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View Full Version : Thinking about a career change...


Desperado72
12-22-2010, 08:55 AM
First-time poster here. I'm a single, 38-year-old guy from Richmond, VA, currently working in I.T. for a small software company. I've been thinking about switching to a field where I can have a little more job variety, see the sky, and work for myself. I haven't decided on lawn care just yet, but I have read many of the threads here. I do have a few concerns.

The first is, I will come right out and say I'm a convicted felon. I won't go into any details except to say it was a nonviolent offense, it happened about 8 years ago, and I didn't do any jail time. This is my main reason for wanting to switch careers. Job opportunities in the corporate world are extremely limited when you have a record, and expungement is not a realistic option in my state. I am VERY lucky to have my current job (small company, no background check), but we're losing clients and I fear we won't be around for too much longer. My work record is spotless, but I'm terrified at the idea of having to look for another job in this economy given my "other" record. I would much rather find a line of work where I can be my own boss. So my question is, will having a felony conviction be an issue for me in lawn care as far as obtaining licensing, insurance, etc?

My second concern has to do with equipment. I own a townhouse, so I have none - the HOA takes care of landscaping, snow removal, etc. I have no driveway or garage to store anything, although I do have a small fenced back yard. I'm guessing I would either have to buy an enclosed trailer and park it on the street or get an open trailer and rent a storage unit someplace. That's a pretty big expense considering I'm not even sure if I would like the work. Eventually I would probably buy a house with a garage, but that's a little ways off. Anybody else in this situation?

I have a lot of other concerns as well (my lack of knowledge of the business, my physical ability, income potential as a solo operator, etc.)...but for now those are the big two.

On the plus side, I have good credit, no debt besides my mortgage, no family to support, and enough savings to take some classes, buy some equipment, and perhaps get a business started in the next year or two.

So far my plan is to see if I can get a job working for someone else part-time this coming summer, while keeping my full-time job. Basically see if I like it before I make any big investment in equipment or schooling. Does this sound like a decent plan? Any suggestions?

Growing Green
12-22-2010, 11:28 AM
Hi Desperado,
Seems like you are going at it the right way. I don't know about the record, but I can encourage you to take this chance. I don't have a trailer myself. I just started 2 weeks ago and I have push mowers, trimmer and blower that I got off of Craigslist all used. I just load them and unload them from my truck. I currently keep them in my garage, but I'm sure you can get a storage area or maybe a friend who may let you store them at their house.

The investment is very minimal, but if you are unsure if you would like this then you might want to work for someone else. Although, part of the joy of helping me do this is the knowledge of knowing that I own my own business.

I'm sure the old-timers here will have much more and better advice for you. Glad you joined the forum.

Matt

Desperado72
12-22-2010, 06:00 PM
Thanks Matt for the encouragement. Great website BTW.

Steve
12-23-2010, 11:15 AM
Welcome to our forum!

So my question is, will having a felony conviction be an issue for me in lawn care as far as obtaining licensing, insurance, etc?

I can't imagine that ever coming up.

I'm guessing I would either have to buy an enclosed trailer and park it on the street or get an open trailer and rent a storage unit someplace. That's a pretty big expense considering I'm not even sure if I would like the work. Eventually I would probably buy a house with a garage, but that's a little ways off. Anybody else in this situation?

HOA's are notoriously picky when it comes to anyone doing anything out of the norm. I have a feeling if you park any commercial vehicles on your property or in front of it, someone is bound to complain. So if you go that route, make sure you have a 'plan b' just in case.

You may find it is best to get a storage unit. Or maybe you have a friend in the area that has a house and some property where you can store your equipment?

Something you could consider doing is offer some gardening services to your HOA for free. Maybe at the entrance of the area? Look for ways to get involved and experiment.

Maybe get a push mower and see if you can line up any family or friends as your first customers. As you scale up, see how you feel about being in the lawn care business.

Keep us posted on how it all goes.

Desperado72
12-23-2010, 02:26 PM
Thanks Steve. I guess I should find out who handles licensing etc. for the state or talk to an attorney and see what they say about my having a record. As for the HOA, the street I have in mind is outside their jurisdiction. Good idea about offering to help in my neighborhood though.

picframer
12-23-2010, 04:15 PM
Welcome to our forum!



I can't imagine that ever coming up.





Depending on his insurance company it will and at least here it will on Commercial work, if I do work for the city or any government agency, I have to maintain background checks on everyone.

Desperado72
12-23-2010, 06:51 PM
Thanks for the input guys. Who is the best person to ask about qualifying for insurance, licensing, etc. given my situation? An attorney? Someone with the state? I don't want to get involved in this if I'm just going to hit a brick wall down the road due to my background.

Steve
12-24-2010, 01:21 PM
Each state handles this differently. So does each community.

Your area may or may not require you to be licensed to simply mow lawns. I would do a search on your state's web site for professional licenses and see what is listed. Do this at your township's website too.

As far as insurance goes, can you call around and get a few quotes for liability insurance and ask them if the criminal background issue will effect things?

Keep us posted on this too because I am sure there are many readers who are in the same situation but haven't brought this up.