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  • Critique my start up

    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...

  • #2
    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.
    The Lawn Care Artist Formerly known as "Ducke"

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    • #3
      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?
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      • #4
        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.

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        • #5
          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

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          • #6
            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?
            - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
            Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.

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            • #7
              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!!!

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              • #8
                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.

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                • #9
                  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..

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                  • #10
                    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!

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                    • #11
                      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.

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                      • #12
                        In the same boat...

                        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.

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                        • #13
                          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...

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                          • #14
                            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?

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                            • #15
                              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.
                              I am the owner of www.AllOutdoorParts.com an online mower parts distributor. I am also a Briggs Master Service Technician and Expert Certified Mechanic for Kohler. If my posts helps you please like my facebook page at www.facebook.com/alloutdoorparts

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