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View Full Version : What would you guys do??


Stevegotcrabgrass
09-24-2009, 07:46 PM
I hate my job. I am a white collar guy with a great job at a famous firm and hate it. I love to work outside and with my hands. I was an auto mechanic through highschool and college and then went into my chosen (big mistake) profession. Sure I make good money but I never see my wife or kid. I would be happy working from 6 am to 4 or 5 pm 6 days a week.

I want to cut lawns. Am I crazy about even wanting to do this. My pros are that I know a lot of people who would probably hire me. Maybe even 300 plus. I also have experience in irrigation system installation and repairs and have an account at my local sprinkler/lighting supply house. In addition I have a decent number of connections with commercial properties. In my business I have made a lot of connections and that can help. Another pro is I can run a business from tax issues to legal issues as that is what I do everyday so that won't be an issues. I am very aware about overhead, economics, sales etc. Im fairly likeable (even though I sound not modest at all).

My CONS. I have never cut professionally but I do all my own yard work and love every second of it. I would have to start from scratch or maybe buy a business with some accounts and do it part time until I can ensure I can provide for my family.....what would you guys do??? Stay in a job you hate where you feel like you're drowning in your own worthlessness everyday or take a risk and do something you think you would actually enjoy. Sorry this is long. I am just sitting here in my little office at about 8 pm and hate my life. My 3 week old daughter is sitting at home alone with mommy and I won't get there for another 2 hours at the minimum and I will return tomorrow and do the same thing................

Father&Daughter Lawn care
09-24-2009, 08:09 PM
I truly enjoy what i do. I am also able to take my daughter with me during the summer time.

Stevegotcrabgrass
09-24-2009, 10:07 PM
Must be nice....I truly hate what I do.....but hey, I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. (really no pun intended)

badbart
09-24-2009, 10:19 PM
Do what you can afford to do....or learn to live with less (for a while) if this is what you really want to do. It's obvious that there is money to be made in yardwork if you don't mind working hard, but you may not be getting off at 4 or 5 everyday. My chosen profession is not taking me where I want to be either, but right now it's paying the bills until I'm in a better position to do otherwise fulltime.

Promow64
09-25-2009, 12:20 PM
I was in a similar situation a few years ago. I love what I do now but at the same time you will be taking on a whole different stress. Don't ever plan on taking off at 4 or 5pm. I usually work all day to come home around 7pm and do any book keeping I have or work in the garage on any maintenance I have. I definitely don't regret it but it's hard work and it's tough to plan for retirement. If you do decide to do it buy new equipment. Less initial maintenance and more time trying to get new accounts.

LushGreenLawn
09-25-2009, 12:56 PM
There is a lot more involved with running a business than mowing a few lawns and collecting checks.

You will not be able to work 8-5 as the owner and make the living you want at first. If its less hours you want, the last thing you want to do is start a business.
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Stevegotcrabgrass
09-25-2009, 01:11 PM
All great advice. I am still toying with the idea. I work horrible hours now so anything would be an improvement. And I know running a business is not easy. I would def. have to start small and part-time unfortunately. Probably just me on a thursday/friday/saturday kinda thing. Try and get 10-20 weekly accts in my first year. Maybe double it in the second year and pick up a helper.

rm25x
09-25-2009, 01:34 PM
You live life once, why live it hating it.

waters lawn care
09-25-2009, 02:36 PM
go for it.

Stevegotcrabgrass
09-25-2009, 03:47 PM
Thanks for the support.....I say that to myself all day. When I was a tad younger like 19-23 I was mostly concernced with money. After I got married and had my new daughter born I began to think more about enjoying my life. Hey most everyone has got to work. I work very long hours but hate my job. I would rather at least work long hard hours but like my job. Work is work. Im not afraid of it. I fight it everyday.

