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Business Ideas.

Jackalope

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So not really wanting to work for the man forever I've always wanted to start a business. My corporate job(s) have been good to me, but my skills don't translate well to the small business world. I can risk management, governance, and data protect the hell out of shit, but there aren't a lot of small businesses with the budget or foresight to afford it. Contract 1099 consulting work is feast or famine and requires an extensive amount of travel. Despite being damn good at what I do, it's not what I want to do, especially for the rest of my life. Real retirement from corporate America for people my age is a joke. Sure, you can put money in a 401k and make smart investments, but it only transitions to a period of your life where you're surviving. I don't want to survive in retirement, I want to thrive. I've kicked around the idea of numerous businesses. I have aptitude and ability to make anything successful that I put my mind to. The problem is, I don't have crap for experience or skills. I'm a corporate desk jockey. I have no doubt that I could fund, start, and grow an excavation company. The problem is, I don't know jack shit about operating an excavator. I have no doubt that I could grow a successful HVAC company, Hell I installed a complete system in my own house. The problem is I don't have jack shit for experience outside of that unit, and won't pretend that I can hold a candle to a certified HVAC technician that smells of Pal-mals and Budweiser.

So I need to start a business that allows me to use aptitude to grow it. I also need something I can do while maintaining my 9-5 until a point that I can make the jump. I've looked at house wash businesses, restaurants, franchises, etc. None of them speak to me and most have glaring defects.

As I looked around for needs to solve I explored a few different avenues. The one major thing here is a massive housing explosion. They're building houses left and right on every little plot of land they can find. Businesses and infrastructure is moving in at an amazing rate. 5 miles north of me they're building three 200+ unit cookie cutter subdivisions and selling them before the first footer is ever poured. I get a couple phone calls a week from realtors asking if I want to sell my house. The money is in the service industry. All these people need things. Skilled trades are in bad shape. be it welding, hvac, plumbers, electricians, handymen, etc.

One thing that damn near every person here needs is pest control solutions, especially termites. I dealt with large termite problem in a previous house and eradicated them. As a preventive I treated this house via trenching, drilling, and rodding which is usually only done for active infestations. I don't carry a termite bond on the house personally because I'm confident in my applications and solutions. However, a bond is traditionally required by the buyer to sell any property here because that's how bad they are.

To make a long story short, I think I'm going to start a pest control company. This requires a commercial applicator license which requires 4 years certifiable experience, or 15 credit hours from an accredited university in advanced etymology and microbiology. I'll also need to pass some state certification exams to get a license.. Whatever, takes some time but it can't be worse than technical IT certifications. Purdue has the coursework that's required for the education piece.

Outside of Terminex which hardly anyone here uses. There are two large local pest control companies in town, by large I mean 10+ trucks. There are 4 other companies that look to be guys like me who have their house address listed as their business address. None of them are hurting for money and all live in really nice houses.

My plan is to start residential and grow to a sustainable level, once that's reached go hunting for whales. larger commercial contracts, condo associations, apartments, restaurants etc.

The guy that owns the company Jessica's doing HR for is a pretty cool guy. Started on a lawn and landscape crew, moved to a weed management spray company, left to start his own weed management company and now owns about a 15 mil a year company after 10 years. He's actually a pretty chill guy that has a big heart and from everything I've seen is just an all around good person. All they do is spray per-emergent herbicides. They have a ton of contracts and a few multi-mil 3-5 year contracts with large commercial companies. Airports, chemical plants, a shipyard etc. Interestingly enough they need the same commercial applicator license, but their experience and education has to be in vegetation management, forestry etc. I'm not going to pursue it, but if he ever takes notice, there is the potential, or at least the "in" there for pest management also.

I don't know. Well see. So what say you guys? I'm not asking for approval here, lay it out there, positives, negatives, pitfalls. And by all means, if you have a better business idea, please let me know.
 

bowhunter1023

Administrator
Staff member
46,798
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Appalachia
Your genuine nature, ability to communicate, and knowledge of proper business processes, places you miles ahead of the majority of entrepreneurs IMO. You're certainly capable of mastering the technical side of things, so your plan seems feasible to me. I think your bartering skills and general ingenuity will lead you to other opportunities with the right clients. I got faith in ya brother!
 

giles

Village idiot and local whore
Supporting Member
37,776
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In a bar
Owning a company takes dedication and time. Something you can't get back and your boys are at an age that they need you to be an active part of life.

