niche markets are where the money is. with little to no competition you set the prices...
I dont recomend working by the hour unless it is a long term project.
It took me a couple hard years, but finally i have a niche and i have been blessed enough that my business has grown ten fold.
Look into large government projects, go to the site meetings, shake some hands , give out business cards, take estimators out for coffee etc . Impress them and im sure you can get subbed out doing stuff such as , bobcat/mini ex work, erosion control, concrete breaking, planting etc.