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mikosiko
01-11-2013, 04:46 PM
Ok, the idea started 3 months ago after realizing my 15 year carreer in newspaper printing is really just not going to be there in all its glorious form, for another 25 years. Being in business has been a dream of mine but never really got it going. I make decent money and have full benefits but I still have kids and bills. So I figured with my treating experience with a national company many years back and did well, along with still great health and ability I could start very small get all the licenses. Build on a reputation of quality, service, and value (not price mind you).

What I have: 03 Dodge Ram 1500(144,000 miles), 2012 Honda HVK, Ryobi gas trimmer with all the attachments, Husqvarna 130bt, Handheld 2 gal spray tank.

What I plan to get: a better edger

The plan: I have just started a website through go daddy, but have not done anything more than title page. Next week I will pay $100.00 to get my LLC and $20.00 for tax id. Then I will buy business cards and door hangers still trying to find someone to develop my logo and label. I will take my applicators test in two weeks part 1 then the next part two weeks later. At the end of febuary I will buy insurance. Then try to roll out marketing mar 1.

Now this site has a wealth of knowledge and I have learned to market, market, market. To be legit in everyway. Do not get into a price war, if people want a cheap lawn then let them go to the ones charging cheap prices, my customers are going to be the ones that want someone to really care for their lawn. Ongoing knowledge and learning is what I feel is key here and my local extension university is close and offers many opportunities for continuing knowledge.
I know I do not have the really great equipment and I do not intend to get into debt to get it, I intend to gain business in small work and save all my profit re-invest to gain better equipment as I go along. Hopefully that plan will allow me to get bigger and better accounts down the road. I will kind-of look a little ghetto style because I wont pull up with the trailer and equipment. I plan to mulch everyones lawn about twice a year and bag other times using my truck to go dump avg about 10 bag per lawn.

I have a full time night job and intend to only do about 3 -4 lawns on sat., 3-4 on mon. and 1-2 lawns during the work week ( sat, sun, mon are my weekends)
Ok lots of info here and I would like a whole lot of you to please weigh in on everything, micro-analyze if you will my process in getting this started. I expect right now that it will take a while to replace my current carreer that pays about $80,000 year including all benefits for my family. I want to do this because I want to be in business for myself, I want to do it in something that I know I have starting knowledge in with the interest to grow that knowledge, something that depends on my efforts to make more as I see fit, supports my family at least in my current lifestyle with positive growth down the road.... Any questions comments criticisms all is wanted here, and thanks in advance to all of you...

Cheeze Wiz
01-11-2013, 08:40 PM
I expect right now that it will take a while to replace my current career that pays about $80,000 year including all benefits
Don't want to burst your bubble because anything you set your heart to can be done. But $80,000.00 plus benefits is a lot of lawns, a lot of work.
I would say you should sit down and draw up a good 5 year plan. Map out where you want to be at the end of each year. If you work at it ans stick to it even during the bad time and there will be bad times you may make it if you really love what your doing.

Steve
01-14-2013, 01:28 PM
It sounds like you are doing a lot of great planning. Have you thought about how you will make that transition? From full time job to full time entrepreneur?

Are you saving money now to help make it happen? Do you have a goal of how much you need to have saved in the bank and how much you will need to be making with your lawn care business before you can make the jump? Or are you going to feel it out as you go?

mikosiko
01-14-2013, 10:46 PM
Don't want to burst your bubble because anything you set your heart to can be done. But $80,000.00 plus benefits is a lot of lawns, a lot of work.
I would say you should sit down and draw up a good 5 year plan. Map out where you want to be at the end of each year. If you work at it ans stick to it even during the bad time and there will be bad times you may make it if you really love what your doing.

lol... No bubble bursting taken bro... I am trying to be realistic while keeping my never say die attitude... I mean after all we dont think about starting a failing business, we all fully intend to succeed. My balance is starting slow and 5 years is the plan. If it goes too fast will be the wrench in the cog.

mikosiko
01-14-2013, 11:20 PM
It sounds like you are doing a lot of great planning. Have you thought about how you will make that transition? From full time job to full time entrepreneur?

Are you saving money now to help make it happen? Do you have a goal of how much you need to have saved in the bank and how much you will need to be making with your lawn care business before you can make the jump? Or are you going to feel it out as you go?