That is the only downfall I see here besides the obvious issues with working with chemicals. You have the skills.
 

LonewolfNopack

Junior Member
1,074
91
The woods
Best of luck. My advice is if your on the edge about it and have your heart set on it, just do it. If you think too hard you may talk yourself out of it. I started my business with absolutely nothing and have had the good fortune to know certain people that have helped it become successful. But I also hussle my ass off, there is no safety net. I'm my opinion the worst that can happen is the business doesn't work out and I will find another job. If your marketable, and it sounds like you are, and not afraid to hustle, you will be fine. Its all risk reward and finding the balance between your heart and mind.
 

at1010

*Supporting Member*
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Honesty, transparency and knowledge will take you far in almost any business.

I can say that even with my little seed business I work a tremendous amount of hours, on top of my normal 10+ hour days. However, I love what I do and I love talking about soil. I love going the extra mile to help folks understand soil tests, samples, etc. Sure, I have spent a long time with someone only to have them buy something else but I sincerely believe that with the customers I have been fortunate enough to earn their business, they understand the value add that we offer.

I believe you have much of this in you, Joe, you can pitch that you are just a phone call away. You don't have the overhead of the big companies. You want to fully immerse yourself in the communities and help people out and make a little coin at the same time. Your ability to be honest and upfront will carry you a long way and people don't forget.

PS - I still remember about 10 years ago when I paid you 300+ bucks for Spy points only for you to refuse my money cause you shared they were junk and that you didn't feel comfortable with a forum member getting ripped off. That type of guy....that type of guy keeps a lot of customers. People don't forget being treated well.
 

Bowkills

Active Member
2,112
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Nw oh
Most vps presidents or owners of the large scale commerical contractors ive worked for in 20 are all smart very cutthroat but hold a degree in true bullshit and couldnt drive a nail in jello...seeing your hvac skills coupled with the computer skills id say u can make a go of it. Or the bug thing.
 
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Jackalope

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I appreciate the kind words guys. I do. Owning your own business undoubtedly comes with its own burdens. But there are also what I can see as rewards. The ability to talk with everyday people, offer advice, provide a service, get out of an office, and help them and myself out, is good for the soul. There will always be jackwagons and people that try to stiff you, that's life.

As I mentioned, I've done well in corporate America and been treated well. But I've also made someone else a shitton of money and hoped they gave me a small portion in return as recognition. If I wasn't profitable I wouldn't be around. With your business compensation is directly tied to performance. If I perform well, I get paid compensation that reflects that.

With pest control, especially termites, it's usually a 1-2 year contract of services. The state requires a 1-year termite bond after treatments which is basically insurance. No different really than business insurance, but the client is named on the policy. This is typically done under a single umbrella policy. I still need to do some more market research on average contract pricing here. But I have no doubt I can be competitive with a lack of overhead. I'm not going to sell myself short and be that guy to other businesses. But I also don't need these contracts to put food on my table and make payroll, so I can undoubtedly come in the middle of the pack or lower.

Working at home I watch these guys do my neighbor's houses. They show up, unroll the hose, do a quick walk-around inspection and then spray the perimeter. They're in and out in about 30 minutes and do it once every 1-2 months depending on the contract. There are also ancillary services such as termite bait stations, indoor pest control, etc. Contracts range from 400-to 1,200 a year. Chemical costs are relatively cheap. I actually know a guy in vegitation management who also owns a chemical wholesale company 🤣.
 

bigten05

*Supporting Member*
3,359
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knox county ohio
My brother just started his flooring company full time he's staying really busy with it. I have been really considering a sandblasting and painting businessman even Mobile blasting. lots of money out there to be made if your not afraid of taking that step. My uncle has a rim repair business in Georgia and makes 250 k a year repairing and painting rims at car lots. Works about 20 hours a week.
 

LonewolfNopack

Junior Member
1,074
91
The woods
Another thing to consider is your market. I live in the boondocks, my market is limited locally and travel a lot. I dont charge local folks as much as I do when I have to travel to big city areas. My wife and I were in Cincinnati the other day and stopped to get coffee at a "Cat Cafe". It was a little building that had cats running around that you could play with and pet while you drank your coffee. There were so many people coming in that they had to lock the door. Now in my area we shoot cats, but in Cincinnati they wait at the door to pet them while they buy and drink coffee. I firmly believe if you are in a huge market with a diversity of people you can make money doing just about anything.
 

