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How do you start a calibration/anything company?

M

Mercedes-Benz

#1
Or any company for that matter

I'm a 26 year old mechanical engineer, I'm about sick of working for someone.

I'm at a company right now where I am working on straightening out the calibration... "lab" for portable analyzers of a specific gas. I don't want to state the name of the gas because it will simply reveal where I work with minimal detective work (google the gas and voila). I've been out of school for 4 years and in my past 2 jobs I have not had a good engineer to learn anything from, so I am basically just stuck self-teaching... which is great, but (in my opinion) not something that's recommended if you want to become a successful engineer. How I know this? My sister works with BMW while she's in school and is having a great time learning from experienced engineers.

But I'm not my sister so I have to figure out how to do something great of my own.



If I were to branch out and go out on my own, where do I start?

Is there a forum or a book I should read, I don't know anybody that owns a business, especially nothing engineering related; is there a place like elsmar where I can ask questions?

How do you go about finding your first clients?

How does anyone pick a niche and get going with it? If it's about connections I have none because I'm an immigrant so everything has been in hard mode for the past 12 years growing up.

What are the first 5 steps I should take to get going? Any wisdom would be appreciated....:thanx:

I'd hate for this post to look like a whine fest, but I'm simply interested in orienting a direction to run in
 
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Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#2
If I had the answers to all of these questions, I would be hugely successful and would have more time (or possibly less time) to answer questions here. :notme:

You must provide a product or service that people need and are willing to pay for. You must have knowledge about the subject and understand your market: who are your customers to be and why they should prefer you over your competition.

To start a business, resources are available. There may be a nearby Small Business Development Center to help. Draft a business plan. I know it is labor intensive, but it is designed to help ensure success. You will need structure to help avoid being over-taxed, which kills at least as many small businesses as lack of revenue.

Your clients will probably expect ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation, or ISO 9001:2015 certification at the very least.

There is a similar thread: Starting up a new Calibration Laboratory as well as a "Similar discussion threads" section lower down on this page.

I hope this helps!
 

Ajit Basrur

Staff member
Admin
#4
I am totally in with Jen's response.

I left my full-time employment in June 2015 and started my small consulting business in quality management systems for FDA regulated organizations.

Gong by my experience, let me tell what I did. Just to be cautious this is not one size fits all:
  1. I had this idea in my head way back and always wanted to start but was not sure of the timing. I was always prospectively looking for clients, and the June 2015 was that moment considering Risks and Opportunities :)
  2. Prepared a draft roadmap, had my SWOT analysis done,
  3. Prepared a Business Plan detailing on finer details, like website, business cards etc.,
  4. Started as a DBA with a Plan B to go back to fulltime employment
  5. After one year in operation and testing myself, started a LLC
  6. Monitor and measure customer satisfaction and explore any new opportunities available with them.
  7. Always be on lookout for new clients, get registered with Small business associations, ASQ or other organizations
 
M

Mercedes-Benz

#5
If I had the answers to all of these questions, I would be hugely successful and would have more time (or possibly less time) to answer questions here. :notme:
You could run a business answering questions, I'll pay you for these answers!!! How does $20 sound? Let me know when you find them :thanx:


You must provide a product or service that people need and are willing to pay for. You must have knowledge about the subject and understand your market: who are your customers to be and why they should prefer you over your competition.
There is definitely a need for it in various industries, I guess my lack here is the experience portion. I'm not sure which route to take to gain more experience and how long I should wait before I jump into something.

Any tips for market research? Do I just call other companies that do what I want to do and pester them for information?


To start a business, resources are available. There may be a nearby Small Business Development Center to help. Draft a business plan. I know it is labor intensive, but it is designed to help ensure success. You will need structure to help avoid being over-taxed, which kills at least as many small businesses as lack of revenue.


Thank you for that link! I didn't know about that. Is there any other community run website which would contain a collection of information like this? What's your favorite hub to learn from about taxes?


Your clients will probably expect ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation, or ISO 9001:2015 certification at the very least.

That would have to be a bit further down the line... huge undertaking.

There is a similar thread: Starting up a new Calibration Laboratory as well as a "Similar discussion threads" section lower down on this page.

I've st
umbled across it before, I'll give it another read and keep exploring. Thank you for your time!I hope this helps! It does!
Thank you Jan for your time. My response is in red text within your post.

I guess

I am totally in with Jen's response.

I left my full-time employment in June 2015 and started my small consulting business in quality management systems for FDA regulated organizations.

How did you pick this field specifically?

How do you find work? Cold calling?