LushGreenLawn
09-25-2009, 07:35 PM
Please don't take what I say as being negative, I just want to prepare you that it won't be as easy as most think. Mow Thursday, Friday, Saturday, but be prepared to spend sunday doing paperwork and maintaining your equipment. Also be prepared for all the phone calls to take/return each day. A small company like that can easily generate 20-30 calls a day for BS.

But... I say go for it. I hated my job, and I went for it. I was not looking for a reduction in hours, but the ability to do what I like and the satisfaction of providing a living without waiting for a paycheck. One good thing about it, is that if you need a day with the family, you can usually find a way to take it, you just have to be prepared to work a makeup day in place of it.

Dman911
09-27-2009, 03:30 AM
First, I started this last season, I was at the same point you were, with work. I was making great money, but the sacrafice was family. I felt that I was losing myself. Fortunatley, the market collapsed andso did business. Thats when I decided to help my father-in-law with his business by getting new accounts. I got him around $200k for the year, then thought...I can do this myself. My mistake was that I started marketing for myself as ppl were out mowing. BAD IDEA. I really enjoy this now and am happy that I started even though I did it late. Ipassed out 300 flyers in a day and got around 10 clients. my suggestion is to print 3000-5k NICE and Professional flyers and target all of the nicer areas. You and wifey or if kids are old enough ( or pay neighborhood boy) to walk around and pass these out. You can do this on weekends for a few weeks and most likely get enough work to make a decent income during the summer. You can prob handle 30-40 ($40+ accts) per week by yourself. Make sure your yards are going to be at the least $40. Get a decent rider that you are not ashamed of. The more you are on it the more $... Print off some nicecards )$100-1000. Spend a week going to apartments, restaurants, anywhere they hire out. If you are a biz man anyways, go talk to the managers. Just try to submit bids. If you can get over 40+ you can hire on someone to help Get 90 or around $600 per day and you could hire 3 and just make sure they are doing their jobs and you can handle marketing to keep it growing. If you are going to do this, I believe that you should do it right from the start. Invest a large part into marketing, do not make the mistake of going after yards where the owners do not care about their yards, no matter how great of an idea it seems at the time. If they don't care its always too expensive. During fall and pre summer you can do cleanup for extra cash or add irrigation and lscaping to biz. Image is at least half the battle. DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME and always look to grow in diferent areas

melissa and ken irving
09-27-2009, 11:22 AM
i worked a dead-end job for years, lousy work environment, etc. started cutting lawns part time on my own. now i have 35 lawns and 3 commercial buildings i take care of. only regret, i didn't start sooner!

tinman
09-27-2009, 04:09 PM
Maybe check out 48days.com. Dan Miller is a career coach who has a free podcast and blog. No more Mondays is a great book. Life is too short to do work you hate. I would not advise jumping into something that will hurt financially but jump as fast as you can while being smart about it. Dan preaches that you do not necessarily have to take less pay to do work you love. good luck

Stevegotcrabgrass
09-28-2009, 09:26 AM
All these comments have been very inspiring and have helped me come to the realization that I am going to take what I have learned in the business world and apply it here. First off, any hours spent landscaping WILL be a reduction in what I am currently doing. You cannot cut lawns or fix sprinklers at 2 am (which is a time I have still been in the office on way too many occasions). I am not looking for something easy, just something I can be proud of. I am actually looking for a mower now. I have a small push I might bring along. I already have a weed wacker, blower and hand tools (sickle, various rakes, brooms, axes, chainsaw, and shovels). I also have all the tools necessary to fix any machine as I was an auto mechanic throughout college and have a pretty nice snap on tool box full of impressive tools. I also have all necessary tools to do full irrigation installs except a puller/trencher as I have done a few installs for family and friends. I would love a nice rider but might go for a 36" walk behind as almost all the residential homes have fences with 4 ft gates. I am not sure what manufacturer offers a 42" as that might also be a possibility. Again thank you all for your words of encouragement.

