cwtech wrote: It is OK to take on repair jobs on the side for extra income, as long as you are not competing with your employer !!!!!"
If you are employed by a company that repairs small engines, then the minute you begin taking on that type of work in your spare time, YOU ARE competing against your employer. If he sends you to a Kohler school or Briggs & Stratton school etc, he is paying for your education. He does this because you are not educated and as such, you are less valuable to him because you cannot make certain repairs unless you have that knowledge. In addition, having that knowledge will increase your speed in making repairs which will allow you to make more repairs per day.
Your employer expects to get a decent return on that investment because while you are attending school, you are not in his shop making money for him. The training you are taking on is provided in the expectation of loyalty. Now if you have no intention of being loyal, then you should either go to those schools on your own dime or refund all the wages paid to you while attending school. It's a simple thing called integrity and it boils down to that old adage.... do unto others as you would others do unto you.
cwtech makes some highly valid points about the difference between self employment and working for others. Let me add to that. If all you intend to do is run a small shop working for yourself, then all you will ever make is a living wage. If you want to make an above average income, then you need to plan to open a shop and hire three or more full-time mechanics to do the work. Your job will be to RUN the business or it will run you.
It is up to you to monitor the quality of the repair work performed to make sure it is done 100 percent correctly and completely. It is up to you to order in the parts needed for each job, do all the invoicing and deal with the customers directly when they bring in the item and when they come to pick up the item. Your days of being a mechanic will be over with because you will not have the time to do it and still look after running the business and cleaning the toilet.
Expect to work at least 60 hours per week. You will need an accountant to prepare your year-end statements so you can file the income tax statement for the business. You will need a book keeper if you are not qualified to set up an accounting system and make all the entries for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Payroll.
You will also have to spend money for Yellow Page advertising so that customers know you even exist. You will either succeed or fail based upon several criteria. FIrst of all, the quality of your work, your honesty and integrity, your fair pricing standards, your personality when dealing with your customers and your staff and your ability to set up systems and procedures so you can keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on with your business .
It's one thing to be a good mechanic and something else again to be a top-notch business owner. Good luck either way.