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  • When starting out. Should I get a business license?

    If i were to try to get any commerical lawn accounts for 2010 season. Do most require the landscaping company to have a business license? Since i started my own business in april 2009. i never got a business license cause i was just doing residential clients and most just gave me cash or check. Plus i wasnt bringing in that much that would justify getting a license. i know as i grow. i will require the whole 9 yards with taxes, licenses, insurances, etc. I figured, if i could land 1 commerical account. i could ask for half the season's fees up front and that could pay for all the licenses, bigger equipment, a truck, trailer, etc. just exploring my options for next year since fall cleanup is just about over and the only thing i have left is snow removal. if and when it snows lol. " I never got a business license when i was a teenager either and i ran my business from age 15-19. I am now 32 and i know i need the licenses, insruances, tax id's etc. i just dont know when to get it all. I would guess if i had any commericial accounts, it would require all that but i dont know. any help would be appreciated.

    paul

  • #2
    It's the law where I live as is insurance, min 2 million liability for any commercial work and there is no real reason to not have a registration and license.
    Andy
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

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    • #3
      I sent a private message to steve and he asked me to post it here. this is what i wrote him

      "If i were to try to get any commerical lawn accounts for 2010 season. Do most require the landscaping company to have a business license? Since i started my own business in april 2009. i never got a business license cause i was just doing residential clients and most just gave me cash or check. Plus i wasnt bringing in that much that would justify getting a license. i know as i grow. i will require the whole 9 yards with taxes, licenses, insurances, etc. I figured, if i could land 1 commerical account. i could ask for half the season's fees up front and that could pay for all the licenses, bigger equipment, a truck, trailer, etc. just exploring my options for next year since fall cleanup is just about over and the only thing i have left is snow removal. if and when it snows lol. " I never got a business license when i was a teenager either and i ran my business from age 15-19. I am now 32 and i know i need the licenses, insruances, tax id's etc. i just dont know when to get it all. I would guess if i had any commericial accounts, it would require all that but i dont know. any help would be appreciated.

      paul


      Well personally for just beginning I can't say you're on the wrong track.

      I'm not 100% sure about this, but I believe a license is required if you make a certain amount of income on what you do.

      You're plan is pretty solid. Residential customers never demand to see a license for lawn maintenance.

      The only flaw would be you're pricing.

      On the Forum:

      Business owners can say, because you aren't paying taxes you are able to lower your price & low ball everyone. Though personally it's not a big concern.

      I suggest to go about your ways until you decide to get into commercial lawn maintenance.

      It's hard to build a business when your funds are being depleted at the very beginning.

      And almost impossible to take out a business loan with no way to prove how to pay the bank back.

      Example: "I want to borrow $XXXX, I have 5 clients for lawn service"

      It will never work.

      You gotta get your customers, even getting your business registered they will tell you it's not required until you have a steady amount of customers, & prove that it will be able to bring in a continuous source of income.

      Anyway, this question is very difficult to answer. Everything depends on your location, goals, & whoever you talk to.

      Just don't put a business name on your truck, or marketing supplies & you should be good to go!

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      • #4
        I sent a private message to steve and he asked me to post it here. this is what i wrote him

        "If i were to try to get any commerical lawn accounts for 2010 season. Do most require the landscaping company to have a business license? Since i started my own business in april 2009. i never got a business license cause i was just doing residential clients and most just gave me cash or check. Plus i wasnt bringing in that much that would justify getting a license. i know as i grow. i will require the whole 9 yards with taxes, licenses, insurances, etc. I figured, if i could land 1 commerical account. i could ask for half the season's fees up front and that could pay for all the licenses, bigger equipment, a truck, trailer, etc. just exploring my options for next year since fall cleanup is just about over and the only thing i have left is snow removal. if and when it snows lol. " I never got a business license when i was a teenager either and i ran my business from age 15-19. I am now 32 and i know i need the licenses, insruances, tax id's etc. i just dont know when to get it all. I would guess if i had any commericial accounts, it would require all that but i dont know. any help would be appreciated.

        paul
        Well Paul, just to answer a few of your questions.

        1. I haven't had one company ask for my license, however they almost all have asked for my insurance certificate. In order to get liability insurance you will need to talk to an insurance agent to see what they need for you to get liability insurance. Most commercial customers require at least 1 million in liability insurance coverage. My liabilty insurance runs roughly 1500.00 per year. I have 2 million liability plus my equipment is covered in case of theft so mine is a little higher.

        2. I doubt seriously if you will find a commercial account to pay you half the years fees up front. If you do let me know.

