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  #1  
Old 01-08-2011, 02:58 PM
dvcroket dvcroket is offline
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Changing careers

I work fulltime 5am-2pm M-F at a major national retailer. I've been mowing parttime for about 2 years after I get off work for extra income. The first year I had 6 clients and I now have 15.....all word of mouth. I recently went "legit" by filing my DBA, getting an EIN, etc. I'm currently working on ad's/flyers, business cards, etc. to secure more accounts this spring. Assuming some continued modest growth, I'll be soon be maxed out on the number of clients I can service while being employed elsewhere fulltime. A promotion at my primary job would change my work hours in a way that would not be conducive to continuing the lawn mowing business but would not increase my pay to the extent that I still would not need additional income. I'd prefer to make the lawn business a career. Any advice on making the change from doing this part time to making it a career? I feel relatively confident I can make the business grow but the first step in leaving secure employment with good benefits (particulalry health coverage) is a bit daunting. I assume some of you have faced this dilemma yourselves and may have some wisdom to impart.
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:26 AM
kilgoja kilgoja is offline
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i quit my job making $50k plus a year with benefits this past year....stability is nice but i was miserable working swing shift at an auto factory...2 weeks first shift then 2 weeks second....to me being happier was more important...it comes down to what you really want....i sold my house, my car...downsized quite a bit...in order to live a happier life making less money cutting grass....i would consider $30k a year to be a great year as i'm just a one man operation....obviously i'm just starting out and this will be my first full year in business....so hopefully things should grow...you just have to take steps to get where you want to be...and unfortunately risks are involved with it...anytime you make a career change...you have to adjust things most of the time...but you could end up in the long run making more money than you make now...already seems you have a good start....health insurance is the big one...you just have to take into account that is another bill you will have to add to your current bills....so you may have to drive a cheaper truck or buy a smaller house or make up for that in more accounts...maybe one day we will have free health care lol...who knows
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Old 01-09-2011, 04:34 PM
Hell on Blades Hell on Blades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvcroket View Post
I work fulltime 5am-2pm M-F at a major national retailer. I've been mowing parttime for about 2 years after I get off work for extra income. The first year I had 6 clients and I now have 15.....all word of mouth. I recently went "legit" by filing my DBA, getting an EIN, etc. I'm currently working on ad's/flyers, business cards, etc. to secure more accounts this spring. Assuming some continued modest growth, I'll be soon be maxed out on the number of clients I can service while being employed elsewhere fulltime. A promotion at my primary job would change my work hours in a way that would not be conducive to continuing the lawn mowing business but would not increase my pay to the extent that I still would not need additional income. I'd prefer to make the lawn business a career. Any advice on making the change from doing this part time to making it a career? I feel relatively confident I can make the business grow but the first step in leaving secure employment with good benefits (particulalry health coverage) is a bit daunting. I assume some of you have faced this dilemma yourselves and may have some wisdom to impart.

I think you failed to mention a few key points.
The most important for me is marital status. Are you married? Does your wife work? Is she onboard with the lifestyle change? -- Obviously, your wife would have to be totally onboard in order to make it work. She will have to deal with an irregular pay schedule, irregular (longer) work day, seeing expenses that perhaps she is unaware of (parts, fuel, maintenance, supplies, etc), and extra headaches.

Next for me is benefits. If your wife is employed with benefits, this may be much more minor, but mine is not so I'll continue. Assuming that you have insurance thru your employer, they are picking up most of the premium. A helaht policy in my area for an independent 35 year old male runs about $550 a month for "catastrphic" coverage. You;d still pay most routine stuff out of pocket. Additionally, you may be losing out on some of the perks that I enjoy at my full time job , like: Short and LongTerm Disability, Retirement / ension, Paid Vacation, Skilled Care (Nursing Home) coverage on my parents, etc.

Finally is my own willingness to change. Are you willing to change your lifestyle to live on the very strict budget that you'll have for the next couple years (longer without growth)? Do you have the option to return to this job in a year if things get really bad?

I guess if it were me considering, I'd have a very long list of Pro's and Con's to mull over. Not an easy decision.

Consequently, after talking to my wife, my trigger is 40 residential maintenance contracts and 2 commercial accounts. That is the point where it becomes more profitable both financially and personally to strike out on my own.
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Old 01-09-2011, 05:23 PM
MDLawn MDLawn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvcroket View Post
I work fulltime 5am-2pm M-F at a major national retailer. I've been mowing parttime for about 2 years after I get off work for extra income. The first year I had 6 clients and I now have 15.....all word of mouth. I recently went "legit" by filing my DBA, getting an EIN, etc. I'm currently working on ad's/flyers, business cards, etc. to secure more accounts this spring. Assuming some continued modest growth, I'll be soon be maxed out on the number of clients I can service while being employed elsewhere fulltime. A promotion at my primary job would change my work hours in a way that would not be conducive to continuing the lawn mowing business but would not increase my pay to the extent that I still would not need additional income. I'd prefer to make the lawn business a career. Any advice on making the change from doing this part time to making it a career? I feel relatively confident I can make the business grow but the first step in leaving secure employment with good benefits (particulalry health coverage) is a bit daunting. I assume some of you have faced this dilemma yourselves and may have some wisdom to impart.