thauer
09-28-2009, 03:33 PM
Best of luck to you. I too am considering the move and i'm 46 years old, have 3 stents in my heart and have a great paying job. I too just want to do it myself, and be proud of the business I build and maybe have a little something to leave the kiddies as I turn to compost. I will be relocating from IN to FL to where I once lived and am peacefully prepared to begin. DMAN911 is 100% on his post about doing it right the first time. Good luck and keep us informed as to your progress.

badbart
09-28-2009, 04:01 PM
Best of luck to you. I too am considering the move and i'm 46 years old, have 3 stents in my heart and have a great paying job. I too just want to do it myself, and be proud of the business I build and maybe have a little something to leave the kiddies as I turn to compost. I will be relocating from IN to FL to where I once lived and am peacefully prepared to begin. DMAN911 is 100% on his post about doing it right the first time. Good luck and keep us informed as to your progress.

Just curious, where in Fl. are you from?

thauer
09-28-2009, 04:31 PM
Melbourne area but going to St Augustine where our daughter is living. You down there somewhere?

LouisianaLawnboy
09-28-2009, 04:38 PM
Go for it, but be ready to hustle.
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badbart
09-28-2009, 08:18 PM
Melbourne area but going to St Augustine where our daughter is living. You down there somewhere?

St. Augustine is nice. I used to live in Jax, and I went down there often. I'm over in the northwest now, just south of Tallahassee.

Stevegotcrabgrass
09-29-2009, 07:34 AM
If you knew me you wouldn't know how much I hustle. Put it this way (and by no means am I trying to brag, please understand this) I bought my first house at 23 years old. On Long Island. And it is not to shabby. but yes I know all about the hustle my friends.

HOOLIE
09-29-2009, 08:00 AM
I'd considering buying a business out, if that's possible for you. Then you solve the initial, first-year problem of building from scratch.

The work is the easier part of it, running the business side takes more skill.

juspayme
09-29-2009, 12:01 PM
go for it. why go through life not happy. people focus alot on a "real job" , peoples said in the infancy stages of my business that i didnt have a real job.

well now that the economy has taken a downward spiral, those real jobs have been lost. when bush was in office we were losing towards the average of 500.000 real jobs a month!

and I am still working, busy as ever, praying for no rain so i can go on vacation.

my point is do what you want to do. be happy. if you dont like your job, quit.
who knows it might be gone in 2 years.

Stevegotcrabgrass
09-29-2009, 01:57 PM
go for it. why go through life not happy. people focus alot on a "real job" , peoples said in the infancy stages of my business that i didnt have a real job.

well now that the economy has taken a downward spiral, those real jobs have been lost. when bush was in office we were losing towards the average of 500.000 real jobs a month!

and I am still working, busy as ever, praying for no rain so i can go on vacation.

my point is do what you want to do. be happy. if you dont like your job, quit.
who knows it might be gone in 2 years.

Agreed....great advice man.....

hackitdown
09-29-2009, 03:53 PM
I used to have a "real" job which required a lot of travel and hours and a long commute. I was miserable. After a layoff, I decided to run an ad for mowing and other landscape maintenance services just to see what happens.

I now mow 40 or so lawns, giving me 3 solid days of work per week. I also get lots of small landscaping jobs for the other days...shrubs, mulch, walkways, brush, lawn installs, etc even though I don't market myself that way. Right now, it is aeration and seeding lawns. I have one helper.

I have it pretty easy. My phone rarely rings except in April and May (when I get 3 or 4 calls per day). I get maybe 4 or 5 calls per week this time of year. I communicate primarily by email with existing customers. I have almost no PITA customers, they are all dispensed with after a call or two. I only spend about 2 hrs per week on equipment maintenance, and 15 minutes a day on computer work, recording the day's work, and returning emails. Billing on quickbooks takes 4 hours at the end of the month. So far, I have never had to work huge hours, I am lucky to have a few guys that are willing to work a day or two to help out when I get busy.

