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Construction business owner: What I do and how much I make

Michael Walker, a 25-year-old entrepreneur, runs Walker Wilderness Enterprises, a company that builds tiny houses and hunting cabins. He also works for an equipment auctioneer company. He finds clients online and at trade shows. He started his business with $30,000 and uses recycled materials to save costs. He emphasizes the importance of being confident, self-motivated, and willing to learn new skills.

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Video transcript

I am Michael Walker, I'm 25 years old, I have two different jobs, I run my own company, which is Walker Wilderness Enterprises, which builds a tiny houses and hunting cabins, and I also work for a large equipment auctioneer company, and my salary is 37,000. So, for Walker Wilderness Enterprises, I do everything from building to the finances side of it, on bookkeeping, marketing, advertising. For building these tiny house, I'll look around on the internet, I'll call people, I'll drive around to different yards that have containers, and just see what price I can get for them, and also the size that I want, 'cause they come in multiple different sizes. And then from there, I'll get it back here, to my shop, and then I'll do all the designing and planning as well, all by myself through Google SketchUp actually. So, I'll design it all and then I'll just take an image from there, and start measuring out the container and how I wanna put it together, and then I usually start with sealing up the floor, washing it out, getting it all ready and prepared, and then I'll cut out the windows and start framing it up, and putting in windows the windows, and then we'll start building from there, or I'll start building building from there from insulation and drywall, to the flooring, to all the plumbing and electrical, and everything else that is involved with that. So, with Walker Wilderness, I found clients through the Internet, just joining different tiny house blogs, and contacting different tiny house companies, and different people that were randomly saying, I'm looking into a tiny house, and so, I'd reach out to them, and then I also went to a Trade Show, which was the International Sportsmen Expo in Denver, and I took a container there, and I met a lot of clients there, and work with them, they contacting through email on phone and designing back and forth, and sending them some of my designs, and they would critique it, and send it back. We've done four projects so far, and currently I'm working on a tiny house for me and my wife, and our child as well. When I started Walker Wilderness, I knew that it could either be a big company that had millions of dollars, or it could totally be a flop and it would have a big financial risk, but I was ready for that, and my wife and I talked about that before, and we made sure that we had money aside in case it totally went under, or that it was just a small amount of money that was coming in, and so that's also why I took this other job at the auction house so that I could help fund it, during the slow times, but then we could just celebrate and put it back into the company when there were good times as well. So, I kinda figured it out, how much money I would need to start with one container, and all the tools I needed, and anything else like that, and I think it was around 30,000 I started with, and from there I didn't wanna spend every penny, I tried to use materials that I had or that I could acquire from a recycling center in terms of like windows that were still in good quality, or something like that. And, just kind of went from there, and tried to keep it within my budget that I had started and from there I was breaking even, and it's been two and a half years since I started looking into the company and starting it. The skills that you need to have for doing these two different jobs, is that you need to be confident in yourself and the skills that you have so far and don't hesitate to ask for help, that's one of the biggest things in both of my jobs that I do, is if you don't know don't just assume, just reach out to somebody that might know and then it will really benefit you in the future. So, some of the other skills would be, to be self-motivated and passionate in what you're doing, and then you also need to have some other trade skills. I needed to learn how to weld, I needed some mechanical skills to look at different equipment, I also had to learn how to do different woodworking skills which I had growing up. I try to learn from school and family. Some of the other skills that I needed were, computer skills in terms of making these designs and having different ways to communicate with people, then also you needed to have marketing skills and sales skills. You know, when I was at the Trade Show, I had to talk with everybody and hope that everybody was gonna come in and purchase something, and I had to try to work my way and figure out how to reach out to all different clients. So that was something I wasn't very good at first, I was kind of held back, now I realize this is how you have to be successful, you have to reach out to all these people, even if you don't want to, or you're scared to.