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kristy424
06-23-2010, 01:25 AM
Hi...
My name is Kristy and I'm not actually in business yet. Due to an injury requiring a little more physical therapy, I won't be ready to do any lawn care before spring. By the time I'm finished with this, it will be too close to winter to mow any lawns. But I should be able to open the snow plowing side line I want then. Then, around the first of the year, start advertising the lawn care business and, hopefully, have a few customers ready to sign up in the spring.

I plan to use the next 9 months learning everything I can through books, the internet, and things like this forum, which I find is very helpful already (and I've only been reading it this evening).

It seems rather appropriate taking nine months, doesn't it? Kind of like birthing my new business. It will actually be a family business, but I like to study and learn details about things more than they do so I'll learn and then teach, I guess. :)

I look forward to being a part of this community and hope you will all be patient with me because I may wind up asking a million questions.

Owning my own business has always been a dream of mine. I suppose I take after my dad in that way. He owned several mildly successful businesses during his lifetime. But he wasn't a very good manager, trusted too many people who burned him, and eventually closed all four.

I hope I've learned from his mistakes. He thought all there was to being a business owner was coming up with a good idea and diving in head first. If I'd known then what I know now, I might have been able to help him keep things going.

So all I can do is apply what I know and what I'll learn and work hard to make the lawn care service flourish.

I've already gathered demographics information from city-data.com. Big cities, not so big cities and tiny ones in a four county area. I'm also beginning to collect all possible information on grasses, trees, shrubs, plants and flowers people tend to use in these areas. How to care for them, what to look for in the way of disease or pests. And I'm looking for whatever I can find to teach myself good marketing skills.

As it's still early, the more I research, the more I'll discover needs to be learned, I'm sure. But that's okay. I believe that educating myself is the way to success.

Okay...enough about this. I've kind of jumped the track from introducing myself to kind of outlining my business plan. LOL...and I haven't even written that yet!

Again, I look forward to being a part of this forum...and getting to know all of you.

Kristy

696 Signs
06-23-2010, 09:13 AM
Hi Kristy,

Welcome!
What area in MI are you in?

Was any of your fathers biz's in the lawn/snow/landscape feild?


Thank You,

Tony
696 Signs & Graphics
Sales @ 696signs.com (remove spaces)
www.696signs.com
248-233-6306 ph.
248-823-5888 fax
Family Owned

*Sales may end or prices may change at anytime.

Steve
06-23-2010, 01:43 PM
Hi Kristy,

Welcome to our forum!

Owning my own business has always been a dream of mine. I suppose I take after my dad in that way. He owned several mildly successful businesses during his lifetime. But he wasn't a very good manager, trusted too many people who burned him, and eventually closed all four.

Can you tell us more about the issues he ran into while trying to manage his business? I bet these are learning lessons other business owners could utilize as well.

kristy424
06-23-2010, 05:59 PM
Hi, Steve and Tony...
I'm kind of in between Lansing and Battle Creek, so we can do jobs in either city.

My dad's businesses were a restaurant and then a house painting business when I was too little to really know (for sure) what happened. I'm assuming that since he didn't do well for long in the other two (gas station/fuel oil and a combination pool hall/party store/pizza parlor), it was like the same reasons.

With the gas station he gave way too much credit to the fuel oil customers, which really hurt the income. He also was a sucker for any sob story and hired 'friends' who stole from the cash register. Took him awhile to figure that out though. In the end he had to file bankruptcy.

With the combo business he might have succeeded if he'd limited it to either just the pool hall or that and the pizza. There never was a problem with the pool hall...and it made a nice profit.

When he added the pizza parlor his generosity reared its ugly head again. No weighing or measuring of any toppings for the first couple of years. People got a whole lot more than they paid for.

So he got discouraged about the lack of profits and rented the kitchen/dining room to a man who already had restaurants in other cities. His employees were careless and left the window open one night and he lost all the money from the pool hall and party store when thieves climbed in the window and found where he hid the register drawers. He didn't renew their lease and finally started weighing and measuring toppings.

Oh. And I found out that a couple of the employees would write orders for customers, then when they paid, the employees would tear up the order and pocket the money. That didn't help either.

I can't recall exactly when the store was added (this was a HUGE building). But that was, in my opinion, what killed the whole thing.

Apparently he wanted to cover every need, to the point of stocking Brill Cream (? it was a hair cream for guys). Too much wasted shelf space on things that just didn't move.

