#1. Don't buy equipment on impulse....do a little more research
#2. Get better at selling a job (ex/ getting the customer excited so they feel confident about your work and feel better about parting with their hard earned money) Word of mouth is by far the best advertising you can get but you have to get some good work first! Too many times I just couldn't find the right words.
#3. Get help earlier! (workers, financial adviser, marketing adviser, etc...)
I know I may get some eye rolls with this one but I am a part time business. I have nothing but the greatest respect for you full timers. This is a difficult business to start from scratch, as said above with using $10k equipment for $35.00 a shot is tough. Things don't last forever and things also need to be fixed.
Being part time has allowed me to get the equipment paid off without worrying about putting food on the table or keeping the roof on my head. I can't imagine what a drought feels like for a full time mowing company that charges per cut (instead of a contract). If I had a chance to give minor hint of advice is to find customers that work for you. I have people that tell me to charge them more(even when I am higher priced than everyone else) and plenty that give some large tips when a job is completed. Quality can pay off and establishing a relationship with a customer makes them feel that they are not just another check off the list. I guess being part time may enable me to do this.
I guess we must choose one of two things in this and any business venture.
Learn from our mistakes, make changes, and continue with success
Drown in our mistakes, keep making those mistakes, and ultimately fail
Good luck to everyone for 2009.