        3. Federal Tax ID number may be required by your commercial accounts as some will want you to fill out a W-9 form. It doesn't cost you anything to get a federal tax id number. Banks will not open a business checking account unless you have a fed id number as well.
        Last edited by Totables; 12-10-2009, 08:05 PM.

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        • #5
          If i were to try to get any commerical lawn accounts for 2010 season. Do most require the landscaping company to have a business license?
          When you say business license, what are you referring too? Do you mean registering your business name? Or does your area require contractors to purchase a license to operate?

          Since i started my own business in april 2009. i never got a business license cause i was just doing residential clients and most just gave me cash or check. Plus i wasnt bringing in that much that would justify getting a license. i know as i grow. i will require the whole 9 yards with taxes, licenses, insurances, etc. I figured, if i could land 1 commerical account. i could ask for half the season's fees up front and that could pay for all the licenses, bigger equipment, a truck, trailer, etc. just exploring my options for next year since fall cleanup is just about over and the only thing i have left is snow removal. if and when it snows lol. "
          With commercial lawn care accounts now, I would think you may be lucky if they pay a single invoice within 60 days. Some might hold off 90 days! I don't think there is anyway most commercial accounts are going to hand over that much money in advance. Everyone is hurting with this economy now.

          I never got a business license when i was a teenager either and i ran my business from age 15-19. I am now 32 and i know i need the licenses, insruances, tax id's etc. i just dont know when to get it all. I would guess if i had any commericial accounts, it would require all that but i dont know. any help would be appreciated.
          Here is my take on all this, you gotta be prepared to win. There are a few things here that seem to be holding you back and they are very simple steps to take. Why let them hold you back? Why not get insurance and get your tax id and all that. Then there would be nothing stopping you from going out and building the business you want.
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          • #6
            I have to agree with Steve totally. If you want to start a business and do it right, there are some steps to making sure you are legit and doing what it takes. The last thing you want to do is come across a really good opportunity to have it taken away because you didn't follow a few simple rules. I haven't been in the lawn care business very long at all but I have put things together that have kept me from the serious headaches that could arrise later.

            1. In NC, you have to have a pesticide license if you are going to spray or lay any type of chemicals. You may want to check in your state to see what the law is. It cost me $55 for the class and materials. But now I don't have to worry. I also spent 2 days in class, but what is 2 days compared to years in college to make the same amount of money you can make in lawn care.

            2. Liability Insurance: Check with you insurance agent for a quote. Normally it is really low and they can set up payment schedules for you.

            3. Tax Id: This is up to you. But I suggest you call your local IRS office and get a tax id number. Business Checking accounts,etc... will all require this.

            4. If you don't have the equipment to do commercial accounts, then start with the smaller commercial accounts. There are many areas and business that are smaller but pay well and you can do their lawns with the equipment you have. However, you do not want to spend all day on an account four days a month and only make only pay you 300.00 a month.

            5. Financing Equipment: NEVER finance anything unless you can justify the payment with accounts you already have. Purchased used equipment if you can.

            The key to success in this business is to get off you duff, and get out there a sale your services. Don't be afraid to knock on doors.

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            • #7
              Don't get me wrong. When i started out I wanted to get all the insurances, licenses, etc. but didnt and still dont have the renevue to do it. I was laid off from my engineering job. I made a little over 50,000 a year. so you can imagine its a kick in the butt to lose that much money. I managed to get unemployment but that was no where near enough to keep a roof over my head. So i decided to mow some lawns to make up the difference. I know i am slowly growing with my customer base and need to get all the legalities out the way. I dont have a truck. I manage to put all my equipment in the trunk of my car and the back seat. I know its slow now being almost winter, so I am using this time wisely by mass marketing. going door to door. Putting flyers in mailboxes, knocking door to door. Although i find knocking does no good when most home owners are not home when i am out and i am not knocking on their door after dark. Most wont answer anyway. So i mass print several hundred flyers, folder em neatly and drop them off in their mailbox. My small goals next year are to go full time in the business; get all the neccessary insurances, id's, licenses; buy a used truck and buy a trailer. I have to consider alot. where am i going to park the trailer when not in use? where am i going to store and secure all my equipment? I currently keep the mower outside except in winter. I keep the blower and trimmer in my basement. all fuels are outside always in a certain location away from any combustible areas like exhaust ports for my furnace and/or dryer exhaust. My big time goal is to move to a better area where i can park all my stuff at my place and keep it secure there. But wrapping up. I need to be able to bring in 800 a week (after all expenses, taxes) to come close to what i used to make and i dont don't come anywhere close right now.

