Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Money From Home (part one)

I have never in my entire life owned a swimming pool. I have, however, my entire life WANTED a swimming pool. I grew up in the country and my parents didn't have much money. Every time my dad dug a stock tank or had a back hoe available to him, we begged for him to just fill in the hole with cement and we'd have a pool. Bada Bing, Bada Boom! Instant, easy pool! Our very own cement pond. As you'll recall from the very first sentence, I never had a pool. Ergo...he always said "no".

My husband, on the other hand, grew up with a pool. He had to clean it, love it, pet it and call it George. Ergo, he never wanted a pool as an adult. How did we ever get married????

So, we've gone through all our married life without a pool. I've also alway
s thought it would be fun to own a
family business. Before we had
kids, my
husband told me that he
wanted to homeschool our children. I was like "No! That's freaky amish weird, and I'm not doing that." BTW, our homeschooled son graduates in 2 weeks. I'll tell you all about that next week. But,
right after that, we watched a television show called How'd They Do That?. On the show, there was a family that homeschooled. They did school for 3 hours a day and then the whole family packed up and went to work in the family restaurant. The kids were super smart and I immediately changed my mind on the homeschooling thing. I also LOVED the idea of the family working together. But, I honestly didn't know what we could do. My husband was in sales. I was a stay-at-home mom that taught fitness classes. I knew for sure we didn't want a restaurant. I just didn't know of anything that we could all participate in.

So, years went by and his family bought a swimming pool service business. As they started talking about how it works, my husband starting getting excited about it. We live about 2 hours from them and there isn't a pool store in our town of about 36,000 people. We started talking about it. I informed him that I know NOTHING about pools. We decided for the sake of making a living tha
t he would have to continue at his jobs selling cars and I would go out and clean pools.

We bought about $300 worth of supplies and chemicals to get started, gave our business a name, and ran an ad in the local newspaper and waited for the phone to ring. Meanwhile, I apprenticed myself to my in-laws so I could learn the basics. We would go once a week to visit and I would essentially work with them for free for a few hours and learn something new each time.

When we got our first customer, we decided we needed a way to bill people. So, we found a software that was like Quickbooks for pool proffesionals. So, we ordered that. That makes life super simple for billing. I understand Quickbooks and Peachtree offer the same thing for other businesses. I'm sure there are other options out there too. But, those are the ones I know of.

Our first customer gave us a check for Pearson Pools. Our bank doesn't know tha
t we have a business so we needed to do something about that. Also, we needed a way to separated business and personal expenses. So, we had to get a DBA (Doing Business As) from the county courthouse. We also had to get a federal ID # and a State Sales Tax # (because the government needs a taste). When you're getting your DBA, you have to know if you want to be a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, LLC, or Corporation. It's a good idea to not do what I did and just figure it out on the fly at the courthouse. They can't tell you anything about the benefits or drawbacks. So, it behooves you to research that beforehand.

We then, contacted the yellow pages people to run an ad there. When you're working from home, you have to be proactive and hunt these reps down. They don't know how to find
 you and they generally don't make housecalls.

Then, we found distributors for our supplies so we could buy them wholesale.

We continued on like that for 5 years, working from home.

This arrangement could work forever if we wanted to continue doing this. I have no doubt that we would continue to grow. We've had some people helping us with the cleaning in the summer. One of my dearest friends, Melanie, has been working for us after we'd been in business for a year. No
w, our teenage son works for us as well.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you how we progressed into an actual store front business last summer.

FYI, we STILL don't have a pool. Now, I'm not sure I want one.

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