#4 Or had a similar business - irrigation, landscaping, handyman, etc. and grew from there?
I guess this would be the closest for me, although I did not have a similar business, I worked for someone else doing irrigation, lawns, light landscaping, handyman work and weekly house checks. I worked as the do it all boy for a property management company. Had some rough times and would no longer put up with their chit and told them exactly how I felt more than once. They also knew that if I left, for whatever reason, I would not be leaving alone. Well I got called into the office one morning and was fired. I then went to the unemployment office and then called the Fed. Dept. Of Labor on them. At the same time I our housing at the condo complex where we were the onsite managers (through the mgt co.)
My wife & I sold everythijng we had and were prepared to live in our little cab over camper until we could find something. The money we got from our yard sale bought me a new BOSS V for my Dodge truck. Then we became onsite caretakers for a famous novelist who encouraged me to go into business for myself and take their customers with me, which was already in the works.
My first customer from them offered to buy lawn equipment for me and also called my ex boss and told them he was done with them and was going to help me get started. This was one of their bigges accounts and is also my biggest account. This was the day after I was fired.
I went door to door and let them all know that the property management company and myself have parted ways. I got my start that way and am not ashamed to say that I took their customers with me. All of these people said the same thing, I did the work, not the company and they would like for me to continue.
I bought my plow hoping to have an average winter which would have gave me enough $ to buy a good mower in the spring. Well it was a snow drought of a winter and only had 11 plowable events as compared to at least 20. We had my truck payment and my wife's JEEP payment as well. We ate elk all winter, did the snow deal, handyman work and caretaking and was $4000 shy come spring. A friend loaned us the $4000 so we could buy my eXmark Lazer HP. I paid him back $2k in 2 days when I got paid for a painting and refinishing job we did over the winter as well.
I went into the spring with 4 customers, sent out 150 letters to homeowners and got my client base. Sent out 150 more at the end of summer and grew my customer base again.
It has been steadily growing ever since. We are completly 100% debt free and live a comfortable life. I turn away lawn customers and turn away smow customers now. I pick and choose what work I want to take on now and who I want to work for. I will remain a sole proprieter with just my wife helping me. I am the customers one stop shopping for their property, no matter what it is. I am their property manager now. I do not actually turn work away, except lawns and snow, but accept all jobs needed to be done, I just choose if I will do the work or call up one of the many contractors I work with to do the job for me.
The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse.