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BLakin01
07-30-2001, 10:39 PM
I know alot of you have probably already this question in another post, but I am just curious, seeing as how I am still in college and weighing all of my options. (And besides, I just used the search feature, and couldn't get any results.) I'm wanting to know how many of you worked for "the man", and then decided to go into this field, or how many of you just started out in it, and out of you, how many of you just started your own business instead of working under somebody for a few years? I currently have a lot of options that I am weighing, so any input could be very beneficial.

Brandon Lakin
B & H Mowing Service
Rensselaer, IN

1MajorTom
07-30-2001, 10:54 PM
My husband and I both worked for someone else before we decided to start this business.

My husband was a store manager for a large tire dealership. He was totally wrapped up into tires. We could be going down the road, and he would tell me what kind of tires the car had in front of us just by glancing at the tread. He put in a lot of hours. The money should have been better, but he was getting some nice spifs from Firestone and Michelin, but in the end, the long hours just weren't worth it.
Plus he was spending all of his time indoors, and he really missed being outside.

I was in sales. Worked for a company called Intercraft. I was totally bored, and ready to move on.

The first year we were in business, we were able to buy our first house. Next year we are planning to buy another house if we can find one that meets Matt's standards , and one with more land. (He picks apart every house I show him :)

We made some mistakes our first year of business, but now the mistakes are getting fewer and fewer. It's all a learning process.
Our cut&trim customers are almost at the level we want them to be. Now it's time to move up to another level if all works out as talked about.

George777
07-30-2001, 10:55 PM
My partner and I got layed off from our job and opened our business. this first season has been a learning experience and I would not trade it for anything. We have paid off all our eqipment and are running about a 40% profit margine. I don't know if that is good or bad, but for our first year I think it is alright.

Things I've learned-
1. Never give estimate over the phone
2. Have a well defined contract
3. get the best equipment you can afford
4. Try to keep your debt low
5. Re-invest
6. keep books up each day
7. Seek out the education
8. set goals
9. Explain why your program is for then and explain what they get for thier money.
10. Pace yourself, drink water, and don't handle more then you can.

AltaLawnCare
07-30-2001, 11:01 PM
I've always worked for someone,.. and now it's getting old. I think some people may need to work for someone to get used to being on a work "schedule", and save some money.

Thats a great story Jodi, an inspiration to all ....
just curious - how long have you been in business, if you don't mind me askin'. :)

1MajorTom
07-30-2001, 11:39 PM
Well Billy, believe me, we still have a long way to go.

I was scared to death buying our house the first year, our first year we were in business. Was really scared to see if we would qualify for the loan.

Our biggest mistake we made our first year was our equipment purchases.
If only we would have had Lawnsite back then. And that's not BS about the lawnsite thing. I believe one of Lawnsite's biggest attributes is all the information one can learn about different types of equipment.

The best thing one can do is to set goals for your business. We have so much more to do and so far yet we need to go to be exactly where we want to be. But the opportunity is here for us. That's what I like about this business.

This is our 3rd year in business. We won't be able to go back to working for someone else. We are too spoiled at this point.

Currier
07-30-2001, 11:59 PM
George 777, Excellent list! I've copied it and will be posting it in my truck!
Jodi, you are fortunate that you both enjoy this type of work AND can stand to work together:) I'll bet you will grow larger than you planned. Just think what it will be like in 10 years when you look back...

Eric ELM
07-31-2001, 01:07 AM
Here is a thread on this same subject and there are more somewhere. :)

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=6556#post6556

GreenQuest Lawn
07-31-2001, 01:25 AM
I worked for ten yrs in the lawn & landscape profession before starting my own. Three different places, the last one I was at for 6 yrs.

The expirience I gained was priceless.

When I started working for the last place he had 2 crews we did everything from mowing to landscaping .

By the time I left the company had grown to:

5 mowing crews
2 landscape crews
1 full time fert
1 irrigation crew
There was also a full time weeding crew

It was great to see the changes, and see the mistakes.

I knew all I needed to know when I started to make this business work. I have been in business since Jan 1 2000.

Things couldn't be better (well I could win the lotto that would be better:D )

trimmasters
07-31-2001, 01:27 AM
I have been in this business since highschool and all in all it has been a varry good experince, all though sometimes i do wish i had a regular job to get away from the day to day problems that seem to come up.

TJLC
07-31-2001, 06:07 AM
Down here the general labor wages are very low. That was my main motivation to start my own business. I can't honestly say that I "love" what I'm doing, but it sure beats working for "the man" at pitiful wages. I started my business in Jan 99. Lawnsite for me has also been a very helpful tool.

Grapevine
07-31-2001, 07:10 AM
I've been doing this for 14 years full time (will be 41 in Sept.) Worked for a good size LCO for 2 years and learned the day to day operation and realized that I had to work for myself. The key for me was that I wasn't married, had no kids so I could put most of what I made back into the business and live a simple lifestyle until I built up a solid customer base and start saving for the house, etc.. Made a million mistakes the first year, learned from them (hopefully) and probably only make about 50 this year. Have wife, 2 kids, nice home, good life, I work my ass off every day and my wife has the luxury of staying home with our kids who are 5+8. This is not an overnight process and the road is long and hard. I have friends
who tell me they would love to be doing what I'm doing because they do such a nice job in their own yards, and I ask them if they'd like to do they're own yard 95-100 times a week and they just kind of stare at me and say huh ?

