This is my first year solo. Well, almost solo. I'm essentially renting all of my equipment from the guy that I worked for last year as he doesn't want to cut grass anymore, but feels like he should be making a few bucks off of his equipment. Can't say I blame him. He's worked hard and now he's ready to relax and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
When the season started out, I was using the Dixie ZTR as there was a problem with the Toro walk-behind. Something to do with the transmission. I tried replacing a coupler, only to find out that the real problem was the transmission shaft. The splines were all stripped down. It was almost imperceptible to the eye. When I put the new coupler on, the shaft actually engaged at first, but soon after it started doing what it had been doing the first time I cranked it up this year.
I ordered a new shaft. The wrong shaft came in. I re-ordered the right one, only when it came in, it had COARSE splines instead of fine ones like I needed. Just today, the right part FINALLY came in. I've probably lost 3 weeks worth of work over this. I haven't been able to advertise because what am I going to tell people? "I'm not sure when I'll be able to come cut your grass, but I'll give you an estimate! Then we can both sit around and estimate when I'll actually get my mower working and be able to do what you need me to! Life's like a box of chocolates!"
Needless to say, I've had more than a few rather unhappy clients call me and ask me when I'm going to return. It's been horribly embarrassing. I've been feeling not just like an amateur, but just kind of ghetto all around. The boss doesn't want me using the ZTR, which is understandable. If something breaks on it or if it dies in the middle of a job and I can't get it to start up, how am I even going to get it back on the trailer? I'm just one guy and those things are heavy as hell. Not to mention that repairs on those things can be complex and rather expensive.
ANYWAY...I got that transmission spindle in today. The right part, with the right splines and all. Hallelujia! I've never taken apart a transmission before, but I'll be damned if I'm not about to figure out what I need to do to make it work. Well that's what I did. Took me a good six hours and a little help from the boss, but I got that old walk-behind running just as clean and smooth as it did back in 96'. Yes, I am feeling smugly accomplished
Point is, anyone that's thinking about starting up a lawn care business: plan for every contingency. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Assume that everything that can go wrong will indeed go wrong. I had to learn that the hard way, but I think I'm finally going to be alright. I got a part time job at a restaurant to work nights just long enough to help the ends meet until my business really takes off.
You know what's funny though? And I must be a glutton for punishment, but even with all of the trials and tribulations over the past few weeks when failure seemed absolutely imminent...I'm still just as fired up, excited and optimistic about doing this business as I was 5 weeks ago when everything looked like it was going to be a piece of cake. I will make it happen.
Sorry about the rant, but sometimes you just gotta pump yourself up a little. Thanks to all of you guys that have given me good advice and pointers. This is a great site.