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View Full Version : 18 yr old starting skid steer business- Help!


ARP
02-28-2005, 03:49 PM
I am an 18 yr old high school senior and have been operating my own lawn and snow removal business since age 10. I will be heading off to business school in August with the goal of learning how to run the financial side of my own landscape/excavation/snow removal enterprise. I would like to start out my business operating skid steers and expand my business from there into heavier equipment and bigger contracts. I am getting my class 2A hydraulic hoister's license at the end of March 2005 through my uncle's construction company. I am trying to determine several things : 1.) whether it is feasible to start my own Bobcat based business during college or if I should wait until I graduate. 2.)What kind of capital I might need, and what models of equipment, preferably Bobcat or Cat, I should start with. 3.) What kind of tow vehicle, preferably Ford, should I use. 4.)What kind of contracts should I pursue when first starting out.

Can anyone help me out with my questions or give me suggestions on how to start my business?

Tigerotor77W
02-28-2005, 05:14 PM
First of all, welcome to the forums and wow, great ambition! (I'm in college myself.)

I don't want to answer the last questions myself... I think others are better qualified to answer those generic questions first. If something technical comes up, I'll see if I'm able to answer it, but for now, I'll let the real operators answer.

1) It depends on where you are going to college, what load you are taking, and what major you're in. I personally would have no way to keep up my sleep and school work if I were in your position, but this doesn't mean you can't do it. If you plan to take mostly night-time courses to begin with, for example, you might be in a good position just to start the business (PART-time) and make some money on the side with it. However, if you plan to be involved in several activities, pursue a double-major or minor, and try to join a frat, you might find yourself pressed for time. Since I don't know enough about your situation, I can't tell you concretely whether you should wait or not, but in my situation, I couldn't start even if the machine, free fuel, insurance, and any licenses necessary were given to me. Your situation may be different.

Best of luck and welcome, once again!

mdb landscaping
02-28-2005, 07:48 PM
take my advice for what its worth, but i got a two year associates degree in turfgrass management from uconn. i had a business on the side landscaping and did that all through college. my best advice to you is work with your competition. during your summers go get a job working for another company. its basically a free education. you can learn so many tricks and tips for free and it will only help build on your success when you graduate. sometimes i look back and say i may have worked too hard during college to really enjoy it. you have your life ahead of you, if i were you enjoy it while you can. i only graduated two years ago, but now that i look back i woulda enjoyed it more instead of working non-stop. now dont get me wrong, cause working through college helps pay a lot of bills and i probably wouldnt be buying my first house at 22 if i didnt work so hard since i was 15. do what you feel works. if you have th work to pay for a skidsteer i say go for it. just count on things to spring up from college that are gonna hamper your time to work.

ARP
02-28-2005, 09:34 PM
Thanks for the advice. I will probably pursue a college degree full time but I like the advice of working with another company during the summer.

coopers
02-28-2005, 11:11 PM
Matt's right....there are many options you can choose from and choose the one that works for you. I live out on my own (I'm 20) and go to school full time, work full time and now that I'm starting the hiring process with the Washington State Patrol, I'll be busy preparing for each hiring step as and if I pass each step. I couldn't imagine running my own business on top of that stuff, but that's just me, and I would love more than anything to have my own excavation company right now for the time being. There's sooo much to consider when running your own business all of us could come up with lists of things one would need to worry about and from the looks/sound of it, you have an idea of what it is. I think the best advice like Matt said would be to get on with another company of interest related to yours and learn from them. Learn their mistakes and faults as a company, strengths and oppurtunities and you can go from there (you might be familiar with the economic term, SWOT analysis, do that on the company you work for and learn from it). You can learn a lot that way and once you finish with college you will be better prepared. If I were to have my own business full time as a career I'd do exactly that, but since my career is in law enforcement and excavation will be a side job/fun job, I have tons of time to learn because it won't be for a long time before I have the oppurtunity to have my own business.

