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FrankenScagMachines
02-23-2006, 09:31 AM
Man you would never meet a person as undecided as me....

First I was gonna sell my business. Then I was going to keep it. Then I was going to sell it. Now I'm going to keep it.. why oh why can't I make up my mind?!?!?!

I was selling some of my stuff, actually had everything listed on Ebay and sold the big trailer, dump truck, and some of my 2 cycle equipment but the plow, spreader, rider etc. didn't get halfway to the reserve (kinda the wrong season) but I realized how much money I would be losing on the rider and I was like man this really sucks its too nice and almost new to be losing that much money on... I even had 2 guys ready to buy my accounts.... So I was thinking well selling that dump truck and trailer I didn't have to have those things, now i work at Advance Auto Parts but your not allowed to work more than 40 hrs a week. I said well I can just keep my job there and keep my 12' trailer, my Z, plow and spreader, and about 12-15 of my best accounts and I'd be better off financially than taking a loss on the mower, plus I'd have something to do in all that time off.. no girlfriend to take up all my extra evening hours.... So I figured, hey, the mowing would more than make payments on the mower maybe better than taking a loss on it. Just quit trying to do it full time and deal with too much headache and hassle... and one of my buddies at work used to work for a large landscape company here in town so he can run all equipment and help out if i get in a tight spot or just find a need help one day a week or whatever....

Anyway one of my largest aggravations in the business was dealing with paperwork stuff... I got a laptop a year ago and found I really like that for keeping track of stuff, never lose papers anymore, gobs more organized, had a printer setup in the truck, great for estimates, invoices, etc. but just couldn't keep everything organized enough, like when it came time to make invoices every month had to go to a great deal of effort to dig up all the info of when i was where and what I'd done, then go back and put that into an invoice and print those all out.... the records for work stuff were a hassle and I have racked my brain to think of a better way I think I just need to break down and go buy a software program but how much would this cost and which are some of the better ones out there?


Thanks for any help in advance and thanks for all you guys' support.... I hope 2006 is an awesome season for you guys and remember, bigger isn't always better, and its not the size that counts its how you use it! :weightlifter: :cool2: :usflag:


Thanks
Eric

HOOLIE
02-23-2006, 09:47 AM
Good to see you back in the business...nothing wrong with keeping your options open :) Maybe we'll see you posting more often???

Jpocket
02-23-2006, 09:55 AM
So your saying that you'd rather work at Advanced auto parts with nbo benefits, and do 12-15 accounts parttime????????????

IMHO you should do one or the other, your just screwing yourself in the long run. Your limiting your business growth where you can make real money, and your also limiting your time in the work force by not having a fulltime gig with benefits. If you keep doing that long enough (dibbling and dabbling ) you end up with nothing except some cash.

And I hate you for sell MY TRUCK...I loved that thing from the min. You posted it. Personally dude I think your messing up, if you think about it man YOU WERE ALREADY "THERE". I think your jumping the gun as far as getting out of business. I say stay in and build your business, SAVE SOME $$$$$$$, and after 10 or so years, if you want to go do somthing else.

My plan is something like that...I love the Lawn/Lanscape business...But I want to do other things, but they require alot of $$$ to get into. So I just gonna keep building the lawn business, and save money buy a home, and them when the money is right start another venture, hopefully in like 5 years not 10 LOL.

BSDeality
02-23-2006, 10:07 AM
HaH! i knew you wouldn't survive away from the landscaping biz. you're too outdoorsy of a person. Do it on the side, thats how a lot of people get started, you could easily fall back to that position. I would look for a job with benefits if you're not planning on going FT with the landscaping though.

do a demo on gopher dude, its great for startups/small companys. i think the basic starts around $200. I recently upgraded to quickbooks, but i'll still be using gopher for my mowing routes because the billing/scheduling is so great.

jpmako
02-23-2006, 10:10 AM
Eric,

Glad to see your somewhat back in the game.
As far as software for the business that will make your life a little easier I would check out Gopher and/ or Quickbooks.
Quickbooks is an invaluable tool to my business for invoicing. It saves sooo much time. I guess that I do things the old fashion way, I have route sheets that we fill out at every stop and then this information is transfered to the computer at night. One thing that has really made my life easier is having everyone on a monthly fixed price. Managing 20 or so clients should not be a problem for you. But I already know from having experienced this first hand, once you get back in it will take over your life again. Those 15 or so clients will be 30 by the end of the season. It is a never ending cycle. Pretty soon you will say man this job at Advance Auto Parts sucks. I make more cutting five houses a day than working here. You just remember who said all of this when next spring rolls around and you are doing an expansive marketing campaign and you have 70 houses. :waving:


Jason

walker-talker
02-23-2006, 10:19 AM
I went through the same thing a few years ago. I either wanted to go full-in or get out. I was making a list of what I wanted to sell and what I wanted to keep. The Walker has a nice cut and I have a lawn...better keep that. I will need a trimmer and I can always use a blower to clean out the garage. I can always use the dump truck and a standard truck is nice to have...in addition to my personal truck. I "half-assed" try to sell some stuff, but no luck. So I made the decision to go full-in. Three years later I gave 3 weeks notice to my employer. I have been working for the Coleman Co. for 14 years, making $40K+ a year and now have one week until I am out of there. It has been the toughest decision of my life, but I am so excited.

Good luck with whatever decision you make Eric!!!

Matt

Rhett
02-23-2006, 10:22 AM
Welcome back to the light side Eric. Don't forget about the colledge you were talking about a long time back. Best not to look around in ten years with a wife and kids and not have options.

FrankenScagMachines
02-23-2006, 11:08 AM
Thanks guys. Well here's the thing, last season I was trying to be full time with the company, even advertised more and had the best equipment setup you could ask for, but the phone just wasn't ringing enough... and i'm too particular... I only ended up with about 20 jobs and I couldn't make enough to be full time at that. With more advertising I got less work than the year before (was close to 30 the previous year).... so I figured drop a couple of the ones I don't like and do both jobs at once this year put in 110% into the lawn biz, if the lawn biz is meant to be, then it will work out and business will pickup, I would gladly do it full time if the work was there...

Also I still live with my parents and still covered on their insurance for a while so I don't need insurance at Advance, and the benefits are very minimal especially this early in the career and when your just a salesperson (counter work) ie, not a manager. They pay me the same rate per hour as if i were full time, so no advantage there...

So really I'll just work at Advance to fill my spare time and its better to make a little money than to make none!!!

I'm dropping all advertising this year, I would have kept the phone book line ad but at the time of renewal I was planning on selling out so I told them no...
So, no advertising this year just some good loyal faithful customers that would hate to see me leave them... If its meant to be then the phone will ring from word of mouth and let it go from there :)

Oh and i just downloaded Gopher trial, will see how I like it...

Thanks guys!
Eric

BSDeality
02-23-2006, 11:20 AM
what other advertising methods have you tried? signage on truck? job site signs? flyers? doorhangers? teaming up with another (unrelated) business? newspaper?

The best is word of mouth and referrals BAR NONE I have one customer who got me in contact with another manager and that turned into a $4K contract for half the year, this year should just top over $10K from them alone. The other day I asked him to refer me to another manager that I'm interested in selling my service to and he's workin on that for me now too. It's all about who you know, not what you know sometimes.

kppurn
02-23-2006, 11:21 AM
Eric, you may also want to take a look at QXpress by Alocet for your scheduling/invoicing.

With the standard version you can set up your schedule and click "completed" at the end of the day for all services done. At the end of the month simply click "generate invoices" and an invoice is created for each customer. Export to Quickbooks, print, and you're done.

May be worthwhile if you ever decide to give it another go full time.

Rayray
02-23-2006, 11:31 AM
Eric,,I can sell u a trimmer...I have a real nice stihl,:D , how is that truck coming along...can u post some pics sometime??

FrankenScagMachines
02-23-2006, 11:42 AM
BS, I've done yellow pages, newspaper ads, truck signs, large leaf box signs on nice painted leaf box, doorhangers, business cards everywhere, not all of this was done at the same time I tried to do it at different times so as to see which netted the best results..

Yellow pages is best advertising for the cost, bar none, plus gets the best types of customers... gets more commercial accounts.

Newspaper gets good amount of response but can get more price shoppers and rarely gets a commercial account.

Fliers/doorknob hangers is a waste of time around here... I'd used them to try to target certain areas but the response on them is so minimal its not worth the time effort and cost...

Business cards and word of mouth work OK and you can have people that just love you to death and say oh yeah i'd tell about you to all my friends, well it just never seems to happen. Sometimes you get a call that was a referall but for all the raving people do about me I'm very surprised I never get more referals than I do... I'm not really sure why this happens.

Truck signs- waste of time again.. never got any calls from it. Figured a quiet neighbor might call here and there, someone who likes my work but never got over to ask me or the customer about it, but never got anything from that either.

So really, yellow pages is probably the best advertising for the money...


KPPurn, Sounds good I may have to check into that one as well... Gopher seems ok i've been playing on it a few minutes trying to figure it out...

Ray, yea you can rot for that too! I hate me for that... that was an awesome machine... it will serve you well :) The truck i haven't even touched it yet its still on the trailer! I think that project will get put off until late summer or even next winter... no time or money right now..

Thanks
Eric

HOOLIE
02-23-2006, 11:49 AM
Eric, I think it's great that you're mature enough to even temporarily step away from your business to see if it's what you really want. Nothing wrong with that at all. More people should do that, I sometimes wonder about the young guys that latch on to this as a career before they've even moved out of their parent's house. It's not all about making big dollars or being your own boss.

You have a good head on your shoulders, I'm sure it will guide you in the right direction. Maybe to college? (sorry had to throw that in there :) )

FrankenScagMachines
02-23-2006, 12:04 PM
You guys are about as subtle as my momma when it comes to that schooling issue.....

Yea I kinda threw the biz on the backburner this winter and forgot about it most of the time, see how I like working for someone else and not worryin about the business... workin for someone else has good and bad points... the good ones is that you can interact with co-workers (ok that can be bad too!) the bad things is that you HAVE to interact with co workers, and if someone else screws up it can mess you up too, and if you don't like something, tuff it, can't change it...

Yea just this morning I was returning a call and proceeded to go to an estimate and my mom commented how cheerful and nice I am on the phone and how you can tell that this is just something I love to serve customers... I said heck i don't even do half that good at work... she said well its not yours though, so momma's right i reckon...

So this time off from it, gave me time to realize my priorities and whats practical... I think this will work for now :)

grass_cuttin_fool
02-23-2006, 12:17 PM
Eric, glad to see its still in your blood, lol. I know you are young and yes that paper work can be a drag. My system isnt the easiest but my sister in law has made me some excel sheets and they work for me very nice. Anyway Im glad to see that you are keeping LawnCare as an option.

wayne

FrankenScagMachines
02-23-2006, 12:39 PM
Hey Wayne, how ya doin' buddy? :waving: :usflag:

I think its slightly in my blood but if I just had something equal or greater than it come along I probably could let it go, just so long as there was a replacement for it... :dizzy: :cry: :hammerhead:

Freshcut Lawn Care
02-23-2006, 02:18 PM
Go with your Passion Eric.

Everything else you are looking for will follow you!

If you really like the service industry, your personal commitment and customer relations, will carry you to a great future!

Why not hire someone for a few hours a month, to do your administrative stuff!

Best Wishes from Canada! :canadaflag:

Jpocket
02-23-2006, 02:39 PM
I thought you had more work than that Eric, b/c you mentioned having some help, and the new lazer, and the oldie but goodie chevy dump.

mrusk
02-23-2006, 08:57 PM
SCAG- Don't feel bad at all. I change my mind every other day. One day i am moving out of NJ to Texas, then its GA, then SC, then Idaho. Then the next day i am not moving at all. Figuring out where i am going to live is only half my proably. I can't decide what path i want to take with the business. Maintence and hardscapes or just hardscapes. Or home improvements and home building. I am all over the place with everything.

Oh i hate the paper work side of the business too. Luckily i don't do 1.5 mil in sales a year or i'd have a big mess.

ICE
02-23-2006, 09:09 PM
Eric,

I have always been amused by your posts and have enjoyed reading them. They always seem upbeat, lively and just full of energy. I just wanted to let you know that I am out of the business as of this year. Sadly, things just were not working out for me, and over the last few years, my small niche work in my devastated area just can not seem to support good quality work at a fair price, so, I am out. I will continue to read these although, be more of just a reader than a poster. A lot of these posts are very informing! I thank all of the lawnsite members that helped me over the last few years and I wish you all the best of luck!