Did I confuse you? :)

Basically I think it all boils down to being too generous and trusting the wrong people.

I don't know if that helps this industry but I did learn from Dad's mistakes. One...ZERO credit for any customer regardless of the reason. And give the customers value for their money but don't give away the store.

Kristy

Steve
06-24-2010, 12:25 PM
Sure this discussion helps this industry!

I don't think your father was alone in this. Many of us go through life thinking we know the way to do things, and never find the results we want. We don't ask for advice and therefore don't know any other way but our own.

Here he was experimenting with 4 different businesses and no matter what the business, the same principles were applied and in the end, the same results were achieved.

It is kind of sad because I know many members get on here and start a business only to fail a short time later or simply not have any fun at it because they can't see the small things they should tweak. Sometimes fixing a few small little things can make the difference between night and day when it comes to results.

How come do you think that you hadn't gotten burned out about the whole concept of business after seeing all these results your dad ran into?

irvinjr
06-24-2010, 01:06 PM
I'm Irvin Co owner of S & I Lawn Care. A business my wife n me started up a few months ago with five customers.Well july 1 st. is our official grand opening for the business. We have registerd our business name with the state,opened up a business account with the credit union, applied for n received our county n city license,We also have one million in general liability insurance so we can bid on commercial properties n do gutter cleaning etc.For as equipment we have a 22" push mower,electric edger,trimmer n blower all weed eater brand models.N yes i know there not the best of equipment to have but it's a start until the business picks up with more customers.The most important part though is were a legal lawn care business. I love this forum i have been learning a lot about the lawn care bussines.Thanks a million for this site

kristy424
06-25-2010, 01:18 AM
Hi, Steve...
Good question. I think people are either inclined to own their own business or they're not. Like my dad. I guess he figured if that one didn't work, maybe THIS one would. Unfortunately he went in to the same one with the best of intentions, but without changing how he ran them.

Another reason is that my dad had a 9th grade education. Things were black and white. If you had a good idea, it should work. I think he missed his calling, too. He taught himself to remodel homes and was a master craftsman with wood. If he'd had a woodworking business, I think he might have seen a good measure of success.

I have a little college behind me-business mostly. That will help. As well as the fact that I simply can't start because of the PT, so I have plenty of time to learn everything I'll need to know...while learning a lot about marketing.

It also gives me time to work on a business plan, figure out a budget and, hopefully, be able to start the snow plowing end of it in November. It's pretty exciting to think of that possibility...and that maybe some of the customers I intend to acquire then might carry over to the lawn care end of it in the spring.

I'm rambling when I should be sleeping so I'll spare you any more of it. :)

Good night all,
Kristy

Steve
06-25-2010, 01:15 PM
I'm Irvin Co owner of S & I Lawn Care. A business my wife n me started up a few months ago with five customers.Well july 1 st. is our official grand opening for the business.

Welcome to our forum Irvin and congratulations on your grand opening!


Good question. I think people are either inclined to own their own business or they're not.

Have you had a chance to experiment with any other businesses up to this point? If you could start or run any business would it differ from what you are starting now?

kristy424
06-25-2010, 11:19 PM
Yeah, kind of. I've been suckered in to doing direct sales by friends...and failed at all of them in a spectacular way. I can't get 'excited' enough about plastic dishes, home decorative items (much as I loved them) or outrageously expensive supplements. Not to mention the fact that I'm not really in to hauling a bunch of stuff-often pretty heavy-to house after house.

I actually did try to start a 'real' business about four years ago. In fact, I almost considered it when I started researching again. I still have the brochures and pretty good marketing ideas for it. And I worked with a small business consultant for about three months to make sure I did everything right. But I didn't count on my advertising budget being used to bail out a relative with an emergency. I just realized how that sounded...it did NOT have anything to do with jail. :)

Hindsight being what it is, I know I shouldn't have thrown in the towel, but I did.

Now I know better.

If I could do something different, would I? If writing books can be considered a 'business,' then yes. And I will be working on that, too. Self-publishing. Which will probably be a whole lot tougher to make work than lawn care.

irvinjr
06-26-2010, 12:52 PM
Welcome to our forum Irvin and congratulations on your grand opening!




Have you had a chance to experiment with any other businesses up to this point? If you could start or run any business would it differ from what you are starting now?
No, I'm hoping this business venture go over well.Were starting out with consumer equipment instead of commercial equipment but none the least were going to give it a shot n eventually get us some good quality commercial
equipment.