Blake
WA

ARP
03-01-2005, 01:14 PM
Thanks coopers. Good luck with that law enforcement job as well!

ksss
03-01-2005, 02:40 PM
You only have one opportunity to make a good business impression. If you start a business and are not able to meet commitments to your customers, your "digging a hole" you may never be able to "backfill" euphorically speaking. Finish school, obtain as much practical experience in the field as possible through employment p/t with an excavation company. This will help you become a better equipment operator and more knowledgeable in the practices associated with excavation. You may find out its not what you thought it would be. Finish school and then look at your options and see what things look like then. At your point in life, I would try and keep as many options open as possible. Straddling yourself with debt and a business at your age will limit your opportunities. There will always be holes to dig.

As a secondary piece of advise, picking equipment is one of the final things to consider. First decide what parts of the market you want to enter, this done by researching the services offered by others in your field. Find out how well it is being done and what is not being offered by others. Once you know the needs of the area you want to service, then pick equipment that will fill that void. As a final note, keep your personal financial situation clear of bounced checks, missed payments and credit card debt. No small task when going to college. Unless you have money behind you, getting equipment loans at your age will be enough of a struggle without credit problems. Good luck.

Krois Landscaping
03-06-2005, 12:13 AM
Best advice is to work for an excavating company in town. I'm going to be 20, and this will be my 3rd year working for someone in the excavating business. By working for someone though, i know now that it is what i want to do in the future. Also by working for someone, you're learning on their time and get to know the correct way to do things. Theres a lot to learn before going on your own, and it will probably take me another 3-5 years working for someone else to learn the trade. I got my class a cdl when i was 18, i'm apprenticing to get my septic system installers liscense, and i would like to get my P7 Sewer/Water line installers liscense and Class B demolition liscense before i go on my own. Theres a lot more to the business than running a skidsteer. If you don't know how to bid jobs, handle paper work, handle customers or read plans then its hard to suceed.

Before you go out and buy a skidsteer, rent one a few times from a local rental place. If you get a big job, rent one for a week or a month. If you buy a machine, do you have a truck to move it, do you have a place to keep it, are you able to afford it when its sitting?

Randy Scott
03-06-2005, 12:30 AM
You have never really said what your "business" would do. Also, they're skid-steers or skid-loaders. You'd be starting a skid-loader or skid-steer business. Bobcat is a brand name, not a type of machine.
Anyways, what exactly would you offer? A machine with operator for hire? A rental company? Not sure what you are going to do.

If it is you and a machine for hire, I don't see much success in that. Just not a demand for it. Landscape companies and grading companies all have these machines. With the variables involved for the use of these machines including exact times of usage at job-sites can be easily swayed because of weather, material delivery, progress elsewhere on that particular site, etc.. Someone isn't going to hire you to finish grade something and pay you an hourly price to sit there while that last load of dirt is behind schedule, or a buried downspout got crushed and needs repair, or they need to move a tree to a different spot in the design, or something to that effect. As opposed to the company owning the machine, and the operator can jump out of it at anytime to lend a hand.

Maybe there is a need somewhere for it, but in the four years I've been doing this, I don't see anywhere that service would help us. The idle time during the day that these machines can see at times, is too great a risk to hire the service out as opposed to owning or renting the machine themselves.

Would it work though? It's very possible. I just don't think it will work enough to make money at it.

Groundcover Solutions
03-06-2005, 01:09 AM
Well I am going to be 21 in april. this will be my second year of full time college with also running a large scale company. Last year when I started i was a little over my head with both college and work so I let college slip which was not the greatest idea but something had to give. So I withdrew from a few classes in order to meet my works schedual. this year I have hired more employees and given another employee more responsablities. When you are the boss there will be people who need to talk to you and will be looking to you for help. This will not come on your planed schedual so you need to be prepared to be flexable. I hope to run alot smother this year with schedualing worked out much futher in advance than last year. I belive the advice given from above posts is great advice. But if you are going to spear head it and just jump in and make sure you dont slak on either end.