Steve, thanks for all you do buddy!!!

Now saving money. I have the money to invest as I need to get everything going. So far there has been much more time than money invested. My full time job will provide for money while my 4 day work week will allow for the time and plus I work nights. I have to wait and get the small jobs and re-invest all the revenues into the business to expand as needed, but as far as making the jump I have given thought to that even though I see that as way down the road. My feeling is that I will need to see how things are going. I have progress and success statements for my self as an entrepreneur and most of these things will establish benchmarks and goals for myself as an worker and as an business owner separately. Confusing these things sounds incredibly dangerous and stressful. My goal is to be good at the service I provide, be good at running the business, enjoy what I am doing. All of these should be concurrently of course. If I see that all these things come together with the revenues and response to my marketing looks good then I can make that jump at 50% of what I am currently making. Keep in mind I have some side brokering going with other types of work with friends in various fields. A scratch each others back gentlemen agreements to promote and sub work to each other. I like to say thats personality profiting. I could go on with all my thoughts but man so far thats all it is. I have not done lawn 1 yet. You all know way more than I do about this stuff. I am here to learn and report as I experience so I can give back... Thanks again

Steve
01-15-2013, 12:39 PM
Also, have you thought about how much you would need in the bank to be comfortable switching to your business full time? Would you need 3 month of living expenses covered or 6 months? Or is this not something that is as important as having the cash flow at a certain level?

yourscape
01-15-2013, 01:06 PM
Ok, the idea started 3 months ago after realizing my 15 year carreer in newspaper printing is really just not going to be there in all its glorious form, for another 25 years.

I know how you feel last year I moved 3 states away and quit my job of 12 1/2 years making around what you are. This past year was my first year in business. It was a challenge but because I was prepared it actually turned out good. I did not make big money this year but what I did was saved every dollar I made this year except business expenses. I put it a way and figured what my expenses were going to be for the winter months after that I used the extras to reinvest back into the company so next year would be more profitable.

My advise as to what I did: Save at least enough $ from your current job to cover your personal expenses for a year. During this time you will also find out at what point and how much you will need to make when you pull the plug. You can do it with the right preparation.

One other thing I did to help of set the big income change was I did invest in rental property so I would have added income while the business was growing (back up plain).

Good Luck to you!!!:)

mikosiko
01-15-2013, 04:13 PM
Also, have you thought about how much you would need in the bank to be comfortable switching to your business full time? Would you need 3 month of living expenses covered or 6 months? Or is this not something that is as important as having the cash flow at a certain level?

I dont want to get a loan to invest into something I dont know what my return or possible return is going to be. So I track every penny from my personal income that I invest. No interest loan to myself using my personal income. That is my cash flow until I generate cash flow from the work I do. Like I said I am starting small and I am selling myself and my quality of work. I expect to grow from there and this will keep my spending down while I grow at a slow steady rate. I wont have any of the big glamorous equipment until I have the work to justify it, then I can give myself more to spend. I have to start with very basic small lawns 5-7,000 sqft or less anyhow to learn about what I am doing anyways. As for my personal budget I feel that I will need about close to a year worth of bills and living expenses to make the jump. That is why I am sure that this will be a slow process. I have a buffer currently but not quite a years worth. Getting there.

mikosiko
01-15-2013, 04:32 PM
I know how you feel last year I moved 3 states away and quit my job of 12 1/2 years making around what you are. This past year was my first year in business. It was a challenge but because I was prepared it actually turned out good. I did not make big money this year but what I did was saved every dollar I made this year except business expenses. I put it a way and figured what my expenses were going to be for the winter months after that I used the extras to reinvest back into the company so next year would be more profitable.

My advise as to what I did: Save at least enough $ from your current job to cover your personal expenses for a year. During this time you will also find out at what point and how much you will need to make when you pull the plug. You can do it with the right preparation.

One other thing I did to help of set the big income change was I did invest in rental property so I would have added income while the business was growing (back up plain).

