Originally Posted by GreenI.A.
The best way to further your hands on knowledge is to do a number of smaller jobs until you are more comfortable then start moving up to do larger and larger. Don't bit off more than you can chew. I know you have experience with your old boss, but I'm going to guess that he did the designs, built the proposal and price up, worked up the material list, ordered materials, and most importantly he was there to lead you on those installs. Start slow and small and get used to the different materials and building the proposal and pricing. It's a lot better to learn from a mistake and have to eat 10% on a $3,000 job than it is to on a $50,000
When I first started I took on a big install, $120,000, it was way to early. I told the clients they would be cooking on their new outdoor kitchen by July 4th, they didn't get to use it until late September. Everything was under bid. At the end I ended up working for just about free. I paid for materials, rentals, labor, I did out the math and with what was left and the time I put in, I basically paid myself $1.76 an hour. $1.76. Above my desk were I do all my designs and build proposals I have a dollar bill, three quarters and a penny taped to the wall as a constant reminder.
The issue I have with new guys is that often they under price the job so much to often. Usually we can land the contract by explaining why we are more, this is were you're portfolio comes in. But sometimes the customer goes with the new guy because his price is 60% of ours or he promised to provide 40% more patio/wall than we proposed, and he talks them into giving him the chance because he's a h*** of a sales guy and they fall for his pitch. Then when he doesn't complete the job as promised, or goes 2 months longer than promised, or comes back needing 20k more than quoted it often reflects poorly as a whole on the industry. It makes the neighbor think a little bit harder about weather they really want to spend all that money on their landscape after what their friend next door went through. But then again, those stories just as often steer the prospective clients towards the larger more experienced contractors.
Gotta love those jobs when (after reviewing all the costs and expenses that we didn't think of) we end up working for free or pennies on the dollar. UGGGGG