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Thread: Mobile welding start

  1. #1
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    Mobile welding start

    I'm toying with the idea of starting a mobile welding business and was wondering what all is involved in doing so. What steps are needed to get rolling down the road, aside from the equipment? Also, can it be strictly mobile, or does there have to be a shop as well? Costs? Differences in states?





    *This should be a sticky*
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  2. #2
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Paramount you focus on the business side first and foremost. The pen is mightier than the sword in business. Explore the BMC.

    Equipment and tools are the probably the last items you need to consider.

    "Discovery is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought" - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

  3. #3
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    It's questions like these that DSW was so good at answering. I think multiple ones of us have requested that this be made a sticky, and now DSW's contributions won't be a part of it unless the mods go back and dig up some of his old replies. Which I would suggest you take the time to do.

    I've recently been avoiding the new business startup questions because I'm not that good at answering the same question over and over again with the same level of patience and explanation that each new OP should get. Anyhow, with the loss of DSW I'll give it a try.

    First off, since you're in OR, I have no idea what the exact requirements are in your state. Hopefully a small business owner from there is a member here and will chime in with state requirements. Understand that anything I say is coming from my experience in VA. Many things will be the same, but some will be different.

    -Have money set aside *before* you go completely on your own. Most people say 6 months to a year's worth of income in the bank. Many businesses fail from lack of initial cash flow, and the business is starved out before it gets it's feet on the ground.

    -Talk to someone in your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Administration, etc about informational help available for new business startups. Many localities have something like this that helps you navigate the different things that need to be done, what branch of gov't they must be done with, and in what order.

    -Talk to a small business lawyer about the type of business you should start. The answer will have to do with your long-term goals, tax advantages, liability offsetting, ease of passing the mantle of ownership to another, etc. The answer that was right for me may not be right for you. People here can give you rudimentary knowledge of why they chose x or y, but at the end of the day you need to pay the money and hear the complete story from someone that sets up businesses for a living.

    -You haven't said what type of service / product you hope to provide, but regardless you're going to need general liability insurance and auto insurance if you're mobile. Your state may have minimum coverage requirements. Some of your customers will have their own min coverage requirements and will also want to be named as an "added insured" on your policy. That's a normal thing for bigger companies; don't let it bother you.

    -Have a business account that's separate from your personal account, and don't mingle the two. Pay yourself with checks or online transfers marked "owner's draw" or something similar in the memo line. There should be a bright line between your and the business's finances. This is both for tax purposes and for your internal accounting accuracy.

    -I use Quickbooks and do my own accounting until it comes tax-time, when I then hand over a Quickbooks Company File to my tax accountant who figures everything up. If you're good with numbers, you really should be doing as much of your own accounting as possible. Figuring out your overhead costs is a big reason for this, and you need to break those down into fixed and variable. Over the years you can track what times of year are better than others, the growth of your company, the profitability of your company, etc. A business lives and dies over accurate accounting among other things.

    -Customers are the number one thing to be concerned about once the business is up and going. Choose what types of work you're best at and focus on potential customers that would have that type of work available. There are people / businesses in your community who others come to for advice about who / where to call if they need work of your type. Hopefully you know at least a few of these. They're the first people to contact because they'll spread the word about you. I can trace all of my current business back to one or two original contacts.

    -Cold-calling often doesn't immediately produce work. But it's something that must be done. Most experienced businesspeople in my area want to hire someone out who another of their buddies has already used and had success with. So it can be hard to get good-paying work in the beginning. This is another reason you have the large chunk of money stored away for the future before you start your business.

    -Advertising is best done by word of mouth, at least here. I'm sure a lot of residential work is found by social media websites, and I now have a linkedin page, but I don't go after the internet as a source of potential customers. I'd imagine the closer to the city you are, the more the internet could be helpful in finding customers. I once paid $200 for a month of newspaper advertising. I eventually got one call from the ad - a guy who owned a $20 folding table who wanted to know if I could come to his house and weld a crack in one of the legs. Needless to say I don't advertise in the paper anymore. Same with an ad in the phone book. As far as I know, I'm not listed in the phone book at all. People find me by word of mouth alone.

    -You'll get the quality of customers you seek. In other words, there's probably some good-paying work on CL, but most people go to CL for deals. Often because they either can't afford or choose not to afford buying new or higher-quality. This goes for items for sale and also for service work.

