View Full Version : Thinking about going back to solo- words of advice?

07-16-2002, 05:54 PM
Anybody here want to give me a little encouragement either way? This year I hired a helper + expanded quite a bit. Now that it never rains, I am having trouble keeping the employee busy, nevermind myself. He is full time, up until this week anyway, he didnt even work today because there is no work! I was nailed all spring, and behind up until about 2 weeks ago. Employees seem to just be a hassle that I dont need. I had dreams of building a landscaping empire, but now I am ready to go back to solo, back to part time like last year. Go back to working part time for the family business, and do this in my free time. I could weed out the worst customers, and actually make a profit again. What do you all think? Am I just getting the mid-season blues, or should I do it? Thanks, just looking for some kind encouragement. -Mike

07-16-2002, 06:00 PM
I'd go solo. I made the switch 5 years ago and couldn't be happier. No more babysitting employees, feeling obligated to give them x amt of hours per week when there's nothing to do, wondering if they'll show up for work, etc.......


A1 Lawn@Landscapes
07-16-2002, 06:05 PM
You are at a fork in the road. You can either
1) tighten your belt and expand
2) Lay him off and call him back when it gets busy again
3) Go back to solo

Look at your priorities and where you want to be in the future.
Follow your business plan.
If you have any accounts out my way you want out of, let me know.


07-16-2002, 06:05 PM
yes i would go back solo do what ya said weed out all the low paying dead beat customers so ya can handle it by yourself

07-16-2002, 06:06 PM
I don't see why anyone WOULDN'T want to grow and have a large company. So all of my advice is going to be toward staying with it. I know there are headaches, challenges with employees, surprises, etc. but to me at least, all of the rewards are way worth it.

I love being my own boss. I love being able to take a day or week off and let my employees run things if I choose to. I love being out on my Sea Doo on a hot day and knowing I am still making lots of money because I have 3 crews out working.

I love driving around giving estimates or sitting in the office doing work (and taking a break now and then to write on lawnsite :D ) while my workers are out doing all of the hard work. I like that because I've worked hard to get here and now can appreciate the fruits of my labor. I love being able to set my own hours, schedule, etc. I love the thrill of landing yet another big job or another maintenance account.

I love knowing that I've built a business that allows me to employee 7 people in my community. My actions bring in the income for 7 families. That feels damn good.

So to me, I'd do whatever it takes to keep working for myself and keep expanding.

Sure, I have just as many challenges as everyone else. I have employee challenges. I have questionable times when I wonder if we made a profit that month. I have dead times where I lay people off for a few days or a week (like this week). But it's still all worth it to me. I wouldn't have it any other way.

The question is; Do you want the rewards bad enough to justify puting up with the pains of continuing to grow your business? Because the rewards are there if you want them badly enough. The $ is there too.

I couldn't see going back to work for another person, even if it was family. ESPECIALLY if it was family. So my advice is to stick it out. Go out and lay some flyers. Go get some more business for you and your worker. And don't worry if you have to lay him off for a few days or a week. Tell him it's just temporary and you'll likely have more business soon. Then go out and get some.

After July 4th, there is always a little bit of a slow down for us. But it always picks back up. I just go with the flow.

Best of luck.

07-16-2002, 07:05 PM
Thanks guys- Its a lot to think about.. Terry- I dont have any out that far, how far do you travel? I do Sturbridge, Southbridge and Charlton.
Jim- Thanks for the post. The family business is an iffy thing. It would be torture for a few years, but they need me badly. It needs someone with balls to run, and thats me. Excuse the language. My true love is the Restaurant business, and I stand in line to take over a great restaurant if I do things right. With some major work I could turn it around, do the job that the 3 brothers do now,and be rich. Money isn't too much of an issue now because I am young, but I have worked all summer and paid myself squat. My employee is taking all the fruits of my labor right now, and I would love to use the lawn care business the way many on this site do now, as a side thing for extra revenue.
My original plan was to build it big like yours, but small will work for me too because I have the restaurant. Actually, my real goal was to work it until I was comfortable finding a replacement for me, then to take over the restaurant. If I did downsize I could simply begin working at the restaurant full time now, deal with the PIA uncle, and use the money my employee was getting as luxury money as my real cash comes in through the full time job. I don't mind working 55-70 hours a week if its something that I love to do.
Boy O Boy, what a load on my mind right now... Again, Thanks for the help, and keep the suggestions + advice coming!

07-16-2002, 07:09 PM
I am with Jim Lewis on this one.

From what I read it seems you expected this to happen in one season, it can happen over night but it wont.

Now that things have slowed down you have to find more work to do.

You can't just wait for it to come to you, go find it.

You said build a landscape emprie, how is that done?

A1 Lawn@Landscapes
07-16-2002, 07:18 PM
I go to Webster, Dudley, Oxford, Charlton. I do Buffumville Lake and Hodges Dam as well. Which restaurant is it? If its Roms or the Public House I'll be right over to discuss your future over dinner:D

Fantasy Lawns
07-16-2002, 08:56 PM
Well Said Jim

07-16-2002, 09:11 PM
this all depends on your particular situation.depends on your motivation, drive, stay power etc. also the situation in your area. none o this is good or bad ,it just depends on what u want.,an what u really are comfotable with.
the napoleon approach may not be for u. the take it as it comes approach ,may suit u better ,may not.
so u really are the only one to decide .
good luck brother. either way ,to some degree u will probably reach your goal.

07-16-2002, 09:28 PM
I say stay small. And most importantly do what you love. There is a book by the title "Do what you love and the money will follow".

