MY Little Experience... so far
My first post... This thread has been a terrific read for me. I have been lurking and reading. I am starting this Spring (April) providing basic lawn service. I am running the business from my home office. I am retiring from 25 years in the military and opening a one man lawn care show. I've already purchased equipment, gotten some legal advice from a friend (I have to start paying as soon as I open my company) and I begin advertising next weekend. I already had about half of my equipment. The place I bought the rest of my equipment from services all of my equipment including Craftsman. They will give me a 10% discount and return equipment in 24 hours or provide loaner equipment. My goal is to have 20-25 regular lawn care customers providing lawn mowing, weed eating and edging. I will provide additional services like aeration, gutter cleaning, fertilizing and seeding, leaf cleanup to them and other customers. I am looking to do lawn care for contracts. I will give seniors/retirees and deployed military 15% discounts.
What I've learned so far...This is a great site with alot of people sharing their knowledge and experience. Thank you. Besides what I've already done above I've started stocking up on Sun Screen, wasp spray, belts, blades, tools, fire extinguishers and pee bottles...etc....
I cut 2 neighbors yards this fall. I removed leaves from another. Free. I did this to help them out and to get the feel for what it was like doing someone else's lawn/yard. It allowed me to figure time, gas cost etc... It has helped me with figuring pricing. They know I am going into business and there are no more freebies.
This week I went to the Business Licensing Section of my local City to ask questions. It was slow there and they took alot of time talking to me. This was HUGE. I learned alot of do's and don't's for my local area without having to read the entire City Ordnance.
Some examples...I thought I could not apply fertilizer/ grass seed with out a license/certification. I can. In my area if I can buy it off the shelf and disburse it through a spreader I require no licensing. I need licensed if it goes under pressure from water or a tank or is a controlled chemical /pesticide.
This isn't going to be my primary business but it's nice to know that I can do it.
Local ordnance....I can't have my trailer in my front yard/driveway overnight if there is a business logo on it. I must park it in my yard behind the front edge of the house. On the weekends I can tell I am going to have to park my trailer in the driveway for extended periods to do maintenance on equipment.
Local Ordnance...If I have employees they can't come to my home to meet for work.
Local Ordnance If a customer asked I can spread topsoil and mulch without licensing. BUT...IF I do a single job charging more than $1000 then I am a Class C Contractor and have to be licensed. I can put mulch in an existing flower bed or I can create one. Locally IF applying topsoil and I change the grade of the property it has to have city approval and I have to have a contractors license. Again not my primary business but nice to know what I can and can't do.
The week before last I called my insurance company. (Highly recommended that you call and discuss insurance before hand to get an idea of what you will need and who will provide it). As long as my trailer is attached to my truck it is considered part of my vehicle and covered under my present car insurance. The trailer and it's contents are insured. If I disconnect the trailer or take it out of the trailer it is no longer covered. My insurance company does not carry equipment insurance but they will arrange it through a different company.
My Liability insurance covers any damage incurred while I am operating equipment. IF I get off a riding mower to move a bird bath, bench, chair, trampoline and drop it/break it...Not covered. I need different insurance to cover that. I may need to get three different policies. I'm still sorting this one out.
Currently I am waiting for my registration as a LLC to come back from the State. Being in the military I have kept my legal residence in Nevada (no state income taxes, cheaper car tags and drivers licensing). Before I can register my company locally I have to change my state of residence locally. I have to re-register all vehicles, drivers license and I become immediately available for the Jury pool.
I created my own logo and slogan. I made up my own flyers and business cards using power point and microsoft publisher. I went to a local company to get quotes for signs and vehicle magnets and my logo is not usable because of software differences and they want to re-do it. I am shopping around to find someone who can use my design. I have grown to like my design and don't want it changed.
These are some of the many things I learned locally. The point is to go to your local City/State and insurance company and find out what you can and can't do and what the rules are for your business. Look in this site for answers from work experience. I am sure one day I will have a long list of "lesson's learned". Thanks to all who have posted. I hope to be a contributor
"Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid" SGT Stryker -Sands of Iwo Jima
1993 Ford Ranger XLT
2005 6X12 Enclosed trailer
6X12 Open trailer
Simplicity Citation 48" ZTR
Craftsman 42" Lawn Tractor
Troy Built 21" S/P mower
Bolens 521 Edger
Craftsman 40" Core Plug Aerator
Craftsman 42" Lawn Sweeper
Cyclone Rake Commercial PRO
(2)Echo SRM 230
Stihl BR 550 Blower