Jackalope

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My brother just started his flooring company full time he's staying really busy with it. I have been really considering a sandblasting and painting businessman even Mobile blasting. lots of money out there to be made if your not afraid of taking that step. My uncle has a rim repair business in Georgia and makes 250 k a year repairing and painting rims at car lots. Works about 20 hours a week.

Indeed. Lots of money. Jim somebody I forgot his last name once said, you don't need to do something extraordinary, just do something ordinary extraordinarily well. Today answering the phone, doing what you say, and showing up beats 80% of the businesses out there.

In all of my looking so far, one thing that has stood out to me is there are average people making stupid ass money doing random ass shit. 😅.
 

brock ratcliff

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Get after it, Joe.
Remember Jr? You might have heard him referred to as Hubert. He owned the big farm beside Brian’s on owl creek where you hunted with Sig and saggy sack. He was a barber when I was wee little. Gave me my first hair cut in fact.... he made his fortune (he was loaded), in pest control. He started with one truck. Soon got into large commercial accounts. He did very well, and you will too.
 

hickslawns

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NW Ohio
I dropped my license for herbicides a long time ago. Kids were little. Didn't want the chemicals around. Didn't want to be working in them daily either. That would be something to contemplate. Everyone has different levels of tolerance. I just knew I didn't want to be working in them for decades. And, the state was a pain in the butt to deal with.

If you want to keep headaches to a minimum, you won't want employees. Employees are not bad. We have had some great ones. We have also had some horrible ones. If you choose to remain a one man band, realize at some point you will plateau. A man can only do so much work in a day. Want to make more money? Work more hours, reduce costs, or figure out how to charge more. Those are the only options for a solo guy.
 

Jackalope

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Another thing to consider is your market. I live in the boondocks, my market is limited locally and travel a lot. I dont charge local folks as much as I do when I have to travel to big city areas. My wife and I were in Cincinnati the other day and stopped to get coffee at a "Cat Cafe". It was a little building that had cats running around that you could play with and pet while you drank your coffee. There were so many people coming in that they had to lock the door. Now in my area we shoot cats, but in Cincinnati they wait at the door to pet them while they buy and drink coffee. I firmly believe if you are in a huge market with a diversity of people you can make money doing just about anything.

Great point. In this county, there are 51k residential dwellings and 11k apartments in 2,3,4,5+ units.

The real tell to me however is growth, In 2017 there were 358 permit applications for new residential dwellings, last year 522, this year so far 784. I haven't been able to find numbers for commercial properties. One would bet the vast majority of restaurants and places of business etc have pest control contracts.

The country over from us is Harrison with almost double the population. They also have some very large businesses such as casinos etc.

If I run some very rough numbers using my salary +20%, against an estimated average 1-year residential contract price I need about 254 contracts. Add 35% more to cover overhead and I need about 343 contracts.

343 x 6 applications per year = 2057 applications per year. 250 working days, -30 for vacation (hey a guy can dream 😅) makes it about 9 applications per day. They take roughly 30 minutes each. So 4.5 hours per day not accounting travel and initial prep time.

That's only doing residential preventive, which is really just base level stuff. That doesn't include live infestation treatments that run 800-1500 per job. The real goal is to snag larger business contracts for restaurants, hotels, stores, factories, etc that's where the money is. Responding to RFPs, compliance and corporate jive is my strong suit there. I do it every day.
 
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Jackalope

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Get after it, Joe.
Remember Jr? You might have heard him referred to as Hubert. He owned the big farm beside Brian’s on owl creek where you hunted with Sig and saggy sack. He was a barber when I was wee little. Gave me my first hair cut in fact.... he made his fortune (he was loaded), in pest control. He started with one truck. Soon got into large commercial accounts. He did very well, and you will too.

I remember the farm well. Thanks for the words of encouragement Brock. I'm confident, maybe too much, but if you don't believe in yourself then you'll never try. The worst that could happen is I end up with a new truck and some used spray equipment to sell, and a very good understanding of bugs. 🤣.
 
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Termites wouldn't be a horrible idea. With the hot markets being available within a week or two for a loan process is huge. The most successful start up businesses around me are the smaller things. Think pallets , mills etc. Hell I remember when I was in highschool a local guy started making little fire octagons. The outside was wood and filled with filler chips in the middle with fire retardant mixed in. They were portable which was awesome we used to buy them and take them fishing, light the top and instant campfire for 4 hours the guy sold them left and right! It's the small things that can grow to be big. You already have the mentality so regardless of what you do I think you will do well. Out of curiosity how much property do you own?
 