    - Residential customers represent the biggest potential market in numbers of customers, but also the hardest market to deal with if profit is your goal. Most regular working people don't understand enough about what's going to happen and what it will cost, to make your job easy. In contrast, for example an excavating company with a broken piece of equipment already knows what you're going to need to do to their piece of equipment, about how long it will take, about how much it should cost, and is familiar with the types of things that will slow you down or make the job cost more. But Hilda Homeowner wants you to sit down for an entire day to figure out just the right design for her $150 piece of handrail. Then another half a day to explain every type of coating available and why she should / shouldn't choose each one. A lot of guys go broke doing work for this type of customer. I only did a little residential work at the beginning and haven't touched res in nearly a decade. Won't touch it with a 10' pole. There are others who do it very profitably (at least I assume so) and I'm glad to leave it to them.

    -It's common for potential customers to promise more work in the future in exchange for cut rates in the present. Don't fall for it.

    -As much as possible, set your invoicing to be payable on receipt vs 30 days, etc. As you get larger you'll be dealing with delayed payouts, but in the beginning the fewer of these the better. Some lines of business require payment before work begins. This is generally not done with repair work; indeed, you'd be laughed off most jobsites if you requested half up front before you started hardfacing a bucket or fixing a dumpster. The more layers of management between you and the accountant, the more time you should expect it to take before you get paid. But also, the more you'll be charging. I don't charge the same rate to a nationally-based company that's going to hold my money for 60 days before payment as I do to a local company that's going to insist on stroking a check before I leave their property.

    -You asked if a mobile business needs a shop. In my opinion it at least needs a storage area for equipment you'll accumulate that needs a place to be kept when it isn't on your rig. Only very specialized welders get by without a lot of tools that they don't use every day. I do 95 percent of my work on customer jobsites, though, so having a working shop is totally unnecessary depending on the type of work you plan to do. My shop's workbench is currently piled so high with tools and materials that are going on and off the trucks that I couldn't use it for work unless I had an hour to clear off a workspace.

    I'm sure there's some stuff I've forgotten, but that's all I can think of for now.
    Last edited by tbone550; 10-07-2016 at 10:48 AM.

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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Excellent info tbone550.

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    Re: Mobile welding start

    @ brainfarth - to start your journey, access the State of WA - Business Licensing Service and Washington Administration Code - Welding. You may be classified as a Special Contractor (Welding and Ornamental Metal) in Washington.

    To echo on tbone550's consult {excellent feedback}:

    * Create your business sans LegalZoom or other online services. Although the launch process may seem overwhelming initially, you will find the steps straightforward. In addition to saving fund$$, you will 'OwnIt' and understand the end to end process flow.

    * Understand your local county/city codes related to small businesses. Welding certification may or may not be required.

    * Visit other contractors in your area who offer similar mobile/shop services and fabricate like products. Other business owners will enjoy sharing knowledge with you if you're genuine. Learn their Why? (entrepreneurial spirit), ask them about their successes, failures, and common challenges. In doing so, you'll gain invaluable into customer segments and client relationships, while forging relationships with (potentially) future key partners/resources.

    Check out the Sticky on Business Owners. A_DAB_will_do and tbone550, and many others, offer golden advice for business owners.
    Last edited by ManoKai; 10-07-2016 at 02:56 PM. Reason: redundant link removed
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    One of the first things you should check on is liability insurance. It can be a painstaking and drawn out process!!

    Good luck!
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  7. #7
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    OK, so got back from a call and while I was out I realized I forgot one of the basics of owning your own business, the "grass is always greener" concept that a lot of us, if not all of us, started with. This is one of those things that you can "know" isn't true in your head, but it can never be fully understood until you've lived it for yourself.

    If you're a competent employee you spend a lot of time thinking about the way the current company you work for is managed, perhaps critically and with an eye towards what you'd do differently if you were in charge. Have you ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect? I think we all suffer from it to one extent or another. It's a blind spot for us and is something we need to be aware of. Here's a snip from a rationalwiki web page on it, and following is the address of the page if you'd like to read more:

    The Dunning-Kruger effect, named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University, occurs where people fail to adequately assess their level of competence or specifically, their incompetence at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. This lack of awareness is attributed to their lower level of competence robbing them of the ability to critically analyse their performance, leading to a significant overestimate of themselves.
    This is found at: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

    In other words, you (speaking generically, not specifically to the OP) might be a great welder who only has a basic understanding of business. Your understanding of business may be so basic, in fact, that you don't realize how poor it is. Thus you second-guess your management about everything, thinking you're so much smarter than they are, when the reality is that you are so uninformed / uneducated / just plain stupid that you can't realize that management's decisions may very often be the correct ones. You also think that if dumb people like your bosses can run a successful business, then obviously you should be able to do the same without breaking a sweat. (I've seen this verbalized here on this site many, many times. I also confess to thinking it myself when I started out.)

