In 1997 Joyce Farris, Managing Director and current leader of our Kansas City Construction Industry group authored an article which appeared in the May - June edition of The Builders Association publication, Modern Builder. Her article contains helpful information for those considering starting their own construction company, then and 18 years later. Following is her original article – “A Few Basics for the Start-Up Company”.
So, you’re thinking about starting your own construction company. You have lots of great ideas and the technical capabilities, but what now? To some it may sound as easy as hanging out a sign and opening the office doors, but unfortunately, there are a few more behind the scenes items for you to think about.
Develop A Cash Flow Plan:
Developing a cash flow plan should be your first objective when considering a new company. Cash flow is merely cash coming in to the business and cash going out of the business. There never seems to be a problem with figuring out how to spend cash in a start-up company – the need for supplies, hiring of personnel, leasing office space, phone lines, utility deposits, etc. The problem is where to get the funds to start with. A decision should be made on how much of your personal savings you will need to invest in the company and whether you will also seek outside financing.
Before you can seek outside financing you will need to develop a business plan or a cash flow projection. A projection is a tool for mapping out when you will be required to expend cash in relation to when you will receive cash for the work performed. As you estimate cash inflows, consider seasonality of your work, sales history of similar businesses, and the overall economy. In determining the cash inflows and outflows, remember that you may have to spend the money to do the job before you can bill anyone and expect to receive payment. The major issue in developing a projection is to be realistic.
There are several sources for outside financing from friends, family, banks to the Small Business Association. Regardless of whom you reach out to, you will need to demonstrate that you have a sound business plan. Know “how much” you will need, “how long” until you would be able to start repaying the borrowed funds and “for what” the borrowed funds will be foremost on any lender’s mind.
Seek Advice From Your Accounting and Legal Advisors:
Now that you’ve developed your business plan it is time to consider what type of legal and tax entity would best fit your needs: an S-corporation, C-corporation, Partnership, LLC or Sole Proprietorship? The differences in the entities mainly involve the method for reporting and payment of tax and the business liability that you as the business owner are willing to accept. A discussion with both your accounting and legal advisor will provide you with the best options for your situation.
Once the entity type is decided, your advisors will draft and file articles of incorporation for the company, if necessary, and file for federal and state I.D. numbers. The I.D. numbers are a company’s equivalent to an individual’s social security number. The I.D. numbers will be required for opening bank accounts, filing payroll and sales tax returns, and filing federal and state income tax returns.
Develop a Financial Information System:
Financial information lets you track the profitability of the company and the cash flow requirements. Accurate financial information is essential for you to make management decisions and is imperative if you intend to continue to borrow money or bond jobs.
At first, you may wish to have outside accounting company prepare the payroll and payroll tax returns or to perform all of the accounting functions. This type of arrangement is termed “outsourcing”. Outsourcing is well suited for start-up companies as it allows for accurate and efficient accounting records to be maintained while allowing the company to hire limited accounting and administrative personnel.
However, if you prefer to hire the administrative personnel and prepare the financial information in-house, then you will need to select an accounting system to fit your needs. As you select a system, leave room to grow and consider any special information tracking you require (i.e. job costs). In addition, you will need to consider the information that you will need to supply to the users of your statements – bankers, bonding companies, investors.
Develop Relationships With Other Professional Advisors:
Throughout the stages of your company, you will have a need for insurance or bonding and a good insurance advisor can help you determine how much coverage you need, when you need it and how to pay for it.
Other advisors, such as marketing consultants, may be needed at some time during the life of your business. In choosing any professional advisor, consider someone who understands your industry and who understands your needs as a start-up company.
Now that you have administrative basics out of the way, it’s time to open the doors.