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Career change at 30. Leaving cushy job. Am I crazy?

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Career change at 30. Leaving cushy job. Am I crazy?

Old 03-14-2019, 09:12 AM
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Default Career change at 30. Leaving cushy job. Am I crazy?

I'm hesitant to even post this because my identity isn't exactly hidden on here. Anyway is here the spill, I'm going to try and make a long story short.

I have been a Civil Designer/Surveyor for the last 10 years. In that time I have worked for 5 different companies. I usually left for more money, I have been working at the firm I'm at now for the last 5 years. It's a great job, good pay, company truck, ESOP, etc..... I honestly feel silly for even considering this, I understand I have a great job and I'm very thankful for it. I have ZERO passion for it, and dread going to work everyday. I got into this field because my Dad is a Surveyor (works at a different firm) and I really didn't know what I wanted to do.

Am I crazy for wanting to get my contractor licenses, get a skid steer, and leave my cushy job? My dad and I actually own an older skid steer now (bob cat 864) so I know the expenses associated with heavy equipment. I've done several side jobs with the one I own now for friends and family. Built driveways, cleared lots (it has a bush hog), etc. One of the reasons I am considering getting a newer machine instead of using mine is it's an 1999 model and has over 4k hours. Repairs and down time would absolutely kill me, especially the down time. I could use my machine at first but I know it wouldn't last long and let me down when I need it most.

Being in the field that I am, I understand grade, design, cost estimating, scheduling, and the repairs/money that would be associated with it.

Last edited by joshd472; 03-14-2019 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:15 AM
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Nope.. not crazy.. you're only 30... at 40 you'll look back and wish you had of done it at 30.. you can always go back to your real job if working for yourself doesn't work out.. Its real nice looking forward to going to "work" every day..
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:19 AM
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Challenge yourself. If not now then when? Go for it. Companies are all about the bottom line, you have to take care of yourself. I’ve done it and only kick myself for not doing it sooner. When opportunity knocks are you listening? And don’t even think about retirement plans because when you get near one companies are allowed to cut your feet out from under you before you can draw. Plan retirement for yourself.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:20 AM
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Hate going to work everyday? Life is too short for that. Simple.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:23 AM
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30 turns into 47 in the blink of an eye and it won't be any easier at that age.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:25 AM
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i would get it going as a side business, that way you could support your family during the transition. once you have built up the business enough, make the jump.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Hooper View Post
30 turns into 47 in the blink of an eye and it won't be any easier at that age.
No shit, and I have 5 acres in Vero Beach that needs clearing if you want to give me price.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:31 AM
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DO IT!!

Of course look at your required cash flow--make sure it is not pre-determined for failure if you are not immediately successful and everything is getting repossessed in 90 days.
Main cause of small business failure is under capitalization--which means no staying power.

Main cause of millionaires is starting, growing and owning a small business.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:40 AM
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Josh: Its an age old question and my take is this...

What do you want out of life? Easy for a key board cowboy to tell you DO IT!!!!!

But in reality, only you know the answer to your question... Its in your head, heart, gut, and balls to do it. So here is what you have to ask yourself about life and work and will they make YOU happy, not your dad or mom or anyone else...
  1. Do you want to be rich
  2. Have kids
  3. Nice home
  4. trucks/cars
  5. boats
  6. girlfriend while married (sorry about the levity but couldn't help myself)
And there are many more questions but you get the drift.

You have to be honest with yourself and and truly devise a BUSINESS PLAN making projections that have you living on the edge of failure each and every day and hope that hard work, a good economy in your immediate area that is sustainable (as well as the country) offer you a better than 50/50 chance of JUST surviving versus succeeding. I have a friend of mine who started out cutting grass many, many years ago and although he has developed his business into a very successful land scape architect business including millions of dollars of equipment etc., he has to work just as hard today (if not harder) at 56 to keep his business growing each and every year as he did when he started out at 23. He has the vision and connections to evolve his business as the business dynamics change around him and recognizes opportunity when he sees it and goes for it. An example is he saw the need for mobile house/building demolition in our area and so he went out and found equipment that would meet his needs. He aligned himself with local builders and developers and so when they win a new project, he can come in and do ALL of the site work so they can commence construction. He does the excavation, block work etc. and finish grade. He's come a long way from cutting grass which he still does by the way.

This is what you have to think long and hard about but if you have the tenacity and balls to be prepared to lay them out there every day, then I say go for it...

