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Burnout or Blastoff?

Huck's picture

Burnout or Blastoff? (post #118506)

This is just a rant, probably with no particular point.  Its been just about 1 year since I re-started my contracting business.  Licensed since '89, but took a few years off to pursue another career goal, which didn't pan out.  So I'm back.  And the business environment here is greatly improved, but still a tough market.  Lots of folks have lots more equity than they did in '89, when I started my remodeling company.

So where am I after (almost) 1 year?  I traded in my small Toyota 4x4 work truck for a fullsize pickup, with a trailer.  Also have a small Toyota 2WD truck now, just as a backup.  Great improvement in work vehicle situation.  Tool upgrades?  Definitely.  During the year I picked up a slew of great tools - Bosch tablesaw and rolling stand, Bosch sliding compound miter saw, got all my finish nailers rebuilt, lots of Bessey clamps, door-boring jig, new belt sander, portable planer, drywall texture gun for small patches (I do a lot).

Office?  Been working on setting up a small office in my garage, I'm about halfway there, when my daughter got married and left a spare bedroom I can convert.  A friend said he has a fax machine I can have for free, once he digs it oug.  Built a tool-storage room in my garage also.  Got started on a workshop in the backyard (very small, 120 sq. ft.)  The shell is completed, the rough wiring is done, ready for insul. and sheetrock. 

Am I ready to blast-off?  I really don't know.  Why did I mention burnout?  During the year, these negatives came up: My daughter, who was my jobsite helper and office manager/phone call organizer, got married. (Couldn't be happier for her - but the business took a negative impact from her leaving).  My health took some hard hits - back problems, pulled tendon in my right (working) arm.  Getting harder to keep going.  Financially I'm a lot closer to being out of debt (other than mortgage) than I've ever been, but still no money in the bank, to speak of.  Also, as my business has picked up, my wife's business (and income) has declined.  Not related to my business, just a coincidence.

Today, I'm feeling burned out.  Been working steady, but things slowing down right now.  Lots of tire kickers, but no takers.  Buried under half-finished personal projects, money a little tight (a couple of recently completed small jobs out there are unpaid, I should be OK once the money from those comes in) and a little depressed.  Just hard to keep the positive outlook, and the forward momentum sometimes.  

There, it feels better getting that off my chest!


"he...never charged nothing for his preaching, and it was worth it, too" - Mark Twain

(post #118506, reply #25 of 33)

I did submit the "Carl's Combine" story to a farm magazine, and it's supposed to be published in their June issue. That will be a first for me.

See if you can get a few extras when it comes out - I want a signed copy.  So I can tell people "I knew him before he got discovered!"  Its coming.

"he...never charged nothing for his preaching, and it was worth it, too" - Mark Twain

(post #118506, reply #31 of 33)

"I've found that I need a complete departure from the business to chill. A couple of activities I've tried are both small and large.

One small example is to go trap shooting. Gets my mind down the barrel and outta the B.S. of the moment. Live music work wonders too.

A big one is vacations."

I completely agree, here's my release: I'm usually dragging along a 6x10 tool trailer, in the front corner is a spot big enough for my golf clubs or skis (season dependent, of course). Since most of my work is smaller in scope I try and reward myself at least weekly for a job well done, or, if I'm having one of those days that things just ain't working right I get out of dodge. Blow off a couple of hours on nice afternoon and hit the links for a quick 9 or a half day pass at the mountain. I find I'm better balanced for the long term rather than letting it build up into a meltdown. This summer my truck rack will have a new companion for the ladders - a kayak.

As for longer vacations, they just don't interest me. I prefer many long weekends thru-out the year rather than waiting for the '2 weeks at the beach' kind of thing. But that's just me.

Also, I'd bet Huck could find someone very talented to work mother's hours (say, 10-2) a couple days a week to make up for his daughters departure. I'm amazed at the women I've met who've put their careers on hold to have a family and would kill for a challenging job able to accomodate their kids schedule. Not just the books but call to set and confirm appointments, line up inspections...all for short money.


(post #118506, reply #23 of 33)

End of your first year and your bank balance is near zero?   We must be related.  ( I started in '91). 

I'll co-miserate on the wife's lower income. DW was on paid medical leave of absense for a few months, but decided not to go back at all. So she is done working for now.

Bye Bye to her income and benefits. 

A little reshuffling of the financial deck, but we're doing alright.  Paid the first dentist bill out of pocket this week, then broke about a third of a crown off a tooth a half day later.

Customers?  In January I had been working with someone on a kitchen remodel, then it was down to new counter and doors and fronts. Get the contract from the cabinet shop, and call the customer to arrange for a start check, and she tells me that she wants the cabinet shop's contract sent directly to her as she has someone who is going to do it for $25/hr.  (The flooring guy who was putting in the Pergo floor in another room when the customer and I were going over the work)

Customer 2:  Did a few small projects, then she asked about enclosing a back porch. I did some rough figuring and ballparked $30,000. She said she had another estimate for $15,000.  I explained that 2 Pella patio doors, 5 windows, rough quote from the tile flooring sub, and the cedar planking for the inside would be well over $10,000 just to sart and that $15K price sure didn't leave much room for framing, demo, siding, electric, etc.   She agreed, but I am waiting for the design/estimate start check on that one.

But hey, that's the ride we are on.  One of my old bosses used to say,"Sometimes it's a poop sandwich, you eat it or starve." 

When all the small petty problems start grinding on me, I try to look at them individually, and concentrate on one at a time. Kind-of like duck hunting. When a flock comes over, you don't shoot at the whole flock. Pick one out and drop it before picking out another. After a few problems are dropped, my spirits seem to really pick up.  Probably because at that point I feel back in control, and proactive.