(NFR) starting a business


Active Member
I am looking for information on starting a business??? Has anyone started a business, and if so, do you have any suggestions on anything???? Extremely vague question, I know, but I have no specific questions at this point? Looking for possible websites, phone numbers, or businesses that assist in answering questions, comments, or suggestions related to LLC or other business types??? Looking at the general contracting side of things, so construction for lack of better terminology. Items such as liability, certification, licensing, bonding, insuring, ect....


email me at if you have anything you feel like suggesting or sharing?? Thanks a ton for any input.

~Patrick ><>

Matt Burke

Active Member
I thought about starting a business. Thought I'd call it the "Non-Profit River Guide Service". Just work for tips. Wouldn't even care if I got tips. Meet people, take 'em out on the river, fish our brains out and then see ya. I mean hell, I'm going fishing anyway. Could pack a fat lunch and a thermos. They couldn't bitch about not catching fish because they didn't pay for it anyway. And I could write the whole thing off as a loss on my taxes.

Matt Burke

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
I started my own business nearly 10 years ago, mainly out of self-defense from having been laid off or working for firms that went bankrupt, repeatedly leaving me scambling to put food on the table.

At the time, I got a lot of advice, some good, most bad, and some hilarious. The best bit I heard was an analogy comparing starting a business with learning how to cliff dive at Acapulco. As a native diver leads you up a path along the cliff, you look down and wonder just why the heck you agreed to do such a crazy thing. Finally, at the top, your guide turns to you and says: "Look down and wait until you see the wave go all the way out. Then you jump!"

Working for yourself will be the biggest challenge you've ever faced and I guarantee you'll have many a night when you wake up in a sweat at 3am and swear you hear the wolf at the door. You'll scramble for clients, and then once you've got some, wonder why you have to work so hard to please them all the time. But the best part is that everything you earn is yours. And the government's.

First bit of good advice. Get a good accountant, preferrably a sole practicioner. Have them walk you through the maze of tax filings you'll have to do and decide which ones are simple enough fo you to do yourself and which they should do. Ask them to explain the advantages of setting your business up as an S corporation or an LLC.

Find an attorney and ask them the same question. Have them structure your new business to shelter your home and family from liability. Ask plenty of questions and be prepared to argue your side of things. But in the end, be prepared to take their advice unless you want to practice law on your own.

Neither your accountant nor your attorney will ever be your best friend, but get to know them and appreciate what they can do for you. You'll have an ongoing relationship with each for as long as you stay in business.

Get in the habit of setting aside 20% of your gross every month into a savings account. Once it becomes automatic, bump it up to 25%, then 30%. Nothing helps you through the rough parts like cash in the bank. The more, the better. Resist the urge to open a line of credit. Always pay cash if you can.

You may ultimately want to hire a bookkeeper to handle AR, AP and payroll. But even so, take a close look at your daily or weekly billings, receiveables, payables and aging every day. Sending invoices and writing checks is a pain, but if you don't know where every cent is going or coming from, you're courting disaster.

You'll eventually find yourself working for the meanest boss you've ever had. One who makes you work weekends and holidays and 70 hour weeks. Holidays like President's Day and two-week vacations will become a dim memory.

But the good news is that every so often you can play hookey in the middle of the week and go fishing when there aren't nearly as many people around :-D

Congratulations. Many are called. Few are chosen. If you're one of the chosen, you'll wonder why you waited so long.


Active Member
There are some government programs that are geared to new or small businesses. Check into them as they provide some great information and also have some funding. I can't remember the names of the programs but a quick stop in at the business administration department of UW should get you some answers.

I couldn't agree more with what Fortuna said except about resisting the urge to open a line of credit. The time to get your financing arrangements in place is when you don't need them. If you ever get in a position where you NEED to borrow, bankers aren't nearly as willing to help you :)

So my advice is hire Fortuna as a consultant :) and to open a line of credit at the inception of your business but resist using it.
I'm nearing the end of my bachelor degree studies in business management and everything that Fortuna said is great information. One other thing I would add is to do some research and make sure that what you are selling/providing through your business is something that people really want. You can have the best attorney, accountant, and a bullet proof business plan but if your product/service is not in high demand you will still fail. Good luck and best wishes.


"10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish." Happy fishing!
Patrick: I am an attorney who has worked with small businesses for almost 25 years. Fortuna's advice is great and I agree with East Fork's comment regarding establishing the line of credit before you need it.

Two factors in business failures are undercapitalization and lack of mangement skills. If you lack money, you end up taking jobs that you would otherwise pass by. Every contractor I have ever represented has taken a job, knowing he could not make the customer happy, solely to get some short-term money in the door. As for management skills, you need to know how to efficiently manage jobs, people and customers. It is not simply enough to be technically proficient at what you do.

Assistance: SCORE (retired business executives working with SBA) puts on seminars and is likely active in your Spokane area.