Good luck with whatever you choose.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:42 AM
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Do it now, not in another 10 years. 30 is kind of a perfect age for what you outlined, you still have plenty of career time left to go back to an "office" job if it doesn't work out.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:45 AM
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There's a lot to be said about going to a job that you actually like...
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:47 AM
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I used to dread going to work. Then as I got older I realized work is not where I should be looking for fulfillment and life enjoyment. Work is to earn money to do things that bring me enjoyment. Much more satisfying going to work, getting paid and doing fun things outside of work. There are very few people that actually get paid to do what they like.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:49 AM
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I say go for it. I would try to incorporate your formal education into your plans to the extent possible. If you grow into actual grading work actual engineering can come into play, as I'm sure you know. I would steer in that direction vs just planning to spend all day every day in the seat.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:50 AM
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Life is too short to work anywhere you hate. The only caution I would add is if you're starting a business you should have a well thought out written business plan and a budget that shows your expenses including personal for the first year. Then ask yourself do you have enough money saved up to support the business and yourself until you have enough customers to make a living. Just because you can do a job does you no good until you have customers willing to pay you to do it.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:52 AM
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Now is the time.

on the equipment, consider finding a PM provider that will supply a machine if and when yours is down. If may be a little costly upfront, but less than a new machine. And if you are happy with the company you contract with, they usually have used machines.

I do this with forklifts and delivery trucks.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:13 AM
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You already have the equipment. Start the company and build the business up on the side for a few months. That way you cut your teeth, learn the profitability side, and grow your customer base...all while still having a steady income stream in case you screw up royally or getting work takes some time to grow.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:30 AM
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If I were in your shoes I would go for it.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Surfside View Post
Josh: Its an age old question and my take is this...

What do you want out of life? Easy for a key board cowboy to tell you DO IT!!!!!

But in reality, only you know the answer to your question... Its in your head, heart, gut, and balls to do it. So here is what you have to ask yourself about life and work and will they make YOU happy, not your dad or mom or anyone else...
  1. Do you want to be rich
  2. Have kids
  3. Nice home
  4. trucks/cars
  5. boats
  6. girlfriend while married (sorry about the levity but couldn't help myself)
And there are many more questions but you get the drift.

You have to be honest with yourself and and truly devise a BUSINESS PLAN making projections that have you living on the edge of failure each and every day and hope that hard work, a good economy in your immediate area that is sustainable (as well as the country) offer you a better than 50/50 chance of JUST surviving versus succeeding. This is what you have to think long and hard about but if you have the tenacity and balls to be prepared to lay them out there every day, then I say go for it...

Good luck with whatever you choose.
This.

I owned my own business for 2 years (I closed up shop even tho it was profitable), it's the hardest I had ever worked in my life, and I didn't make a lot of money, but I loved it. Business Plan, Marketing Plan and a budget is key. Doesn't have to be fancy, but it has to be real, and you have to use it to hold yourself accountable. After I closed up shop, I went into the corporate world and 15 years later, I dream of making that jump back...to not earning a boatload of cash but being my own boss. But have you thought thru all the details in being a SBO? This includes (based upon my experience, but is certainly not a holistic list)
1. Time...you will spend more time being your own boss than working for the man
2. Effort..you will work hardest b/c you will have to be jack of all trades
3. Fiscal Management..understanding and/or owning the day to day accounting (invoicing, taxation, rent, business fees)
4. Cash Flow...managing overruns (easy), shortfalls (ouch) and investments
5. Risk....how will you protect your personal assets, reputational risk, equipment risk, bodily risk?
6. Insurance...getting and keeping insurance. Business, personal, liability, umbrella
7. Paying yourself. You work for yourself. Your tax liability just got much bigger, and you have no sick days or vacation days, just days you aren't bringing in income (until you get big enough to have a crew). This 'always on' is tough for some folks
8. Managing People...if you have a crew, then you need to worry about skills, payroll, insurance, reputation, theft
9. Marketing...how will you attract and retain customers. How are you different than Joe Schmo down the street (do you know your competition)

yadda yadda yadda

Check to see if there is a small business owners organization near you or a forum you can glom onto. May help you decide (knowing more facts) and you can leverage others' experiences to avoid rookie mistakes while building your business. I think owning a small business is the bomb, but there is a reason many of them fold in the first 5 years, many because because they either didn't understand what they were really getting into (overly excited about the idea) or didn't prepare for it.

Best of luck.

Last edited by TechieTechie; 03-14-2019 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:35 AM
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Determine if you're looking to create a job for yourself or are you looking to build a business. If you're looking to build a business start now. You'll need to learn about sales & marketing, finance, management, leadership, and planning.

Here's a good book to read: https://tinyurl.com/emythrevised

It took me 50 years to learn a simple way to build and run successful business. It wasn't until I heard it from a Navy Seal that it made total sense. You can accomplish anything in this world if you make a plan, build a team, and execute the plan with a high level of accountability. For the last 20 years I've had what is referred to as a "lifestyle firm" where there are no real plans and no one is held accountable. It's a great place to work, you're just not getting anywhere fast.

This book changed the way we run our business from a planning and accountability perspective. https://www.eosworldwide.com/traction
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:36 AM
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Come up with a business plan, set some goals, do some advanced research to see if the market exists. Plan out all costs including business and health insurance, etc. If you don't have 6-12 months of cash to cover your expenses the timing is not right.

Starting the work on the side would be best rather than cold turkey.

Right now it sounds like you have an idea vs a plan.
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