    So enough about Dunning-Kruger; hope you see the point though. Basically, doing what you're told is easy. *Deciding* what to do, correctly, with proper short- and long-term goals in focus, is the hard part.

    Which brings me to another part of the "grass is always greener" subconscious thought - that of being freed from punching the clock. It's true that nobody tells me when to get up in the morning, when to take lunch, or when to quit for the day. By definition a contractor makes those decisions - if he/she doesn't, they're an employee according to the IRS. However, in a larger company there are people in the "back office" doing a lot of the work that you'll now shoulder yourself. Think you're going to roll onto a jobsite, weld all day, then go back home and relax with the fam? Think again.

    You are now responsible for invoicing, advertising / schmoozing, dealing with accounts payable and receivable, making new business contacts, ensuring you have a job to go to when this one's finished, and another after that, deciding what to do when the weather goes to crap and you only have outdoor work lined up, smoothing over any ruffled feathers, repairing / maintaining your equipment, staying on top of insurances, contractor's licenses, multiple business licenses, certifications, quarterly estimated taxes, weighing potential purchases against opportunity costs, etc.

    The vast majority of the stuff above is unbillable - i.e., currently done by the back office people whom the "real workers" think of as leeches. But without this stuff, the business comes crashing to a halt. Now you're a team of one, you don't have the benefit of people specialized in each of the above jobs, there are no more hours in the week than there ever were, and you either are going to cut into your billable time to do this or you're going to do like most of us and work 'til the point of exhaustion and then come home to all of this stuff which still has to be done. What normally happens for me is that paperwork piles up for about 3 weeks and then I dig into it, cursing the fact that I didn't do it at the end of each day when I got home and yet knowing there was no way I'd have had the energy to do it that way. Or I'll take care of it on a rainy / snowy day when I can't otherwise work.

    It takes a lot of mental energy to focus on the job you're currently working on while still juggling upcoming jobs in your mind and wondering if you should buy that old forklift trailer you came across last week in the weeds behind Customer X's shop. I've said it before; I have a hard time disconnecting from my business. Some of that may be my personality but I believe most business owners share the same problem. One or two days of vacation is OK, but after that I'm back at work mentally if not physically. I have a hard time relaxing like I used to be able to....I used to enjoy kicking back with a good book in the evenings but I'm not really able to enjoy that anymore. The business is a demanding mistress.

    There's no doubt I have more "things" now than I once did...some of that is because I've been more careful with my money, some is due to increased wages (finally -- took 8 years before I was bringing home what I'd been bringing home while working for the man), but the reality is I have next to zero time to enjoy the stuff I have. I have to enjoy stuff on the run these days.

    Business ownership is a great thing, as long as you go into it with your eyes wide open. Know yourself; think of how you handle risk, are you capable of and good at accepting blame when it's your fault, are you capable of not only standing outside of yourself and seeing your failures, but then actively working on correcting them? Are you able to get past your failures and not focus on them? Do you have a stubborn side that will forge ahead when other people would quit? It takes that, too, you know.

    Anyhow, I'm not really sure how to end this, so I'll stop here. The fact is I think a lot of this post is going to fall mainly on unintentionally-deaf ears. It's too easy to read statements like this post makes and say, "It will be different for me." Let me just remind you, you don't yet know what you don't know.

  8. #8
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Quote Originally Posted by ManoKai View Post
    @ brainfarth - to start your journey, access the State of WA - Business Licensing Service, SBA WA, and Washington Administration Code - Welding. You may be classified as a Special Contractor (Welding and Ornamental Metal) in Washington.

    To echo on tbone550's consult {excellent feedback}:

    * Create your business sans LegalZoom or other online services. Although the launch process may seem overwhelming initially, you will find the steps straightforward. In addition to saving fund$$, you will 'OwnIt' and understand the end to end process flow.

    * Understand your local county/city codes related to small businesses. Welding certification may or may not be required.

    * Visit other contractors in your area who offer similar mobile/shop services and fabricate like products. Other business owners will enjoy sharing knowledge with you if you're genuine. Learn their Why? (entrepreneurial spirit), ask them about their successes, failures, and common challenges. In doing so, you'll gain invaluable into customer segments and client relationships, while forging relationships with (potentially) future key partners/resources.

