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Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
1/20/22 8:48 a.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

They're awful. Some of the failures I saw were insane...and the builds alone were...Jesus. the plumbing, the insulation..it's all bad. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/20/22 9:44 a.m.
dean1484 said:

A business  that I think would do well where I live would be a mobile sharpening business. Charge a minimum plus a per item fee.  There is nothing in my area that I know about. A small transit van set up with basic tools and power would get you 90 percent of the way there.  The rest would be operator skills.  
 

I looked in to getting a bunch of our cutlery sharpened and it was not a cheap proposition.  
 

 

And get in the local salons and barber shops. My ex-wife was a stylist, most stylists have multiple pairs of VERY expensive shears (she had a couple of pairs that were north of $400) that need to be sharpened every 4-6 months. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/20/22 9:55 a.m.
Error404 said:

In reply to Riley_88 :

From my own experience, having one in the family and being encouraged to explore it, the hiring requirements are likely to include the obvious 10yrs experience and degree in tech writing. You may get by with 15yrs experience and a degree in some other form of writing. Once you're in, from all I've heard and seen, no one cares as long as you're technically minded enough to write to the intended audience. From working with engineers, knowing the field well enough to read between their lines will probably be knowledge that shines favorably upon you. 

Snark aside, it's like most fields today in that HR is going to want you to have 10yrs and a degree while being willing to work at entry-level rates and intern hours. I'm not a tech writer, though, so if I'm wrong I wouldn't be entirely surprised.  

You're a bit far off in my 14+ years of experience in the field. A degree in Technical Writing is good, but most people have English, Marketing, or Journalism degrees. Not many schools offer a specific Technical Writing degree path. I have a BA in Journalism, specialization in Public Relations. 

The guy I'm mentoring right now, we hired fresh out of college with an English Lit degree. And we have many other hires that we've hired new out of college, or 1-2 years out of college but having done something else.

They don't just get the title or pay that someone with more experience gets. When I was hired 5 years ago, I was by far the youngest person on the team to come in at the Senior Tech Writer level, by almost 10 years of age. But it's because I had a lot of varied experience. I'll be 40 in March and November will be 15 years in the field.

At my current gig, Oracle | Netsuite, we expect it to take 5-7 months for new writers to get up to speed and start really being able to contribute. There is a length training process on the software and UI, learning our tools and processes, etc. And even with the Tech Writers being very specialized in certain areas of the documentation/product, it's an incredibly large and complex product. 

I was hired in Dec 2016, in that time the Netsuite tech writing group has gone from ~42 writers to approaching 130. Oracle has been pouring money into us since the acquisition was complete Jan 1 2017.

 

But you are correct that as long as you can figure out the product (and there is a tons of help available from PMs, to other writers and direct managers, Software Devs........in manufacturing you get a lot of help from the Service and QA folks), you don't need a software degree to be able to document the user facing end of the product to customers. 

 

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
1/20/22 10:20 a.m.
SV reX said:
I've always had a soft spot for orphan properties. 
 

You and me both, brother. I hope it works out amazingly well for you!

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/20/22 10:34 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:
Mndsm said:

A realistic business I've considered- rv repair. It's definitely demographic driven, but those of you that know where I live know that I'm dead center in the middle of rv hell. And they all need fixing, constantly. And there is ONE RV place within a 29mike radius, and it's camping world. 

 

 

I'm not talking about mechanical either. I don't care if that thing runs or drives. But stuff like plumbing, electrical, waste, that's stuff I was constantly in the middle of at my old job, and we didn't have E36 M3. These poor people use them as their homes and it's only growing. It's like a trailer park, but you can up and leave if the apocalypse is coming. There's also propane fills and rigging.....so many things. A full service rv repair with onsite would make a mint. 

There is definitely a shortage of good RV repair places, especially with the junk RVs they're cranking out these days.

From what I gather, this is a recognized need within the RV community. Mobile RV repair guys can make a good living - and get to travel to some extent, assuming that is what you want.  I've even heard some manufacturers offer cheap/free training as well.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/20/22 11:08 a.m.
Mndsm said:

In reply to hybridmomentspass :

Seems a used small trailer is in at about 15k. My (sometimes) plan is one of those, and cheap ass grill cheeses. Like wonderbread and gubmint cheese level. Charge maybe 2 bucks for one. No toppings, no substitution, no change. You gimme a 20$, you're getting 10 cheeses.

