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Adubeasy
11-19-2009, 04:09 PM
Ok so I am talking (emailing back and forth) with this well established (10 years) lawn service owner. who makes probablly a million or more, and i am asking him questions. The last question i ask is, do you have any advice for me, when starting off the business. i then explained that my idea so far was to get my DBA, setup a Com Bank, Get the trailer, and Equipment off of craigslist and get 2 men to do the work for me while i do college have say 4500, an old used truck and a Heart full of ambition. heres what i got:


""""""""""""""I think you are crazy to try and start a business while in college such as this one. There are many things you could do while in college that do not demand so much of your time or money. In this business you need to be a part of the business until you build a solid customer base. If you are not out there with your crew, what is to stop them from taking your customers and making the money on their own? What happens when they screw up a yard? (and they will trust me.) Our chain of command is Me (owner) Operations Manager (salaried employee $50,000 year) Landscape Designer (commission approx $60,000 year), Arborist and Botanist ( commission $50-60,000 per year)Crew Lead (30,000 per year+ bonus) and hourly employee ($8 per hour). You need more than $4500 in equipment, truck and trailer. You can’t seriously do this business without a minimum investment of $10,000 plus 6 months of payroll. Don’t pay your guys one time and you will have no crew. Plus have the state of Texas on your ***. Plus you need someone to do scheduling, collections and invoicing and that is another $30,000 per year on the low end. You could do it yourself, but if you are going to school full time, you may miss something. I am in my 40’s so picking a leader is easy for me. They have certain attributes that are easily picked up in an interview. Can’t teach you that , it is instinct. On top of that you have to trust them with your vehicle, equipment and business. They are who your customers see on a daily business. And to top it all off you need commercial insurance, workman’s comp and taxes. Insurance runs for a small business at least $500-800 per month. You need a minimum of a 1 mil policy for regular households and 1.5 mil minimum for commercial accounts and HUD homes . This protects you should a rock you hit take out windows on a house, car, or kid, you cut a lawn too short and it kills it, etc. My specific policy makes sure we don’t hire anyone under the age of 18 for injury reasons. Workman’s comp protects you should one of your workers get injured. Then there are state and federal taxes. You have to charge sales tax and pay it quarterly to the state. Don’t pay? They freeze your accounts and can take your house, vehicle or anything else of value. Same with Federal taxes, but that is on income. Don’t pay those? Go to JAIL. We incorporated that is another cost of $300-1000 depending on how you do it and if you do it yourself.



My suggestions? Try a dog walking/sitting service. My oldest child did this in college and made over $50,000 his first year. He advertised in neighborhoods, vets, grooming services. Of course you are working holidays and in the summer when people vacation, but you can do several families at once. Must be good with pets of all kinds and have a vet you can use in an emergency.



My daughter is in college at UT and she runs a shopping/errand service. She left flyers at Whole Foods and people pay her to do their grocery shopping, errands etc. She also set up a deal with local restaurants and at night she delivers food from those restaurants. She set up a 800 number through evoice receptionist and put out menus with all the restaurant meals. She tacks on 1-2 per item plus charges a delivery fee of $5.00. She made $65,000 last year.""""""""""""""

This ALMOST SHot my dream down. so maybe i cant do it this way ( if you think can, and are able to tell me how please let me know) Do i really need all this stuff, just to start out? SO What do yall think about me getting out there and just hiring one other guy to work for and with me. and starting out like that? Will it work?

Steve
11-20-2009, 12:27 PM
I think you are very lucky to have someone like him to offer you such advice.

My view is why make it too complicated? Why not start with you and a cheap mower? Just get started.

I don't think it is a good idea to go about it by saying I am going to take out a loan and hiring some people to do the work while I am in school. Unless you are there, engaged and involved every day, it probably won't work.

Experiment with just you at first and see how it works out. There are plenty of entrepreneurs on here that start their business in high school or in college. That is totally workable and doable, you just have to be engaged with it.

Get started today and work to build it further.

What's stopping you? :)

Little's
11-20-2009, 11:49 PM
Heres what I would do, and what I did. Pick up a used mower for $100. Buy a new weed eater for $150. Buy a new handheld blower for $100. Buy some rakes, shovels, garbage can all at yard sales for $15. Buy a new 4x8 trailer from Harbor Freight tools for $250. You are in business for $600 and if you have a truck, you can do it without the trailer.

Now go out and start knocking on doors. Talk to as many people as you can and let EVERYONE know what you are doing. You never know who will be your next customer.