I'm full time employed and do this part time, although I was legit right from the start. I've often thought about possibly doing this full time but I think I'll keep it part time for quite a while. I actually like my full time position and right now dont mind working extra hours with the landscaping. Some may say that maybe I'm just not a true business person because I can't or don't want to go full time.

Here are my thoughts on this. I worked for a friend of mine for years who also does this part time and continues to do so. He makes more than his full time job and that job pays well, has benefits & retirement. After years of working his tail off for both jobs he bought 5 acres of prime land (with cash) and built a beautiful home. He is tough on pricing and never lowballs, hence he makes a lot of money with the security and benefits of the full time job. He has probably been in this for 12-15 years though. When I was with him we did a lot but now he does soooo much and more snd more variety of landscape stuff than just mowing, trimming, and mulch. It took time and its all by word of mouth and his work is excellent. This is what I am trying to copy. But we both like our full time gigs.


Here is what keeps my from full time.

-Mowing is SO ultra competitive that I walk away from most calls that I get and only have picked up 2-3 lawns per year at my price. So how much work could I get even if I advertised like crazy, at my price? Plus a lot of people around here who mow I believe are coming from minimum wage jobs so anything is better that the 14-15k (gross) they make at 7.50/hr. Usually have no clue what it really cost to run a business or don't mind making 20k,working 80hrs/week, because hey its more than they made before. This is your so called "competition". Believe me I only look for new customers in the wealthier neighborhoods (250K+ homes) and its still hard. I just want more from the one time I get on this earth.

-Now this is totally individual but there is a ceiling to how much work you can do alone which then stops how much you can potentially make without working yourself to death.

-Off that last sentence, how long can you do strenuos work? If you dont save you'll be working a minimum wage job in your "retirement".

-Benefits from my full time are incredibly awesome from health ins, great retirement package, plus I run my own show. I'd have to do A LOT of work to make up just the benefits then the salary.

-Getting hurt. Solo you are done. People need the work done and no matter how friendly they were at the beginning they will find someone else to do it. They cant wait for you to get better.

-Even the landscape maintenace side of it with trimming bushes, mulching, etc.. is becoming a joke. People doing full mulch/trim/edge jobs that take a full 8hr day and have 3+ yards of mulch for $225, yes this includes the price of material. I mean it's crazy. Maybe I'm nuts but a job like that should be 4x that, but quality comes at a price. And before anyone barks yes 3yards of mulch shoudlnt take 8 hrs but a good clean up, trimming, edging, etc.. takes time to make look great not just throwing mulch into humps everywhere.


These just keep me from ever leaving. Morons doing crazy cheap work, easy entry into the business(good & bad), people with low income expectations of themselves. But your situation is different in not liking your job. I would love to do this work and have a great small business with people working for me. Who knows maybe one day when people value good service again and are willing to pay for it.

Just like others have said do the pro's and con's. Only YOU can decide whats best for YOU. Maybe this is better for me part time in the long run anyways. Sorry for the little bit of ranting.

Last edited by MDLawn; 01-09-2011 at 05:28 PM.
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  #5  
Old 01-10-2011, 07:21 PM
dvcroket dvcroket is offline
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Thanks for the input gentlemen. My situation is complicated to say the least. I left a
$60K/yr job with the gov't in 2007. Our first child died at 10 months of age with a neuromuscular disorder in 2004, 3 weeks after my dad died unexpectedly. We had fratenal tiwns in 2005 and one of them has the same disgnosis as my son. At the time, we were several hours away from family for emotional support and help with caregiving. I was also extremely burnt out on bureaucracy and it seemed a good time to make a change. So, we decided to move back near family and I went to work with a friend in his landscaping business. Fast forward a couple years and I wasn't making enough as a laborer to get by so I went to work with my current employer. My wife has a teaching background but those jobs are getting tougher and she's been out for 6-7 years. Also, she's the only one who can adequately manage my daughter's needs. As I said, my current job doesn't pay enough and a promotion there would not provide enough additional $ for me to stop mowing grass AND the hours would significantly impact the function of our household. My daughter's needs a very involved and stressful and neither my wife nor I get much respite from the daily grind.....add a twin and a poor financial situation to the mix and it's often overwhelming. We can't afford for either of us to go back to school and the liklihood of a job (in this economy) with the necessary pay for us survive on one income is slim.

