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Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon


A Young Surveyor’s Testimonial

someone’s property corners, you can find yourself a

bit unprepared, even though you’re qualified. If you’re

on the field crew side of things, for example, it’s just

upload this file onto the data controller and off you go.

Then, when you get back download it and never see

it again. There is some trial and error in putting all the

pieces together, and you will get better, and therefore,

faster at it. You will need to have at least one person

to call and ask questions for each type of project you

decide to take on.

One thing no one warned me about was how difficult

it was going to be to get a business loan. I paid for my

office supplies out of pocket, but I don’t have 40 grand

burning a hole in my pocket for the field equipment.

For one to get a business loan, you need to have been

in business for at least two years. It reminded me a lot

of being an adult, newly on my own, and needing credit

history, but having no method of getting approved

to build it. I don’t believe anyone withheld this

information from me on purpose. I think

those that I know who did start a business started it

so long ago they either don’t recall the details or the

standards were different, and

those taking over existing businesses when

someone retires weren’t faced with the same


They are taking the helm of an established business

with clientele, hopefully, healthy finances, and

surveying field equipment. For those just starting out,

the equipment rental/ dealers typically have a financial

company they work with who will approve you even

with your limited business credit history.

You absolutely must prioritize your expenses and

take advantage of any friends with skills. The largest

expenses for me are the business and professional

liability insurance. Having friends with different skillsets

and interests to help is huge when it comes to getting

set up. Most of my marketing is word of mouth and

networking. Designing websites and business cards are

much easier now with the advent of places like Wix and

Vistaprint. I am lucky to have a friend who has built a

few websites, even though it is not her trade. I came up

with the basic concept of what I wanted for a logo and

color scheme, basic text, and some photos and she did

the rest. It’s easy enough for me to jump in and make

any changes.

One thing anyone starting a business needs to

consider is a business plan. For me, it is in flux because

I haven’t necessarily decided what type of projects

I’d like to take on. What I mean is, there are a lot of

options: government, private, IDIQ, boundary, aerial,

construction, etc. Do you want to work with other

companies? Do you want to stay solo or eventually

hire people? Right now, it’s just me and that’s how I

intend to keep it for a while. I do work with other firms

to help with their overload work, provide surveying

services to engineering firms, and training on software

programs and processes/workflows. I work with Hood

River Consulting Engineers, and they mostly work on

government projects. The advantage is that I can work

in other states because these projects don’t require

you to be licensed in a particular state. However, I find

taking on government projects on my own intimidating

even if they are small business set-asides. There are

other advantages and disadvantages to government

versus private work, but I won’t get into that here. You

can cast a wide net as far as the services you offer, or

you can find a niche and stick to it.

If I could change two things about this adventure, it

would be that

I would have started the process sooner, and

I wouldn’t waste so much energy worrying. I

hesitated and dragged my feet on the initial steps.

The most fun part of starting a business was choosing

what to call it. I was really stumped, that step alone

took about a month. I didn’t have any work lined up

(and had no equipment), so there wasn’t much I could

do to start bringing in income without establishing an

online presence, contacting people, deciding on rates,

getting the equipment basics, etc. These were all tasks I

could have been working on while I was still looking for

other work during the first half of the year.

I think it’s natural to find the process of stepping out

on your own stressful. There are a lot of emotions,

logistics, and doubts that creep in. I have wished

so many times that I was one of those very relaxed

people, comfortable winging everything and didn’t

get attached to the outcomes of their projects, but

that is just not me. I care about doing a great job, not

a good job; and I want my clients to be more than

satisfied with their results and experience with me.

While it’s important to care about doing an excellent

job, if you are identifying with the result then you’re too

distracted by your expectations to deal with issues as

they arise effectively. If you’re going to be heading up a

company and working with clients, it’s very important

to stay calm and relaxed. No one wants to work

with someone who is angry, stressed, exhausted, or

narrow-minded. You need to have an outlet you turn

to regularly. This is where I relied on running, yoga,

and meditation practice to calm my nerves and get

clutter out of my head. It should come as no surprise

that nearly everything I obsessively worried about did

not manifest itself, whether it was something I had

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