Thanks!
Tim

captken
02-23-2006, 10:21 PM
However, I read enough to see that you want to come back....? Did you just get burned out for a little while or what?
[Mommy refused to feed you and wash your cloths for free? Just kidding.... Realization of taking on the responsibilities of being a man scare you?....lol..[bird leaving the nest...] to be that young again....:dancing: ]


It's good hear from you again in a positive way...kenny.

Envy Lawn Service
02-23-2006, 11:56 PM
Eric,

Please excuse the nature of my fatherhood, but I really don't know a better way to put it than this...

If the advertising ain't working quit paying for it. Son, if the phone ain't ringing and you don't have enough work, then it's time to HIT THE BRICKS. Spend the ad money on gas, shoes, presentable attire, cards, flyers, lunch, whatever it takes.... you gotta get out there and GET the work if it's not coming to you.

A LOT of places will never even consider giving you the opportunity if you don't stop by in person and ASK FOR IT. The worst they can do is tell you no, and if they don't the worst that can happen is you get lowballed.

But you'll never know at all if you don't hit these commercial sites atleast once and find out.

As for the paperwork end of the business, you have to find a way to make that stuff organized and streamlined. If you don't it can quickly get overwhelming, painstaking and time consuming. But I don't have to tell you that.

tinman
02-23-2006, 11:58 PM
Man you would never meet a person as undecided as me....

First I was gonna sell my business. Then I was going to keep it. Then I was going to sell it. Now I'm going to keep it.. why oh why can't I make up my mind?!?!?!

I was selling some of my stuff, actually had everything listed on Ebay and sold the big trailer, dump truck, and some of my 2 cycle equipment but the plow, spreader, rider etc. didn't get halfway to the reserve (kinda the wrong season) but I realized how much money I would be losing on the rider and I was like man this really sucks its too nice and almost new to be losing that much money on... I even had 2 guys ready to buy my accounts.... So I was thinking well selling that dump truck and trailer I didn't have to have those things, now i work at Advance Auto Parts but your not allowed to work more than 40 hrs a week. I said well I can just keep my job there and keep my 12' trailer, my Z, plow and spreader, and about 12-15 of my best accounts and I'd be better off financially than taking a loss on the mower, plus I'd have something to do in all that time off.. no girlfriend to take up all my extra evening hours.... So I figured, hey, the mowing would more than make payments on the mower maybe better than taking a loss on it. Just quit trying to do it full time and deal with too much headache and hassle... and one of my buddies at work used to work for a large landscape company here in town so he can run all equipment and help out if i get in a tight spot or just find a need help one day a week or whatever....

Anyway one of my largest aggravations in the business was dealing with paperwork stuff... I got a laptop a year ago and found I really like that for keeping track of stuff, never lose papers anymore, gobs more organized, had a printer setup in the truck, great for estimates, invoices, etc. but just couldn't keep everything organized enough, like when it came time to make invoices every month had to go to a great deal of effort to dig up all the info of when i was where and what I'd done, then go back and put that into an invoice and print those all out.... the records for work stuff were a hassle and I have racked my brain to think of a better way I think I just need to break down and go buy a software program but how much would this cost and which are some of the better ones out there?


Thanks for any help in advance and thanks for all you guys' support.... I hope 2006 is an awesome season for you guys and remember, bigger isn't always better, and its not the size that counts its how you use it! :weightlifter: :cool2: :usflag:


Thanks
Eric
Welcome to 1998 Eric. :) :) You finally got a computer??? :) Definetly get a good program. I like Gopher. I can't imagine keeping up with any size biz with no PC at all. Good luck

FrankenScagMachines
02-24-2006, 12:01 AM
Well one thing thats really bit me in the butt is that I really like my toys and having alot of them to make work easier... some of these were good investments and some were not... The Chevy Dump truck was an easy choice it was just too cheap not to get but I don't have room to store it since i lost my shop then work slowed and didn't need it as much... worked a deal with my buddy to store it in his barn which helped the space issue but I still wasn't keeping it busy enough to justify having it... the leaf season was disappointing this last fall otherwise that truck would have really worked alot more... The Lazer I got because the Ferris was a lemon so I had to get something else. The Lazer is awesome but I lost money on that darned Ferris so that hurt plus the Lazer cost a bit more, but its just the sweetest thing on earth..... But, I'm discontent if I don't constantly have new toys or gadgets or cool tools... this winter I've been trying to train myself to control that urge a bit and try to be content without new things all the time... its a self control issue that i've had to work on and I hope i've mastered it...

Tim,
Sorry to hear about that. Contact me about that trimmer and maybe the handheld blower.. I may wait closer to season and maybe just buy new from a dealer for a trimmer.. probably wait till i have some cash but i'm curious what you have there. just send me a private message. thanks.

Kenny,
I always really liked your posts too, loved seeing the pics of the Hustlers Hustlin' down south workin hard :) Your a volunteer spokesperson for Hustler :) One of my favorite hats that I wear all the time is an old yellow Hustler hat that just says "Hustler Turf Equipment" on it... I wear this hat all the time.... They gave it to me for trying a Super Z when the Super first came out, at the Expo several years ago... Never wore it much till I lost my Stihl hats (actually I kinda know where they're at but she won't give them back LOL)

Thanks guys,
Eric

FrankenScagMachines
02-24-2006, 12:06 AM
Envy, yea yea... I know I know.... the yellow pages really landed me a good bit of commercial work this last year and I could kick myself for not renewing that ad this year.... but i think i want to go this season at a relaxed pace ya know not try to shoot for a lot of growth just be comfortable even if its not a ton of work I don't have to stress the growth since I have other income..

Tinman I've had a computer for ages... look how long i've been a LS member... a pretty long time :) I just invested in a good laptop last summer...

Yea the Gopher trial is pretty neat I got a 1/2 hr to play with it before I went to work today, I do like it. May have to save my pennies and get it...

tinman
02-24-2006, 12:12 AM
Envy, yea yea... I know I know.... the yellow pages really landed me a good bit of commercial work this last year and I could kick myself for not renewing that ad this year.... but i think i want to go this season at a relaxed pace ya know not try to shoot for a lot of growth just be comfortable even if its not a ton of work I don't have to stress the growth since I have other income..

Tinman I've had a computer for ages... look how long i've been a LS member... a pretty long time :) I just invested in a good laptop last summer...

Yea the Gopher trial is pretty neat I got a 1/2 hr to play with it before I went to work today, I do like it. May have to save my pennies and get it...
Oh my bad,, I knew you had been here a long time not to have a computer.

Heck just build something outta nothing and sell it to someone for the $200 to buy Gopher:)

FrankenScagMachines
02-24-2006, 12:42 AM
Yea well as soon as i get money i'd rather pay off bills and debts :(

kc2006
02-24-2006, 12:52 AM
Eric, I know what you mean about the gadgets. I'm the same way, but I have learned that its not about toys but effeciency and whats practical.

I'm going the same way you are this year. Last year I put alot of money into advertising, going big with everything and it didn't do anything for me. This year I'm going back to my original plan, all my advertising will have a personal touch, I landed every mowing/mulch/landscaping account I looked at last year (except a couple I didn't want) because once you get face to face, its so much easier to sell. But instead of going for huge growth, I'm going for steady growth this year like you said. I feel this will keep my spirits higher, and keep quality high and work will be "fun" still.

wglawncare
02-24-2006, 01:00 AM
If I were you to get the paperwork on the right track, I would enter your daily work into the invoices daily. I had a hard time dealing with finding all the info for all the jobs at the end of the month also. I didnt get most of my invoices out till the middle of the next month. Then I got in the routine of entering the info every day or every other and it has turned out beautifally. Hope this helps! Good luck.

FrankenScagMachines
02-24-2006, 01:13 AM
KC, keep me updated how it goes this season :) I know I'll look forward to not having as much stress trying to push for more always... another thing is I will not do one time jobs unless i'm bored to death, I will never again change my schedule to accomodate a one timer...

WG, sounds like a great tip I will definately give that a shot.

thanks
Eric

captken
02-24-2006, 01:29 AM
the waters fine. Growing up is part of....well,....growing up....!
You are smart, [you ain't got much to worry about] try and not doubt yourself, strive to gain confidence and conquer those fears.:drinkup:

South Florida Lawns
02-24-2006, 04:15 PM
I'd say just go on doing what your doing.

Dude speaking about being burnt out, down here I mow all frickin year round. It can be overwhelming.