The negatives are dealing with irritants like a flat tire, an employee with a broken hand, poison ivy, suppliers that are out of stock, loose bolts, you know, endless little things.

But overall, I have way more fun and way less stress than a real job. Fewer hours, too. And I think that next year, I will be back to making what I used to make. Maybe...

juspayme
09-29-2009, 10:18 PM
Don't get me wrong, there will be days that you will want to quit. Like when it rains 3 days in a row and you get a flat tire in the middle of a job and then it starts to rain. You will be tired some nights coming home. a few times i took my clothes off at the door, showered and went right to bed.

but i have better hours than if i worked for someone.. i have more money than if i worked for someone.

its a trade off. I'm glad i did it.

deitleman
09-29-2009, 10:21 PM
All these comments have been very inspiring and have helped me come to the realization that I am going to take what I have learned in the business world and apply it here. First off, any hours spent landscaping WILL be a reduction in what I am currently doing. You cannot cut lawns or fix sprinklers at 2 am (which is a time I have still been in the office on way too many occasions). I am not looking for something easy, just something I can be proud of. I am actually looking for a mower now. I have a small push I might bring along. I already have a weed wacker, blower and hand tools (sickle, various rakes, brooms, axes, chainsaw, and shovels). I also have all the tools necessary to fix any machine as I was an auto mechanic throughout college and have a pretty nice snap on tool box full of impressive tools. I also have all necessary tools to do full irrigation installs except a puller/trencher as I have done a few installs for family and friends. I would love a nice rider but might go for a 36" walk behind as almost all the residential homes have fences with 4 ft gates. I am not sure what manufacturer offers a 42" as that might also be a possibility. Again thank you all for your words of encouragement.

I'm in a similar boat too... I'm a young administrator with a family, hate my job, and want to open a lawn & landscape business this coming spring. I was a landscaper for someone else during highschool and college. I've been trying to read and study everything I can on the business side of things, and have begun shopping for used equipment. I bought a new 42" ZTR mower (Toro) from Home Depot a couple years ago. It's not commercial grade, so it was pretty affordable (roughly $2400) compared to much more expensive larger commercial mowers. I'm not sure how one like mine would hold up for you, but I haven't had any trouble with mine so far. I have a full acre, and have had a couple accounts in my neighborhood too. Anyhow, I'm looking to upgrade to a 60" commercial ZTR before spring. I'll be selling mine at the end of the mowing season, and live in upstate NY. I'm not trying to be a salesman, but let me know if this sounds like something you'd be interested in. Either way, I wish you luck, and hope you go for it whenever you're ready.

jada86
09-30-2009, 06:52 AM
You have 1/2 the battle licked already! You have a network of people who already like you, might hire you and most likely refer you! You know how to run a business. Actually, you probably have 75% of the knowledge you need to do this. Definitely do it!! When you enjoy what you are doing, the hours are easier and worthwhile. Start part-time and market, market, market. Don't stop marketing for one minute. You'll have it up and running full-time in a year. I'

Lawn Shark prop mgmt LLC
09-30-2009, 07:53 AM
You have 1/2 the battle licked already! You have a network of people who already like you, might hire you and most likely refer you! You know how to run a business. Actually, you probably have 75% of the knowledge you need to do this. Definitely do it!! When you enjoy what you are doing, the hours are easier and worthwhile. Start part-time and market, market, market. Don't stop marketing for one minute. You'll have it up and running full-time in a year. I'


This is off topic but i see your from florida, What type of marketing do you find gives you the best return for your money in your area ?

