I agree with Roxanne above related to getting started. Being an entrepreneur is one of the most rewarding pursuits you can embark upon in regards to your professional and work life. Being an accountant I will give you more of the legal and accounting items you will have to consider once you decide to start your own business:
- Obtain legal advice (which also can be provided free or low cost by local SBA office or related entrepreneurial support groups in your area) to understand what type (legal entity) of business you should set up.
- Leverage that same legal advice to help draft some sort of operating agreement. This will clearly define who controls the business, how other people you trust can invest in your business and how your profits get allocated to the various people who have an investment in the business.
- You want to focus on your auto body shop work and spend little time on the office work that comes with it. You did not get into this to become an accountant or office administrator...... So, I recommend you look into outsourcing what we call these "back office" activities. Find a person or company that will keep your books (there are many online businesses that can set up your accounting system in the cloud and do all your books for a very small price). You can leverage online applications so that you can easily give customers receipts, get paid online, schedule appointments, answer phones, etc.
- If you hire people I recommend you also outsource the payroll and human resource function. There are so many rules and regulations these days around this aspect of owning a business you do not want to do that on your own. Again, there are many low cost online providers that can do all of this for you.
Overall get creative on how to maximize the time you spend making your customer's vehicles beautiful again and minimizing the time you spend on all the admin work that comes with owning a business....who wants to balance a checkbook at 10 pm at night after you already put in a long day in the shop?
Another way is to contact the SBA S.C.O.R.E (score.org) and request a mentor. Their services are free and they'll work with you from concept to execution and beyond.
Finally, some communities have entrepreneur organizations that do the same as above, but usually in a more group approach to coaching you towards business ownership.
Check them all out to see what might be right for you.