You know your schedule, so schedule your new found customers around your schooling. Try to find a friend that you can count on to help you out hourly ($15 per hour or something) when you need an extra hand. I have a few of these people around and if one isnt available, I can call the next. A valuable list in my opinion.

I started this way about 4 years ago. I support my family of 5 and things are going well.

You can do it!

SuperiorPower
11-21-2009, 09:11 AM
I agree with Steve. You can start with just yourself and a mower. I would NOT recommend hiring 2 people and have them work while you attend college full time and are not there to supervise them. You need to be involved in the work, planning, etc. The customers should see your face, if not every time, at least on occasion.

Keep in mind that you will not start your business and automatically be as large as the business this person runs. Of course it would be a noble desire to be there as soon as possible. For ideas about growing quickly but not too quickly, talk to picframer.

Good luck and keep your chin up!

fieroboi
11-21-2009, 02:02 PM
This ALMOST SHot my dream down. so maybe i cant do it this way ( if you think can, and are able to tell me how please let me know) Do i really need all this stuff, just to start out? SO What do yall think about me getting out there and just hiring one other guy to work for and with me. and starting out like that? Will it work?

DO NOT let others shoot down your dream. I can understand all of what he is saying, but that being said ... I'm not at that level yet and there is nothing going to hold me back. Sure he gives you lots to think about and offers some very good points, but he is talking on a much larger scale than what I believe you are thinking for starters.

There is no reason why you can't start on your own with some new and used equipment. One thing that you will have to consider is that if you are going to hire some guys, it could cut dramatically into your profit margin. I would suggest that for starters you do it yourself and only pick up enough clients that you can still do your school work. Later as your business grows you can look at expanding it, but for starters it would get some income in allowing you to expand as one goes.

Let me tell you my story, I started out in the late fall, took out an ad for snow removal and slugged my way through my first winter with a couple of shovels, an ice scraper, a hand held blower and my truck. After the winter was done, I was able to purchase a brand new mower, another hand held blower, a new string trimmer and a used enclosed cargo trailer, plus numerous tools and such to get into the spring season. I have worked long hours and spent much time developing good relations with my clients and more than doubled my client base. All of this was accomplished without going into any debt and as of this fall we have a complete line of equipment for the residential customers I service.

If everything holds as I am anticipating, next year we will be hiring someone to work along side with me and with luck and good planning will get another employee the following year.

Another piece of advice, from my perspective is to know your market, take some time and discover what areas you could cover and if there are any niche markets you could handle, this will help eliminate competion and create a need for your service. I am sure that my market in the Canadian climate here is much different than your, but business basics still apply.

I would say GO get your Dream!

Best of luck,

Lloyd
Blue's YardFX
Camrose, Alberta, Canada

SECTLANDSCAPING
11-22-2009, 11:48 PM
I agree with littles.

With the amount of competition and add starting out to that equation. You have to do the majority of work yourself. There's not enough money to go around with $40 cuts. If you factor in the occasional underbid due to inexperience or need for the job you could lose money. Sure if you only had 1k + jobs you could sub it out and take a piece of the action.

If you do basic lawn care it doesnt take a lot of time. I work a full time job and find time to do this. A key would be good help.

jasonw
11-23-2009, 01:21 PM
I have to agree. It ran me about $8,000 but I purchased all new stuff, that 8K also included my truck. I think you can go as big or as small as you want. it just depends on what you want. I think its a very naive idea to open shop and pay someone ells to do the work. Trust me I did all the ground pounding for myself, when I got busy I hired someone. Then being the lazy person I am I tried working it out so I can just pay others to do the work while I sat in the office. It was an epic failure. I have only been in the business really for 8 months but I still have to go out and do the work myself.

jasonw
11-23-2009, 01:33 PM
Thats a nice trailer, i like how it tilts. What did it cost you to have it shipped? My current one is only like 3.5X6 and it barley fits my lawn tractor on it.

Heres what I would do, and what I did. Pick up a used mower for $100. Buy a new weed eater for $150. Buy a new handheld blower for $100. Buy some rakes, shovels, garbage can all at yard sales for $15. Buy a new 4x8 trailer from Harbor Freight tools for $250. You are in business for $600 and if you have a truck, you can do it without the trailer.

Now go out and start knocking on doors. Talk to as many people as you can and let EVERYONE know what you are doing. You never know who will be your next customer.

You know your schedule, so schedule your new found customers around your schooling. Try to find a friend that you can count on to help you out hourly ($15 per hour or something) when you need an extra hand. I have a few of these people around and if one isnt available, I can call the next. A valuable list in my opinion.

I started this way about 4 years ago. I support my family of 5 and things are going well.

You can do it!