Small Business Tour: Solar Service Professionals
Business profile

Small Business Tour: Solar Service Professionals

Name: Manny Hernandez

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Business: Solar Service Professionals

Manny Hernandez

Tell us about your business.

We help people fix their solar energy systems. I’ve worked in the solar industry since 2012 and I worked for a solar installation company. It was a really hot commodity in California, but there weren’t any service companies. We would get a lot of calls from clients and they would say, "Hey, can you come out and fix my solar system done by another company?" Unfortunately, no, we didn’t do that. There was no one doing it. So there was a big opportunity to kind of jump into the service and maintenance portion of it. 

What was your first big win? 

I would say it was the first time we sent out flyers—we sent out mailers, direct mailers to homes—and when people called us back, it was almost like we knew that was going to happen, but we didn't believe that it was happening. So once that happened, we knew there was some viability in the business. I was thinking “Okay, this is going to work out.”

What keeps you motivated on a tough day?

At first you kind of go on blind faith. You really believe in yourself and that it's going to work. The opportunity makes sense. Your forecast, your whole business plan, right? What they teach you in business school—that your business plan makes sense financially. And for me personally, it was a burning desire to work for myself. I didn't want to work anywhere else anymore. I kind of maxed out of the places—general manager, director, and then there's the owner— there's always a cap. So it just made sense. And that desire to work for myself is really what kept me going, especially on the difficult days.

Solar Service Professionals

What did you learn working for others that you’ve applied to running your own business? 

People have their own personality. Let me tell you—everyone's different. Everyone has their own little quirk that you need to kind of work around to bring everyone together. You know, this guy might be annoyed at that guy. You kind of have to play nanny sometimes and get them together. Leadership's definitely important. And I've taken what I've learned in other companies and applied it here.

What do you wish you knew when you first started your business? 

That being the boss is not easier. People always think, oh, the owner has it easier. He drives in at whatever time and there's nothing on his mind, he's not worried, he's not having to report to anyone. That's just not the case. You actually have hundreds of bosses, if not thousands, because now I have to report not only to my employees and make sure they're happy, but to customers too. I don't want them to drop F-bombs on Yelp or Google reviews. So really, you have more bosses now.

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Don’t do it alone.

What advice do you have for somebody thinking about starting their first business? 

Don’t do it alone. You need to have some sort of support system in place. And remember to pay yourself! A lot of business owners, including myself, want to stay in the black. So we may remove our salary or just say, you know, “I'll make up for it next month.” But if you're really going to operate a professional business, you have to pay yourself first. And I think a lot of new business owners forget to do that.

What are some tools that you found helpful when you first started? 

I was exposed to QuickBooks when I was a general manager and the accounting department was using it. As a GM, you need to see financial reports. So that's when I first got exposed to it.

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I just pull up the app, send them the invoice on the spot, and they pay me immediately.

When I needed software, the first thing I thought of was QuickBooks. There's all these other companies out there, but QuickBooks to me was always the professional standard. The foundation of any business is numbers, and QuickBooks Online helps us make sense of those numbers. The interface is really easy and friendly. Plus, it makes getting paid super fast and easy—for me and my customers. I just pull up the app, send them the invoice on the spot, and they pay me immediately.

Move, manage, and grow your money

No matter what stage your business is in, QuickBooks can help you manage your business finances.

How does running your own business make you feel?

I was talking to my girlfriend the other day as I was driving from the gym to my office and I just kind of chuckled. I was like, “You know what? I'm pretty sure this is my dream.” This is me living it. I can make my own schedule. I can hit the gym in the morning. I don't have a boss calling me, "Where are you? Why are you late?" And I just drive in and I'm going to go to my office and do what I love doing. And so ultimately being a business owner is having more freedom than a traditional job.

What’s your favorite part about being a business owner? If you could just focus on one aspect of your business, what would it be? 

Motivating people. Working with the staff and motivating them to hit their top performance, hit their bonuses, and help them with not only their work goals, but their personal goals and see how we can help them get there. Pushing everyone to their limit, you know, their capacity and helping them build their career and advance their career, helping them learn new skills, new trades that'll help them make more money, and that'll make a difference to their family. As opposed to just looking at spreadsheets all day. I'd rather work with people.

What’s next for your business? 

We just moved into a warehouse. It took a long time to find this warehouse because with the pandemic, everything's moving to online retail. So with e-commerce, all the warehouses were being taken up with logistics. So for a while, there was no warehousing available in greater LA. 

We also want to build a training center. We want to be able to take people that have no experience in the industry, train them, and give them upward mobility. You want to give them that opportunity to start as an apprentice. In order to do that, we need to build a state-of-the-art facility to train people—sales people, technicians— to advance. So that's the next big project we're hoping to have completed by the new year.

QuickBooks customer paid for their time.

QuickBooks Payments: QuickBooks Payments account subject to eligibility criteria, credit and application approval. Subscription to QuickBooks Online is required. Money movement services are provided by Intuit Payments Inc., licensed as a Money Transmitter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. For more information about Intuit Payments' money transmission licenses, please visit


1. Get Paid Four Times Faster Disclaimer: ‘Four times faster’ based on U.S. customers using QuickBooks Online invoice tracking and payment features compared to customers not using these features from August 2021 to July 2022

This content is for information purposes only and information provided should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc. does it have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided  should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc. cannot warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate, nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

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