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Starting Out Fresh

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by C17LoadSmasher, May 1, 2003.

  1. C17LoadSmasher

    C17LoadSmasher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Hi All,

    A friend and I have been thinking about starting our own LCO recently, and I stumbled upon this forum and it has been a wealth of information. I'm former Air Force here in Charleston, SC, and I am on terminal leave (paid vacation) for the next 60 days, and have been job hunting. Operating an LCO looks like a lucrative option down here in the South with the mild winters. Anyways, here are some questions for all of you wise ones:

    • Is it too late in the season to start out?
    • What sort of equipment is 'must have,' and what brands are the most reliable/most bang for the buck?

    We were looking to maybe take out a small business loan, get some equipment & trailer(s). We both have SUV's (TrailBlazer & Blazer), but eventually hope to get a pickup, so a trailer is not a problem. We're not going to both jump in full time, since my partner still has a job - since I am on terminal leave right now, I would do it until it became established and we could both do it. Basically, I am just wondering where to start? Any recommendations? I know I need to get a Tax ID and a business license...but what should we work on first? We want to get good quality equipment that we can keep as we grow - stuff that isn't junk and won't break down?

    You all are the experts, so I figured this is the place to go! Thanks in advance :)
  2. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Posts: 833

    Alright LoadMaster,

    Why do you think you can do well in the lawn business?

    Why not painting? Why not framing? Why not pickin cotton? Why not cleaning swimming pools?

    Why is it so many think the lawn business is the goldmine despite not ever working in the business as an employee?

  3. C17LoadSmasher

    C17LoadSmasher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Well for one.. everyone has a lawn. Everyone (most everyone, that is) has cut grass at one point. I like being outdoors. It's hot as heck here in the summer, so why cut your grass in 90+ degree weather when you can pay someone else to do it?

    --I have never framed anything, and nor do I want to.
    --Not everyone has pools, so therfore the demand is lower than lawn care.
    --Painting is tedious, and I just don't like to do it (heck, my house is still the same color it was when the bldrs painted it).
    --Cotton picking is now done by machines.

    Yes, perhaps working in the biz as an employee might be a good idea, but I haven't. I know I could do it, and I know I want to, but I do need some help -- as I am sure that everyone out there had some help at some point in time. No one can do anything of this magnitude with no help, be it financial, support, or even just some good ol' fashioned advice.

  4. rbruchwalski

    rbruchwalski LawnSite Member
    Posts: 19

    This is just my first year doing this. I still have a full time job and just learning the ropes of this business. However, I do have more business than I thought I would for the first year. Here in my area of Pennsylvania I don't need a business licence or tax id number. Your ssn should do the trick. My biggest downfall, which I'm getting better at, is bidding a job. Trying to figure out my overhead and my costs. Its killed me on a few jobs, but I guess thats how you learn. Anyways, good luck to you and have fun....
  5. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Posts: 833

    So you think you can do well in the lawn business because you like being outdoors???

    You are good to go!

    Okay since you have a cool Web page (despite being a zoomy and you need to add the USS Cole to your list) I'll be serious... No it's not too late. BUT it's certainly not early or being prepared.

    I would seriously consider working as an employee for the best lawn outfit in Charleston for this summer. You will learn enough to know if you really want to jump into it with debt and all.

    You want to do it cuz you like being outdoors. That's like me saying I want to be a loadmaster cuz I like being in the air. Never mind A School I want to go straight to the plane and start loading sht on. Come on my brother in-law is a loadmaster and he's an idiot (for real and in Charleston). So if he can do it I can too. I figure the navigator will give me a few tips, and if we're off balance I'll move some stuff around in flight. Chances are we'll get of the ground and be just FINE! Is that realistic?

    Even if you did score a biz loan it takes time to build accounts. Waiting until next spring to start on your own is not going to kill ya. AND while working this summer always have in mind how you would be doing things IF you ran the show. You can keep track of how long it takes to mow a 10,000 sq ft property. And if you get the info you'll know how much your employer charges for the property. You'll know some equpip you like and don't like. etccccc..... Do NOT tell them you are interested in starting your own biz later.