    Check out the Sticky on Business Owners. A_DAB_will_do and tbone550, and many others, offer golden advice for business owners.
    Sans Legalzoom ? That means "without" You're saying don't use online services?


    Visiting other shops seems like a sticky road. I have a few competitors that I'm friendly with and one we are not because that guy doesn't actually contribute - he always asks us "HOW" to do this or that.

    We are on good terms because we don't ask each other how to run our businesses- (we are competitors in the end) - but we do talk about the business in general: where is it going, costs of new equipment etc.

    The one guy asked us how we bill our clients, what accounting program to use, how much insurance he should have, where to get insurance, how do we pay contractors, day laborers.

    TOO many questions.
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Oh, let me add one more thing. It's a breath of fresh air to see a request for small business advice not take the form of, "I'm starting my own welding business, what welder should I buy?" Most people are so turned around that they don't realize how inconsequential that question is compared to the other ones looming over them that they don't know enough to ask.

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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Thanks for the advise. Not that I am thinking of jumping full into it anytime soon, it is something I consider in the future. I have my specific welders I like, but I think CNC plasma is important to me. I was a CNC Plasma Operator/programmer for two years in a manufacturing company.

  11. #11
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Quote Originally Posted by Broccoli1 View Post
    Sans Legalzoom ? That means "without" You're saying don't use online services?
    Precisely.

    Do not believe one needs to inject hundred$$ towards doing what one can easily do without the "help" of an organization who really has no long-term "ownership" or vested interest in one's business. The business owners we know who used LZ or similar services to launch/register their activity, eventually realized that they could have done it themselves and saved precious capital.

    To us, even if the LZ service was free of charge we would still have launched our endeavor without their assistance. Others may have an opposite view, and expect there are many:many who have used LZ with success.

    The other required online sources to federal/state/local organizations shown in post#2 should absolutely be used. Hence why their listed in the first sentence.
    "Discovery is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought" - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

  12. #12
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Cool.

    All good advice.

    I have nothing to contribute as far as the welding side as I'm not a welder by trade- just stuff for my business or home.

    But as mentioned- the business stuff is always the kicker in any business- the work is the easy part
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  13. #13
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    I went through this about 6 months ago and got my own business license ,LLC , insurance, federal I'd . You need to have about $5,000 to $10,000 set aside to get that far. "Owning" a business is easy if you have a bunch of money to pay everyone. Lol It is a hit or miss around here one week I will be slammed next week I won't have a single phone call. Very tough especially with all the rain we have had locally.

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  14. #14
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Tbone, manokai, and broccoli 1. If I ever run into you guys, the coffee is on me. I've been thinking of doing small repairs and some yard art/metal work as a sideline and you guys just helped me a ton. A LOT of good food for thought. Excellent work. Thank you.

  15. #15
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Lots of good advice here, and I agree, this needs to be a sticky
    I went out on my almost a year ago now. The work, and knowing what equipment I need has never been a problem.
    The hard part is, How do I reach that potential customer? where do I find them? once I find them, how do I convince them to give me a chance? How much time/money do I spend on this? etc.
    When you have welding and fab to do this week, but nothing on the horizon next week, it hard. You have to keep drumming up business and build your customer base. I am still building mine, it takes time! time management is huge, deciding when you are going to be in the shop, when you are going to be out trying to find work etc.
    As far as advertising goes, I have had good luck with mailing flyers out to potential customers. Out of 1000, I probably got 5 calls. everything else word of mouth. One customer happen to stumble across my website, I have had one job from my yellow page listing, and nothing from C list.
    So you have to get out and meet people, and leave a good impression.

    Thats my rambling from my modest first year in business. Its nice to see the more experienced guys giving their knowledge freely, Thanks!
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  16. #16
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    I drum up quite a bit of work from Craigslist and tons of word of mouth.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
    Vantage 300 kubota ,miller 304 xmt ,lincoln ln 25 pro , ranger 305 G, plenty of other tools of the trade to make the sparks fly.

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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Another thing the name of your biz, can have a impact.9 Jeff's welding ver, Jeff's international welding, ver, Jeff's economy welding.. you get the idea...
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Start part time.
    You might hate the customer experience. You will need to know what niche you fit into. (Handrail...aluminum...heavy equipment etc.)
    Have everything working up to speed before you jump in. Possibly some clients. Especially insurance.
    And don't forget....you can't have too many Vice Grips or grinders.
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    If I knew 20 years ago what I know now, I might not have went out on my own. It's a good thing I was an ignorant fool who didn't mind working his *** off. tbone pretty much covered everything pretty well. The one thing I will stress though is having good insurance that completely covers you, and since you want to go mobile, covers your rig, and all of your tools! Thankfully I had a really good insurance agent that kept me from learning this the hard way just 2 years ago when I was hit head on by someone with only the minimum insurance which wasn't enough to cover my tools and parts loss, let alone my service van.

