hr ...but never giving estimates liek that. Estimates would be determined by # of ducts and such, but would average 100/hr.

I'm putting together a business plan to pitch this idea to my old man. he's a painting contractor and is slow int he winter. I'm going to see if he wants in and will lend some labor if need be.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-09-2005, 09:44 AM   #36
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

It's very rewarding to own your own business. I have had several in the past 35 years. Mostly very modest in size, one real good one.

Borrowing money to start a business is very risky!!!!!!!!!
Yes I've done it, but at that time in my life I was desparate. You should have cash.

It's very difficult to be an instant success and most small businesses fail.

Looking back in retro spect I wish I would of gotten a job, with big retirement benefits. Now I am short on retirement money and working and saving to make up the difference. I have so many benefits and great insurance, sick leave, paid holidays, paid vacation, long term disability etc. If I would of started this job when I was 18 years old, when I retired I would receive 80% of my wages for life. To earn that amount each year I would need 1 and a half mill in the bank.

I had none of these benefits when self employeed except health insurance. But I had kids in private shools, then college, and then weddings. So once everyone was on there own I got a hughe increase in wages.

I work regular hours and don't have to worry about money, going broke, law suits etc.

Many people think you start up a business and the customers just poor in. They don't and it takes often times many years to build up a reputation.

It often times takes lots of money to get into a business that generates the big money.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-09-2005, 10:09 AM   #37
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

Spike,

Thanks for presenting your first hand experience with the "other side" of owning your own business. Some here are quick to talk about how grand owning your own business is. But you have shown that there are negative aspects to it as well.
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-09-2005, 10:43 AM   #38
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

"Many people think you start up a business and the customers just poor in."

Yes, that's exactly how it often works.

Unfortunately.

Building a better widget has about a zero likelihood of the world beating a path to your door, since if you can't get the word out no one will know about it. And even if they do know about it, the guy down the street with a junk product who happens to be a marketing wiz will still bury you.

cheers,
Michael
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?
Old 11-09-2005, 11:41 AM   #39
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Re: If you had $50k to start a business, what would it be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Other Michael
"Many people think you start up a business and the customers just poor in."

Yes, that's exactly how it often works.* **

Unfortunately.

Building a better widget has about a zero likelihood of the world beating a path to your door, since if you can't get the word out no one will know about it.* And even if they do know about it, the guy down the street with a junk product who happens to be a marketing wiz will still bury you.

cheers,
Michael
and thus, you must out-market the competition. bottom line is that every industry has room for one more company, if that company can out-market and provide superior services. And that is my plan.

I began my market analysis today. I made about 100 calls since 9am. Soem to local competitors, but most to other companies in search of mutual referral program. I hope to partner up with at least 10 companies that can market and reccommend duct cleaning in return for a percentage of the job and mutual reccommendations. For example, I've already forged a relationship with a man who does mold clean up jobs, some of which are residential (i'm targeting residential). He refers them out to their local HVAC company for a duct cleaning, but none in specific. He's agreed to turn that steady stream of customers to me if/when I set up shop in return for a % and my referral of commercial jobs. I also plan on contacting local carpet companies and home inspectors as well.

It's looking to be an okay business if I really forge good relationships. Otherwise, I don't think it would fly.
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:41 PM   #40
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Funny to read this post a few years later. i ended up starting the air duct business, and it's exploding. I put put about 13k in startup costs, re-couped that within a few months,and havent looked back. I exceeded my income target in year one, and am exceeding expectations in year 2.

Some of you were really harsh on me! geez! Im glad i can look back and see that i wasnt discouraged. my poor typing skills (or not really caring about it) hasnt translated into business failure yet. and my borroweed money did its job and has been paid back in full.

Brewer's suggestion for a business plan really opened my eyes....I made one, follow it, revise it, and refer to it regularly. Thanks Brewer!
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