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              • #8
                Have you been thinking of services you could offer this late fall and winter? Are you promoting any of them?

                Did you get any signs made for your truck yet?
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                • #9
                  I did print out a few flyers for leaf cleanup that i designed. Microsoft Publisher works great for that. I had a few who i did run into while dropping flyers off for that, inquire about getting their leaves cleaned up, but none called me back. I only managed to do 3 leaf cleanup jobs.

                  Now its almost mid december and i dont expect to get any more jobs for leaf cleanup. but as i am out passing out my 2010 lawn care flyers. Anyone i run into, i intend to ask them if they need their leaves cleaned up if they even have leaves.

                  Most of my current customers are aware that i also am doing snow removal, which isnt a problem since i live on a major bus route and the entire area is flat. so i dont have to worry about hills. the downside to it all. i don't have a gas stage 1 snow blower, nor have the room to fit it in my trunk and/or have the money to even buy one. So i will be limited to using a snow shovel, and a bucket of blizzard wizard i bought from home depot 2 months ago. and charging 1 rate for snow removal and an additional fee for salt application.

                  I am hoping for atleast 3 snow storms but in the past 10 years here. we get 2 major storms a decade. so snow income i cant rely on.

                  so i have to look forward to srping and keep working my numbers as for proposed number of clients for 2010 and try to come as close to it as possible. I made a spreadsheet with excel to help me calculate how much i earn mid march thru end of october based on a current and proposed number of clients. expenses from november thru end of february to plan for zero (0) jobs in that time frame so i can afford not to work then. If i do any leaf cleanups, gutter cleanouts, snow removal, etc. thats just extra income i'll have for that time frame. i do have 1 client who wants me to weed out his flower beds once a month which is an additional fee. I know what i want and how to get there. its just getting there is the hard part. but slow and steady wins the race i always say.

                  paul

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                  • #10
                    I did print out a few flyers for leaf cleanup that i designed. Microsoft Publisher works great for that. I had a few who i did run into while dropping flyers off for that, inquire about getting their leaves cleaned up, but none called me back. I only managed to do 3 leaf cleanup jobs.
                    How did you go about dropping these flyers off? Did you stick them in doors? Mail boxes? Knock on doors? How many did you drop off?
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                    • #11
                      How did you go about dropping these flyers off? Did you stick them in doors? Mail boxes? Knock on doors? How many did you drop off?
                      I drove around surveying any properties clearly in need of leaf cleanup. I knocked and all of them weren't home cause it was during the day, so i dropped the folded flyer in their mailbox and moved onto the next one that looked like it needed it. I believe i dropped off about 10 flyers. out of the 10, i recieved 1 call back for a leaf cleanup. it just so happened that a neighbor needed a cleanup in his back yard that i didnt drop a flyer off at and his neighbor referred me to him. and i miss counted. i did 4 leaf cleanups. 3 of them are current customers from 2009 lawn care season. 1 will most likely be a new client for 2010 lawn care.

                      On a lighter note... I posted a link on my facebook of my flyer i published to my comcast account and received 1 inquiry for service. He signed with me to finish up lawn care for 2009 season. i think i mowed his property twice and have him for all of next year.

                      I also posted an ad on craigslist and recieved 2 emails for leaf cleanups. 1 i visited the property to generate an estimate. called the owner back and when they finally got back to me 5 days later. their current lawn care guy had come by and cleaned the leaves up. she never mentioned she had someone and it was a total waste of my time. the 2nd person emailed me and also emailed another company. the other company beat me to the property cause i had to take my daughter to school that day and when i returned home. and called her back the other company had showed up and was in the process of cleaning up the leaves as i was on the phone with her. she said she may call me back the end of november to cleanup the rest of the leaves but she never called. and i never followed back up with her. I didnt have a good vibe with the conversion. she mentioned she has a lawn tractor and does her own yard and only needed leaf cleanup.