    One other note to remember, business is suppose to generate a profit, not just a decent wage. There will be a lot more wasted, non billable hours than most people realize. It still amazes me after 20 years. An average 8 hour day will be lucky to bill out 5 hrs, in my industry HVAC. Of course each day varies.

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    Re: Mobile welding start

    One thing I forgot to mention and probably the most important in any business is how much HEART you want and are willing to put into the business. Of all of the things I have done to try an improve my business, none of it really mattered as much as my heart. When I put my heart into it the business it just went well. When I got burnt out, tired, or stressed from problems at home, the business went down. Make sure you have complete support for starting a business at home, and everyone understands that business will fluctuate.

    Another thing people have advised that I don't complete agree with is starting as a sideline business. It is one thing to do a sideline JOB here or there, but if you are going to do a BUSINESS, do it. Now if you regular job is flexible on hours, so you can keep it while doing you business during the day, that is fine. But be careful you don't spread yourself so thin that you can't do either one worth a damn. If you are serious there will come a time when you just have to jump into the deep end, and learn to swim.

  21. #21
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    tbone hit it right off the bat. I miss DSW too. I've heard it said that just because Joe is a great mechanic that he will succeed in his own business. There is a large difference between being the best mechanic or welder and running a small business successfully. I've worked for some of the worst owners I can imagine and luckily have worked for some of the best. I learned what I could from each, knowing what does not work is sometimes as important as knowing what does. Knowing and understanding the why will put you light years ahead of the competition. Owning your own business takes a huge toll on you and your family. You can't just walk away, take a day of leave because you want to and you can't take a day because you're sick either. If you are not 150% committed to the business I have found that it will eat you alive. I've started and sold a few profitable businesses and I find that most people who buy them really have no clue about the commitment and the "behind the scenes" part. I start the businesses with the intention of selling them for a profit. If I can't know I can make a profit I just don't bother. If you are starting a business for any other reason I doubt you'll succeed. It's really hard to get people to understand that when you get a paycheck 100% of that money is profit. When you own a business everyone has his hand out. The trick is to keep some everytime you get paid. I believe that key in the process is to do things right from the start, I would say the books and licensing are crucial. Anyone going into business needs to learn how to be in business. My usual M.O. when I start looking into a business is to get to know someone who has done the same thing successfully. I find someone far enough away that they will be willing to tell me what they did to be successful. I look into it far enough to create a relationship with the other business which is completely non-threatening and I am always genuine. That's another important piece of whatever you do. You have to be honest with your customers and your employees and that's the easy part, you also need to be honest with yourself. There will be times when you will be tested, how you respond sets you apart from the competition. Sometimes the plan goes awry, you have to tell whoever why it went south and what you'll do to not let it happen again. You need to be able to admit it was your fault and know when it helps your business to take the blame when you don't deserve it. You need to learn the art of the deal, do I do this work for free or reduced rate so I can show what I can do and hope for more business or do I just charge full bore? Make sure the business you build is on a solid foundation that will stand up to whatever happens to it. I use insurance agents that have clients in the same business. I always consult an attorney and an accountant knowledgeable in whatever business before structuring a company. I try not to hire employees, if I need someone and they can be contracted I do that. I am very careful to own the company outright. If I can't because of the companies structure I insure I own the lions share. I could go on and on but I'm sure you're bored with my.
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  22. #22
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    Oct 2007
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    Re: Mobile welding start

    Quote Originally Posted by Brainfarth View Post
    I'm toying with the idea of starting a mobile welding business and was wondering what all is involved in doing so. What steps are needed to get rolling down the road, aside from the equipment? Also, can it be strictly mobile, or does there have to be a shop as well? Costs? Differences in states?

    *This should be a sticky*
    Lot's of great advice so far and I realize I'm a day late and a dollar short to the conversation. But I wanted to repeat some advice I've given to other posters on this subject.

    Find yourself a good reference book on starting a contractor's business. A $20 book with good reviews on Amazon.com, will be full of good advice on the subject. Even a book that is focused on other construction trades(carpenter, plumber, electrician, HVAC) will have useful information for a specialty trade like welding.