Groundcover Solutions
03-06-2005, 01:10 AM
oh and yeah my degree has nothing to do with landscaping. I hope to do landscaping for a good amount of time but not my entire working career. I plan on being a reserve officer for my local police department while I own this company and then eventualy going into law inforcment full time. I hope to finish with my bachlers in criminal justace in a few more years.

freddyc
03-06-2005, 02:12 PM
You have never really said what your "business" would do. Also, they're skid-steers or skid-loaders. You'd be starting a skid-loader or skid-steer business. Bobcat is a brand name, not a type of machine.
Anyways, what exactly would you offer? A machine with operator for hire? A rental company? Not sure what you are going to do.

If it is you and a machine for hire, I don't see much success in that. Just not a demand for it. Landscape companies and grading companies all have these machines. With the variables involved for the use of these machines including exact times of usage at job-sites can be easily swayed because of weather, material delivery, progress elsewhere on that particular site, etc.. Someone isn't going to hire you to finish grade something and pay you an hourly price to sit there while that last load of dirt is behind schedule, or a buried downspout got crushed and needs repair, or they need to move a tree to a different spot in the design, or something to that effect. As opposed to the company owning the machine, and the operator can jump out of it at anytime to lend a hand.

Maybe there is a need somewhere for it, but in the four years I've been doing this, I don't see anywhere that service would help us. The idle time during the day that these machines can see at times, is too great a risk to hire the service out as opposed to owning or renting the machine themselves.

Would it work though? It's very possible. I just don't think it will work enough to make money at it.



Now for the positive side,,,,



Last week I got a call to move a residential snowpile that the plower had put in the wrong place.


Then theres gravel driveway installs.

Then theres specific landscape jobs---"can you take that hump out of my yard"??

Also, some new lot clearing--residential. Get with a real estate firn and offer small lot clearing.

Hook up with a septic system installer---- take some load off him so he can do the bigger digging.

Interior demolition with the smaller skid steers. Conversion of old space to new requirements.



You might not be running the machine full time 5 days a week in one place, but string together enough and you might be surprised.
Not everyone who mows lawns has one account per day or week....but with a few accounts.....???

Don't discount your own ability to drudge up work. be flexible, open to new projects and most of all have a positive attitude. :waving:

Remember, you'll never be successful sitting there whining that you don't know what to do.... get up and figure it out. Try man, Try! :cool2:

Jeffsmowing
03-08-2005, 12:08 AM
I have been mowing my way through collage for the past 5 years. Unlike most "collage landscapers" I am working ona real degree from a real university, I do not mean to "hate" on any one operating a landscape operation while going to a community collage but I do want to stress that Mechanical Engineering at Ohio State is no cake walk. I would advise that if you have a decent mowing income don't buy a skid steer until you can pay cash for it and still have money to cover your bills and not be broke. I have owned a bobcat for the past two years. The biggest reason is becaus I always wanted one and now that I have one I dont know how I could go with out one. If you rely solely on skidsteer work you will always be hunting for work and giving estimates. Mowing is nice beacuse there is soem sort of scedule. Collage is all about weekly rutines. Just don't spread your self too thin. It's hard to chose between, school, work and girls. Feel free to shoot me an Im on the aim jeffsmowing , I don't get to spend a lot a tiem ont hese boards, I just happend to see your post...good luck and buy bobcat over CAT

coopers
03-08-2005, 12:18 AM
I sure hope your papers don't always read like that for college essays. Five years is a long time in school to write like that. I think that he gets the point and we don't need to beat a dead horse.