TGM
09-30-2009, 08:18 AM
life's too short to go through it miserable.

if i did what almost everyone in my family and older family friends told me to do..i'd be working for someone else 40 hours a week and be totally miserable.

whosedog
09-30-2009, 08:36 AM
The 800 pound gorilla in the room that no one has mentioned yet is health insurance.If your wife is a stay at home mom that leaves you as the health insurance provider.No matter how much money you make in your business an illness or injury can wipe you out and force you into bankruptcy.Those hospitals and doctors will clean you out,and if you or someone in your family develops a cronic condition no insurance co wants to cover you. That's why I always kept this as a part time biz; the state of NJ covers my medical and will until I turn to compost. Years ago health insurance was affordable ;not no more,but there is help coming soon, Obamacare,if congress can get their act together.:laugh:

Stevegotcrabgrass
09-30-2009, 09:47 AM
The 800 pound gorilla in the room that no one has mentioned yet is health insurance.If your wife is a stay at home mom that leaves you as the health insurance provider.No matter how much money you make in your business an illness or injury can wipe you out and force you into bankruptcy.Those hospitals and doctors will clean you out,and if you or someone in your family develops a cronic condition no insurance co wants to cover you. That's why I always kept this as a part time biz; the state of NJ covers my medical and will until I turn to compost. Years ago health insurance was affordable ;not no more,but there is help coming soon, Obamacare,if congress can get their act together.:laugh:

That is a huge gorilla. That is one reason I CANNOT ever not have a real job unless I can afford 1500 a month for insurance for my family. My wife is going to try and be a stay at home mom. I will have to have some sort of job where I can get insurance for my family. I will have help with the business by my cousins who run the routes when I cannot. I know and trust they will do a good job and i will pay them a salary.

whoopassonthebluegrass
09-30-2009, 09:57 AM
I think you're nuts, but here's my advice: DO NOT BE A LAWN GUY!!! SURE, COME IN AND RUN A BUSINESS. BUT DON'T BE A LAWN GUY.

If YOU are the one doing the work, you'll likely never get to where you want to be. If you come in with a REAL business plan to build and run/oversee a company... maybe you'll arrive at your destination...

Stevegotcrabgrass
09-30-2009, 10:30 AM
I think you're nuts, but here's my advice: DO NOT BE A LAWN GUY!!! SURE, COME IN AND RUN A BUSINESS. BUT DON'T BE A LAWN GUY.

If YOU are the one doing the work, you'll likely never get to where you want to be. If you come in with a REAL business plan to build and run/oversee a company... maybe you'll arrive at your destination...

Agreed but with any business you have to be THERE. Especially in the beginning.

whoopassonthebluegrass
09-30-2009, 10:33 AM
Agreed but with any business you have to be THERE. Especially in the beginning.

Yes you do. Just don't fall into the mindset of "I'll make more money if I just do it myself." Hire out the work as early as possible and focus on sales/marketing/managing/development.

Stevegotcrabgrass
09-30-2009, 12:27 PM
Yes you do. Just don't fall into the mindset of "I'll make more money if I just do it myself." Hire out the work as early as possible and focus on sales/marketing/managing/development.

agreed. Get some teams doing the actual work

Bofartlawn
09-30-2009, 12:42 PM
i know a guy who owns a tree service. he made a lot of money. he knows nothing about trees and has never been in one. basically, there is a lot u can do if you are good with people. if you truly know 300 people that will accept contracts from you, then buy three trucks six mowers weedeaters blowers and hire people to do the work for you. then, if you wanna work, you can.

TGM
09-30-2009, 06:27 PM
Yes you do. Just don't fall into the mindset of "I'll make more money if I just do it myself." Hire out the work as early as possible and focus on sales/marketing/managing/development.

that is true...and that is why i'll never have employees in the lawn care and landscaping business(es). it's merely a learning and financial stepping stone.

Stevegotcrabgrass
10-05-2009, 02:12 PM
UPDATE:
Got my first mower. It is a troy built 33". Not 100% Commercial but I got it for 75$ Fixed the carb, tightened the belts, sharpened the blades. Runs great. Fits in backyard fences. LLC paperwork is pending. Insurance for under $1000 a year for $1M of coverage and county licenses pending. Now just have to sell it. Thanks for all the advice.