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question on initial investment

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by lawnboy1701, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. lawnboy1701

    lawnboy1701 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Hello everyone. This would be my first post on this site. I have been a roofing contractor for the last two years. Which is actually a fancy way of saying a door to door roof salesman. Commision has been great thanks to a couple of hurricanes that have made business extremely profitable. I have been able to save almost 60k and will have another 50k by may after some commission checks come in on some big jobs. Long story short i have the money to start a small business of my own. I was thinking of starting a lawn business. I would like to invest 60k intially to get the thing going. I already have one work truck that i was planning on hiring a crew to drive. I was thinking of starting off with two trucks and trailers equiped for two crews. I will be honest I dont know alot about landscaping personally. I know how to get business and how to schedule crews. I do not know how to find crews. I guess my question would be how would you invest the 60k initially and would you start small and work alone or start big and run a couple of crews from the get go. i will have the money to do mass advertising and rent an office. Any insight would be grand. Thanks guy,
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    First off, with your mentality and your idea(s) chances are way higher than average that you will get skru'd for no other reason than you have never done this before, and a fool and his money are soon parted. Not to say you are a fool per se, but the easier the money comes, the easier it goes... All things considered, it should take you 2-5 years before you see profitability but that figure is average, it took me closer to 8 years (I've been doing lawncare for 4 years now, before that I declared bankruptcy after a few of MY ventures - Granted, my drinking didn't help but my head was out there with the BIG ideas too).

    In my experience, when starting a business:

    1) Get a smaller horse, much smaller... Trade your Grand Stallion for a pony as this can help get your head out of the clouds... Being on foot is not a bad idea, either.
    2) Consider all of your investment at risk, over half of all new businesses fail, consider this failure to be 100% possible. Thus your investment is spare cash, correct? yes...
    2) You need between 5 - 20k, solo... 10k is recommended, spend smart not big, you will need a few k extra the first year as a buffer to bail yourself out (not of jail, but from failure).
    3) You need to run solo for at least 2 years if you're new. Not knowing the answers to the questions is a killer, whether the employees claim they have the answers and are experienced or not, if you do not know what you are doing, then you need to learn by yourself without labor-based folks depending on you. YOU need the experience of how to fix something when it breaks, YOU need to know how to 'handle' the problem customer, and YOU need ALL the answers to questions such as 'why is the sky blue?'
    4) Buy the truck and the mower USED and start with a 48" Walk-behind or thereabouts. The more you spend, the more you eat should you fail... But, if you feel like writing off a 7 thousand dollar machine instead of a thousand dollar mower, then by all means keep in mind the IRS will not send you a CHECK for the amount you lost thou you don't need to pay taxes on money you don't have anymore.
    5) Run it from home, you'll save money for the dry spells.

    p.s.: I COULD've said 'SURE sounds good' and give you the thumbs up and the go-ahead (while knowing you will likely fail with such foolish advice), but I did not do this, more so because I don't believe in doing that than anything else, thou a small part of me does rejoice at what's coming and wouldn't mind watching, most of me does not, and I wish you the best of luck.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Some things I DO give the thumbs up on:
    1) It is a good thing you got plenty money, most of us don't or didn't. This can and will help, but it doesn't guarantee anything.
    2) Running a good size advertising spree. 2 or 3 thousand would not hurt, but you may be disappointed until you learn some tricks here as well.

    Some more stuff:
    IF you can give yourself as much TIME as you have money, you should do fine. In this case, 60k ought to last 5 years with NO income, spread thin, 4 years once you withdraw the initial 10k to get started.

    Not to be mean, but please don't expect overnight success is all I'm saying.
  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    Education is never cheap so have someone else pay for it. Get a job in the industry and invest your $$ in something else for the year, something safe! Then after a year at least you will know if this is really something you want to get into. The ? I have is why don't you start a roofing business ;) ? You already know about that and the start up costs have to be much lower. I hear good, honest, dependable roofers are as hard to find as LCO's
  5. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Posts: 4,909

    Why again do you want to leave a profitable industry and go into a saturated work your ass off for pennies business?
  6. nriddle77

    nriddle77 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 269

    Most of your questions can be answered here on LS. Spend your time here, and soak up as much as possible before you spend any $$.
  7. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,712

    gost running a biz you have no experience in may be a disaster. i agree fot you to run solo for a while to get a feel for things .also it would be less cost up front only equiping one crew and less $waisted if you feel its not for you. lots of good info on this site
  8. ODUrugger

    ODUrugger LawnSite Member
    Posts: 42

    Get decent used mowers - a 48" and a 32" walk behind. Buy a nice new $200-$300 dollar trimmer, $300 backpack blower, a $250 Stick edger. Get a trailer (at least 5' wide and 10' long interior, but bigger is better) for around 2 grand. Get insurance, spend alot on advertising and marketing (ads in yellowpages, papers, etc - Signs for your trailor + truck). You'll learn as you go.
    Read alot through here its a great place with alot of great ideas info and threads.
    Once you get busy past the point you can handle it on your own ( Really though... pull at least 40 hours a week NOT including maintainance and getting ready in the morning) hire a helping hand. It'll go from there and will always succeed as long as you are willing to sweat for it!
    Easy way to look at it. Mowing 30 weeks a year, at 35 per cut means every 12 houses you have means 10,000 a season after filing 20% taxes. you'll take home less due to gas and upkeep but its a good rough estimator. Good Luck and keep reading here!
  9. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995


    First off there is plenty of money to be made in the greens industry. But you need to know how to do it or more importantly what not to do.

    So you have over $100,000 to invest. First take $50k of that and put it in a diversified mutual fund situation that charges a flat % fee for ownership. example: Fund Solution at Morgan Stanley. Now that you have successfully planned out money to work for you, move on the the grass cutting idea.

    Now with the remaining $50K put it in a more liquid situation because you will be needing to access it periodically.

    Next, decrease your expenses.

    Then, suck up your pride and dumb down your resume and get a job cutting grass for a mid sized company that is at least 30 miles away from where you want to start your business. Start at the bottom. Learn how to use the equipment. Learn how the employees act in front of the owner and how they actually are. Learn how to maintain equipment and what equipment works and stands up to employee abuse. Learn how long it really takes to do given tasks and how to motivate the crew to approach that time as oppose to screwing off all day. figure out if you like the equipment that company has, if their maintance schedule is a good fit. See if their trailers are efficient, if you should go with enclosed or open, if you should get a dedicated truck with a built in bed. Always be the guy volunteering for the crappy job, the new experience, to expand your horizons. Remember, for you this is only lasting 6 months or so. You need to learn as much as possible on their clock.

    Most importantly, you have to view this as going to college except that they are paying you tuition. I left a job making way more money than I even make now after 2 years of ownership, to do this. But when I worked for someone else, I started at $8 per hour (gross). roughly 1/4 what I made (net) before. But it has saved me tons of money and headache.

    Jumping in with 2 crews and no experience is just begging to be the proverbial fool and his money.

    One of the keys to this business is keeping overhead low. Just because you have the money now to get an office doesn't mean you will have the business to support it later. Same with 2 crews. getting accounts is easy, keeping them and getting good ones isn't.

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