Been done:Daniel Danger on Twitter: "my post-art plan is opening a grilled cheese  cart. it will serve $1 grilled cheese made with white bread, bulk cheese,  bulk butter, and thats it. greasy as

$1 grilled cheese : r/funny

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/20/22 11:09 a.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:
Mndsm said:

A realistic business I've considered- rv repair. It's definitely demographic driven, but those of you that know where I live know that I'm dead center in the middle of rv hell. And they all need fixing, constantly. And there is ONE RV place within a 29mike radius, and it's camping world. 

 

 

I'm not talking about mechanical either. I don't care if that thing runs or drives. But stuff like plumbing, electrical, waste, that's stuff I was constantly in the middle of at my old job, and we didn't have E36 M3. These poor people use them as their homes and it's only growing. It's like a trailer park, but you can up and leave if the apocalypse is coming. There's also propane fills and rigging.....so many things. A full service rv repair with onsite would make a mint. 

There is definitely a shortage of good RV repair places, especially with the junk RVs they're cranking out these days.

From what I gather, this is a recognized need within the RV community. Mobile RV repair guys can make a good living - and get to travel to some extent, assuming that is what you want.  I've even heard some manufacturers offer cheap/free training as well.

I wonder if they'd need something like an AutoCrane truck. Guess it would just depend on what types of services you offer. But one of those big mechanic/service trucks with the small cranes and such are NOT cheap. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
1/20/22 11:10 a.m.

Lol.  I want to give that person my business.

Aaron_King
Aaron_King PowerDork
1/20/22 11:14 a.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Someone has already done the heavy lifting part:  https://pcpartpicker.com.  It just needs changed to search auto parts instead of PC parts.

Noddaz
Noddaz UberDork
1/20/22 11:24 a.m.

That IS hilarious.  But what does this person do when it is hot out?

Scott

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
1/20/22 11:27 a.m.

In reply to Noddaz :

Perhaps turns on the air conditioner that's on the roof?

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia UltraDork
1/20/22 11:34 a.m.

Here there is sales tax on take away food , so that kills 9%,

I wonder if all the signage is for Fun , or if the guy is an A hole all the time.....

maybe he can play "Its a small world after all" over and over again like Disneyland :)

And here is a story about it 2 years ago......

https://tiremeetsroad.com/2019/06/11/no-that-1-grilled-cheese-cart-isnt-real-yet/

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass HalfDork
1/20/22 12:03 p.m.

Im on page 4 right now replying, I'll read the other two in a moment - apologies. 

But I'll say this in response to my comment earlier about short menus

If you are ever around Salisbury NC there is a place called Haps there is a stand-up bar inside and a hand-built tall table outside...no seats. You walk in and have some hard decisions on their menu - hamburger (can add cheese) or hot dog. 

They offer some small bags of chips (like packing a lunch size) and glass bottled drinks. 

THAT'S IT. 

In good weather there will be a line out the front door. It's cheap, it's fast, and it's freaking good. They sell a TON of burgers and dogs. Only open for lunch.

Two items and they are successful. As Ron Swanson said, better to whole ass one thing than half-ass multiple. 

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
1/20/22 12:06 p.m.
californiamilleghia said:

Here there is sales tax on take away food , so that kills 9%,

I wonder if all the signage is for Fun , or if the guy is an A hole all the time.....

maybe he can play "Its a small world after all" over and over again like Disneyland :)

And here is a story about it 2 years ago......

https://tiremeetsroad.com/2019/06/11/no-that-1-grilled-cheese-cart-isnt-real-yet/

Regarding the tax angle. He is depicting a cash only business model there. It would be hard to keep track of how many sandwiches you sold exactly. 

I have a buddy who own a snowcone stand. Same deal. Cash only. Who is to say how may he sells per day since there's not any firm records of how many cups or spoons he buys. He pays taxes of course, but the details are a bit hazy when you look real close.

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass HalfDork
1/20/22 12:09 p.m.
dean1484 said:

A business  that I think would do well where I live would be a mobile sharpening business. Charge a minimum plus a per item fee.  There is nothing in my area that I know about. A small transit van set up with basic tools and power would get you 90 percent of the way there.  The rest would be operator skills.  
 

