Our heros have always been entrepreneurs or as we like to call them Gopher-preneurs. It takes a special kind of person to start a business. Running one is never easy, but it does have advantages. In this article we get an inside look at a family run business. Their story is inspiring and just might get you to consider starting a business with your family.
Twins Lawn Care was created by Rob, Tricia, Matthew and Ryan. This is their second year in business. We asked Rob what got him started in business. He explained to us “With the birth of my twin boys, the things in life I thought were the most important changed dramatically. It was clear to me now that the most important thing to me was to be able to be with my wife and kids as much as possible. I then turned to starting my own business to create a career where I can have a flexible schedule to accommodate my family the best way I am able to, with still providing a comfortable living.”
Q: What is the biggest advantage and disadvantage of being your own boss?
A: “Biggest Advantage – getting to make the decisions for the company I truly feel that will benefit it the most. This way, I am able to try various approaches to making the company successful instead of following some already laid out plan working for someone else.
Biggest Disadvantage – lack of time. With being the owner/operator, there is a long list of duties which need to be performed, and I have no choice but to be a “Jack of all trades” My wife has taken on some of my “trades” and will be the company accountant, which is a crucial role in the business.”
Q: What are your 1yr, 5yr and 10yr goals?
A: 1 year goal – pay off initial equipment, and learn the proper processes of accounting, taxes, licensing, and production.
5 year goal – switch over from working the lawn business part time to full time. By allowing 5 years for this goal, we want to ensure we grow to a sufficient client base, which have showed interest in continuing with our service. Also, company name recognition will have grown in the area, to where we have made a name for ourselves in the community.
Q: How many years until you made your first profit?
A: In our second year, we will have shown a profit. The goal is to continue to re-invest this profit into the company, so we can attain our long term goals. We started out with a limited amount of equipment to help attain this goal, and intend to improve equipment as the profits enable us.
Q: Best business decision you have ever made / worst?
A: Best decision I ever made – to begin to advertise. We started out intending to grow slowly, solely by word of mouth. We quickly learned that keeping the client base in certain areas was important for a successful business, and decided to begin to target certain areas for work. We appreciate and encourage word of mouth advertising, but felt we should take the next step, and promote ourselves to those who have not heard of TWINS Lawn Care yet.
Worst decision I ever made – taking on too much work. Although we just started out, we did get quite busy last fall with work. I accepted possibly too much work to complete in a short amount of time, putting a lot of extra stress on the family, and the work itself. I did however learn the importance of scheduling, and taking on only as much as you can handle professionally. We do not want to run into the situation where the quality of work suffers, nor put any additional stress on the family, as that’s the most important thing in our life.
Q: Greatest achievement so far / biggest regret?
A: Greatest achievement – getting started. I think I have talked for years about starting my own business. Originally it was in a different field, but chose to go with lawn care as the extra benefit of being outdoors was a huge benefit to health and enjoyment for me.
Biggest regret – waiting too long. Although I am still fairly young (28) I do wish I had the drive to start a business a few years earlier. In either case, I plan to make it work now, and glad I started when I was 28 and not 38, or 48, etc.
Q: Toughest obstacle so far?
A: Money – with starting any business, money for starting out was tight. It caused a great deal of stress, but I knew it was necessary to take a hit in the beginning in order to accomplish much greater gains down the road. That is one of the other trades I feel I need to stay in command of, is looking past the obstacles and staying focused on the goals.
Q: What makes your company stand out?
A: We pride our company on family morals, and courteous service. Our customers appreciate the fact that we are very easy to talk to, and treat them with respect, whether while working, or just talking. The bottom line is we use the golden rule in all of our working practices, treat others as you would like to be treated.
Q: What is your favorite business book?
A: I don’t have a favorite business book per say, but a favorite saying which goes a long way: “You don’t lose by getting knocked down, you only lose by not getting up”. I am not sure who said it, but it was said to me once, and has stuck ever since. I think it is very true. We have gone through some rough times as everyone does, but have always kept that thought in my mind, and keep on trying.
Q: Why do you feel most new businesses fail?
A: I feel most new businesses fail by not being thorough enough. Whether it is in their initial research of what is necessary to run a successful business, or the plan they intend to take, or the work actually done. By being thorough, you have to naturally be patient, and take the time to think things through. Starting your own business always seems to be such an easy way to make so much money, but the fact is small businesses that succeed only make it look easy. It takes a great deal of dedication to have a small business succeed, and I tend to believe most company owners that run out of that also run out of business soon after.
