Starting up my first business!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Jlin428, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Jlin428

    Jlin428 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 10

    :waving: Hi everyone! I'll start off by introducing myself, it's my first post on these forums! My name is Jake, I am a college student from Connecticut. I am starting up my own Lawn Care business this summer and I'm looking for all the advise and tips I can get!

    To be completely honest, I have little knowledge of how to go about starting up and running business, but it is something that I am determined to learn despite however much work it will take. I have customer service experience having working in a restaurant for 5 years, and I have experience mowing lawns in the past but I'm sure its nothing compared to most of the people here on this forum lol. I want to learn all that I can from you guys, and hopefully I can return the favor.

    I'm most concerned about how I should go about the start up of it and how to maintain and manage the business, while still trying to make it grow. I will start off by giving a brief outline of my plan, and then what I am planning on doing (as of now) to make it happen. ANY advise on what I should/shouldn't do, alternative ways to do things, feedback on my idea's (positive or negative), ect. will be greatly appreciated! Here it goes!

    :help: :help: :help: :help: :help: :help: :help: :help: :help:

    Plans/Goals:
    -I want to make money, but at the same time provide a great service to people. I take pride in my work and do not like screwing people over, for lack of a better term. There's more to life than solely money simply put.

    -I will be trying to get as much business as possible. Right now it is a one-man operation, but hopefully I can get enough clients to want/need to hire people.

    -I don't have an exact number, but I will have somewhere between $700-$2,000 for business start up (possibly more but doubtful)

    -I am pretty much starting from scratch and have no equipment or clients

    -As of now, I plan on advertising basic lawn care services (mowing, weedwacking, weeding, hedge trimming, ect). I am open to learn all I can and am willing to do side-jobs related to this stuff, but don't want to advertise too many special services that I am not experienced in yet.

    -I will be doing mostly residential business.

    -Depending on how much business I get, I plan on running it as a cash-based
    kinda business. I am not planning on purchasing liability insurance or anything like that, just my automobile insurance. Also, as far as taxes/legal stuff goes I would rather just do it under the table for now. If I get a lot of business, this stuff may change, especially if I need to start hiring people.

    -I would like to get customers throughout not only my town, but a couple neighboring towns as well. I want as much business as I can get.


    Equipment:
    -Currently I drive a 2001 Hyundai Tiburon. Ideally I would like to have own a truck for the business, but that is going to have to wait due a couple of reasons (mostly financial). I plan on purchasing a utility trailer to haul everything around with and attaching it to my car for now.

    -My dad is going to give me a used push mower of his for free. I do not know any of the details on the make or model, but I will post it later for opinions. I would like to purchase a new one, but I need to figure out my money situation for startup.

    -I was thinking about a riding mower, but I honestly will have nowhere near enough money to purchase one until next year.

    -I plan on purchasing a weed-wacker, gas cans, an edger(?), mower blades and sharpener, gloves, oil for the mower (im really not sure what I will need... suggestions?)


    Advertising/Promotion (I am looking for help here especially!):
    -I plan on purchasing fliers and business cards and dropping them off at houses and other places like grocery stores. I need to design these still and am looking for some tips on how to do so please!

    -I would like to do at least some door-to-door style promotion to try to get clients. In my experience, dealing with someone in person has many benefits as well as a personal touch that will help me win over some customers.

    -I am thinking about purchasing a couple of campaign-style lawn signs for my house and friends lawns for advertisement (possibly in customers lawns in exchange for some type of discount incentive. Thoughts?)

    -I would like to purchase either a magnet-decal or some type of car topper for my car for advertisement/professionalism.

    -I am thinking about putting some ads in local newspapers, as well as on the internet.


    Other questions:
    -What are the "basic/standard" lawn care services?
    As of now I have mowing, weedwacking, weeding, edging?, and hedge trimming. Looking for more things that I can realistically advertise (tree removal for example, is something I am interested in learning and am willing to take do as a side job type of thing but I'm not experienced enough to want to specifically advertise it yet).