Blake
WA

Jeffsmowing
03-08-2005, 12:40 AM
I R an engineer... we normaly pay people to write our papers :)

vntgrcr
03-08-2005, 05:07 AM
I have been mowing my way through collage for the past 5 years. Unlike most "collage landscapers" I am working ona real degree from a real university, I do not mean to "hate" on any one operating a landscape operation while going to a community collage but I do want to stress that Mechanical Engineering at Ohio State is no cake walk. I would advise that if you have a decent mowing income don't buy a skid steer until you can pay cash for it and still have money to cover your bills and not be broke. I have owned a bobcat for the past two years. The biggest reason is becaus I always wanted one and now that I have one I dont know how I could go with out one. If you rely solely on skidsteer work you will always be hunting for work and giving estimates. Mowing is nice beacuse there is soem sort of scedule. Collage is all about weekly rutines. Just don't spread your self too thin. It's hard to chose between, school, work and girls. Feel free to shoot me an Im on the aim jeffsmowing , I don't get to spend a lot a tiem ont hese boards, I just happend to see your post...good luck and buy bobcat over CAT
I don't want to flame anyone, but that is pretty sad after 5years of higher education. I don't care if you have someone else write (not rite) your papers. I can't imagine your customers appreciate receiving bills, estimates that aren't even using the proper grammar let alone spelling. You might want to get a spell check on your computer, or learn how to use it. Just advice from a lowly contractor who never went to college, but did pay attention in 4th grade when they started to emphasize the basics.
David

YardPro
03-08-2005, 07:09 AM
lol

it's spelled college, a collage is a compilation of random pictures adhered to a backboard.
ann that was no typo... you spelled it that way several times..

and engineers are supposed to be anal with details.

you think people will trust your engineering if you can't even put together an articulate paragraph.

Gmgbo
03-09-2005, 06:57 PM
i thought this post was about a bobcat. talking on lawnsite is like having a conversation with your friend, its nothing formal, so why be childish? my .02

The Dude
03-09-2005, 07:58 PM
then eventualy going into law inforcment full time.

you should try and learn how to spell enforcement before you actually try it. :p j/k

Lawnworks
03-10-2005, 09:54 AM
Well, I am 22 and I run a successful lawn maintenance business. I am going to school to get an accounting degree. But to be absolutely honest w/ you, I don't think the schooling will help run the financial side of your business. I am kicking myself for not going to school for landscaping. I am going to have to learn the hard way. My advice would be if you are set on a degree, get something you can use out in the field. An accountant, Quickbooks, and common sense will run the financial side of your business. And if you ever post on here that you have a college experience use spell check or you will get flamed!

Scag48
03-13-2005, 01:54 AM
Well I"m headed off to a community college this fall to get a degree in Business Management and then an ATS in Landscape Design. I'm going to have to disagree with Lawnworks about getting a landscaping degree as a degree by itself. If you want my opinion, get both degrees. If you have a business degree, you aren't limited to just landscaping, you can get a job just about anywhere if the landscaping market goes sour and you decide to bail out. If you're 45 years old, have 2 mortgages, a wife and 2 kids and the landscaping biz goes under, what are you left with? A degree in landscape design/install/whatever that limits you alot more than a business degree would. Now I'm not sure about your demographics and what kind of job market there are for designers, crew foremen, etc, but around here if that happened to me I would be up crap creek without a paddle. My dad was laid off 4 years ago from a job he had for 25 years. It was his degree in Business Management that gave him what he needed to know to start his landscaping business at 50 years old and be successful.There's my .02.

Lawnworks
03-13-2005, 09:58 AM
If your worried about opening doors, the fact that you have a four year degree in anything, landscaping or business, will do it, it doesn't matter. For alot of jobs as long as you have that piece of paper, that will get you in the door. I think college is really a bunch of bullshit. All that paper does is show that you are competent. I think about 75% of the classes you will take, you will never use this knowledge again. Plus I don't like having professors that tell me what I need to do.... look at them... they are not successful... what do they make, a max of 100k or so? I want advise from somebody that owns a multi-million dollar business.