When I get stressed I look at all the crap that I own because of my business.

You have to give yourself time off and or a vacation every once in a while or you will go crazy.

These days I just pay my bills and make sure the business is making a little money.

I am in the same position as you and zaK18 trying to figure out what to do with my life.

To be honest I love mowing and the outdoors, just not the office side with paper work.

Oh well, I guess thats the trade off to this business.

above all
02-24-2006, 06:48 PM
Eric, Greeting From Bend Oregon. I hate the paperwork more then you. So this is what i do with my returning customers. I print out all the work from last year. like : spring cleanup $150 30 mows @ $50. aerate $100 fert $100 trim bushes $100 etc. add it all up give a small discount if they pay up front, a smaller discount if they pay in two payment or take the sum and divide it into twelve payment and send one bill at the beginning of the year. Then they have their bill for the year. Do send stamped envelopes .This will be my fifth year using this system. I think people love this. You lay out the work that MUST be done to keep their propertys looking great. From your early spring clean up thru your final fall clean up.

captken
02-25-2006, 12:23 AM
I think Bush Hog Boy is [right now] dealing with [the inevitable]: becoming a Bush Hog Man....he will sort it out, maybe change his name again...[I kinda liked bhb]
lol...[lots of luck], you have inspired me with your prior posts.....and from that, there are many.
:clapping: kenny.

Team Gopher
03-02-2006, 08:36 AM
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Hi FrankenScagMachines,

I am happy to see you were able to download the demo of Gopher. I do hope you find it helpful in organizing your business further.

Thanks everyone for thinking of us!

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PaulJ
03-02-2006, 11:25 AM
Eric,
Glad to see you back if it's what you really want. I don't think I could ever go back to working retail (almost 6 yrs with wal-mart).
For organizing I worked alot with microsoft works this winter.
I've been using basic spreadsheets for a few years to keep track of everything but am converting it all to the database format.
I have all my customers info on the database and can mail-merge into letters and hopefully invoices I make in the preprocessor. E-mail me and maybe I can send you some templates, pjarens@frontiernet.net

Westbrooklawn
03-03-2006, 01:33 AM
Eric -

I haven't been on lawnsite much in the last year... I was thinking about you just the other day, and wondering how your business was going. I remember a few years ago when you were cobbing things together (some very creative inventions... ha ha!), and lawngodfather was making an a$$ of himself by criticizing you and your creative potential.

I have been in this business part time for 16 years now. I retired from my "real" job about 2.5 years ago, and I still do lawn maintenance part time at age 57. I am very fortunate to have retired with a real nice lump sum retirement and 401K, so I can pick and choose the lawn maintenance accounts that I take on.

Where am I going with this?.... I just want to let you know that I recognized several years ago that YOU HAVE IT IN YOUR BLOOD! Don't give up the LCO business... you are young enough to make it successful, and to make a good living at it. Let me offer a few simple points of advice:

1. Get and keep the minimum amount of QUALITY equipment that you need to service your market segment (I was glad to see that you realize you have a minor problem in wanting to constantly change out your toys!)

2. Try not to waste time buying and fixing up junk... what seems like a "buy too good to pass up" will end up costing you more in the long run.

3. Decide which services you want to provide, and concentrate on those. When you are small you can't be a mower, snow plower, landscaper, tree man, and pressure washer... efficiency goes out the door.

4. Track every penny that you spend on expenses... gas, insurance, maintenance, advertising, depreciation, etc. and determine what your true overhead is. This is the only way you can fine tune your charges to insure you are are making a reasonable profit. It will also let you pinpoint areas to improve in order to remain competitive.

5. Price your jobs properly, and only take on jobs that return the profit you need.

6. Get your clients on 12 month Agreements!

7. Spend a few hundred dollars a year to sit down with a CPA and have him advise you on how to handle your taxes.

8. Get quickbooks, and force yourself to input everything on a daily basis. At the end of the month invoicing becomes easy. The benefit at tax preparation time is fantastic also.

9. Go to a financial planner and start a retirement investment plan... you will be amazed at how much you can accumulate when you start at your age, even if you are only contributing a small amount per month.

Hang in there! You will never be happy sitting behind a counter or desk... you love to be outside, and you love to work with your hands...

Good luck!!!!