    If you think working as an employee for $8/hr (whatever the local LCO pays) is not enough, you need to throw down some real budget numbersof doing it on your own.

    When I was in the biz I had an employee who was a real hard worker for me mowing. It was his first season working for someone. I knew he was a go-getter and wanted to pay him top dollar which I did for the time. Then he asked me for a raise and I said I couldn't do it based on my my numbers. He left and did his own mowing. He was just like you a Chevy Blazer with trash cans in the back towing a 3x5 trailer with little 3' wheels. I wished him well and even gave him two **** accounts I didn't want. BUT he only did it for a few months and when I saw him at a hockey game later, he said he made more working for me. I offered him the job back but he was huntin for something else.

    You are trying to jump out the back of your plane without going to jump school. It's like if you want to talk to enough jumpers that maybe they'll be able to tell you all about it on the Internet but it's not the same. Heck you might not like it. Or you may not be the type of person that fits with it. You you might forget to pull the cord the first time.... learn before you jump NOT while in the air.

    YOUR reasons were outdoors and you think it's lucrative. You are going to have a tough time getting a bank loan based on that! That means credit card debt...

    Do you think you think you are the only airman in Charleston that thinks lawns is easy money? Your buddy is evidence of that.

    And I've said it on other forums, it amazes me how many people think they can just jump into a business. 50% fail but I'l guess those 50% didn't learn before they jumped.

    Knock yourself out if you want to jump in and skip the employee apprenticeship. I don't mean to rain on your parade, but based on my experience it's better to learn before jumping AND have time to make the flight plan.

  6. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    Working for someone else is a good idea, I did. I wanted to start the following year but still waited. I planned, researched, learned for 2 years before starting on my own. It's a lot harder then I thought, business aspect part for sure. Those two years helped me tremendously, plus this site. I would not just jump into this, make a plan. Good luck to ya.
  7. elliboom

    elliboom LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Man, give the guy a break, he is just curious about getting into the biz. I myself am in a very similar situation except I am a KC-135 Boom Operator, and am looking to start something up now, so that when my retirement comes around I can take it full time. He simply asked a question and I don't think he expected some smart *** to gvie him a smart *** anwser. It sure seems like a majority of the "experienced" people on this site have a huge chip on their shoulder about someone starting fresh in the biz. I do agree that you should mow for someone else before jumping in whole hog right away, but man this site needs an attitude adjustment. I am started out this year with me and one other person, my truck, a new 16' trailer, a 32" walk behind, 2 21" walk behinds, 2 trimmers, a blower, gas cans, and some tools. The total investment was under $5,000 bucks and I am doing 10 lawns per week and making good money doing it. This business is not brain surgery, it is no different than running any other service business, except that there tends to be a lot larger market for this service. My two biggest rpoblems were finding a place to store my equipment and disposal of the grass clippings. I solved both, I am renting a 10x24 storage unit for $90 and I dump my clippings at a horse farm for horse feed. That works great I get rid of my clippings and the horses get free food. So do not get discouraged by some of the "veterans" on this site, there is alot of good info here, but you have to weed through alot of junk also. Feel free to email me @ elliboom@yahoo.com if you want to ask me soemthing else privately. :)
  8. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Posts: 833

    Mat, What make you think those are smart arse answers?
  9. C17LoadSmasher

    C17LoadSmasher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    When I read the first reply, I was taken aback. I thought there would be some nice positive feedback, instead I got the feeling that my questions weren't welcome. Just my first impression, hence why I've not really replied. The 2d response seemed a little nicer, but still a little smart alecky. I'm sorry if I inconvenienced anyone looking for a little more information before I start anything. Thanks for your help, boom.

    Load clear...
  10. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Posts: 833

    Well LoadMaster, I apologize if my tone of writ was mistaken. I was meaning to make some sincere points and ask real questions. I think everyone in every business needs to ask 'what is their competitive advantage and why?" And to get people to consider the numbers.

    All is meant for good honest advice. This and other sites like it are meant for people to ask questions and they are not inconveniencing anyone. It's a great resource.

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