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What are some things I need to consider in my business plan?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Green from the Ground Up, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. Green from the Ground Up

    Green from the Ground Up LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    Right now I am in the throes of writing a business plan.

    I have already considered the following;

    I want to start with a used 60" mower to maximize my productivity, with a 21" WB for fenced in/inaccessible areas.

    Two trimmers, two blowers.

    I have a truck (2004 Ford F-150 SXT six-foot bed), need a trailer (what size would I need to accommodate a 60"?)

    And of course fuel, blades, trimming wire, breakdown costs etc. I'm thinking I need at least $2000 ready at any time to handle something that comes up, ESPECIALLY using a used mower. I'd rather not have to mow my clients lawns with the 21".

    But what else do I need to consider? I know the kinds of customers I want to target, namely I want to find clients close together in the wealthy subdivisions of my town. There are plenty to choose from. I know I want to market, but not overextend myself since I will be starting out on my own initially, but plan to have at least one part-time helper by the end of my first season.

    So please, ye of much experience; what else do I need to work into my cost structure? I'd like to have a decent business up-and-running for under $10k, but I want to do it RIGHT.
  2. shawn d

    shawn d LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 388

    Will you be looking to expand in the near future? If so buy as big of trailer as you can afford, I would recommend at least a 12ft, I have a 12ft and it was quickly filled once I loaded my ZTRS and hand helds in it. Also with a 60" deck you are going to want a 6ft or preferably a 7ft wide trailer.

    Just my .02
  3. mjealey

    mjealey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 475

    Here is what I would do in order from experience! Don't know what you have already done.

    1. Come up with a good professional name and see if it is registered in your state. You can usually check on your states website. If it isn't go get your business license, ($25.00)

    2. First year you should be fine as a DBA. I started off as a Sole Proprietor and registered my business name with the IRS and got an EIN to report under. This is free on IRS.gov. Not required because it is a sole proprietorship, but a good idea to build business credit and a seperate EIN for the business.

    3. Look into insurance. It stinks to get this starting off, but it is worth it. Probably around $500 for what you need. One rock through a window and it will pay for itself.

    4. Trailer - I would suggest a 6 x 12 to start. However if you know this is something you are going to be doing in a few years you might want to go a little bigger. Don't do what I did and start with a 5 x 10 and 2 months later I realized it was too small. A 6 x 12 will easily fir a 60" and a WB or a push mower and some other goodies.

    5. Get your name out there! I got 5,000 full color 5.5 x 8 gloss cards to hand out for $546.00 from Plan-it Graphics. They are in the business and know what works. Word of mouth is best, but thos will get you started. I would suggest telling all of your family members around you and make sure you tell them what you are doing, and hand them some flyers and you business card. Then make sure you tell all of your friends and tell them are expanding and basically looking for work. You would be surprised how far this can get you.


    License $25
    Insurance $500
    Trailer $1300
    Business Cards $80
    Advertising Post Cards $600 (5000)
    Good Used 60" ZTR $6000
    21" Push Mower $400
    Trimmers $400
    Good Blower $500.00

    All this adds up to around $9700 and that is getting pretty good used equipment. I am sort of estimating on the high side of the curve. But that gives you an idea. If I were you I would start with a 48" Hydro walk-behind first. You will be able to cut anything and you can find a good used one for $3k - 4. This would leave $2,000 in the bank from your $10,000 and you would be ready to get it going and go make some money. Might of forgot a few things but this will get it going.
  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    Google business plan and look for a template to use. A good template will ask you questions that need to be answered. They will also give you a format to present it in so it will flow.

    I wouldn't be so concerned with the equipment you need as what you want the business to look like when its complete. Then you get to reverse engineering it so you have a road map to guide you to your goal. Stay focused and don't get sidetracked.

    My business plan is over 30 pages long and there is not one single piece of equipment listed. It was not by design it just came out that way. When you talk business businessmen don't talk equipment they talk numbers, personnel, sales, projections and %'s. The guys that do the work talk about the equipment the guys that run the business talk about business.
  5. Green from the Ground Up

    Green from the Ground Up LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    All excellent advice.