    Check out other on-line forums. I follow discussions about business on Contractortalk.com There is a wealth of treasure there in terms of advice on dealing with customers, marketing, taxes, and building codes in various states and local municipalities.

    Check out www.NOLO.org. There's lots of information on legal issues there and business relevant topics like incorporating vs sole proprietorship.

    If you are going to be in business for yourself full-time, it's worth your time and energy to invest in insurance(health, disability, liability, workers comp, inland marine, etc.) You will find yourself put in the position of choosing to take work that's risky* in order to earn a living. You need insurance to protect yourself and your livelihood in the event that something goes wrong. If you're working on your business part-time, and get health, disability, and income from a day job, you have the choice to refuse all work that carries too much risk. The earlier post about the Dunning-Kruger effect is worth reading again, and then a third time for good measure. Dirty Harry said it best, "A man's got to know his limitations." Insurance enables you to gamble. No insurance means you take no risk. No risk means a big chance your business will fail to thrive.

    *Risk in this context means one or more of the following: I'm not certain how to do the work. I don't have all the tools needed to do the work. I have a sound plan to do the work, but no prior experience. The work places me in danger(heights, confined space, etc) I don't know what I don't know about the work at hand. The customer is actively mis leading or mis representing the nature of the work. I don't have enough time to do the work or the customer won't pay for the best solution to the issue. You get the picture, I hope...


    Commit to a business plan before you hang out your shingle. 'Mobile welding' is not a business plan. I learned this the hard way. Take time to investigate what's available in terms of mobile welding service providers, in your area. Find a niche where the customers have a need you're able, and want, to fill. Realize that for every competitor you find, there are 10 more guys out there flying below your radar. Some are rising and others are fading. All will eat your lunch if you let them. I'm stuck in limbo at the moment because I've largely given up on mobile welding as a viable business. I'm working days for someone else, tinkering when the occasional "no-risk" project comes along, and thinking about a new direction for a business that still involves welding and craftsmanship.

    If you're going to take the plunge and go full time self-employed, take a long hard look at how much income you and your family need to survive and thrive. Take a long hard look at what it will cost to pay yourself and keep your current lifestyle. Figure out what it costs to operate a business, even if you never strike an arc. The customer pays for the materials and your labor. You pay for everything else.

    Make a plan for how your business will grow over 12 months. Hypothetically, for the sake of discussion, you might need to sell $5000 per month of services to break even. Investigate the competition and find out what the market rate is for the service you'll provide. Again, for the sake of discussion, let's say the market rate for mobile welding in your area is $50 per hour. That means you'd need to work at least 100 billable hours per month, if your area of service allows you to charge that much. That's 25 hours per week or about 50% of a normal work week. You might be lucky to work half that each week for the first six months. Or, if you're in an area like I am, you can be busy doing "mobile welding" from April to November, and get no phone calls whatsoever from November through March. The point is build a prediction for how much money you think you'll make in the first year. Compare that to the money you need in order to keep your business and your personal life afloat. Make certain you have cash reserves to make up the difference between what you need and what you earn.

    You can also approach this from another angle. Guess how much work you'll do, figure out what it costs to do the work(including paying yourself), and from this information determine what you need to charge per hour. Compare this to the "going rate" in your area. Are you below the going rate, congratulations, you're either set to hit the ground running; or more likely, you've made a mistake in your calculations somewhere. If you're estimated rate is way over the going rate, you need to figure out how to "sell" your services so that you can charge more and get the customer to pay. Or you need to figure out where you can make cuts in your expenses(like what you pay yourself) so you can charge less and be competitive. If the market rate is 'X' and your math says you need to charge '2X', you better sharpen your pencil and tighten your belt. If you're at market rate, or within 10%, and you do better work, faster than your competition, you have a chance.

    Make time to monitor your business as you go. Are you hitting your target? If not, how will you change to make up for the shortfall? Hope is not a viable business plan.

    I'm on the fence about jumping in with both feet or starting part-time. I think every person's situation is unique. I have discovered that have family responsibilities that are more important to me than my personal satisfaction at work. If I were single, I might roll the dice and strike out in business for myself. Only you can make this choice, and you should take advice from others on this topic with a healthy amount of skepticism.

    I hope this long rambling list of everything that's hard or can go wrong if you're self employed hasn't squashed your dreams and aspirations. That's not my intention. But I do want you to approach being your own boss with both eyes wide open.
    Benson's Mobile Welding - Dayton, OH metro area - AWS Certified Welding Inspector

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