Steve
06-26-2010, 01:30 PM
I actually did try to start a 'real' business about four years ago.

What kind of business was that going to be and what about it got you interested in it?

kristy424
06-26-2010, 05:50 PM
I had read a few articles about and, as with the lawn care service, started to research everything I could about it. You didn't need a degree to pick up prescriptions, groceries or dry cleaning. The investment wouldn't be huge. And it was perfect for a mom to do. Most things involving kids...appointments, conferences, sporting events...are usually scheduled. Which meant I could schedule errands around those things.

At this stage, though, lawn care looks like a better opportunity. It might have been then, too. But Michigan's economy is terrible, and getting a job is not that easy to do so this would be better for my kids, who have graduated now. It certainly has the potential to give them a better income than a fast food restaurant!

Steve
06-27-2010, 02:37 PM
That would be a great start up business in the right area. I would think it might work more in a richer area. It would be interesting to scan through local phone books or websites for such businesses to see if there were any in the area. Maybe also talking with a local pharmacist to see if they have seen such businesses in the area and if they feel they could work.

I do think lawn care might work better in more areas though. As long as grass grows, it will need to be mowed.

kristy424
06-29-2010, 01:22 AM
Actually I suppose I don't live in the right place for a lawn care business either. Except with this, if I can schedule a few properties in the same area, there won't be so much time wasted in traveling. Errands never really worked out that conveniently.

One big drawback to the errands was grocery shopping. People can get very specific with particular brand, flavor and size. Believe me, you can spend more time than you'd think trying to hunt them up. I had one customer who was extremely picky about almost everything her list.

It's funny but the business consultant I worked with felt I'd fail because I had too much competition. Companies 1-3 hours away from me. I called most of them and they thought it was ridiculous.

If anyone is interested in starting an errand service, I'd suggest a flat rate for things like grocery shopping-because it's not as straight forward as it sounds. Just go pick up a few groceries. I would also suggest that you get enough cash ahead of time to more than cover their purchases (returning any change when you deliver the groceries). You wouldn't want to be stuck with those bills.

The one thing I wish I'd focused more on was picking up food from local restaurants and taking it to the customers. I think THAT would take off very well in many areas. As long as the charges weren't astronomical. The only things you can get delivered in my area are pizzas and anything those restaurants sell (like subs, breadsticks and salads). I think it's that way in many cities. You could probably even get to know the owners/managers and enlist their help to market to customers. It would mean more business for them. And they would probably be willing to let you supply tasteful paper placemats for them to use, as well as putting business cards somewhere in their establishment.

I should add that I think placemats in restaurants are a good idea, no matter what line of business you're in. It helps owners/managers to cut down on their expenses and gets the word out about the service you're offering. It would probably work better in non-chain establishments though. You'd have to Google it because I can't recall where they can be ordered.

Sorry, I tend to ramble. A lot! :)

Steve
06-30-2010, 01:53 PM
I've been suckered in to doing direct sales by friends...and failed at all of them in a spectacular way. I can't get 'excited' enough about plastic dishes, home decorative items (much as I loved them) or outrageously expensive supplements. Not to mention the fact that I'm not really in to hauling a bunch of stuff-often pretty heavy-to house after house.

Another thing you had talked about that I think is very interesting is the topic of those multi-level marketing or direct sales businesses that many of us have friends who try to push.

Looking back at these, why do you think they seem to always be there? It always seems to be that no matter who we are, a certain percentage of our friends are going to be pushing these 'businesses' on us.

Do any of these ever actually work or is it that the only money that is ever made is the sign up money that seems to go along with every one of these 'opportunities.'

kristy424
07-01-2010, 01:10 PM
I think MLM's are always there because a lot of people like the thought of what the companies promise. The idea of owning your own 'business' (often for less than $100.00), making lots of money-so you can take exotic vacations, buy your dream house, etc..., is very appealing to the targets of the salesperson. Unfortunately, many of their targets can't afford to lose the money they're going to kiss goodbye in sign up fees, sales aides and advertising.

Can you make money at it? Sure. I've known a few (very few!) people who make between $50-100,000 a year. Most just wind up a little poorer but hey...at least they can use the products they're usually stuck with.

MLM's are a great learning tool though. They leave you plenty of time to learn about how to run a real business. :)