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jagermeister

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Like the others mentioned, Joe, you certainly possess all the skills needed to run a successful business of your own. That's a huge advantage from the get-go.

Pest control is a BOOMING business and it's not going away. It's right up there with drinking water and wastewater related businesses in my opinion. The human population is growing, housing is growing/expanding, and the population of pests and varments is also growing. Pests will always be a problem for people. And as time goes on, and people become more and more "civilized," the number of homeowners willing and able to perform pest control on their own will keep diminishing.

I have a buddy who expanded on his buddy's start-up pest control business. The business started in/around Columbus, and now they're covering damn-near the entire state. The service is self-explanatory but the marketing is pretty clever. The pests and varment control gets your website clicks, your phone number dialed, and your feet inside the customer's door. But the real money is made on the improvements to the home. "See where that 'coon came through your chimney and into your attic? We can trap and remove the coon for x dollars... Then we can fix the roof/chimney for XXXX dollars." Get in the door, make a good impression with a friendly demeanor and a solid sales pitch, next thing you know they're hiring you to do it all instead of calling a second or third contractor. It's genius.

---

Running your own business can be tough. It can also be incredibly gratifying and rewarding. Run it by yourself as long as you can stand it. Lol. Employees are a pain in the ass.

The hardest part of it all, as you will likely find out I'm sure, is striking a balance between the business and your home life. A business that you started, that you put your blood, sweat and tears into, that is cruising along and is successful, is VERY hard to pull yourself away from. But still, if it's something you are even vaguely-interested in doing, I strongly encourage you to do it.
 
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Jackalope

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I dropped my license for herbicides a long time ago. Kids were little. Didn't want the chemicals around. Didn't want to be working in them daily either. That would be something to contemplate. Everyone has different levels of tolerance. I just knew I didn't want to be working in them for decades. And, the state was a pain in the butt to deal with.

If you want to keep headaches to a minimum, you won't want employees. Employees are not bad. We have had some great ones. We have also had some horrible ones. If you choose to remain a one man band, realize at some point you will plateau. A man can only do so much work in a day. Want to make more money? Work more hours, reduce costs, or figure out how to charge more. Those are the only options for a solo guy.

Great advice Phil. I was rather concerned about the chemicals also. I won't say they're safe, but surprisingly pesticides are usually safer than herbicides. Especially ones approved for residential and food establishments. For example, the active ingredient in the best termiticide on the market is fipronil. The same ingredient in most dog flea and tick medicines you put on their back, or in their collars. Approved for use on dogs and cats and safe for humans to handle. Now, I never believe crap those G-men say, so the appropriate PPE will still be a priority.

Employees are a pain for sure. My wife deals with it every day for the herbicide company as their HR director. There are some good ones, and some bad ones. They manage and make out but sometimes it's a revolving door. They pay their managers extremely well though. Stupid well actually. But those guys earned it too. The spray techs are paid well also, some more than others, based on their worth. Their logic is to hire 2 guys, pay them the salary of 3 guys, but work them like 4 guys. Yeah the work is hard and long, but they're being paid way more than if they went to work for a competitor.
 
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Jackalope

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Termites wouldn't be a horrible idea. With the hot markets being available within a week or two for a loan process is huge. The most successful start up businesses around me are the smaller things. Think pallets , mills etc. Hell I remember when I was in highschool a local guy started making little fire octagons. The outside was wood and filled with filler chips in the middle with fire retardant mixed in. They were portable which was awesome we used to buy them and take them fishing, light the top and instant campfire for 4 hours the guy sold them left and right! It's the small things that can grow to be big. You already have the mentality so regardless of what you do I think you will do well. Out of curiosity how much property do you own?

Indeed. Wood destroying insect inspection reports are required on FHA and VA loans and also requested by a large number of buyers and lenders now. Especially here where they're such a huge problem. Inspection and treatment if an active infestation is found with a bond required to close is big.

For property my house sits on 2 acres. 1 acre mowable? Why do you ask bud?
 
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Indeed. Wood destroying insect inspection reports are required on FHA and VA loans and also requested by a large number of buyers and lenders now. Especially here where they're such a huge problem. Inspection and treatment if an active infestation is found with a bond required to close is big.

