Ever start a business in a field you knew little to nothing about?

I’m a paralegal who knew someone who operated their own court reporting business. This person was going to show me the ropes to operating my own court reporting business and would allow me to use her contacts to get started. Just before I was about to register the business with the secretary of state, however, she decided she didnt want to be involved anymore and pulled all of her support. Pulling out at the last minute was a slap to the face, but I want this enough that I’m willing to continue on my own. The issue is, I’m concerned I’m going to be in way in over my head. ​I know some basic information, like who needs transcribing services, how to price the services, and how to advertise my services, but I still would need to collect court reporters. Is it a mistake to try to carry this on on my own, or has anyone else built a business they didnt know much about at first? What did you do to become more knowledgeable about that business?

Im tired of working for other people and want to create sometging of my own, but i feel lost on how to proceed. I feel stupid even making this thread because the obvious answer to me is “fuck no, whatre you thinking”, but I want to make a change and hope to be pointed in the right direction. Any insight would be appreciated

I did.

I have a fairly decent background in fixing things or working with my hands but was a restaurant manager for a while. I used a contact that I had from vendor I had used in the past and purchased a territory where I would service gaskets on refrigerating units, freezers, warming cabinets, or anything that had a seal on the door when it closed. That was my income while I built my primary business of doing the repairs on all the equipment in restaurants like ovens, fryers, electrical, or anything that could go wrong in a restaurant.

I was very fortunate and was profitable after 3 months. I grew so much in the first year that I couldn’t keep up with that gasket gig I had and turned that over to my brother in law. That’s when shit got crazy for me. I started landing national chains instead of a restaurant or a bar. I got every BWW, Texas Roadhouse, Raising Cane’s, and several others. It was a lot and became too much. I couldn’t keep up with the work and couldn’t afford to bring in help. I was buying parts and having to wait on average 60 days before I’d get paid from a restaurant. I had 2 large accounts that paid me within the Net 30 but the majority paid between 60-90 days with a large account that wouldn’t pay before 90. I even told a huge account of 50 stores to duck off because they said they would only pay after 180 days. It sucked, I was going to my PO Box every day hoping for checks to come in.

I then got hurt. I’m a one man shop where I built my book on my word and my hands. I had to take a week off to heal my knee. That is when I had my holy fuck what have I gotten myself in to. This was at 3 years into my business.

I’m a single dad with 2 kids and for 3 years was working 7 days a week and most weekdays putting in minimum 12 days. My quality of life sucked and I was becoming a shit father. I decided to pull the plug.

TLDR. Anyone can build a business with very little knowledge but you will need to make sacrifices and will need much much much more capital then you think to survive.

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So you learned how to fix things on your own time and then jumped into fixing more intracate peices of equipment? What were some aspects of running the business that you had no idea would be required? Id guess how much money you had to put in is one

I’ve found at least some success in so many random things that when I started I had no experience in that I no longer worry about it. If you have a basic understanding of business models, are willing to learn, and know how to build relationships with people you have a great shot.

Obviously in some fields you can’t do this - but in most you can.

I have a troubleshooting background from military training as well as electronics. I was also a plumber with some electrical experience. I knew what to look for when something broke but had no experience working on any commercial equipment so that was 100% learned as I went. I was fortunate that I could call the manufacturer and use their tech support to help if needed which was every day for the first few months. I jumped tonight in though. I didn’t say no to anything and that was a mistake. It took a while for me to get comfortable telling people no or turning business down.

The first 6 months I felt clueless and wondered what I was doing and thought about throwing the towel in.

QuickBooks was a lifesaver for me. That helped me with the bookkeeping, invoicing, and accounting. It was also very easy to track all expenses and turn in to an accountant for taxes. They offered really good discounts for new accounts.

Time is the biggest suck and you need to value it. Don’t be afraid to charge for your time. Everyone else will so don’t be afraid to charge people.

The biggest surprises for me was insurance and non pays. I needed all sorts of insurance and it cost me around $750 a month. Heath insurance was ridiculous too.

I wrote off around 10-15k a year from people that wouldn’t pay or that filed bankruptcy. That’s a very bitter pill to swallow.

I closed my business down 2 years ago this coming august. I still get calls from people wanting me to do work for them or asking for help. I had some very happy, loyal clients that I do miss but the stress of being a one man show can be suffocating. I don’t miss that feeling at all. I work for a company now and feel like I’m a much better employee now that I worked for myself. Some days before miss working for me but it’s real nice to have weekends off and evenings to spend with my kids or to do nothing at all.

I sold a bunch of coke once not knowing what I was doing back in high school. Looking back, I should have been robbed

I agree with this, business mindset and people skills go a long way, especially in today’s market