Get into the restaurant and get it going. It could be bigger than your current business could ever get. Also there is nothing like a family business. Yes sometimes many headaches, but well worth time and effort. I did it for 20 years and miss it all the time. Email me and we can chat about it sometime.

Just think it out and do what your heart tells you to do.

07-17-2002, 12:13 AM
A1- First off sorry for calling you Terry earlier, and second, its Rom's :) Good guesses. Too bad I didnt find you last summer, I had a customer in a nice cul-de-sac in the Buffumville area that I had to ditch last year because it was too far away.. But they found someone else themselves. Its a nice area, just way too far away from me.
LGF- The Landscape Empire idea was just to have a monopoly on landscaping in my area. Of course this would be hard, but I was going to dedicate years to it. Sadly my local newspaper isn't reliable, because I gave them 1500 fliers last week to distribute on monday, and they still haven't yet. GRRRRR.
To All- Thanks, I guess I have some time to think with a couple days off :)

07-17-2002, 02:37 AM
jim has nailed it.... well said!

07-17-2002, 05:41 PM
Going big can be great if you have a decent labor pool to choose from. In my county, our unemployment rate consistently hovers around 1%. Finding good help is an issue, which is one reason why I said screw it, and went solo.


dr grass
07-17-2002, 06:01 PM
i with jim on this one. whats the point of being in business if you dont grow. there is no point if you ask me! ! i tripeled my income last year from the year before, and this year, look to make even more money. within 3 years i will be well within the 6 figure income mark. thats what has to motivate you is setting and reaching them goals. i said i wanted to but a house by 25 when i got out of the military 5 years ago. i just closed on one a week ago. feels good. and also knowing i did it myself. all myself! noone holds their thumb on me and frankly the military tought me that i cant work for noone for the rest of my life. i like running my business, and plan to open several within 5 years. so i say tighten your motivation straps and knuckel down and stick with it. you will reap the benifits of your hard work in the near future. best of luck.

Shep :blob4:

07-17-2002, 09:37 PM
If you want to provide yourself with a job that has a limit on your income potential of around $70K (which is good $, don't get me wrong) then go solo and hope that you never get injured to the point that you cannot do the work yourself.

If you want to own and run a business that has a much higher income potential and much greater security as well as greater flexibility with your time, then keep growing your business.

Both are viable options and which one is better only depends on you and your personality.

If you think employees are a pain then you should forget about the idea of running a resturant. I hear that the resturant business is one of the most stressful and hardest to run

07-17-2002, 10:48 PM
If you do decide to go solo:

Don't do what I did today, which is, eat enough spaghetti for 4 adults for lunch. aaarrrrrgghhhh.... :cry:

Man, did I ever wish I had a helper today! :blush:

I won't make that mistake again......providing I survive through the night. uuuuggggghhhh.....

The upside is that it really got me to pondering what I would do if something seriously debilitating happened.

07-23-2002, 01:32 AM
To me, if you want to have employees and build "an empire", there are much more lucrative businesses to be in than this, if you can develop the skills and experience necessary. I see a lot of profiles of $500,000 businesses in magazines that show $50,000 net profits. and of course these are the really 'successful" ones. That's a lot of work for the investment, risk, and work involved. Of course your results may vary. And some economic areas have conditions where labor is easier to get or business is harder to find, etc, etc.

To keep this in perspective, a person in the equipment leasing business, on the back end, working 35 hours a week, in the AC, with no employees, no college degree, full benefits, a leisurely work pace, etc, makes about $40,000 with a year's experience, and up to $60,000 if they have a little more. These people work for my wife, btw, and they don't have a lick of sense between them, so I know any of you could do it if you have reasonable computer and verbal skills. Somehow putting in twice the hours with twice the stress to make a little more doesn't seem worth it to me.

My point is, if you want to become a slave to your business, and want to put in long hours, and want to worry at night about big contracts, employees, unpaid invoices, etc....there might be better and more lucrative ways to do that.

some "successful" big LCO's around here have gone bust, including one friend of my family. They also may have built their business by relying on the advantage of lower paid, more reliable immigrant labor, which eventually shrinks as their employees gain experience and verbal skills and either leave or demand higher wages.

I would pick a business where I got to hire intelligent or interesting people if I was going to have to deal with people all day, worry, invest heavily, etc, etc. Does Hooters sell franchises? I'd put in 70 hours a week there.

Alan Bechard
07-23-2002, 03:56 PM
this is a constant battle that my wife and I go through. My advice to her is that if she wants to make a living, stay small and hope nothing goes wrong. If she wants to make money, hire more employees and get out there and hustle. I work full time so that gives us a lot of luxuries such as insurance and such. My wife is not the best people manager and is not assertive enough to manage large crews yet. I do not know where we are going to be in three years. We have steadily grown in small increments. But we are at the point where there needs to be two crews and her out spotchecking and selling. Or she just may sit where she is. I often want to tell her what to do, but when it comes right down to it, it is really just like you,

You have to sit down, think long and hard about what you want, then work like the devil to get there.

Good luck.

Al B

07-23-2002, 04:54 PM
Thanks everyone- I have been thinking about this non stop lately, and have pretty much come to the conclusion that I dont want to go solo. I will build the business as much as I can before I must go work at the restaurant, then train an employee to do my part. I will stick to my original plan. You guys gave me the pep-talks (and beatings) I needed to get back to being motivated for my original goal, and I thank you for that. Its nice to have this resource here for advice. I plan on nailing my community with advertisments next spring, 5-10 times more than I did this year. I know that fast growth can be disastrous sometimes, but I also feel that it is worth the risk. Perhaps my slump will be over and the grass will go back to growing, because ITS POURING RIGHT NOW! WAHOOOO! Thanks again guys, Mike