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I got cold feet!

I got cold feet!

I got cold feet!

(OP)
Well, I started an LLC, got my business bank account, started a website and now I am in the process of getting my e&o.  All of the suddent I got cold feet.  I am currently still employed.  I am afraid if I start my own business I wont float.  I just feel very unethical to do side job while working with my current employer.  Plus, it is kind of hard to handle side jobs since my office suite is a little small.  People can hear other people conversations.  Do you guys have any tips to get me going?  If I quit the company, my wifes income is not enough to cover everything and we will be using credit card a lot!  Any advice?

Never, but never question engineer's judgement

RE: I got cold feet!

Some random thoughts
- not a great time to be starting out with the way the general economy and the housing market appear to be heading.
- side jobs should be worked from home, not your employers office.
- it might be ok and ethical to work side jobs if they don't compete with your employer and don't affect your day work (see lots of other forum topics in this araa).
- if you can't live with zero income for 6-12 months without borrowing, then you are not ready to work on your own.  Keep your job and start saving $.  Don't plan on living off credit cards.
- if you can't live on one income (your wife's) then reduce your lifestyle and expenses.

RE: I got cold feet!

Well firstly I would certainly question your judgement; you don’t seem to have thought this through at all.

As SWComposites says you will need to get by for a minimum of six months with zero income as well as all the expense of setting up your company, insurance, accountant, letter heads, business cards, office furniture, office equipment, computer hardware, computer software the list goes on and on. Expect a minimum outlay of $20K.

To work weekends on your own stuff whilst employed is debatable but to do in during work time and using company time and equipment is a definite no.

RE: I got cold feet!

SW hit most of the points on the head.

* Expect to have a year's worth of your after-tax income in the bank before you decide to quit your job, you're going to need it (and most often quite a bit more).  What if your wife loses her job in the meantime?  Then you'll have zero income.  CC companies look down on making zero monthly payments.

* You should never engage in your side-business affairs while on your current job.  If you find yourself handling side-business stuff during that time, you have an ethical, moral, and probably legal responsibility to log off the clock.  And don't forget the time you spent before and after thinking about what you were just doing, time to ramp back up to your 40-hr/wk job's responsibilities, etc.  Plain and simple, don't mix the times, it's not worth the hassle.

* I used savings and CC to start my business.  That was nearly five years ago, and I'll only have the CCs paid off before this year is out.  While for some jobs it's useful to use CCs as a quick money fix, it's also quite dangerous and can kill your credit for many years to come... be aware of that danger.

* Be prepared to live on canned tuna and crackers when things get tight (and I may not necessarily be speaking metaphorically here, either).  Turning the A/C off in the summer and the heat off in the winter can save big-time money, especially in these days of high-priced electricity.  Consider getting rid of any luxuries, like extra cars, or big screen TVs... selling them before you're hurting for money is more profitable than when you let that 50" plasma go for $200 because you need to eat this month.

* Be prepared to pay big bucks for the same health insurance your current employer is probably subsidizing at the moment.  You do not want to have major surgery for a heart attack or accident without insurance covering your behind... that's a surefire way to the poorhouse within just a few weeks.  Also consider any employee matching being done for your 401(k) account... you may not even be able to contribute yourself with no money coming in, and that can hurt retirement.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: I got cold feet!

I was going to ask how you made the decision to strike out on your own.  Do you feel like you learned enough at your job to make it on your own?  Do you have any clients that you feel would contact you instead of your current employer for work or would you be starting from scratch?  I would imagine actually getting the work could be tough.

RE: I got cold feet!

The biggest questions, in my opinion, are how well known are you now, how good are you, how respected are you and your work product, have people been very satisfied with your work, have you led the design projects you've done or were you just one of the staff?  At your current job, do people call you for projects or are you assigned projects to work on?  In short, are you "The Man?"  If so, you will probably continue to be The Man.  If not, you may have a tough road ahead.  Also, do you have any associates to help you if you get too busy too soon?  Would you current employer be willing to give you some projects to work on, at least on a part time basis?  If you are currently valuable to your employer, and hard to replace, they may be willing to give you some consulting work.

I started my company with absolutely nothing but my reputation, my personal PC, and a little bit of home equity!  It can be done if you answered yes to the above questions.  Most important, you have to be disciplined and work hard.  It's tempting and too easy to sit in your "office" and just surf the net or play PC games.  If you don't work, you will have no pay check.  That should be motivation enough.

RE: I got cold feet!

If you have doubts as to your success in starting out on your own, don't.  Clients WILL pick up on your insecurities, and you will fail.