    This is some personal reasoning for why I want to do what I want to do, so feel free to skip it. I fancy myself a writer, but to write well I need time. I want to do landscaping during the warm months, to leave winter for my writing. I love being outside, but I don't want to work hard my whole life.

    I DO want to build a sound, successful business. I want to expand every year, to the point where I no longer have to go out and do the physical labor. I want to start with mowing, and expand my services with my business. I plan to concentrate on residential, but may consider commercial if the opportunity presents itself.

    Right now the business name I have in mind is my user name. I have thick skin, so if you hate it don't hold back :p
  6. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    :hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead: :hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead: Was that too subtle?

    Many "opportunities" will present themselves along the way. Stay focused like a laser beam. I wasted a few years jacking around with "opportunities" that prevented me from focusing on my core business. I was dropping accounts almost as fast as I was picking them up. I lost a referral source that was sending me 2-3 $800 per month accounts because of these other "opportunities" One of the worst business mistakes I have ever made. My business would be double the size it is now just from avoiding that one mistake.
  7. jada86

    jada86 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 124

    I don't know how much you know about lawns and landscaping but if none, you'll need some education. Most of what you need is free from the cooperative extension service but put in the hours to get it, before you offer service.

    I agree, focus on sales, profitability, growth in your business plan. You do need a certain level of reliable equipment to get the job done, but fancy equipment won't get you to retirement. Marketing is key until word of mouth starts to flow!
  8. Green from the Ground Up

    Green from the Ground Up LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    As far as landscaping goes, I probably fall in the middle of the pack.

    I am a good mower. I am fast accurate and I don't tear turf. I can mulch, I can weed, I can trim. I can even do mild hardscaping like patios and the like, but that isn't something I want to get too deep into until I've expanded. What I really have very little knowledge of is planting and flora in general. Can anyone recommend me a book?

    I still feel like there should be more to my business plan.

    There has to be something I have forgotten about.
  9. richonsa

    richonsa LawnSite Member
    from georgia
    Posts: 66

    There is a program I found that leads to certification as a landscape professional. It covers turf management, pests, etc. They also offer classes to get ready for pesticide application licensing. I found a book by googling that is about starting a home based landscaping business. It is cheap. All told, for a round $300 I can obain all of the materials needed for basic lawn care education.

    BTW, do yourself a favor; do the name search on your state's SOS website. Reserve a name. Then, write articles of organization (find a basic template) and form an LLC for protection. Then, obtain your FEIN online. You can call your LLC "ABCD, LLC" DBA Joe's Cut Pros!" or whatever else you may decide. I just registered last night and as I was typing this message I received an email indicating my name was registered. Today I will file my articles of organization online, then I will apply for my FEIN online. Then I will take it all to my bank and open a business account.
    It's easy for my because I am a CPA and have dealt with this before. You should really check with a CPA for advice. An attorney is the only one that can lawfully assist you in the writing of the articles. You can write them on your own, if you know what you are doing. If not, get a little help.
  10. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    As a CPA you should know the cost to file his tax returns is going to quadruple as a corporation as opposed to a sole prop. Insurance will cover his liability and unless he has a high net worth there is nothing to go after anyway. I don't know why everybody makes this so complicated :dizzy:

    A irrigation guy can make your irrigation system perfect and waste no water it may cost 4 grand to do it (hypothetical) or you can use a hose and a sprinkler. Both make the grass green. I suspect most people will be somewhere in the middle.

    Same goes for your business I have a close friend who was a financial annalist for Intel, masters degree in finance. No matter what the question he always said do it for as little money as possible. If you ran the numbers I think you would find you are more likely to win the lottery than to be sued as a sole prop if you have adequate insurance which is much cheaper than going the corp route.

    Last question if your a CPA what in the world are you doing in the green industry? Not doubting you are a CPA I just don't get it. Why do people leave perfectly good professions to come down here to slug it out in this sandbox?

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