I started my business in early 2010. I bought a house then built a 12X16 shed, and have since ran it out of that, now I'm running out of room
I know this is a bit to read, but it may prove useful. This is all from my firsthand experience, hopefully I can help someone with it.
I would have to say that the 5 tips to starting a business would be the following-
#1. Make debt your worst enemy! At the start of your business, you dont have much in the way of a customer base, so as tempting as it is to get that loan to by that beautiful big shiny new fancy mower with bells and whistles, DON'T. I can't stress this enough. You will set yourself up for failure.
#2. Pretty doesn't mean perfect. Even if you have the cash saved up to buy a newer truck, I would suggest not to, for many reasons. First off, think of the basics, why are you buying this truck? For work or for pleasure? For work, right? You can save so many thousands of dollars by going with a truck that's not so nice. second off, some of you might say, "The customer will be scared off by your truck!" , not true. I have 2 dodge trucks, both 3/4 ton. the first a 78' the second an 88' . I haven't once received a complaint even from customers in well-to-do developements, my belief is that they care about 2 things, how much your charging, and how well you do your job. When you have a large volume of customers, save up the CASH for that shiny new truck if you feel it's necessary. I would rather put all that hard earned money into more tools and equipment, but that's just me. This paragraph is simply to those in their first, second, and mabey third year in business. When you start your business, like I said earlier, you wont have a huge customer base, so since you won't have your hands full, take time to get to know your clients and be friendly, feel them out, they will get to like you more, then come things like loyalty(hopefully), referalls, etc. You are also probably going to be marketing your business like I did and still do, going door to door. the potential customer probably won't even see your vehicle until they hire you! One more point, unless you have a lot of money to blow on a mechanic, the newer vehicles are so much more difficult to work on. My two old trucks are incredibly easy to work on, so I save money all around, buying cheaper, and repairing cheaper. (I got my 88' for $950 and my 78' for $500
) I did shoot for a somewhat formal apparel appearance however, I ordered some custom shirts, hats, and cards, all which matched each other.
#3. Don't underestimate going door-to-door.
This has brought me roughly %90 of my business. Hopefully in a couple years, I can pay someone else to do it for me
. Going door-to-door is time well spent, truly. My wife and I just got done yesterday with making 400 door hangers for spring which i'm going to start delivering to houses tomorrow. Don't think your to good to do it! Some guys have a swollen head thinking that's below them, I can tell you right now, my customer base growth percentile is going to be much greater than his the following year, because I'm NOT to good to do it. even the big companies, Senske, Trugree, etc. still do it! Remember the more houses you go to, the more you'll get back, and one "NO" is one more closer to that "yes!"
#4. Spend your money on things that make you more money.
This idea sounds a bit basic, but it's easier said than done. I wouldn't have ever believed I could be where I am today, a year ago, and I believe a huge part of that is because, I haven't gotten a loan, I pushed hard for new customers, and this, spending money wisely. In my first year of my business I acquired 2 mowers honda, 2 commercial string trimmers stihl and shindaiwa, commercial pressure washer craftsmen, commercial blower stihl, edger john deere, $2,000 in various handtools, a $4000 aerator ryan, $2500 power rake billy goat, 2 trucks, a dual axle 10 ton capacity trailer, and quite a bit more. Almost $20,000 solely into my business. This is in my FIRST year, I can't wait to see what happens this upcoming year. I didnt blow my money on things like a boat, an atv, guns, etc. . Now all those thing are fine, but if you can understand that the more you put into your business today, the more you'll get out of it tomorrow, then you'll be better off! Think of the money your business earns are like poker chips, how will you play them? I will be able to enjoy those other activities a few years down the road, as for now, I want to put %90 of my extra cash after bills, towards my business. Trust me this pays off big time!
#5. Tap into local resources.
This is something I never considered when I first started my business. First off, check your city hall, to see if they have programs for local small business support, they may have someone who can be an aid to you throughout your first year, and your taxes are paying for it! Second, don't be afraid to approach your competitor, if he or she happens to be working a yard or two down from you, take a second to go over and introduce yourself! Don't get to snoopy with questions, but give him or her your card, and leave before he or she wants you to
. This has paid off big time for me, because one guy I made an effort to call and meet up with, is now contracting a lot of work over to me! He is at a maximum limit, and he doesn't want to expand anymore, so he can then recommend me. Third and last, www.gopherforum.com
I wish I found this site a year ago! I know I will learn a lot, and hopefully these paragraphs I've written will help someone too.
Start your business today!!!
The Lord is good!
Kootenai Lawn Care
Owner / Operator