This is a follow up story for MTN SIDE BUILDERS. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Cameron Vilcsak, I am a 25-year-old living in Vancouver Canada. I currently build things for people which includes design services, renovations, and millwork. This is all complemented by a successful YouTube channel with about 6 million views.
My customers are typically homeowners in the Vancouver area, and this summer I have been generating approximately $20,000 - $40,000 in revenue per month. Which is a significant jump from the same amounts per quarter last year.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since the last time we talked, the business has definitely pivoted. I have transitioned from a focus on growing my youtube channel and doing small jobs ($300 to $3,000) to more of a focus on bigger jobs ($10,000 to $20,000).
This shift was due in part to a lot of factors. I tried doubling down on the youtube channel. I went under contract with a channel sponsor - Princess Auto. Which was a big goal of mine. I had to make 1 video a month for 6 months. They gave me cash and in-store credit. Even though this was a big goal for me it felt like a chore making these videos. It was just simply too much work for the return. The Youtube channel was also slowly decreasing in traffic and revenue as YT changed its tax policy and pay structure.
I then partnered with another builder and we both compliment each other’s skillsets. This gave me the confidence to start taking on larger projects. Just having someone else to bounce an idea off of really helps and cuts down on the fatigue of being self-employed.
Word of mouth has now filled my schedule to about 60%. The other 40% is split between administrative tasks ie. accounting, sending quotes, answering emails. And trying to find new work. The website Bark.com has been a steady stream of jobs for me.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I think that the biggest lesson I have learned this past year is that things cost what they cost. I should not compromise my craftsmanship or material quality to accommodate a client’s budget. It seems to end up costing more in the long run and results in a less satisfied client.
If you are struggling, the added competition of one other person in your field is the least of your worries. Build each other up, work together when necessary.
The fact that so many people were staying at home and trying to improve their living space made my industry boom. The average Canadian homeowner saw their net worth increase by 80k where a nonhomeowner increase was $7k during the pandemic. This meant that people were willing to spend more on their homes.
Construction material costs also skyrocketed but interestingly enough I think this made people prepared to spend more. For example, the cost of a fence almost tripled, but since everyone knew construction materials costs were going crazy they weren’t shocked or demotivated by exceptionally high costs.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
The next year will be very telling for how the following four will go. This year is when I plan to hire my first employees and start delegating and managing more so than doing every task that needs to be done.
In the next year, I would like to have a few employees ie. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, so that I can take on larger-scale projects. This would lead to having some sort of office space with a yard for equipment storage, and a company truck in the following years.
A more tangible goal would be to achieve a revenue of 300k in 2022, with more full-scope projects. From idea / design to build and installation. A stretch goal of mine is to lead the design-build and implementation of a public art installation.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I’m sure like many I have read the book Dune this year which I thought was well written. I also return to David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me about once a year as I find it one of the most motivating stories of human perseverance.
In terms of podcasts, I listen to them a few hours each day while I’m working. NPR’s How I built this, the Tim Ferris Show, and Two Bear’s One Cave are all on regular rotation.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Try to find others in similar stages as you and work together. If you are struggling, the added competition of one other person in your field is the least of your worries. Build each other up, work together when necessary. A high tide raises all ships.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
YES, I am looking for part-time carpenters, draftsmen, and designers. Ideally living in Vancouver. Wages starting at $25 / hr. Please email me and we can set up a call. [email protected].
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
MTN SIDE BUILDERS has provided an update on their business!
About 2 years ago, we followed up with MTN SIDE BUILDERS to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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