Thank you Tony Greek for pointing out to Roger that he's basically trapped in a 1950s mindset, I've noticed several times before he states a similar opinion in regards to going to school for xx degree and spending too much time doing "mere grass cutting" after classes are done. Never mind the fact that most of us are running a company, not "cutting grass". If we were just cutting grass, we'd be working on a crew for a company or municipality.
As for the OP, I graduated with a degree in Horticulture this past spring in May. We were so busy this spring I almost missed my graduation ceremony! I went to the Univ. North Dakota (pursuing accounting) for 3 semesters right after high school and then transferred to where I graduated from. I did not like being there, the "campus lifestyle" wasn't for me. I learned a lot from the accounting & finance classes I took at UND and loved working for the school's landscaping dept., I ran a zero turn every day after class on the properties they didn't do with the larger front mounts. Over the summer after freshman year I found out about the Hort program that was offered by the tech school which was 6 mi from home, it was too late to sign up for fall but I applied & was accepted and began at the spring semester in Jan 2011. I registered my business in Feb 2011 and haven't looked back! I started with nothing more than a push mower, a blower, & trimmer and borrowed my dad's pickup until spring 2012 when I bought my 8.1. I purchased a plow last December just in time for winter to arrive, especially as I already had contracts secured. Purchased a lot more equipment this year and plan to purchase more next year as my company grows.
Thinking back, I'm extremely happy with the decision I made to transfer from a university to a tech school to start a company of my own. My younger brother attends UND and my parents and I went to visit him back in Sept and going back for the first time since I transferred, it was certainly bittersweet. I was bummed that I missed out on the "college experience" partially because I had roommates in the dorms that weren't talkative and I'm not exactly the type to walk up to people and just strike up a conversation, (unless it has to do with sales for my company, then I feel invincible
) however after talking with a few of my friends that are around my age that own lawn/landscape/irrigation/snow companies, I realized I'm much better off where I am now with my company and that I pursued my dream which has definitely paid off! This year we'll be pretty close to increasing gross sales by 400% over 2012 and next year should be a great year again as my company's name is becoming more known. I couldn't tell you "how many accounts" we have as that figure is completely irrelevant as no property is the same. This year we had a solid couple weeks of spring clean ups & fert, 1.5 days/week of maint services and landscape installs every week from May through Sept with the exception of two weeks in July where I was tired of the stress & working and I headed to the Millville Pro Motocross Nat'ls for one of those weeks. Most of the landscape installs it'd be me and 1-2 others on site. September & October were a tad slower but we finished strong with about month's worth of clean ups and did one large landscape removal & install the week of Thanksgiving before we got our first snow storm back last week.
With all that being said, just because I have a degree in Hort doesn't mean I plan to be a 1 crew company forever because "I enjoy the work so much". Granted I enjoy the work with the exception of broadleaf spraying and setting the base course of a retaining wall, I know that the ticket to get my company where I want it (7+ figures) is implementing systems for EVERYTHING and getting out of the field as soon as possible. I'm constantly thinking every day all day how to get xx job done faster & more efficient with more man power or xx piece of equipment, reducing the cost & increasing profit and my time in the field so I can be in the office handling sales & accounting. Books such as "Pricing for the Green Industry", "Green Side Up", & "E-Myth: Landscape Contractor" have helped me with getting systems set up and instilled into my company.
Sorry about the long post but I figure it'll make for a good discussion for the younger guys on here that want to take their business seriously.
One thing to add, typing up this post about how I've basically started from nothing to have everything I have now in a relatively short time with the great clients I have and great network of friends & colleagues within this industry is definitely humbling! I have a long way to go before I'm satisfied with what my company has financially but motivation definitely comes from thinking to the past!