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Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life. It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.

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Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life.

It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.
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  #1  
Old 03-26-2010, 10:03 AM
JP Landscaping JP Landscaping is offline
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So two seasons ago I started working for a local landscaping guy. I had just graduated from college and was debating whether to keep going and get my CPA or get a job. I decided I would get a summer job and keep going to school in the fall.

My roomate at the time was working for a landscaper and said they had lost a guy and that the landscaper actually needed some help with this accounting. So I asked my roomate to get me an interview hoping to do accounting work for a couple of days and landscaping for the others. it would be an ideal situation.

I got the interview and the job. Most of the summer i worked for the guy doing landscaping and no accounting. i kept approaching him about his needing my help with it. Finally towards the end of the season he said I should go to his place and look at his stuff. in Short It was Terrible.

So I helped him all winter to get his stuff straightened out. We talked about what was going to happen the following season. I told him I could work for him or with him but I was starting my own company. At the time i wanted a lawn care company instead of landscaping. he said he would like to work with me because I was a huge help to him.

I told him he could subcontract to me or I could work for him for $20/hr including doing his accounting, being a foreman, and using my equipment. he said he would look it over. But meanwhile I would work for him for $13/hr til April and we would look at it then.

Well, the summer past and I worked for him for $13/hr the whole season while I was doing work with my company on the side. It didn't work too well with me for I worked 7 days a week from 6-8 for two straight months. I worked for him 9-5 Mon-Fri and the other time I spent with my company.

This season I told him the only way I would work with him is if he subs work to me. he wouldn't have to worry about all the paperwork or management involved with having employees. I would take care of that and he would get a percentage of the earnings.

he said he would look at it and yesterday he called me asking if I wanted to work. I told him yea. So I did a job for him and billed him last night. he told me what work we would work on today but i already had my own job to finish up today so I told him I could work on his job for half a day or he could tell me what needed to be done and I could finish it even if I had to hire someone. There were a couple of jobs he was mentioning.

He didn't respond (this was thru email). So this morning I let him know I won't be able to work because of my own stuff. he seemed a little upset. But I did tell him about 2 months ago that if he wanted me to work on jobs he needed to tell me a week in advance so i could plan and have it done in time.

He still hasn't confirmed whether he will sub work to me or not. I've waited this late to spread my fliers in the chance I would get a lot of work from him and my own. It would be too much work. But I'm going to go out and advertise for my company and get my jobs. He's just going to have get in line if he has work he wants me to do for him.

Did I mention I was a huge asset to him? well, I've been lending him $ when he's short on cashflow. I've also waited weeks to get paid when he doesn't have the cash. I've also purchased materials for him on my accounts when his accounts are full. also, I do all his accounting for like 1/4 of what he would get charged.

I want to help the guy out but this is the year I need to make serious $. Otherwise i'm better off getting an accounting job (which I don't really want to be in an office looking at paper work all year).

Just had to get some of this off my chest.
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  #2  
Old 03-26-2010, 12:49 PM
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thats a really tuff situation
i think by this point id just go out and start my own
id be done waiting..
it actually seems like hes holding you back to get an edge on you but he seems like a nice enough guy to where he wouldnt do that to you since you were such a big asset
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  #3  
Old 03-26-2010, 06:36 PM
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JK is right. Its just holding you back.. Make the move and be on your own. You will be a lot happier without the added stress of wondering about this other guy. If he needs help tell him to make an appointment like everyone else.
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:28 PM
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This sounds like one big freaking mess that is only going to get bigger.

How long has he been in business? Why is he borrowing money from you? Why doesn't he have his act together.

You have been helping him with his books, where is all his cash going? Why is he having such a difficult time with his cash flow?

This thing is going to implode.

There are too many things that are going wrong now and will most likely get worse.

I would focus on my own thing.