I looked in to getting a bunch of our cutlery sharpened and it was not a cheap proposition.  
 

 

Here in Winston Salem there is a guy and his wife that have a mobile sharpening business that sets up at a local farmer's market on Saturdays. They run it out of a small van...like a little transit connect size, LITTLE van. 

But they have two solar panels mounted to a roof rack that feeds into two batteries in the back of it, he said it'll power him, easily, through a 4 or 5 hour stint at the market. He stays busy each week, not sure of his prices, but it could work. 

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass HalfDork
1/20/22 12:14 p.m.

I dont know if I said it earlier or not, but rentals would be good. 

Local guy does folding chairs, some tables too, but mostly chairs. High school graduations. Weddings. Parties. He has folding chairs. THAT IS HIS JOB lol

I see how much places charge for nice cutlery and plates for weddings... or linens... geez

 

edited to add - I've also read, maybe on here, about a guy with a nice/cool old car that he/they rent out for weddings and stuff. Could be costly venture to start, but who wants to drive away from their wedding in a ford focus when a 61 vette could be rented for an hour or so for fairly cheap? By the way, dad has one, Ive thought about one day doing that once it's mine. Have options for folks, get an old pickup etc

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/20/22 12:33 p.m.

I've seen a lot of people talking about running car washes.  As a side gig, my old man owned self-serve car washes for roughly 30 years, from about the time I was born until shortly before his death.  I helped him service them twice a week or so (usually in the evenings, on Mondays and Fridays) for many years.

As startups go, the buy-in is not too expensive, at least not on self-serve units.  But of course with anything involving real estate, that's going to vary radically by location.  At the height, he had three locations, two with 4 bays and one with 3.  For the larger two, he owned the land and had the buildings built.  The smaller unit was next to a gas station that owned the land, so he paid rent there.  Not sure if he built that building or not.

All were in mediocre, lower-middle-class blue collar neighborhoods.  That's your target demographic for self-serve units - $5-$8 customers.  Rich people go to drivethroughs at $15-$25 a shot, or if they really care, get mobile detailing at a much higher price point.

Automatic drivethroughs are a much bigger deal, for a whole ot of reasons.  You can charge more, yes, but initial investment, O&M costs, employee costs, and complexity are all an order of magnitude higher than for a self service unit.  $1M buy-in is probably just for the equipment for a single conveyor line; plus you still have to wrap a building around it.  If anything breaks, the whole line is down; you're not making any money while also paying the system vendor through the nose to come fix it.  Plus you need a lot more employees.

For a 3- or 4-bay self-serve unit, though, I bet you're in $250K-$400K, including equipment and the building, which is minimal. No full time attendant employees.  Equipment is much cheaper and simpler to install, service, and replace.  Honestly, if you're on this forum, you can probably do 90% of the maintenance yourself.  That's what my father (and I) did.  Plus if a bay is down, redundancy means that you still have others serving customers and business still coming in.

His day job was his real living, but the car washes were pretty darn lucrative in the way only a cash business can be, if you know what I'm saying.  They definitely paid for part of my college education, and some nice trips my parents took after dad retired from his main job.

When I went to college, dad hired a guy to clean up and empty the trash barrels, etc, a few times a week.  That was mostly what I did before I went away to college, from about 4th grade through high school.  By 7th or 8th grade I was also doing many of the maintenance jobs, though he did the bulk of that himself.

For us it was a routine time commitment of about 4-6 man hours per week per location - 2 of us for 1-2 hours, twice a week.  If there was a major equipment failure or vandalism, of course that time went up.  Vandalism was sometimes a big problem, other times less so. Scrubbing away graffiti sucks.  Clearing ice from bays and thawing / replacing frozen pipes when it is 20dF out sucks.  Cleaning up litter and emptying trash barrels in the rain sucks.  But any outside job sucks when the weather is bad.

If you can work with your hands doing light-to-moderate mechanical, plumbing, and electrical work and building maintenance yourself, it can be a decent business.  It becomes radically less profitable when you're paying others instead of yourself to handle all those things.

 

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
1/20/22 12:35 p.m.

I would do the same thing I did 17 years ago. 

