Self-Employment Steps for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors: Helping a Consumer Start a Business

Beginning to Develop Your Business Plan

Answer the following questions. For some questions, you may need to talk to business owners or do some research at the library. Your answers will help both you and your counselor clarify your business idea. Your answers are the beginning of your Business Plan and may help your counselor determine whether you and Vocational Rehabilitation should work together toward the goal of self-employment.

1. What business would you like to start?

A vinyl siding and rain gutter business.

2. Who will use your service and/or buy your product(s)?

I will target people who own older homes and commercial buildings and want to make their property look better or protect their investment. People selling their homes. And people who are building new homes or commercial buildings. 

3. Where are your customers located?

People who live in Valley county.

4. How many customers do you think you will have during the first year? During the second year?

There is definitely a demand for my product in this area. Estimate 20-30% of all vinyl siding business the first year growing 5% in year 2 to 21%-31.5%. I think that if I charge a fair market price and combine that with low overhead it will either force the competition out of business or make them lower their prices.

5. How much money do you think you will make during the first year? During the second year?

Year 1 gross = $75,000 to $91,000 
Year 2 gross = $80,000 to $96,000

6. How will you tell potential customers about your business?

Mainly through the yellow pages. I will also have a commercial made sign in front of the show house. I might put ads in the Directory part of the local newspaper. But I think that word of mouth will be my best advertising.

7. Is there another business like the one you want to open operating in the area you want to serve? Is it successful? Why or why not?

There are no other full-time siding businesses in Valley county. In Valley county there is one person who installs part-time, but his prices are out of line. My third competitor is about 150 miles away. They seem to be increasing in degree of need because a conservative estimate is that about 77% of the people use vinyl to side their houses.

8. Why do you want to start this type of business?

The vinyl siding industry has been growing in leaps and bounds. Vinyl siding is cost efficient because it makes a great maintenance free home so it appeals to people. It also has a very good margin of profit. The major overhead are tools and place of business. Besides the cost of lumber keeps most people from using it so more and more are switching to vinyl.

9. What qualifications do you already have for running this business.

I have experience as a carpenter, have had training in and installed siding, and have kept current in the changes and improvements for installation of siding. I have also managed my own Home Improvement Business and Seafood Business. I was a non-union carpenter for over 10 years, 4 years apprentice union carpenters, 10 years union carpenter, 4 years shop in high school. With my Home Improvement Business I installed siding and could repair or look at a job that someone else had done and determine the problem and repair it.

10. What will you need to learn to be able to operate this business?

Nothing much because I have already owned and managed my own businesses and I have been a carpenter and have been trained in and have experience installing siding. I already have good ideas for advertising and serving my customers.

11. Will you hire employees? What skills should they have? How much will you pay them?

At this time I plan on running the business myself with only part-time help if needed. This help will only be of labor quality and not requiring to know much of business or installation. There may be a need for a casual laborer on an as-needed basis when I need an individual. This would be a minimum wage, part-time position with no benefits at this time.

12. If you were a potential customer, why would you use this business?

I will charge less than the only other local person who installs vinyl siding part time. Iíll charge about $175 less per square than him. Iíll do a better job too because no one in this area knows all the correct processes for installing vinyl siding and Iím not sure if any of them know how to put up soffit or fascia material correctly. 

13. If you were a customer, what features would keep you coming back?

Most of my customers will not use my service more than once, unless they have rental property, sell a home they already had sided, or own more than one commercial building. But I think new customers will buy my product and that some will buy from me again if they need siding because my product has eye appeal, it is a tough outer shell, which needs very little maintenance. It will provide greater resale to any structure. It is very inexpensive, while being a very durable product. Also my prices will be competitive and I will do a better job than my competition. I have heard that, in most cases, these businesses do not install the siding correctly. They do not use steel for fascia as I plan to. Also at this time they do not use a break for bending metal to cover trim on windows and fascia. Unlike them, I will provide warranty of work, advertising, bonded and insured installed. I will also provide good customer service. Customer service has always got to be first.

14. Who will do the ordering, customer contact, and bookkeeping for your business.


15. What hours and days will you operate?

The business would be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. Monday through Friday, with an answering machine for after hours and weekends. Estimates would be done at the customerís site and selection of colors and ordering forms started. After return to office, would finalize cost estimate and availability of product. 

16. Where will your business be located?

The business will be located at two sitesĖa show house and a business location run from my home. I will store my business equipment in the garage at my personal residence.

17. What equipment will you need? Do you need it right away? If not, when will you need it? Do you need to own it or can you rent it?

I already own both the show house, my personal residence where my office will be located, and the equipment storage garage at my personal residence. I will need to buy the tools as soon as possible to install the vinyl siding on the show house and to be ready for paying customers. I want to buy top quality tools of the trade, which save time and money and will do a more efficient and professional looking job. I cannot rent these tools locally. I also will need to buy a professional looking sign as soon as possible to advertise at the show house.

18. Will your disability pose any barriers to your operating this business? If yes, what are they? What are your ideas for overcoming these barriers?

My disability with my left arm is from an accident as a carpenter. It should not cause any problem with the installation of siding.

19. How much money will you need to start the business? How much money can you contribute? Who can loan you money? What do you think are likely sources of money for starting your business?

I estimate that I will need about $10,000 to buy tools to start the business. Although I own my personal residence and the show house, I am making payments on them so I donít have the cash on hand for the tools. I havenít checked into financing yet but I may be able to borrow some from a local bank. They know me and I have good credit. I thought I could get help from VR to start my business.

© July 1998, 1st Revision June 1999, 2nd Revision February 2001