For property my house sits on 2 acres. 1 acre mowable? Why do you ask bud?
Was just curious as to some other options you could use as a business depending on how much property you had. Alot of people with a few acres (3-7) are capitalizing on small regenerative farms around here. Example. Raise chickens , can they compete with case farms and other big companies? Not a chance. Do they rake in good profits? Absolutely. Some even lease small acreage to do it. So like the example of chickens, instead of just raising some for whole bird meats at pennies on the dollar they do it with a sales pitch. Instead of selling a meat bird for $5 they sell it as "organic" for $8. Then they expand it. They'll also sell broth for $10. Quarters for $X. Free range eggs for $X. Seasoned for $X. They can turn a $5 bird into $XXX if you market it differently. Especially if you get into chef marketing . Imagine setting up at a flea market or farmers market and selling a bird for x amount. But at your booth you also sell several bi products of that bird to make up xxx amount. Alot of people around here are starting to do that with different animals on a small scale and their profit margins are impressive for the small scale. On small acreage they're producing the animals as well as planting the food they consume in the same areas and and also working the rich soil caused by this to market other products off of the small area hence regenerative. Everyone all about making 5 things out of 1 to save money and bloat their profits. That's why I asked was just curious that's all. Like many others have said you have a higher chance than most being successful in whatever path you choose. I do like the pest inspection idea as it's always in demand whether the markets hot or cold. Like you mentioned , can't close on a VA loan and similar without the inspection. And when other companies are pushing people 3 weeks out and you could do it in a week or two Its guaranteed money . People want to close as fast as possible and they want Inspections done yesterday. Best of luck brother
 
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Jackalope

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Like the others mentioned, Joe, you certainly possess all the skills needed to run a successful business of your own. That's a huge advantage from the get-go.

Pest control is a BOOMING business and it's not going away. It's right up there with drinking water and wastewater related businesses in my opinion. The human population is growing, housing is growing/expanding, and the population of pests and varments is also growing. Pests will always be a problem for people. And as time goes on, and people become more and more "civilized," the number of homeowners willing and able to perform pest control on their own will keep diminishing.

I have a buddy who expanded on his buddy's start-up pest control business. The business started in/around Columbus, and now they're covering damn-near the entire state. The service is self-explanatory but the marketing is pretty clever. The pests and varment control gets your website clicks, your phone number dialed, and your feet inside the customer's door. But the real money is made on the improvements to the home. "See where that 'coon came through your chimney and into your attic? We can trap and remove the coon for x dollars... Then we can fix the roof/chimney for XXXX dollars." Get in the door, make a good impression with a friendly demeanor and a solid sales pitch, next thing you know they're hiring you to do it all instead of calling a second or third contractor. It's genius.

---

Running your own business can be tough. It can also be incredibly gratifying and rewarding. Run it by yourself as long as you can stand it. Lol. Employees are a pain in the ass.

The hardest part of it all, as you will likely find out I'm sure, is striking a balance between the business and your home life. A business that you started, that you put your blood, sweat and tears into, that is cruising along and is successful, is VERY hard to pull yourself away from. But still, if it's something you are even vaguely-interested in doing, I strongly encourage you to do it.

Thanks man. Absolutely. There are other opportunities and pathways also. Especially around exclusions and abatement. Bats are a super expensive problem to deal with. They aren't legally allowed to be killed by federal law so they have to be excluded, and then cleaned up after. Bat shit is pretty toxic so cleaning it up is expensive. I remodeled a couple of houses, the last one was almost a complete gut job. I don't really want to get into remodeling and construction but if the repairs are moderate like siding, scabbing some wall seals and studs etc, I can absolutely do it. But I'm sure along the way I'll meat a contractor I trust to sub it to or refer.

It's a pretty small world here, as are most places, and nowhere is that more true than business owners. From what I've seen they take care of their own around here. For example, the forklift at the office quit working so Jessica called a local forklift guy. He came out to their shop and looked at it. It ended up being something simple, took the guy about 10 minutes. He was standing there talking away in her office visiting like people do here and she got out the business checkbook, he laughed and said there wasn't a charge. Quite literally said "I wouldn't feel right charging you anything for that." She said "nonsense your time has value, we have to pay you something" he told her he's been standing there talking to her longer than it took to fix the problem, "just keep me in mind when you need more work done on it". You can guess who will get the call when the forklift needs work or maintenance from now on.

You bring up a good point though, Wildlife is another huge problem here. Raccoons, snakes, opossums, armadillos and the occasional alligator like the 3 footer that was under my neighbors car one evening a while back. 😅.