Many of you have seen me around the forum long enough to know and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Although it's not my first year in lawn care, it's my first year owning my own business and boy, can I tell you do I feel as if it is a LEARNING EXPERIENCE. Now I would like to ask how many of you fellow business owners felt the same way during or after your first year? Did you feel as though you were still learning new ways of doing things? Did you feel you made mistakes along the way? Did you feel you were going to make changes in the following year? The reason I ask, being my first year, I feel as if this complete first year was and is going to be a learning experience. I've already learned so much, I've made mistakes, realized my mistakes, and plan to progress and make changes and different ways of doing things based on what I learn throughout my first year. One of the first things I learned, stay organized and don't fall behind on paperwork. Going from a few neighborhood customers to 34 customers in one year was a big hop for me. I know many guys have gained 50+ customers in a year. However, coming from neighborhood lawns to 34 customers in one year, I was never expecting so much effort to run the paper work side of the business. Keeping up with invoices, scheduling, taxes, spending, income, estimates, side jobs, etc. I have new people call me periodically though out the day. I make an arrangement with them and write it down on my pad. At the end of the work day, I get started completing them tasks. Whether it be giving estimates or scheduling a new customer a day of service for each way. So many days I worked until Dark already and it isn't even Spring. At the end of the day being too exhausted to deal with scheduling, putting it off to the next day, only for a few more customers to call. And I get further and further behind. From my learning year, next year I plan to be much more organized. I started the free trial, liked it, and added my billing info for using Jobber now. While I don't know if it's the best, but it does make life much easier for me now days rather than the old fashioned pen and paper. Another one of the most important things I learned; some customers cost you more than their worth. Drop them customers and make it a goal to pass out flyers, cards, talk to people, do whatever possible to make up that one dropped customer with a good customer. I started off my first year being kind of lenient and open to customers. Never again. Lay down rules and grounds for your customers and don't let them cross them. I have already had to start explaining to customers because my foolish self didn't know enough to set grounds from the beginning. Mrs. X and X, I can't call and remind you to unlock your gate. Mrs. So and So, I can't call you every time I arrive to your property. Mrs. So and So, it's my responsibility to service your lawn, while it's your responsibility to keep the dog mess picked up. And I'm tired of explaining this one already. Mrs. So and So, there is no way I can service your lawn for $35.00. My flyers had the prices set for Weekly and Bi-Weekly customers. I can't mow your lawn once a month and risk tearing up my mower that cost a couple grands for your $35.00. How do I solve this? Next year all customers are signing a service agreement or signing up for service through my website where there will be guidelines put down the customers must follow or they get dropped. It took me a while to realize, some customers cost more than their worth. If their not paying you big bucks to walk in dog mess, you shouldn't walk in dog mess. If their not paying you to move their kids toys, you shouldn't move their kids toys. Don't get me wrong, I'm a well mannered person and love doing good for people. Sure I move Suzy Q's kids bike out of the way. But there's a time when you have to draw a line between being mannered and doing a favor and repeating the favor on a weekly basis. So the two most important things I learned in my first year, stay organized and make rules and set guidelines. A lot of customers are picky about who they want in their yard and I should be picky about who's lawn I work in.