I'd love to hear your insight on what you have learned from this interaction because I am sure you see it from a much more clinical perspective. We could ALL learn from this.
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Old 03-26-2010, 09:41 PM
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This guy situation is like this:

He's got 10 years of landscaping experience. This is one of those cases we talk about. He's great at landscaping but a terrible business man. For those reading this, please figure both sides before really getting into it. Make sure you know about the business and how to do business.

So he started back in 04 with a partner. The partner took care of the finances, books, etc and helped out in the field 2-3 days out of the week. The landscaper did all the estimates and day to day handling of the crew. Well, they split off in 06 and the other guy started his own landscaping business (which is one of the more successful ones now).

Landscaper decided to keep the business (corporation) but underestimated the accounting part of it. He wasn't sending in his taxes or any filings for that matter. when I got to him he had un-opened fed and state letters from like 06.

That ('08) summer I worked for him landscaping and starting in the fall to help him with his books (we are just getting the last of it straightened out). He's a real nice guy, family oriented but like i said not good with books.

Well, the reason I lent him money was because he had defaulted with most of his creditors and suppliers so he was buying all supplies on a cash basis. As we all know some customers tend to pay late but the business needs the money now. so his cashflow suffered. He helped out so I helped him out.

during the time his partner left, he was having family problems with his stepdaughter and it caused a separation between him and his wife (though you could never tell because they get along great) so he kind of just stopped caring.

Well now he has been paying the back taxes so his cashflow is slimmer than ever. And also, I figured he wasn't charging enough to begin with. He thought he had low overhead but in reality he wasn't including everything he needed to. in addition his crew was not very efficient.

So it's just a big mess and I feel bad for having to leave like this but I have to focus on me and my business if I want to make mine succeed.

What I have learned from this is:

1. Keep friendships and business separate
- I got too involved in the helping out that my business suffered.

2. Know your costs so you don't end up like this guy
3. Just because you are good at something doesn't mean you will be good at owning a business in that field

I'm going to go at it alone. if i do bad or well, it will be because of me and I'll know what i'm capable of. If it doesn't go well, then i'll get an accounting job
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Old 03-26-2010, 09:47 PM
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Quote:
Well now he has been paying the back taxes so his cashflow is slimmer than ever. And also, I figured he wasn't charging enough to begin with. He thought he had low overhead but in reality he wasn't including everything he needed to. in addition his crew was not very efficient.
When you say he thought he had a low overhead, what was he missing in his mental calculations of it versus the reality of it?

What was your view on the efficiency of his crew? What were they doing and what should they be doing?
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:14 PM
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Well, since he operated out of his apartment and rents a garage to keep his tools in, he thought his overhead was basically his trailers, his landscape tractor, and truck. But in reality he was missing his taxes, employee expenses, and he wasn't charging for the time it took him to do estimates or the time he spent buying materials.

He gets quite a bit of work. We usually had 4 guys busy. But he was always running back and forth delivering materials to the crews when we split up and sometimes we had to wait on materials and it was wasted time. Also his employees were just slow and not trained well. If a problem came up, they always wanted to wait until the landscaper came back to tell him instead of fixing it. None of them know how to do hardscapes, like retaining walls until I came in.

It's just that without supervision the employees were not motivated enough do their best. here's another lesson. Find trustworthy employees and learn to value the good ones.
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:32 PM
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That is very interesting!

If you could come in there as a consultant and help him fix his business, what would be the top 5 things you would have him do or change?
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:28 AM
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I think the top 5 things I would urge him to do are the following:


1. pay your taxes
2. Hire a full-time accountant/bookkeeper
3. Know your costs (figure out how much he needs to make for himself on top of his operating costs.)
4. Hire reliable employees (he has the same employee he fired twice)
5. Plan ahead- business plan ( most of the time he only plans one or two days ahead)
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Old 03-28-2010, 07:45 PM
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With all this going on, do you think you could have gone into a partnership with him and turned this business around or would that be too much work and not worth it?
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