When you have developed a confident, positive attitude, and developed a sound plan of attack, plus an extensive  network, go for it.  I can't emphasize the network enough.  A good one will save your heiny many times over.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: I got cold feet!

(OP)
Yeah, I've decided to go ahead and start the company but I will not do any engineering.  I will be doing 3d rendering services on the side. I am fairly sure I will not need e&o.  Once I have enough arhictect clients, then I will quit my job and start giving structural services also.  I think I will try to find a new job instead.  Thanks everyone!   

Never, but never question engineer's judgement

RE: I got cold feet!

Are you having problems at your current employer?

RE: I got cold feet!

(OP)
No, but all through his career, all he did was residential.  So most of the time I know more than he does (because I research them).  He is very old school.   

Never, but never question engineer's judgement

RE: I got cold feet!

Sometimes, it is the right job that pushes you from moonlighter to full time.  I was planning on doing plan reviews for a municipality last year - about 15 hours a week, all on weekends - and they indicated they would like for me to do a little department administration.  They were thinking more like 20 to 25 hours a week.  I spoke to the previous reviewer, he gave me copies of his previous invoices and his invoice history for a few years, and it appeared I could do pretty well.  So I resigned from my employer right after I signed a contract.

So far, this is the best job I have ever had - working for myself.

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: I got cold feet!

I thought most companies did not allow you to do work on the side (ie, they own your stamp while you work there)?

RE: I got cold feet!

Some companies may have a policy about moonlighting due to liability concerns but your stamp is yours and yours alone.

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: I got cold feet!

In that situation, I'd talk with my wife/family in advance about the possible side-effects of my personal adventure.  Starting one's own Company is a great ego booster, but it isn't fair to have one's family paying the price if I lose the game.

Anyway, the best luck for your LLC!

RE: I got cold feet!

"Never, but never question engineer's judgement "

Un huh, how is that working out for you?

 

RE: I got cold feet!

DonPhillips:

It's not just liability, but also conflict of interest and competition issues.

Make sure YOUR clients are YOURS, and YOURS alone, with absolutely no ties whatsoever to your current employer.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: I got cold feet!

Mike,

What I keep hearing from architect's is their firms are scared to death of a moonlighting employee's client suing the firm.  Not that the firm will lose the case, but the cost to defend is too great.

 

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: I got cold feet!

CO engineer.
I assume you are in Colorado?  I started my LLC 18 mos ago in CO, residential structural & land development.  Things were going GREAT and now we are dead in the water, 1 employee I am struggling to keep. Forunately I have a small construction company I can use him for.  This economy is slipping quickly around here.  I personally went from billing 188hrs one month last fall to only billing 35hrs last month. Thank God for my Home Eq loan. As you probably know there are a lot of AEC layoffs around here.  I do hear the western slope, grand junction, is doing well, I may end up over there son. Lots of projects getting put on hold. Be carefull.   

RE: I got cold feet!

"Never, but never question engineer's judgement"

Yeah right...the same said the people who built the Titanic , and some guys in charge of setting the last Challenger launch date (even after being warned about possible rocket failure)  winky smile
  

RE: I got cold feet!

For the Challenger disaster, it was the engineer's warning of a potential problem... it was the "bean counter engineers" ('engineer' used loosely here) who decided to launch it.
 

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: I got cold feet!

(OP)
Yeah guys, I threw away the idea.  I am going to have an interview this wednesday and i will be doing more commercial projects if I am hired.  I am so excited.  I am so ready to leave residential behind.   

Never, but never question engineer's judgement

RE: I got cold feet!

If you want to do it, do it.

Don't worry about the rest you will find a way.

You only have one life to live. So live it now.

Paul Jager

RE: I got cold feet!

Keep the company active, on paper anyway, and when the right opportunity comes along, you will be ready.  I did that from 2002 until 2006 and was able to jump in with both feet when the time was right.  I already had the proper licenses, software, etc. and was ready to go.

The biggest change for me was payroll.  Instead of an LLC, I went s-corp, so I have to pay myself a salary.  But profits I do not pay self-employment taxes on, which saves me like 15% in social security.

And for $100 a year, Quickbooks made payroll not only easy, but it does direct deposit and everything.  Very slick - but I digress.

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: I got cold feet!

In any case, expand your network of contacts and clients.  That's fairly easy to do even being an employee, and will always help you.  Of course that will boost-up your business, or will make the transition time to start again shorter, in case things go bad and you need to find a desk job.

Good luck!

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