Dial up the DL & I website as is has licensing and registration info. Read RCW 18.27 and the associated WAC so you have some working knowledge of the law governing contractors. Do price shopping, particularly for your contractor's bond-I understand there is a company out of California that is real cheap.

Try to hook up with a reputable general contractor in your area to see if you can (1) pick his/her brain and (2) get job referrals.

Last bit of advice: Do not, under any circumstances, enter into a partnership.
Do what Salmon Candy and Fortuna say.

My wife just started her small business and she talked to some folks at the Small Business Administration--they were extremely helpful.

I think about starting my own, too.

Good luck to you.


Congratulations. It won't be easy but the feeling of accomplishment makes it worthwhile. Another source is the National Association for the Self - Employed (NASE) www.nase.org. If nothing else, they have group Health/Life Insurance available. Also check with the local Master Builders Association.

The advice above is on target, and my thoughts on a line of credit are get one and never use it - until you've exausted every other resource, including hocking your fly fishing gear. An accountant and attorney are indespensible advisors, what you pay for consulting will come back many times over. Find ones who are experianced in your field. Also, establish a good banking relationship.

Remember always that cash is king, you can't spend receivables and satisfied clients are the best advertising.

I wish you the very best of luck.


As an accountant, let me say that you got some great advice here. One thing I might suggest is taking a class at a local community college on business taxes and reporting. Not knowing what needs to be reported and when gets a lot of people in trouble with the tax gods.

Ron Eagle Elk

Mike Etgen

Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here
New River Mike

You've asked a great question and the answers you've received seem excellent. I've never had the tolerance for risk to take such a plunge but two excellent friends have, and I'll pass along their experiences as well as some stuff I picked up when I gave it some serious thought a few years ago.

First, I took a community college course in Entrepreneurship. That may or may not be something available to you, but I learned a ton about the advantages/disadvantages of different business structures, what good business plans look like, etc., and the thorough education alone was worth more than the investment in money and effort. Plus it was insightful to hear the dreams of others in the class and to listen to guest speakers who shared their success stories - the good, bad, and ugly.

I also consulted with SCORE - the Service Corps of Retired Executives - and their guidance was invaluable. I'm sure they're operative in the Spokane area, as they're a national organization.

One of my friends took a whack at being a contractor for a while. He's a very talented guy, but to people who don't know him well, he comes across as a little aloof or even unfriendly, and he was always pissing off someone or getting pissed off and leaving or losing jobs. He started on an impulse, worked alone, but being a solo act, and new to it, he wasn't able to manage his time well enough to keep one job going while pursuing the next, so he had spells of down time that ultimately did him in. However, he learned enough that his next effort was a huge success - starting an ice cream parlor, fergodsakes! He had such a solid business plan I invested in it myself - and recaptured my investment plus the promised return in less than two years! Along the way he's followed much of what you've heard here - got the right accounting and legal help, developed astute managerial and people skills, trained his employees well and set clear expecations for them, managed his cash flow well, and he never stops innovating. The son-of-a-gun and his wife are probably going to retire sometime in their fifties and live on a sailboat!

Another friend started a restaurant in a college town with a partner whose vision was totally different and the project was a disaster. They obtained a "business divorce" - he got all the equipment and assumed all the debts, then found a new partner and tried again - paydirt! But during the two or so years they were getting up to speed he worked seven days a week, never less than 10-16 hours a day, and constantly struggled with staffing issues, which as you'd guess are common in the food industry.

I probably admire these two guys more than anyone I know. They deserve every bit of their success. They both have something I don't have - a high tolerance for risk, and an unfailing confidence in their talents and dreams.

I'd guess from my observations that there are few absolutes, except to be as well-prepared as possible before you start and to know yourself and your capacities really well. I do know the failure rate for start-up businesses is high, and the time demands up front are huge. I know from other posts that you're a family man and you need to talk frankly with your spouse, before you take the plunge, about how your business demands could impact your family time.

One last very personal opinion I'll offer on this one is to listen carefully to your intuition and know in your heart what's really important to you. That alone will up your odds of success significantly.

Good luck. We'll all be waiting to second guess you every step of the way!


Mike Etgen

Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here
New River Mike

"...gets a lot of people in trouble with the tax gods."

Ron, when you say that, it makes me wonder if your people had one of those (a tax god) and what in the natural world symbolized it!

I visualize something that looks like Jabba the Hut, but don't think he qualifies as something from the natural world.

Oh, wait...taxes are another form of pestilence brought here by the white man!

:rofl :rofl :rofl

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
>"...gets a lot of people in trouble with the tax
>I visualize something that looks like Jabba the Hut,
>but don't think he qualifies as something from the
>natural world.

Actually the Tax God in this state looks a lot like Tim Eyeman.

Thanks to Tim and his band of 'free lunch' followers, the state budgets have been slashed and the auditors are looking in everyone's couch for spare change.

I just found out I'm being audited for the past four years. Although I pay my taxes religiously and on time, what they're looking for are online purchases I may have made from out of state vendors and then didn't pay state sales tax on anyway.:reallymad