I would find an underserved niche in an industry I was familiar with and I would fill it. 

For those than don't know, I'm in the commercial door business. We sell, install, and repair commercial pedestrian doors and hardware. Our primary focus is automatic doors for medical, retail, and industrial facilities. Over the last couple of years, we have had customers practically begging us to sell and install manual door panels as well, so that end of the business has picked up a fair amount. 

We also specialize in the gray area between the security systems and the door hardware that so many subcontractors exclude or don't understand. 

On average, I work 40 hours or less per week. It has been closer to 40 since my business partner retired but it's almost never over 40. Most of the guys that work for me work 35-45 hours a week. We are not the bargain basement door contractor and don't get caught in the feeding frenzy at the bottom of the barrel. We are pretty expensive. If you are calling me it's because you want the best, or you have already tried the bargain contractor and you need someone to come fix their disaster. I refuse to sacrifice quality for quantity. Class A work for Class A pricing. A consequence is we work less, but make as much or more in the long run. 

I have a very good team. Good enough that even with me out with Covid this week, the work is still happening. I will have to catch up on the paperwork when I get back, but the company is still humming along. I pay them accordingly. 

As a plus, I made good money last year. Better than I would as a well-paid engineer. 

If you have the thought to start a business, all I can say is do it. Make sure you are covering a need. Find that niche and fill it. Then be the best at it. Not the biggest at it, the best at it. Do the quality work that people don't mind paying for. Supply the quality product that leaves them happy to have paid the higher prices. 

I started with an idea, a partner, $10k, and a wife that was willing to go back to work to keep us from starving. Starting with two guys in my wife's minivan, we have had slow, steady growth over the last 17 years. Last year we grossed a little over $1m. From that, 5 families get fed and housed in reasonable comfort. This year is looking to be even better.

I don't think that's too shabby for a guy who dropped out of high school and got his GED. If I can do it, anyone can. 

 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/20/22 1:31 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

No... these guys are usually fixing the RV specific parts: Slides, furniture, wonky RV plumbing and wiring, etc.  Maybe some trailer chassis bits.  Not anything to do with RV engines or similar.

DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
1/20/22 4:30 p.m.

In reply to Error404 :

I'm a tech writer as well. Been doing it for about 20 years. It's a good gig. I don't have a degree, just worked my way in. Currently working 1,400 miles from my office. The freedom is great. 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
1/20/22 4:49 p.m.

In reply to Toyman! :

I like your business strategy.  The older I get the more I step out and pay higher prices for better quality.  

I however cannot stop buying my Mobil 1 oil from Wally World as they have the best price in my area and I can buy a can of Wasabi Flavored Green Peas while I'm in the store.

 

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
1/20/22 5:26 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

Think of it more like mobile home handyman and less mechanic. I don't wanna work on the engines and E36 M3. Just faucets and such. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/20/22 6:32 p.m.

In reply to Mndsm and Ian F:

Gotcha. I just wasn't how sure down the rabbit hole that went. My mom and her husband were in town this past weekend so he wanted to run by the Camping World RV, since they are an Airstream dealer and he's considering getting one. There must have been 100+ RV/Travel Trailers in their side lot with a sign that said, "These are not for sale, these are here for service."

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
1/20/22 6:50 p.m.

In reply to Datsun310Guy :

Your Walmart analogy is why I don't try to compete with the big guys on price. That's a battle I can only win by joining the race to the bottom. Trading nickles for nickles is a game I can afford to play. 

By the same token, they can't compete with me on customer service and work quality. They try. They talk the good talk and on occasion, I lose a customer to them. But it never lasts more than a year or so and then I make bank going in behind them and fixing all of the stuff they screwed up. 

 

gearheadmb
gearheadmb UltraDork
1/20/22 6:53 p.m.

I would love to make a living just growing vegetables and occasionally fixing people's junk. I told my wife I want a hippy commune, but without the hippies, just me and my family. 

One business I always considered starting was an after hours auto repair just for fleets. When a construction worker needs his truck fixed he spends several hours just swapping his tools into another truck, then a few more hours swapping them back when he gets his truck back. I would work second shift hours doing the normal stuff that can be done in one night, fluid changes, brake maintenance, the stuff that makes up 90% of auto maintenance. Then have it back to them before they need it the next morning. 

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