Good Luck to you!!!:)

Thanks buddy, yep this is scary and exciting at the same time. No doubt I am about to work my butt off trying to do two jobs at once. I raised two boys on my own for 10 years from babies while working a full time night job. I had two hours rest per day until the weekends then crashed hard just to go do it again. I did that for 4 of those years, I am about to re-live that probably, but it's the pride of purpose that drives me. We shall see :)

I agree totally on the reinvesting and gaining 1 years worth of buffer before making the jump. I fully intend to do that, it's more than just me thats depending on my jump being very well calculated, so I have to risk conservatively :) Thanks for the advice and best of success to you also.. :)

LawnBoy0311
01-15-2013, 04:46 PM
It sounds like you have a good game plan going. Write your goals down and follow them. PLEASE make sure they are realistic! If not, you'll get frustrated and stop....I'm sure you already know that though. Since you already know your 99.99999999999% unlikely to make 80K your first year, your already way ahead of the game.


If your starting out, don't get too picky with customers. My advice is take what you can get, then your 2nd year lose the ones you didn't like and pick/chose from there. You'll find quite a few people actually don't give a crap about their lawn....as long as it gets cut. Or at least for me thats the case. Just remember, your the rookie and your competing against guys like DPLD who've been around many years. Get your feet wet first. I think you mentioned something about mulching and bagging? Maybe I misunderstood it, but mulch as much as you can. Around me we have to pay to dump yard waste....it can get costly.

Side jobs are the key to cash. Always allot yourself time to do other jobs...mulching, sod, even small landscape design. Aeration is a great fall service to bring in a lot of extra.


Good luck and stick with your plan!

mikosiko
01-15-2013, 05:46 PM
It sounds like you have a good game plan going. Write your goals down and follow them. PLEASE make sure they are realistic! If not, you'll get frustrated and stop....I'm sure you already know that though. Since you already know your 99.99999999999% unlikely to make 80K your first year, your already way ahead of the game.


If your starting out, don't get too picky with customers. My advice is take what you can get, then your 2nd year lose the ones you didn't like and pick/chose from there. You'll find quite a few people actually don't give a crap about their lawn....as long as it gets cut. Or at least for me thats the case. Just remember, your the rookie and your competing against guys like DPLD who've been around many years. Get your feet wet first. I think you mentioned something about mulching and bagging? Maybe I misunderstood it, but mulch as much as you can. Around me we have to pay to dump yard waste....it can get costly.

Side jobs are the key to cash. Always allot yourself time to do other jobs...mulching, sod, even small landscape design. Aeration is a great fall service to bring in a lot of extra.


Good luck and stick with your plan!

Thanks buddy, been following your posts also, your input along with many others is incredibly valuable, I appreciate it.
Yes you never know how valuable a notebook of blank paper and a pen can be. This has been a huge part of my organization process. Writing down my first year goals is the very first items written on their own then I continued on the following pages writing collected information from various sources to support those goals in the order they need to happen in.
The information contained on this site, in books, and many other places tells many many stories that I can understand and feel. These stories have tales between the words that keeps me grounded. $80,000 is a long ways away...lol
Eventually I want to appeal to and gain only those customers that want the care put back into Lawn care. They will have at least $150.00 per month in their budgets for lawncare, depending on the lawn sizes, and I will respond with quality focused work. I have a shoe in to access many of the super high earners in our community but I want to gain the experience first. What I intend to provide and what results may be very different to begin with and I expect that to be based on past experience. When I gain the business from my ideal customers, I want them and I to know they are getting a good deal. Value is one of the key points to my business.
Researching ideas for clippings disposal but I understand mulching is beneficial to the lawn growth and so selling that to the customer should not be hard :) In the end the customer gets what they want as long as they pay for it. :D

Billy Goat
01-21-2013, 07:31 AM
mikosiko, good luck this season, hope you post your adventure as you go. I will do the same as Iam in the same boat as you. Doing all this research is very time consuming if you want to be legit from the start. Sometimes I over think the whole idea, instead of just doing it and see what happens. If you watch Steve's (administrator) videos he always says "If you don't start your business this year, you will be at least one year older when you do."

I have a full-time job also but Iam lucky for now to work three 12-hour days on Fri-Sat-Sun (Paid for 40 hours). Gives me Mon-Thurs to build my lawn business. Here is my 2-cents which isnt worth much since Iam new to all this also. Since Iam a over thinker and do alot of what ifs.