Q: What is the most important business lesson(s) you have learned?
A: Do everything legal, and be thorough. I have learned that you will avoid many major headaches by following the book from the beginning. The one time this bit us was on a non-paying customer. We took their word for it that they would pay us for doing their maintenance, and it went too long, and was hard to collect in the end. Had we had a signed agreement, it would have solved a lot of headaches. Luckily, the lesson was learned for a fairly small amount, so we will simply learn from it and move on.
Q: - What are the business rules you follow?
A: I don’t have a lot of rules that do not lead back to the golden rule. It is so broad, it covers all aspects of business, and life. Whether it be from giving an honest bid, to doing the complete job, to never misleading a client into thinking they need additional work, I’d have to sum it up with: Treat others like you would want to be treated
Q: If you could talk to someone just starting out, what advice would you give?
A: Do research! There are many informational sources that you can learn endless amounts of great knowledge from, that is priceless when starting out. One great one I have found is ********.com, a green industry forum with hundreds of professionals all there to help. The amount of information you can gather before you spend even one dime is worth thousands down the road. You just need to be patient and set your plan out, and again, being thorough.
Q: Finish this sentence: My dream is to.....?
A: Be there for my family whenever they need me. My goal in life is to be able to spend as much time as possible with my wife and kids, and provide a comfortable lifestyle for them as well. I feel it was done for me, and has made a great positive impression on my life.
Q: Favorite musical artist?
A: I enjoy a wide spread of music, from country to rap, but if I had to pick one artist, it would be The Dave Matthew’s Band. Their music combines so many different elements, it keeps you listening, while the lyrics still have meaning.
Q: Who has influenced you the most?
A: My family. Growing up, I was taught that you have to work for everything you want. I used to hate working so much growing up, I would have much rather played wiffle ball more, but I appreciate what my family instilled in me, and intend to pass it along to my children. There is nothing in my opinion that can make you feel the way you do after you complete a hard task. Just that sense of accomplishment is priceless. You can pay someone to do a job, but you cannot pay them to give you that feeling.
Q: If you could do anything right now, what would you be doing?
A: Taking a road trip with my wife and kids. Me and my wife love taking off and just driving to a new part of the country. It is nice to get away, and see what else is out there in life. Our country is so full of interesting places and people, it is a shame people do not try and see it more. We’d like to show our children there are all kinds of people out there with different habits, houses, and lifestyles, and there is nothing wrong with any of them, they are just different. It is amazing what you can learn from people you do not even know.
Q: Do you do anything to "give back to your community?" If so, what?
A: With just starting out, we have not given back anything monetarily as of yet. We would like to start a scholarship fund. We feel education is important, and would be willing to offer a scholarship to help a hard working student continue in their dreams.
Non-monetarily, we may try to look into volunteering some time to help with areas which need to be cleaned up, or given a face lift. It would be a good feeling to help put our business to use for the purpose of helping others.
Q: Current pet project?
A: I am going to be building some power-wheel like cars for my twin boys. They’re 19 months old now, so I should have them ready by next summer. I figure a couple of nice kid sized Camaros for them should make for a proud daddy, and some happy kids. You can’t put a price on a kids smile!
Q: Dream vacation spot?
A: I don’t have a specific location in mind, but I think somewhere like Hawaii would be a great place to visit. Just the thought of a nice warm beach to relax on is appealing.
Q: Dream car?
A: This is an easy one, 1968 Chevrolet Camaro, Hugger Orange with Black racing stripes. If you need my address to send it here, I’d gladly supply it! I owned one of these while I was in college, but had to sell it to get by. I miss that car everyday, and dream of getting another one to enjoy. Maybe my boys will be able to help me restore one when they’re a little older.
Q: What is your ultimate toy?
A: See dream car above, and give me about $30,000 to play with. I am sure form that I can create my ultimate toy.
Q; What’s next on your purchase wish list?
A: Next on our wish list business related is a larger sized commercial mower. We are planning to re-invest in the company this year and move into a larger size mower which will improve our efficiency, and help us continue to grow.
Our thanks and best wishes go to Twins Lawn Care. We hope this is your best year yet.
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