Scag48 I guess we will just have to agree to disagree, but I think you are smart going ahead and getting the degree. Hopefully when I get my two crews up and running I will have time to sit in the classroom for another 50 semester hours.

freddyc
03-13-2005, 10:32 AM
Well I"m headed off to a community college this fall to get a degree in Business Management and then an ATS in Landscape Design. I'm going to have to disagree with Lawnworks about getting a landscaping degree as a degree by itself. If you want my opinion, get both degrees. If you have a business degree, you aren't limited to just landscaping, you can get a job just about anywhere if the landscaping market goes sour and you decide to bail out. If you're 45 years old, have 2 mortgages, a wife and 2 kids and the landscaping biz goes under, what are you left with? A degree in landscape design/install/whatever that limits you alot more than a business degree would. Now I'm not sure about your demographics and what kind of job market there are for designers, crew foremen, etc, but around here if that happened to me I would be up crap creek without a paddle. My dad was laid off 4 years ago from a job he had for 25 years. It was his degree in Business Management that gave him what he needed to know to start his landscaping business at 50 years old and be successful.There's my .02.



In my experience you are right and wrong.


Yes, a business degree is better than no business degree, and yes its better than just a landscaping degree.

Unfortunately, business these days has become very specialized. In short, even a business degree is usually only helpful if you've had experience in a specific area. If you want to manage a mfg operation and you've spent the last ten years doing landscaping, forget it---theres too much competition from managers who have been in mfg all their lives.

So yes, get both degrees if you can, but don't think that you're going to walk into a job based on a degree and no experience. Its tough out there now!

Tigerotor77W
03-13-2005, 10:44 AM
If your worried about opening doors, the fact that you have a four year degree in anything, landscaping or business, will do it, it doesn't matter. For alot of jobs as long as you have that piece of paper, that will get you in the door. I think college is really a bunch of bullshit. All that paper does is show that you are competent. I think about 75% of the classes you will take, you will never use this knowledge again. Plus I don't like having professors that tell me what I need to do.... look at them... they are not successful... what do they make, a max of 100k or so? I want advise from somebody that owns a multi-million dollar business.

Scag48 I guess we will just have to agree to disagree, but I think you are smart going ahead and getting the degree. Hopefully when I get my two crews up and running I will have time to sit in the classroom for another 50 semester hours.

I don't think the comment about professors is entirely true. Remember that a great deal of research comes from educators -- not just those in industry -- and that these professors are the ones that will create the intelligence twenty years from now. Perhaps college is a rather mundane time (and I somewhat agree -- schoolwork is a, erm, witch), but for the safety and security of the nation and world twenty years from now, there is no questioning its importance. While I can't say that you should take suggestions from a professor who gets paid a "measly" 100k a year, at least pay attention to some of the ideas they put forth... they are, after all, professors for a reason.

And by the way, not all profs max out at 100k. Some definitely, definitely go way over.

Lawnworks
03-13-2005, 05:03 PM
I don't think the comment about professors is entirely true. Remember that a great deal of research comes from educators -- not just those in industry -- and that these professors are the ones that will create the intelligence twenty years from now. Perhaps college is a rather mundane time (and I somewhat agree -- schoolwork is a, erm, witch), but for the safety and security of the nation and world twenty years from now, there is no questioning its importance. While I can't say that you should take suggestions from a professor who gets paid a "measly" 100k a year, at least pay attention to some of the ideas they put forth... they are, after all, professors for a reason.

And by the way, not all profs max out at 100k. Some definitely, definitely go way over.

Point taken, but with my community college experience it seemed that alot professors talk down to their students. I don't really think their opinion should be valued very much as far as business goes. I had one arrogant professor that told me if I didn't read the Wall Street journal everyday I would never make it. And it turns out my salary at 20 was higher than his(salaries posted online). For me personally, they are not good mentors because they are teaching because either they have been doing it all their lives or because they could not succeed in the business world. I personally would love a mentor that is worth several million and has a business that runs on its own. No doubt professors are important, but I personally just don't value their opinion. And you have to admit most professors are going to be liberal and out of touch.