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Old 02-03-2013, 09:18 PM
Jlin428's Avatar
Jlin428 Jlin428 is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Mystic, CT
Posts: 10
First off, I thank everyone for their input. It is going to help me alot!

I want to first establish that although I am a college student, I still live at home and commute to school. Some of you were concerned that commuting to college would put a damper on my flexibility for running a business, but this is not the case. I will be available year-round to develop this business. I might not be rich or have the finances according to some people's standards, but I am determined to make this happen. I am not taking classes this semester due to financial reasons, I plan on using that time to devote work towards starting up the lawn business, which brings me to my next point.

I think that the term "lawn business" means a lot of different things to different people. I am not planning on starting out with high-grade commercial equipment, licensing, insurance, and all that other legal mumbo jumbo, but at the same time I am not starting out like a 13 year old kid trying to save up money for a video game. I am not expecting to start out at the top, I just want to make the best from what I have now and develop the business the best I can as it moves along. I plan on doing this in a professional manner, and by setting up budgets and keeping track of "the books" to organize my cashflow.

That being said, I am going to start with some responses. I cut the quotes a little smaller to save room and not post a huge comment.

Originally Posted by hi_speedreed View Post
Like I said previously. You really need to do some research. Look at the cost of equipment.

I am not saying don't make a go of it. I just don't want you jumping into this blindly.
^Yes, I agree that there is alot of research that needs to be done. Thats kinda why I turned here, because Im not exactly sure where to start hahaha. I will definitely make purchasing a commercial push mower a priority, as well as a blower. I did not know that the difference between commercial and homeowner was so crucial. I will probably start off with mostly homeowner equipment, and then upgrade as time goes on.

I just want to reinstate that my budget will be BETWEEN $700-$1,500, not $700 tops. The reality is that I'm a broke kid in college, and that I cant just come up with a couple extra thousand dollars, I am determined to make it happen with what I have. But I really do appreciate the realism, I didn't take it as discouraging at all. I want to be made aware of big issues like my start-up money before hand, instead of just finding out about them as I go along.

Originally Posted by jrs.landscaping View Post
Dont' forget business licenses, GL insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, etc...
^This is something that I have little knowledge of and need to learn about but don't know where to start.

Right not I don't know much about having licenses and legal documents or different types of insurances associated with a lawn business. To be honest, i don't think I can fully afford these things at the time. Down the road when I am somewhat stable with the amount of work I have and need to start hiring people, that is another story. If someone else gets hurt and decides to sue me I would be screwed basically. For now I think I am just going to take the chance and run it all under the table, though I know this is frowned upon.

Originally Posted by CreativeLawncareSolutions View Post
I'd try and get hired on part time with another local company that dies lawn care.

I assume you're young with no family/mortgage? Take advantage of this opportunity. It's much tougher to start out when you have a wife and kids.
^That is a good idea, but I honestly would rather not. One of the reasons why I am doing this is to be my own boss and do something on my own. But if it doesn't go as well as I hope, I think that I will take this advice and look for another job with another local company.
But yes, I am young with no family or mortgage (thank god).

Originally Posted by Smallaxe View Post
I remember I started the business with a used lawnmower, loppers, garden scissors, a couple of rakes and put lawn debris in garbage bags, which I hauled away in my old car... Many of my first clients had their own lawn mowers so I just ran around town mowing lawns lawns after work and on weekends etc...

Bottom line is, prioritize your purchaces rather than worry about having it all now... if you got to be a big dog right off the bat, then statistically it doesn't look good... I spent my whole life watching all kinds of businesses fail, becuz they had to start at the top...
^Thank you for this, because this is exactly the course of action I am trying to take (but with a trailer and my own mower). I am fully aware that I will be working "at the bottom" of the food-chain as far as lawn businesses go, we all need to start somewhere. I plan on working from the bottom up so that I can learn as much about running a business as I can starting from the bottom levels.

Originally Posted by STIHL GUY View Post
if i were you i would stick with the push mower for as long as possible to keep your overhead down.
just do the best you can and make sure the quality is great on each lawn...the best form of advertisement is word of mouth so keep your customers happy and they'll tell their friends about you...good luck
^You hit the nail on the head, I am right on the same page as you with these statements.

Originally Posted by Darryl G View Post
Running power equipment on customer's properties without insurance is foolish and irresponsible in my opinion. Also, you will need to at least have a rider on your insurance policy to use your personal vehicle for business use...otherwise if you have a claim while using it for work your insurance company will likely deny it.

Also, the lawn care season is longer than the typical college starts while you're still in school and ends after you're back in school.