Gong by my experience, let me tell what I did. Just to be cautious this is not one size fits all:
  1. I had this idea in my head way back and always wanted to start but was not sure of the timing. I was always prospectively looking for clients, and the June 2015 was that moment considering Risks and Opportunities :) How did you look for clients? Teach me your wisdom (please)!
  2. Prepared a draft roadmap, had my SWOT analysis done That's clever I have to look into those, where can you use the roadmap analysis? Is it just for personal evaluation?
  3. Prepared a Business Plan detailing on finer details, like website, business cards etc., Did you do the website work yourself?
  4. Started as a DBA with a Plan B to go back to fulltime employment
  5. After one year in operation and testing myself, started a LLC Tested yourself how?
  6. Monitor and measure customer satisfaction and explore any new opportunities available with them.
  7. Always be on lookout for new clients, get registered with Small business associations, ASQ or other organizations Thank you for the referral!
Thank you for your time Ajit! See my response in red please./



Thank you guys for taking the time!:thanx::thanks::thanx:
 

Ninja

Looking for Reality
Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
What are the first 5 steps I should take to get going? Any wisdom would be appreciated....:thanx:
Started a few companies along the way...the first ten steps tend to be the same:

1. Have a great idea for something people want to pay for
2. Verify that people actually will buy from you before you commit.
3. Land the first few clients (yes...before you start the company)
4. Form the company and get liability insurance.
5. Fail, fall down and get scared
6. Learn from it.
7. Get back up and do better.
8. Fail, fall down and get scared
9. Learn from it.
10. Get back up and do better.

If you happen to have a few thousand lying around...form the company first...but replace expenses with sweat as much as possible until you're on solid ground. The first two to three years tend to be scary, hard and money losing until you build your client base.

You should always have an answer to this question: "Why would someone buy from me instead of someone else?" If you don't have this answer, no one else will either.

Good luck.
 

Ajit Basrur

Staff member
Admin
#7
Thank you Jan for your time. My response is in red text within your post.

I had this idea in my head way back and always wanted to start but was not sure of the timing. I was always prospectively looking for clients, and the June 2015 was that moment considering Risks and Opportunities How did you look for clients? Teach me your wisdom (please)!

Prepared a draft roadmap, had my SWOT analysis done That's clever I have to look into those, where can you use the roadmap analysis? Is it just for personal evaluation?

Prepared a Business Plan detailing on finer details, like website, business cards etc., Did you do the website work yourself?

Started as a DBA with a Plan B to go back to fulltime employment
After one year in operation and testing myself, started a LLC Tested yourself how?

Monitor and measure customer satisfaction and explore any new opportunities available with them.

Always be on lookout for new clients, get registered with Small business associations, ASQ or other organizations Thank you for the referral!
Thank you for your time Ajit! See my response in red please./

Thank you guys for taking the time!:thanx::thanks::thanx:
First, you have identify a field in which you excel and get passionate about. For me, it has been always the quality systems and hence was an easy choice.
After the idea was firmed up, I approached my industry contacts and checking if their organization were looking for some consultants / contractors. Cold calls in at this stage will not work (probably not working for me even now :()

When I referred to roadmap, it was not meant to be fancy one but just a plan on how should I proceed, and yes, its for personal evaluation.

My son helped me with the website - I must admit its not that great but a work-in-progress.

By testing myself meant, that I evaluated what was ahead of me and would I survive. Definitely there are ups and downs and not all is a smooth ride. As Ninja said, you fall and get up.

All the best to you!
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#8
I agree the business should be something that you understand well; otherwise you must hire an expert, and who in startup mode has the money for that? Unless you have a partner... Experience in calibration is usually that of being a technician for an established provider. Learn the business from the inside, while you earn your wage. Pay attention. Find classes/certifications and pass them. Grow yourself to the position that you need to be in order to deliver the service yourself, or at least understand when others do (or don't, and why).

Starting a corporation begins with your state, which may have a web site for this purpose. I am an LLC (filed in my state) and an S Corporation for federal tax purposes. I do not trust myself to do my own taxes, I have a CPA for that and her advice on deductions helps keep me out of trouble when I maintain my books.

SBDC Net might help with specific subjects, like marketing.

You need to determine who is to purchase your products or services, who already offers them (or something like them) and consider ways to design your product and/or service (including delivery and/or customer service) in a way that makes yours more compelling than theirs.

It is very difficult to be taken seriously in a technical field without industry credentials, for calibration this wold be including ISO/IEC 17025. You would be competing against labs that have it, and trying to convince your clients why you don't need it. That might be quite a challenge.
 

Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
#9
Starting a corporation begins with your state, which may have a web site for this purpose. I am an LLC (filed in my state) and an S Corporation for federal tax purposes. I do not trust myself to do my own taxes, I have a CPA for that and her advice on deductions helps keep me out of trouble when I maintain my books.
Not sure how you could be both a LLC and a S corp. Two different entities. OP should definitely seek advice on which entity would be better given the new tax law changes. May take a year for all the rules and regs to be understood.
 

Ninja

Looking for Reality
Staff member
Super Moderator
#10
Not sure how you could be both a LLC and a S corp. Two different entities. OP should definitely seek advice on which entity would be better given the new tax law changes. May take a year for all the rules and regs to be understood.
In some states (like mine in PA), LLC governs liability, members, etc., but taxation leaves a choice open regarding "taxed as...".

My newest company (Jan 24 this year) is an LLC, taxed as a type S.
In my other thread I mentioned spending a lot of time with pundits and bean counters (lawyers and accountants)...determining the most efficient method for taxation was a large part of that.

If you're going to start a company...your main expense up front will be lawyers (typically 3-5K for a small startup). Make sure you like your lawyer...you'll be spending a fair amount of time with them over the years, especially if you choose LLC.
 
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