After years of working for other people, I decided that I wanted to work for myself and just be my own boss. However, I’d never run my own business and I knew there was a big difference. For one, I’d need capital to start the business, a business plan, a marketing plan, invest in my own equipment, more training and, especially, find a course on starting your own business, and lastly make sure I have all the right licensing and insurance to be a small business owner. I had, though, been paying close attention to how the company I worked for was running their business and I learned a lot by simply paying attention and asking questions. I thought I was now ready to forge ahead on my own!
INITIAL RESEARCH: I took an evening course on how to start a business at my local community college. There I learned how to write a good business plan (better than the one I’d started), types of insurance, opening up business bank accounts, and how to finance your new business idea. During this time I completely mapped out all the inspection areas I planned to cover. I also learned a lot of other vitally important things to small business owners – things I’d never thought about!
I also spent time looking through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website where there is a lot of information on business startup, including how to finance your own business. That information proved invaluable.
I’d been saving money for years thinking I’d probably want to start my own company. So I did have some cash set aside for start-up costs, but as I began preparing my business plan, I realized I was probably short. The other conclusion I reached from my research and class was that I wanted to create my own business not purchase a franchise from a large corporation.
CAPITAL: The SBA’s site provides a good amount of information on financing your own business. I learned about state and local/regional economic development agencies willing to provide low-interest loans to small business owners. However, given my excellent credit and savings, I actually did not qualify for those. I ended up meeting with my bank where I’d long ago built a relationship. I was able to take out a very small loan at a extremely good interest fee to help with start-up costs such as purchasing my own tools. I had assets and very little debt along with a very good credit rating. As far as a bank was concerned, I was a safe bet. Now, I was ready to begin putting things together!
Every small business owner needs some form of insurance for any number of things. I researched various insurance types and costs and decided on one I knew would make me and my clients feel comfortable.
I joined the American Society of Home Inspectors where I was able to access a lot of importation information. Their website was useful with helping me select software for inspection reports.
I also joined the National Association of Home Inspectors where there also is valuable information and trainings for their members. When it comes to information, I believe you can never have too much information.
Both of these trade organizations provide a wealth of information regarding our industry. Moreover, as my own company of one, they helped keep me connected within the industry to others.
In addition to the community college class on starting a small business, I also took a few online, trade specific courses. One included a general real estate class on practices and trends in my area and another was on building codes and construction trends. The costs of initial courses upon start-up and ongoing should be part of your budget and business plan just as marketing costs should be considered and budgeted for each year.
The death of any business, besides being a bad business, is not having any connections from which to build up. In other words, it was time to make sure I was tapped into a network. Through my many years of working for others, I’d made many connections. I now made sure they knew I was launching my own home inspection business, and that included any realtors I knew so they could consider me for their next sale! I had new business cards and brochures made out thanks to my local printer’s with design services and I made sure I handed them out any chance I got.
My small business loan proved extremely useful in helping to get things up and running, but my savings set aside for this purpose also helped get me going. Having the right capital to launch a company can be the first step of success. Without sufficient funding, you’ll start wanting to cut corners due to lack of funding and that would be mistake number one. Being my own boss and owning my own business is the best decision I have ever made.