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Big picture stuff, need advice from people who were down this road

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by pattytastik, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. pattytastik

    pattytastik LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 286

    As some of you know, I am 17 and have been mowing lawns and doing some maintenance, nothing major (mulch, bush removal, very little landscape design). I recently decided that Business is for me, and Landscaping is also for me. I realize that mowing lawns isn't the best source of income (in many circumstance, not meaning to bash anyone) but I am interested in Landscape design and maybe even hardscaping.

    I am applying to a bunch of pretty good schools for Business management and a minor in Landscape Management. (UPenn, UMaryland, BinghamtonU, RutgersU to name a few). I was just wondering how you guys think I could transition from my lawn care business to a more Landscaping oriented business.

    Should I just wait until I graduate with a business degree and Make a big investment into the business (multiple trucks, advertising, location, employees, equipment etc.) Or should I gradually grow it throughout college?

    Most of this is just venting, so i'm sorry lol.

    My picture of the business in say 15 years from now (10 years post college) is about 2-4 trucks with 3 or 4 workers and doing primarly landscape design and some maintenance, and some lawns just as a bridge to landscaping work (just in the begining to get established)
    Main Questions:

    With this kind of a business, what kind of an investment would be good for after college?
    I'm thinking I would buy 2 semi-used trucks to start (20k total) 5k In advertising, 10k in equipment, plus employee salaries and maybe even get a lot or some kind of office. So I'm seeing a 50k initial investment. Does that sound in the right ballpark?

    If I am successful, how much could I earn (salary wise)?
    My goal would be to make 100k+, I don't need to be rich, just enough to raise a family comfortably.

    If you read all this thanks for bearing with my rambling lol.
  2. Swampy

    Swampy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,435

    I'd keep mowing, it opens a lot of doors for landscaping/hardscaping/design. I just sold around 5,000 in landscaping work to one of my lawn clients on just chit chating with him when I caught him on a saturday (IT guy never really around during the week, and studying his field on weekend as programing changes alot).

    Truck wise, if I where you, 1 ton dumping flatbed for hauling palletized material (retaining wall block, pavers, sod, timber, and natural stone) cause of the ease of off loading with a skid loader. The dump is extra, you never know when your going to need it. A Medium Duty Single axle dump truck (why not heavier? Most landscape materials are light wieght, also if you'd need to order larger amount of material get it delivered, those jobsites you need all your boots on the ground). A dedicated dovetail mowing truck, these are slick plain and simple, also winter time work great as a sidewalk crew truck so you can ramp up bigger/ride on snow blowers and atv's instead of hauling a trailer threw snow. Finally a run of the mill pick up, great as a tool carrier, refueler, parts getter, bidding/estimating, measuring (for the design), general use truck.

    Now some may think I'm talking out of my @ss but don't do everything, honestly think more as a general contractor vs full service. One advantage is overhead, you don't have tools and equipment sitting around waiting for work. While say hardscaping and landscaping may share some of the same tools/equipment, most of the expensive tools/equipment are not compatable with each other service (example a plate compactor has use in hardscaping while landscaping has no use). Do the work you feel that you can do with out incuring a ton of cost, and learn to sub the rest out (hardscaping/paving, irragation, lighting, pond/water features, rough grading)
  3. pattytastik

    pattytastik LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 286

    I just feel like I need to do something that requires some sort of education (like landscape design or hardscaping) in order to set me apart from the immigrants that are ecstatic to make $5 an hour. What do you think?
  4. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,511

    Man this might sound a little harsh but what world are you living in where you can graduate college and dump $50,000 into a business? Ya don't just graduate and buy a bunch of stuff and hope you can keep it busy. You have to get the work first and then buy the equipment. I see bankruptcy in your future if you head down the buy now hope to be able to pay later road.
  5. pattytastik

    pattytastik LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 286

    I have a family friend that went to school for landscape design, got his degree and went big. He invested a lot of money and he now makes a 7 digit salary. There is risk in owning a business. The safer way is to work and then buy, but that route can take 20 years. Making an investment into my business would allow me to start big. Ever heard the saying "go big or go home?"
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  6. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,511

    Honestly I don't think you know what you are talking about. A smart landscape design business owner would never pay himself a 7 digit salary. Sure go ahead and go big. Most of the time. That fails.
  7. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,984

    A business management degree is going to be a waste. You will need to be able to know how to do the work initially because you will be doing the work in the beginning. Even when you have crews you will have to know how things are done to supervise your employees.

    So is a landscape management a waste. You don't need to manage nothin!

    You want to landscape design you have to get landscape design degree. There are many 2 year programs to get you started.

    You should then think about getting a second 2 year degree in contruction technology. Hard scape needs wood working, masonary, some metal, plumbing, and electrical skills.
  8. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,742

    Not to be an a$$. But think because you have a degree you will come out the gate winning bids on $100,000 landscape installs? There is a big difference in having book knowledge and having work expierence knowledge.
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    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
  9. GMLC

    GMLC LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,353

    In my opinion the business major will be very valuable as well as the landscape minor. I think your choosing the right major and minor combination. My business degree has helped me more than anything in this business(or any business). Most don't fail because of the work they do, its because they made poor business decisions. One of which is attempting to grow to fast and jumping right into debt. Grow your business at the right rate and you can grow as big as you want. But I would not just jump right in with a huge investment. Another recommendation would be to surround yourself with other successful business owners and network as much as possible.
  10. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,887

    IMHO a degree in hort would be far more useful than anything business. Keep building your business slowly and learn along the way. A good CPA will help you keep your numbers straight. Nobody started in this business by buying multiple trucks, equipment, crews and then wondered where the business was going to come from.:usflag:

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