    -When should I begin my advertising/promotional period and when should I end it? Also, when should I begin mowing the lawns?

    -How/what should I charge per lawn? Should I simply eye-out the lawn when I meet the customer?

    -Business name? Im thinking about keeping it simple with "Jake's Lawn Care"... thoughts?

    -Any other information/advise that can be offered will be GREATLY appreciated!




    I apologize for the long read, but I didn't know of any other way to ask all those questions! Haha, anyway thanks for any and all input, positive or negative! Hopefully I can answer some of your guy's questions and offer my advise on anything you'd like to know!
    :drinkup: Thanks again, cheers! :drinkup:
     
  2. hi_speedreed

    hi_speedreed LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 534

    Since you have no equipment you should do some research into costs. I think you will be surprised at low little $700 is. I see 4x8 and 5x8 utility trailers on craigslist from 400-700. You can make do with residential equipment but it is not built to take the punishment of day in day out work that commercial machines are built for.

    21" mower, string trimmer, hedge trimmer and blower are the minimum for what you have described you are looking at ~900 for good quality homeowner stuff, if you buy commercial you could be looking at $2200+
     
  3. Jlin428

    Jlin428 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 10

    First off, thank you for your input! I appreciate the realism.
    Unfortunently, I relieze how little amount of startup money I have but it's all I got for now, hopefully I can upgrade equipment along the way.

    When you say homeowner vs. commercial machines I'm just wondering what defines the differences? I understand what both terms mean, but does Home Depot for example sell both homeowner and commercial units? How would I know? Is there a technical difference between the two?

    Also, I did a google search for string trimmer. I have heard of it being called a "weed-wacker" before, just want to make sure these are the same tools. Also by blower, I assume you mean leaf blower right?

    Yeah hopefully I can snag a trailer for relatively cheap, that is going to eat a large chunk of my funds, but ya need money to make money.

    Sorry if these sound like beginners questions (I'm kinda a beginner lol), but hey gotta start somewhere right?


    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  4. hi_speedreed

    hi_speedreed LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 534


    Like I said previously. You really need to do some research. Look at the cost of equipment. The SRM-230 has a MSRP of $289, The 570BFS $525, so with two pieces of vital equipment I just blew your budget out of the water. You still don't have a trailer or a mower. Everyone says this is an easy business to get into. It is because of the relatively low start up costs. But, most people thinking of making this jump already have the equipment you need to buy so your initial investment will be substantially higher. Realistically, if you really wanted to make a go of this like you say in your first post you are looking at needing capital in the 4-5k range. If you wanted to go full on commercial its closer to 10k with 1 walkbehind mower, if you go with a zero turn you are creeping up close to 15k that is for a trailer and every tool you need to do the job you are describing.

    Homeowner grade
    quality 21" mower - 350
    decent trimmer - 225
    good blower - 300
    zero turn - 2500
    misc hand tools 200 shovels, rakes, brooms, mattock, etc.
    trailer 700
    hitch 150

    total 4425 not counting gas, oil, trimmer line, blades, blade sharpener, filters, or business start up costs such as licensing and insurance.

    I am not saying don't make a go of it. I just don't want you jumping into this blindly.
     
  5. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 2,716

    Dont' forget business licenses, GL insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, etc..... Our startup budget was $6,500 and we already had a truck and trailer. You really need to figure out your costs before you jump in, dump A LOT of money on an enterprise and realize you are overbudget before you get started. Good luck :drinkup:
     
  6. CreativeLawncareSolutions

    CreativeLawncareSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,025

    I'd try and get hired on part time with another local company that dies lawn care. It would be sort of like a paid apprenticeship. You'll learn about the business. You'll make money. You'll have off days to build your own business.

    This is what I'd do if I were you. I assume you're young with no family/mortgage? Take advantage of this opportunity. It's much tougher to start out when you have a wife and kids.
     
