This post is prompted in part by a post by a young guy a couple of weeks back who was ready to throw in the towel. I didn't reply to his post, as I recall, because I wasn't sure what advice I should give him. Most encouraged him to not give up, and a few suggested that perhaps he should find a regular job and do the lawncare on the side, at least until things were going his way financially again. Envy also had a poll on the same general subject, whether or not we were full, or part time, among other things. I'd like this thread to go several steps farther and perhaps provide some useful insight, particularly for those new to this business, or business in general, or just life on their own. I once asked an employer of mine when I was a teenager why it seemed there were always so many small restaurants's that come and go. I've never forgotten his answer. He said, "It really is pretty simple. First of all, it doesn't cost much to open a restaurant. And, most people figure they can cook". I've absolutely no doubt this generalization applies to many in the lawncare industry as well. Many long to be self-employed, and the service industry in general, and lawncare, in particular, are relatively inexpensive to enter. (Note the current post about starting with homeowner equipement). And, about everyone has at one time or another, done some yard mowing, so, it is a natural step for many to figure they can start up a business, and become self-employed. I mow part-time. I've been at my day job for over 24 years, and worked in route sales for over 27 years of my life. I started the business after I helped a friend of mne, also a milkman, who had a mowing business on the side. I found I actually kind of enjoyed mowing, with the right equipment, and when we had a bit of a windfall a few years ago, I bought a Z, trailer and all the assorted gadgetry and went into business for myself. Being a bit older than most of you who start out, I probably dreamed a little smaller, as I had no intention of replacing my current income with mowing income, only supplementing it, and, to hopefully earn enough to be able to supplement my retirement in a few years so that I can go ahead and retire early. The cost of health care insurance has made it nearly impossible for many people to retire early, even with a decent pension. But, for those of you who are young, with families, is it the right decision to depend upon this industry for your livelihood? I know there are guys on here who could buy and sell me a thousand times over, and I'm happy as a pig in feces for you, but I also know for every one who makes a killing in this business, there are thousands who will never make enough money to really have any kind of standard of living for their families. Nothing wrong with dreaming, I'm not trying to squelch that, I'm just interested in putting the facts out there as a tool for people interested in this industry. Here are things as I see them. First of all, virtually all startup, sole proprietorships, are under-capitalized, and I suspect lawncare businesses are at, or near, the top of that list. If you don't believe that, just read a couple of days postings about "is this a good price for a Z?," or "I wanted the 60 inch, but the 48 inch was $500 cheaper." If a business is properly funded, there is money available to make NEEDED purchases, when the need arises, not years down the road. That, in and of itself, makes it tough to operate and keep your head above water, because I suspect many spend lots of time robbing from Peter to pay Paul. I'm writing this from experience. I have owned 3 small retail businesses through the years, so I have lots of experience doing just this. It also takes a certain amount of business acumen to make a go of it in this, or any business. I strongly suspect all of you who read this, and are considered highly successful, would have been just as successful in any business you started. Lawncare just happens to be the one you chose. It also requires you to wear many hats. I, for example, would literally starve to death as a door-to-door salesman. Sure, I'm in route sales, but the products sell themselves. I am not good at selling my business, and I know that is one area I need improvement in. It is great to be able to do the physical work, and an excellent job, but there is simply more, much more, to running a truly successful business. Now, let's look at working for the "man" for a moment. Many offer group health insurance, often at little or no premium, although that is changing as well as healthcare costs escalate. My health insurance is almost 100% company funded. Insurance is not an option, if you have a family, it is imperative, as you can be wiped out with one simple medical emergency. Retirement: If you are self-employed, particularly in a service industry, where large amounts of capital are not apt to be accumulated, you must be very, very diligent and resourceful to have any hope of retiring early enough to enjoy any of it. That is just a simple fact. I will be able, after 25 years of service, to draw a union pension which is approximately 75% of what I now make working. That souunds great, but factor in $700 + a month for health insurance, and inflation (how many of you actually BELIEVED 10 years ago that we would be paying $3 a gallon for gasoline, or $4 a gallon for milk, for that matter?), and I'm not sure I can afford to safely do so. Our pensions have no cost of living increases common to government pensions, and if I should be fortunte enough to live 20 more years, who is to say gasolne won't be $8 a gallon? On a side note, my advice to everyone, particularly you young guys. Do two things: Start saving now. A lot. Until it hurts. And, get a home paid for. Also, try to get something going in your life that will provide an income without you working for it, whether that be mutual funds, rental property, or even a lawncare company big enough to let you sit in the office. I wish I had seen this years ago. Everything I have ever done required the sweat of my brow to turn a dollar. That is great when you are young, but you won't be nearly as long as you think. Also, lawncare, in most states, is a seasonal business, and a spradic one at that, particularly if you are primarily in the maintenance end of things. Will the income be there if you have a prolonged drought? A lot of you are experiencing that right now. Working for the man, in most cases, provides a regular paycheck year-round. I'll quit blowing now. I realize there are those among you that simply cannot envision themselves doing anything but this. Same with astronauts to zookeepers. There are some people who just seem to be born to do one thing, are happy doing it, and, generally, reasonably successful. I've never been that fortunate. The things I really love doing, I've never had the opportunity to make a living doing. I can honestly say I don't ever recall waking up in the morning and being in a hurry to get to work. If you are one of the lucky ones, more power to you. I'm hoping to hear from you, as well as those who wish they had done something else, and everyone in between. Thanks.