Originally Posted by mowerbrad
If this is your "gateway" job into the lawn care industry then you may want to start looking at commercial insurance and forming some type of business out of this.
You can go to your county court house and fill out all the paperwork to get your business registered as a "DBA" (doing business as). Other options would be to form an LLC or incorporate, but those options become more expensive and would require you to hire a lawyer to help you out and figure out which one you need. But if you stick with the DBA, you can avoid the added costs of forming an LLC.
Some cities, townships or counties require businesses to get a business license to work in their area. Not all places require the licences but that is something you would have to find out yourself as prices vary and not everywhere requires one.
Insurance also varies in price. You don't NEED to have liability insurance to do lawn care unless one of your clients requires that you have it while maintaining their property. However, having liability insurance makes you feel at ease in case you shoot a rock out this side of the mower and hit a kid causing him to be seriously injured, that way you don't have to foot the medical bills out of pocket, just submit them to the insurance company. Prices vary by state and area, also by the amount of equipment you will have covered. You can find prices anywhere from $500/year and up. Prices in my area seem to be around $900/year, at least for me.
You may also want to look into commercial auto insurance if you will be using your truck/trailer for the business. Commercial insurance isn't too much more than personal insurance for me. It added maybe $100/year going to that from personal auto.
If you want to do fertiilizing, you will need to take your state applicator's license test. The book for that costs about $20, then you can take the test and pay any associated fees with that. There are also classes you can take but I'm not sure of prices.
Personally, I don't care if you get all of this stuff or not...its not my business afterall. Now after my whole response, I really can't tell you how much it would cost you to make this into a business as prices vary so much and needs vary just as much.
So would I first need to complete an application through my county website?
I have no idea how many yards I'll want to mow, but yes, you could say this may be a "gateway" into the business. I teach and have summers off, so I would just be doing this part time. I don't want to spend a ton of money going "all out" legally, when one yard might be all I have for a couple of years. I really am just wanting to be covered enough to do this job, but not so much that I don't recoup what I pay in licensing and insurance.