                      I did however have a good long conversation with a friend of mine from grade school. He is in the process of being laid off and mentioned he'd work with me. and said if i considered a partnership, he would be able to purchase a trailer and used truck if we needed. since i intend to do this full time next year i would be able to service my area, his area in another county which has alot of richer neighborhoods who would pay double what i charge now. but with me doing it full time i already ran the calculations and it would work out for him and i and if we hired 1-2 helpers for part or full time help. we still would make alot. his concern was being a part time helper would not provide him with a decent income to support his family and i told him i'd consider the partnership. when i did this when i was 14-19. i had a partner for my first 2 years. then he got lazy and ended up quittign the business with me and i kept going. so a partnership isnt that bad of an idea. with 2 people. we can do double the work and make more money to get better equipment faster. so if i decide to do this solo. my goal for 2010 is 50 properties. if i decide to go with a partner. my goal will be 100 customers. i'll let yall know more when i know more. i am still talking it out with my buddy matt to see whats feasible.

                      until next time,

                      paul

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                      • #12
                        i'll let yall know more when i know more. i am still talking it out with my buddy matt to see whats feasible.
                        Is there some service he could offer that would compliment yours and yours his? Maybe he could open a business where he could help you with some things and then you could refer him jobs and him you?

                        Or maybe he could just open another lawn care business in another area and you two could help each other out?

                        I drove around surveying any properties clearly in need of leaf cleanup. I knocked and all of them weren't home cause it was during the day, so i dropped the folded flyer in their mailbox and moved onto the next one that looked like it needed it. I believe i dropped off about 10 flyers. out of the 10, i recieved 1 call back for a leaf cleanup.
                        That's a 10% response rate which is really good! One of our forum members, Andy, keeps different post cards in his vehicle for different services. When he sees a home that could use the service, he can jump on offering the opportunity because he has a postcard on that specific topic with him.

                        Do you find you are constantly looking out for properties you could offer different services too? Or did you stop at those 10 homes and haven't done anything else like that since?
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                        • #13
                          Is there some service he could offer that would compliment yours and yours his? Maybe he could open a business where he could help you with some things and then you could refer him jobs and him you?

                          Or maybe he could just open another lawn care business in another area and you two could help each other out?

                          thats a great idea about him starting his own lawn care business and helping each other out to get more properties done. saves me from the hassles of dealing with partnerships i was reading on.



                          That's a 10% response rate which is really good! One of our forum members, Andy, keeps different post cards in his vehicle for different services. When he sees a home that could use the service, he can jump on offering the opportunity because he has a postcard on that specific topic with him.

                          Do you find you are constantly looking out for properties you could offer different services too? Or did you stop at those 10 homes and haven't done anything else like that since?
                          I stopped on the 10 only cause i had somewhere to be with my family and i havent resumed due to it being rainy here and/or snow. might i add it snowed and never layed. i was upset. i was hoping for some snow removal jobs lol.
                          I did however stock up on blizzard wizard in case it does snow, so i can offer salt application too.

                          i intend today after dropping my daughter off at school at 8:30am to load up the car with my equipment. print out several flyers and go door to door passing out flyers as well as targeting leaf cleanups still in need. Since i am slow with doing lawns. its the best time to get out there and advertise. i also thought about putting a flyer in the help wanted section in the local supermarkets. someone also told me to put a flyer in doctor offices, dentists any store who allows it in their window. the bottom of my flyer has tear aways with just my name and number on it. so its a flyer that doubles its use. i do know the weather for the next 7 days are suposed to be rain free which mean perspectives chances to make some more money and sign 2010 lawn care contracts. Well i gotta get off and wake up the little one and get her ready for kindergarden. cant wait til they do everything on their own. lol. i'll hit yal up later. thanks everyone for great advice.

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                          • #14
                            PSParaco, you're on the right track and doing what you need to do to get things started. The key is, "Don't Give Up". It takes a lot of "no's" before you get a "Yes". I was in sales for 25 years before we started the lawn care side of our business. The way I see it, most guys give up after working a couple of weeks to try to drum up business and things are running really slow. There is a process to building your business and it takes a while to get there. Just keep hitting the doors, passing out the flyers, add other services such as Christmas light Hanging and once Christmas is over, you can even do uninstalls for Christmas deco and Christmas cleanup. Just keep pushing your business!!!

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                            • #15
                              ok so i have a little bit more time this morning to do some research on here and marketing. the ground is literally soaked to the bone from the rain we got yesterday. so i dont expect it to be dry or less muddy until 11am ish. so i can get some things done around here. I pondered something on the pruning. are landscaping companies allowed to do tree limb pruning as long as its ground based and not climbing ladders? i have one of them long extended poles with the saw and bypass shears on it with the long rope that i could prune some low lying limbs that people may want trimmed back and now that its colder and the threat of insects and disease is minimal, no sealant will be needed. I am guessing a job like that would be about 35-40 bucks as long as it took no more then 90 min tops. i loved the service to hang and remove people's xmas decorations and lights. great idea.

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