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    I remember I started the business with a used lawnmower, loppers, garden scissors, a couple of rakes and put lawn debris in garbage bags, which I hauled away in my old car... Many of my first clients had their own lawn mowers so I just ran around town mowing lawns lawns after work and on weekends etc...

    Bottom line is, prioritize your purchaces rather than worry about having it all now... if you got to be a big dog right off the bat, then statistically it doesn't look good... I spent my whole life watching all kinds of businesses fail, becuz they had to start at the top... :)
     
  8. STIHL GUY

    STIHL GUY LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Posts: 5,225

    if i were you i would stick with the push mower for as long as possible to keep your overhead down...its gonna take time to build up your clients and equipment so be patient...i know you want to have a lot of accounts but dont underbid and end up working for free...just do the best you can and make sure the quality is great on each lawn...the best form of advertisement is word of mouth so keep your customers happy and they'll tell their friends about you...good luck
     
  9. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    With so little start-up money I think that whatever you earn is going to end up having to go back into the business, which is going to greatly limit what you can put in your pocket. Running power equipment on customer's properties without insurance is foolish and irresponsible in my opinion. Also, you will need to at least have a rider on your insurance policy to use your personal vehicle for business use...otherwise if you have a claim while using it for work your insurance company will likely deny it. Also, the lawn care season is longer than the typical college break...it starts while you're still in school and ends after you're back in school.

    Instead of what you have planned, this is what I recommend. Skip the mowing and concentrate on general yard work that can be done with limited equipment and without a long-term committment. Stuff like hedge trimming, weeding and mulching requires little equipment and you can fit everything you need in your current vehicle. You can have mulch delivered or haul it in bags in the trunk. If you buy it in bulk you can transport it in 5 gallon buckets if you can't fit a wheelbarrow in your car. You can add things like window washing, deck staining and other services that also require little equipment. Bascially you can work as a domestic-type employee for people helping out around the yard. There are a lot of senior citizens who need a little extra help and are sympathetic to college students. You won't be able to charge as much, but your expenses will be way lower and likely put more money in your pocket. What I described is what my college-age son did last year working out of his Miata and it worked out well for him. He did borrow our station wagon a few times as well and it did help that I was able to send some customers his way. They in turn referred him to friends and neighbors.
     
  10. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,262

    You find yourself fortunate to have such a well represented state on the lawn site atm to aid in your advice. Darryl and I are both on the coast like you he's practically your neighbor. And he brings up a great point and its the reason I do not hire collage students. Your time line is all wrong for mowing and doing the maintenance that goes with it. Collage for you ends when beginning of May perhaps Mid may? Spring clean ups are done in march and the first few weeks of April so you cannot offer that and thus lose clientele because of that.

    Fine your just mow, only that also starts in April and 2012 it was warm and we had to start the first week of April. So right off the bat your losing the best account building period there is here. Now you can go after lawns later in season we all do but let me be honest with you they tend to be the lawns you would want to run from. Cheap people who tend not to pay on time and waited till the lawn was more than a foot tall to say hey maybe its time to hire someone and I hope they can mow it every 2 weeks or if I am lucky every month.

    Now you manage against all odds to build up a list despite those early season handicaps. Great only the grass doesn't stop growing the last week of August here it goes another 8-10 weeks. How do you plan to tell your new clients sorry about the last cuts of the year but I need to go back to collage see ya next summer? So you manage to take your weekends home to mow those accounts and prey it doesn't rain because its the only time you have to complete them. Now Nov is upon you and a large number of them want their leaves cleaned up and removed from their properties how do you plan on accomplishing that?

    Now I didn't even touch on how low your start up budget is nor bring up the steps the others here demand to be legitimately running a company.

    Now I am not trying to discourage you I am trying to illustrate reality and perhaps keep you from blowing what little money you have before you think this through.
     

Share This Page