Thanks for letting me vent a bit. I suppose I'm tired of working for someone else and am trying to justify in my own mind a means of making it on my own. Mowing has been my "savior" financially the last couple of years so logical to start thinking about how to move it to the next level.
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  #6  
Old 01-10-2011, 08:18 PM
coolluv coolluv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvcroket View Post
Thanks for the input gentlemen. My situation is complicated to say the least. I left a
$60K/yr job with the gov't in 2007. Our first child died at 10 months of age with a neuromuscular disorder in 2004, 3 weeks after my dad died unexpectedly. We had fratenal tiwns in 2005 and one of them has the same disgnosis as my son. At the time, we were several hours away from family for emotional support and help with caregiving. I was also extremely burnt out on bureaucracy and it seemed a good time to make a change. So, we decided to move back near family and I went to work with a friend in his landscaping business. Fast forward a couple years and I wasn't making enough as a laborer to get by so I went to work with my current employer. My wife has a teaching background but those jobs are getting tougher and she's been out for 6-7 years. Also, she's the only one who can adequately manage my daughter's needs. As I said, my current job doesn't pay enough and a promotion there would not provide enough additional $ for me to stop mowing grass AND the hours would significantly impact the function of our household. My daughter's needs a very involved and stressful and neither my wife nor I get much respite from the daily grind.....add a twin and a poor financial situation to the mix and it's often overwhelming. We can't afford for either of us to go back to school and the liklihood of a job (in this economy) with the necessary pay for us survive on one income is slim.

Thanks for letting me vent a bit. I suppose I'm tired of working for someone else and am trying to justify in my own mind a means of making it on my own. Mowing has been my "savior" financially the last couple of years so logical to start thinking about how to move it to the next level.
Its one thing to work this as a side gig and its another to make a living at it. Your situation is such that in my opinion your insurance cost would be rather significant. Any new business is going to require a substantial amount of money to get off the ground, so you sound like you don't have the funds you would need to advertise and everything else to get this thing going in a hurry. Saying that, when you start with limited funds its kinda like a vicious cycle and in the end you lose.

Long story short you will run out of money before the business takes off. Another thing is, if you want a business to take off you have to dedicate all your time and energy to it. You can't half it and expect it to succeed. Just the way it is. You will set yourself up for failure if it is not executed properly and timed at the time when your ready. My free advice, and take it for what you paid for it is. Keep it as a side gig for a few more years, or until you cross that bridge where you have to make a decision.

Pray for guidance... and things will work out the way they are meant to. If you rush it and your not ready, or its not the right time, your going to fail. It will feel right when its right, trust me.

Good luck in whatever you do and I'm sorry for your loss.

Dave...
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  #7  
Old 01-10-2011, 09:02 PM
dvcroket dvcroket is offline
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Thanks cooluv. I appreciate the kind words. I know in my heart and from experience not to "jump ship" by giving up a secure job in this economy. Yes, I'm a little beat down right now and that makes it easy to look for "greener pastures." As tough as things are right now, they will get better. In spite of the emotional blows I've taken these past few years, the Lord has blessed me beyond measure. Thanks to all of you for your advice and being a sounding board.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:10 PM
Chilehead Chilehead is offline
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My story is pretty much the same as yours, except I was in your shoes back in 2002. That's when I made my move. It was a good move to jump into landscaping full time. However the health benefit was lacking and I am having to pay out of pocket. Very recently, I have picked up a part-time job. If I do the math on paper, I could gain zero new accounts for 2011, and pick up about $5000.00/year because that is how much I would not be spending on health care. I also get to keep some of my piddly hourly pay.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:26 PM
dvcroket dvcroket is offline
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That's true Chilehead but parttime jobs with full coverage health plansare few and far between. I have a great plan on my fulltime gig but it goes waaaaaaaay down hill if I were to go parttime. One option my wife and I have discussed is her getting back into teaching fulltime. That covers the insurance part and I coulc upsize on the lawncare quite a bit from where I am now and we'd could still manage to meet my daughter's medical needs. It'd also allow me the time and financial means to grow into this business with the hopes of the wife being able to step back into partime work down the road.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:35 PM
Toy2 Toy2 is offline
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insurance

I feel you need to keep your daytime job, everything is unstable at this time, the insurance is one that you need to really look at, also your age, goals, etc...I think some of the Texas guys need to chime in, as I just kept my 4 regular mowing clients when I got out.......but being close to my Mexi buddy who has his own company its getting tougher, no one wants to pay him for what he does, this past year he's owed over $1500.00 and he cannot collect it????

I would keep it the same, just my 02
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