Skip the mowing and concentrate on general yard work that can be done with limited equipment and without a long-term committment. Stuff like hedge trimming, weeding and mulching requires little equipment and you can fit everything you need in your current vehicle.
Bascially you can work as a domestic-type employee for people helping out around the yard.
^I agree to an extent that having insurance is a good idea, but being in my shoes I don't think I can afford it and don't think its worth it when its just me myself and I running it.

Like I stated earlier in this comment, I am living at home and commuting so the college break time is irrelevant in terms of running the business.

Working as a domestic-type employee wouldn't be a bad idea, but making money isn't my only concern. Of course I want to make as much as I can, but I honestly enjoy mowing lawns and its one of the main reasons why I am choosing to start a business in this field. I want the mowing to be the primary premise of my business, and the other stuff would be the "side work" stuff to make extra money doing.

Originally Posted by Kelly's Landscaping View Post
You find yourself fortunate to have such a well represented state on the lawn site atm to aid in your advice. Darryl and I are both on the coast like you he's practically your neighbor. And he brings up a great point and its the reason I do not hire collage students. Your time line is all wrong for mowing and doing the maintenance that goes with it. Collage for you ends when beginning of May perhaps Mid may? Spring clean ups are done in march and the first few weeks of April so you cannot offer that and thus lose clientele because of that.

How do you plan to tell your new clients sorry about the last cuts of the year but I need to go back to collage see ya next summer?

Now I didn't even touch on how low your start up budget is nor bring up the steps the others here demand to be legitimately running a company.

Now I am not trying to discourage you I am trying to illustrate reality and perhaps keep you from blowing what little money you have before you think this through.
^I appreciate your input, but like I stated earlier I am not required to leave my hometown. I will be here year-round and school won't affect the business much at all.

I would like to hear your input on the low start-up budget and the steps that are demanded to be legitimately running a company though.

Originally Posted by Darryl G View Post
Yup, Kelly has it right. That's why I suggested doing stuff that doesn't require a season-long commitment or a lot of equipment. You could even get another job and supplement your income doing yard work. My son was only making $15 to $20 an hour but it adds up a lot faster than minimum wage work. Basically he was working as a domestic employee on an hourly basis rather than as a contractor.
^The thing is, I am looking for something with a season long (or more) commitment. I already have a job which I use to support myself on now, I would like to replace hours there with income from the lawn business. Also, in summertime my job offers around $15 an hour, I would like to at least meet but hopefully exceed this number.

Originally Posted by Set Apart Lawn Care View Post
Are you starting a business are trying to make some side cash? As these guys have been saying, building a business may be really hard to do and have a college schedule, the timing doesnt fit. However if you just want to make some extra cash mowing lawns can be a great way to do that.

Just mowing lawns all you need is a mower, string trimmer, blower, hedge clippers, and some basic tools (wheel barrow, shovel, rake, etc.) and you can make some good money.

I wouldn't worry about all the legitimate stuff if you are just making some cash while in school, though lots of guys would disagree. I would to if you were starting your career with this thing. If you are starting a career business here that'd be good to know as it would change the nature of a lot of my advice. There are a lot of down the road things to consider, such as future overhead, pricing, taxes, insurance, branding, etc.
^Basically, I want to be doing a combination of setting up of both setting up a business and making some side cash due to my current budget. I want to go about it professionally, though I don't have the funds to purchase great-quality equipment, insurance, legal stuff, ect. Basically for now I am trying to do what you mentioned when you listed what I need for "Just mowing lawns".

Over time, I would like to develope into a fully legit, professional business but for now I am going to work with what I got, but doing so in a way that I can eventually transform into the earlier mentioned legit business.

Originally Posted by Darryl G View Post
Another point for the OP. A lot of guys do this stuff under the table for cash, thinking they'll make out better that way. Not only do you open yourself to legal liabilities and prosecution for tax evasion, but you lose the ability to write off your expenses. You can still operate a cash business and track your income and expenses and you only pay income tax on the difference between the two (net income). Your tax rate is going to be low and you many not even have to pay anything after expenses and deductions. In my state lawn care services are taxable and they will come down on you really hard for not paying the sales & use tax.
^The thing is that I would like to not have to do a under the table operation, but I think that it is the best choice for me now due to finances and lack of other workers. I hear of other people running their lawn business under the table, and its been recommended that I just do it that way for now by most of the people that I have talked to about it (including my mother, a professional accountant).

If you wouldn't mind, could you elaborate and explain some tax stuff associated with running this type of business? I have almost no knowledge with that stuff. The terms "tracking income and expenses" "net income" "tax rate" "deductions" ect. are as good as chinese to me! hahaha.

Again I would like to thank everyone for their input!
It is all helping me out a lot. I do not have a background in this field, it is all new to me. I am willing to take the effort needed to teach myself everything that I can learn about running and operating a lawn care business, and I can already tell that this site will be a great resource and tool to help me along with the process!

Also, sorry for the wall of text.

Thanks again!
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