You stated you will want to do lawns (less than 1/4 acre) full days on Saturdays and Mondays, I would gather to say half days on Tues-Fridays. I did a little sub work last summer for a guy that needed a little extra help. Most of his customers (residential) perferred to have their lawns cut towards the end of the week so they were nice for the weekend. For me the heavy days were Wed-Thurs and Fridays were the catchup days for the other guy.

You also stated the lawns would be 5,000 to 7,000 square feet due to your equipment (Push mowing I would gather) starting out. $20-$40 per lawn so your in the ball park as you estimated if you looking at $150 per customer per month. The #1 thing that I learned from this forum is never low ball so keep that in mind as you build your business. Being legit means paying taxes on profits. My first year I want to set aside at least 50% for taxes (Self-Employment, Sales Tax, Federal, State Tax and who knows what another tax and fees) because every state is different when it comes to paying Uncle Sam.

With that said, looks like the $150 per lawn turns into $75 if you are lucky. This is my brain overthinking, I keep going back and forth is it really worth it. You have to start somewhere and Iam ready to make the plunge because I do not want to be another year older, if I wait.

mikosiko
01-23-2013, 04:36 AM
Indeed I want to be full legit and so that means I dont get to make much for a little while but the gaol here is to grow my business the way I want, which is slow but solid and steady. Those numbers I throw out as rough figures and meaning that is the lowest I'll go in any circumstance. That being said, I am committed to making my customer base be small but distiquished and can afford me to take full control of their lawn and cleanup needs. They will also have to be the type that buys into and commits to me being the overall authority on what the lawn needs and when. These type customers will value that enough to pay a small fortune for someone who cares and knows enough to run the show on their lawn care.....

Before I get there come bustin my rump on the small low paying jobs but giving them same quality for gaining "Word of Mouth" type advertising for growth...

I will post as steps and jobs are achieved, I have 2 jobs lined up already when the season begins...

Michaelslandscape
01-26-2013, 08:07 AM
Sounds alot like my story. I am leaving my job of 28 years earning 70K this summer. I have a pension but it only makes up about 1/3 of my salary. Health insurance......... thats the killer for me. I dont what Im going to do about that yet as Im in my mid 50s and dont qualify for any gov. insurance. My wife is a cosmotologist and wont have health care either.
I know the new O-Care plan says by jan 1 2015 everyone will have to have health insurance. How are any other members handling this one?

wandfsmall
02-13-2013, 08:40 AM
Sounds alot like my story. I am leaving my job of 28 years earning 70K this summer. I have a pension but it only makes up about 1/3 of my salary. Health insurance......... thats the killer for me. I dont what Im going to do about that yet as Im in my mid 50s and dont qualify for any gov. insurance. My wife is a cosmotologist and wont have health care either.
I know the new O-Care plan says by jan 1 2015 everyone will have to have health insurance. How are any other members handling this one?

Obama care is based on either your personal salary or the amount of employees a business has. Therefor fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it. You are likely not going to fall under most of the provisions of Obama care. For the most part the law will not do as much as the news tells you, this includes what Democrats say the law will do to help you and what Republicans say the law will do to hurt you. It will however limit the profits an insurance company can make.

dpld
02-13-2013, 09:37 AM
It sounds like you have a good game plan going. Write your goals down and follow them. PLEASE make sure they are realistic! If not, you'll get frustrated and stop....I'm sure you already know that though. Since you already know your 99.99999999999% unlikely to make 80K your first year, your already way ahead of the game.


If your starting out, don't get too picky with customers. My advice is take what you can get, then your 2nd year lose the ones you didn't like and pick/chose from there. You'll find quite a few people actually don't give a crap about their lawn....as long as it gets cut. Or at least for me thats the case. Just remember, your the rookie and your competing against guys like DPLD who've been around many years. Get your feet wet first. I think you mentioned something about mulching and bagging? Maybe I misunderstood it, but mulch as much as you can. Around me we have to pay to dump yard waste....it can get costly.

Side jobs are the key to cash. Always allot yourself time to do other jobs...mulching, sod, even small landscape design. Aeration is a great fall service to bring in a lot of extra.


Good luck and stick with your plan!



wow, you make it sound as if i am out there squashing the competition like a ruthless dictator.
i am the friendliest competitor out there and have helped several other business get started that used to be former employees.

guys like me are the least of a new businesses worries because the type of work i do a new guy starting out can not do as well as the type of job a small guy does i can not do because my costs are higher.

with that said there is plenty of work for everyone and every business and market is entirely different.
any new businesses biggest worry is pricing jobs properly so they make money and lowballers are the biggest threat to any business big or small.

other than that i completely agree with you that you have to take every job that comes your way and not focus on one aspect of the industry.

the only guy that says there is money in just cutting grass is someone who will bust their tail for the rest of their lives for minimal gain or someone who will not be around in a few years because cutting the grass is just a means to get on someones property to open the door for other work.

LawnBoy0311
02-13-2013, 10:29 AM
wow, you make it sound as if i am out there squashing the competition like a ruthless dictator.
i am the friendliest competitor out there and have helped several other business get started that used to be former employees.

guys like me are the least of a new businesses worries because the type of work i do a new guy starting out can not do as well as the type of job a small guy does i can not do because my costs are higher.

with that said there is plenty of work for everyone and every business and market is entirely different.
any new businesses biggest worry is pricing jobs properly so they make money and lowballers are the biggest threat to any business big or small.

other than that i completely agree with you that you have to take every job that comes your way and not focus on one aspect of the industry.

the only guy that says there is money in just cutting grass is someone who will bust their tail for the rest of their lives for minimal gain or someone who will not be around in a few years because cutting the grass is just a means to get on someones property to open the door for other work.

Not saying your a ruthless dictator at all. Zero years experience vs. 20+ years experience. One has the knowledge and experience to get jobs done and quoted within reason, while the other doesn't.

And there IS money in just mowing. IF you do it right and find your niche. A good example is TJ Justice and just-mowing.com He found a way to make a killing. He also used to do full service accounts and gave it up to "just mow". Many tried the same idea, and they failed for various reasons. It's finding out what works best for your and doing a lot of it.

You often hear of employees venturing off and starting their own business. Most of us did it!!!!! But what they don't understand is....anyone can push a mower, not everyone can run a business. The business part is where people fail. If you can find a mentor or work under someone who is willing to teach you, your way ahead of the game. Many business owners won't do that for fear of competition.

The OP sounds like he has his head in the game. Reality is he won't hit $1 million his first year and he knows that. With a little fine tuning and reading up on these threads, I know he will go far.

dpld
02-13-2013, 11:07 AM
Not saying your a ruthless dictator at all. Zero years experience vs. 20+ years experience. One has the knowledge and experience to get jobs done and quoted within reason, while the other doesn't.

And there IS money in just mowing. IF you do it right and find your niche. A good example is TJ Justice and just-mowing.com He found a way to make a killing. He also used to do full service accounts and gave it up to "just mow". Many tried the same idea, and they failed for various reasons. It's finding out what works best for your and doing a lot of it.

You often hear of employees venturing off and starting their own business. Most of us did it!!!!! But what they don't understand is....anyone can push a mower, not everyone can run a business. The business part is where people fail. If you can find a mentor or work under someone who is willing to teach you, your way ahead of the game. Many business owners won't do that for fear of competition.

The OP sounds like he has his head in the game. Reality is he won't hit $1 million his first year and he knows that. With a little fine tuning and reading up on these threads, I know he will go far.


i was only joking about the ruthless dictator part:D.

there are some who have made a decent living just mowing but the odds are against most who only do that and TJ Justice is not the rule, he is the exception.
there are only so many lawns you can do in a day and no matter who you are there will be a point in time where another crew will be needed and the profit margin is low enough to the point that if you were to make a boatload of money it would be by huge volume.

there are exceptions depending on what region you are in and in some states the mowing season is long and there is no snow and usually no big clean ups like we have here in the north east for example and if you are in a condensed area with little cookie cutter properties i could see that as a viable business model.

i make good money mowing but we do that four days a week and in the fall that is all we do but we also make double that doing mulching, tree & shrub pruning and plantings and so forth and we only do that 2 days a week weather permitting as well as for only about half the season.