KD'sLawns
07-31-2001, 09:28 AM
This is my second year in the "Biz".
I have always been fascinated with landscaping, watching everything I could. First sprinkler system was in my own yard.
Worked for a company that serviced and sold bottom-hole submersible pumps( which is not even closely related ). Finally had enough of the idiots that owned and run the place, so I just quit. Didn't have a clue what I was going to do for a living. Not the smartest thing I have ever done, considering that I am married, had a three year old daughter and my wife was pregnant with our other daughter. Talk about frightened, I was, but I couldn't stay where I was. I had always mowed a couple of lawns just for some extra money. So, I decided that this was what I wanted to do. My wife was sceptical and very scared. My mother-in-law said, "you are going to do what!". We live in a town with a population of only 2800. We have a town 18 miles away with a population of over 30,000. so I figured there would be enough work between the two towns. First month was pitiful, did the lawns that I had hear and went door-to-door in the larger town. We had some money put back to help with bills for the first 2 months. Good thing, cause I only made about $600.00 the first month. Then, all of the sudden, the beginning of the second month my phone started ringing off the wall. Every night 3-5 people would call. Started getting so busy in my town that I quit going to the larger town. Everything is great now, I am as busy as I want to be and still have plenty of time for my family. If I had to do it again, would probably do it the same way. Only real advice that I have for someone contemplating going into the business is that: If you decide to go out on your own before working for someone, then educated yourself about all aspects of the business. Get your name spread around as much as possible. Do good work, because word-of-mouth is the very best in advertisement. And common sense goes a long way in this business. Good Luck to those who are considering this line of work.

GrassChopper
08-04-2001, 07:23 AM
I was a Deputy Sheriff for 15 years. A new sheriff came in, brought all his buddies and ruined the department. I got so fed up with the politics and the brown nosers that I decided to leave. I have a wife and a child and was scared poopless. A friend of mine who also had quit several years earlier has his own business, a tree and lawn service. He asked me if I wanted to help him so I did. It was then I decided to do lawn service. Bought a 16' trailer, a 52" hydro walk behind and went to work.

I was using my old curved shaft weedeater, a three wheeled edger and a hand held blower I bought at a pawn shop. I also had a Murray ride on mower for a 36". Needless to say, I didn't know what I was doing. I cut alot of lawns too short, I was blowing grass into the street, and didn't have a clue about edging beds. Since there is about a billion LCOs here, I wasn't getting enough calls to earn enough to support my family. I decided to buy an established service. I paid 16k for 43 accounts worth 4850 a month. Adding those to the accounts I already had, and I was busy overnight. The funny thing is since I bought the other contracts, my phone rings constantly from new customers. Go figure.

I now have a 48" Wright Stander, a 36" Wright Stander, Echo Trimmer, Shindaiwa Trimmer, Stihl BR400 backpack blower, Poulan edger, Echo edger, Husky chainsaw, and 2 Shindaiwa backpack blowers for backups. I wish I knew about the value of having good equipment from the start. The difference between using the good stuff is a savings of about 50% in time. What once took me an hour now takes about 30 minutes. I also learned from mistakes. I didn't know bout this place or have anyone I could ask.

My advice to anyone who is starting is buy the best equipment you can afford. For example, it is better to buy a used Echo edger than a new cheap one (imho).

Albemarle Lawn
08-19-2001, 01:37 AM
Summer before my last year of school.

Never worked for someone else.

That was 6 years ago. I completed school and continued the business. Now I have a gorgeous home and many cars, and very little debt. (Mortgage only).

The younger you start the better- you should stay "small" while you are still in school.

Wish LawnSite was available when I started. I really wasted a lot of time and money with the wrong equipment, charging too little, and wrong vehicles.

You may be better off to work for an establish lawn care for a season to get some ideas. (Depends on your personality. If you need to be the boss then go buy some equipment and get to work).

Ken

HOMER
08-19-2001, 10:17 AM
We all had options!

The thing most of us did was go out like we thought we were supposed to and work for someone else. Isn't that the natural way to think? We worked many years for somebody and got the regular crap that so many people put up with until we were just plain fed up with it and decided to risk it all and go for broke.

Now................if I had it to do all over again and had good advice and the knowledge that you have at your disposal................I might have done things different.

Before you get married
Before you have kids
Before you get overrun with debt
Before you do all the things that most of us have done
At least try doing something on your own.
There are so many people that are unhappy with what they do it's unreal. If this is what you like doing then you need to do it, if your thoughts are to be an executive some day then do that. If you want to follow in your fathers foot steps then do that too.
You CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO......THERE ARE NO LIMITS, ONLY THOSE YOU PUT IN YOUR HEAD!

You are right, you have options and now is the time to exercise them, not 10-15 years from now when you find your unhappy with the way your life is going.

There is a book entitled "Do what you love and the money will follow". When you have the options you have use them to the fullest.

Hindsight IS 20/20. Foresight is an open road with no stop signs or intersections. Plan your route and take off.

AltaLawnCare
08-20-2001, 09:13 AM
Thats exactly right Homer!

I'm realizing all that now -

I wish I had realized it all 10 to 15 years ago. Most people spend (waste) their whole lives trying to make everyone else happy at their own expense, and are miserable.