pound for pound the most profitable end of the business is the extra work.
i have a big crew and when we mulch we can do 40 to 60 yards of mulch in a day at $70.00 per yard and outside of running the truck back and forth picking up loads of mulch at the depot the only real cost is paying the help and providing a few wheel barrows and rakes.
where as the mowing end of the business we have the same exact costs in labor as well as many thousands of dollars in equipment, fuel, etc, etc.

i love what i do but i live for the extra work because the grass pays the bills and gives me a decent profit but the extras are all profit.
i have it structured where the grass pays all the costs for help, equipment, taxes and so forth and when it is time to go do some mulching or planting or whatever, outside of material costs that money goes right in the pocket.

as i said i would not rule out mowing only entirely but that all depends on where you are and going by my state and how it works here as a business you would be cutting yourself short because most of the market here is looking for a one call does it all company and people do not want to be bothered with hiring a guy to do the lawn and a guy to do the mulching and planting and a guy to apply the chemicals.

new jersey is a good place to have a business in regards to there is a lot of money here but the demands of the market here are high and the typical customer here wants what they want and they want it now.

and they just would not get that from a mow only operation.

plus it is nice to have a variety and even if you have your help do all the work it is nice for them and helps them out by not being on a mower 6 days a week and my guys look forward to fridays and saturdays because it gives them a break from the grind of cutting grass and i love it because those are the days i get to make real money.

fieroboi
02-14-2013, 11:11 PM
Any questions comments criticisms all is wanted here, and thanks in advance to all of you...

I don't profess to be an expert, but I can share some of my thoughts. I think your on the right track Where I live the website is not of great value to me, so many clients in the demographics here don't even have a computer, really small city.

But what I hear you saying is very realistic. You won't get rich but if you want to make a living, you can do it.

Rent equipment to start, that way you can test the profitablility before investing dollars. I've been in business for 5 years and heading into my sixth, I still rent some special pieces as I don't get a huge call for the specific service, but still offer it as it give us profile and I can turn a profit with that service. I've built my business from the ground up with no debt, something I believe everyone should do. Not having to make payments on equipment means if it is not being used enough, your not losing money on it.

Secondly, your planning will take you a long way. I have a long term plan (5 years) a middle of the road plan (2-3 years) as well as a yearly plan. All three are interconnnected and each needs to be revised as time goes on. Just cause your one year plan didn't hit your mark doesn't mean that it didn't work. What it means is that you need to review and adjust your plans to fit.

Upgrade equipment as you go, re-investing profits works very well.

Your goal of building service based on reputation, service and value ... I applaud you, I've held that belief from day one. My customer retention is very high. I lose a customer only because they leave town, move to a seniors home or die. In five years I can only think of less than ten customers that have dropped their service, and those are for reasons above. Otherwise I have only lost two customers for other reasons.

Use your customers to build new customers. Every year I offer a customer referral program to exisiting customers. They get me new customers and I reward them with a small gift (example, I give seasons tickets to local university hockey - plus its a tax write off for me). It makes perfect sense to me to let your existing customers send you new clients. The new clients are already presold on your service.

There is so much more, but I want to make one last comment. Take the time to go the extra mile for your customers. For example, I tell all my guys, if a customer comes home from grocery shopping, stop the mower and help them carry the groceries in. It shows repect for the customer as well as ellieviates the possibility of rocks hitting someone. I also tell them to "flirt" so to speak with them. A younger man telling an older woman she looks good today just puts things over the edge.

Much success to you!

Lloyd
Blue's Yard FX
Camrose, AB

grass guru
02-16-2013, 04:13 PM
The expenses to be a legit, and professional looking company are much higher than you would think, or figure. I work 70hrs a week solo maintining 60 lawns/week and am able to show a loss on my books(albeit a very small one). I charge what is normal going rate, provide the best quality sevice, and only lose a customer if they move out of my service area. I cant imagine a customer wanting to pay double what im charging (ive done the math, and if I were going to gross 80k, and only expenses were taxes, then Iwould have to double rates).
Just talk to some professional companies a couple towns over, and see what the market will bear, see how many lawns they maintain, and what % of their gross is their biggest expenses. For me, gas alone is almost 10%. Granted, gas prices were at an all time high, and i tried to absorb as much of it as possible.
Good luck,
Just be reasonable, and realistic, otherwise one is sure to fail.