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18 yr old starting skid steer business- Help!

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by ARP, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. ARP

    ARP LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    I am an 18 yr old high school senior and have been operating my own lawn and snow removal business since age 10. I will be heading off to business school in August with the goal of learning how to run the financial side of my own landscape/excavation/snow removal enterprise. I would like to start out my business operating skid steers and expand my business from there into heavier equipment and bigger contracts. I am getting my class 2A hydraulic hoister's license at the end of March 2005 through my uncle's construction company. I am trying to determine several things : 1.) whether it is feasible to start my own Bobcat based business during college or if I should wait until I graduate. 2.)What kind of capital I might need, and what models of equipment, preferably Bobcat or Cat, I should start with. 3.) What kind of tow vehicle, preferably Ford, should I use. 4.)What kind of contracts should I pursue when first starting out.

    Can anyone help me out with my questions or give me suggestions on how to start my business?
  2. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Messages: 1,892

    First of all, welcome to the forums and wow, great ambition! (I'm in college myself.)

    I don't want to answer the last questions myself... I think others are better qualified to answer those generic questions first. If something technical comes up, I'll see if I'm able to answer it, but for now, I'll let the real operators answer.

    1) It depends on where you are going to college, what load you are taking, and what major you're in. I personally would have no way to keep up my sleep and school work if I were in your position, but this doesn't mean you can't do it. If you plan to take mostly night-time courses to begin with, for example, you might be in a good position just to start the business (PART-time) and make some money on the side with it. However, if you plan to be involved in several activities, pursue a double-major or minor, and try to join a frat, you might find yourself pressed for time. Since I don't know enough about your situation, I can't tell you concretely whether you should wait or not, but in my situation, I couldn't start even if the machine, free fuel, insurance, and any licenses necessary were given to me. Your situation may be different.

    Best of luck and welcome, once again!
  3. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,205

    take my advice for what its worth, but i got a two year associates degree in turfgrass management from uconn. i had a business on the side landscaping and did that all through college. my best advice to you is work with your competition. during your summers go get a job working for another company. its basically a free education. you can learn so many tricks and tips for free and it will only help build on your success when you graduate. sometimes i look back and say i may have worked too hard during college to really enjoy it. you have your life ahead of you, if i were you enjoy it while you can. i only graduated two years ago, but now that i look back i woulda enjoyed it more instead of working non-stop. now dont get me wrong, cause working through college helps pay a lot of bills and i probably wouldnt be buying my first house at 22 if i didnt work so hard since i was 15. do what you feel works. if you have th work to pay for a skidsteer i say go for it. just count on things to spring up from college that are gonna hamper your time to work.
  4. ARP

    ARP LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    Thanks for the advice. I will probably pursue a college degree full time but I like the advice of working with another company during the summer.
  5. coopers

    coopers LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,223

    Matt's right....there are many options you can choose from and choose the one that works for you. I live out on my own (I'm 20) and go to school full time, work full time and now that I'm starting the hiring process with the Washington State Patrol, I'll be busy preparing for each hiring step as and if I pass each step. I couldn't imagine running my own business on top of that stuff, but that's just me, and I would love more than anything to have my own excavation company right now for the time being. There's sooo much to consider when running your own business all of us could come up with lists of things one would need to worry about and from the looks/sound of it, you have an idea of what it is. I think the best advice like Matt said would be to get on with another company of interest related to yours and learn from them. Learn their mistakes and faults as a company, strengths and oppurtunities and you can go from there (you might be familiar with the economic term, SWOT analysis, do that on the company you work for and learn from it). You can learn a lot that way and once you finish with college you will be better prepared. If I were to have my own business full time as a career I'd do exactly that, but since my career is in law enforcement and excavation will be a side job/fun job, I have tons of time to learn because it won't be for a long time before I have the oppurtunity to have my own business.

  6. ARP

    ARP LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    Thanks coopers. Good luck with that law enforcement job as well!
  7. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,151

    You only have one opportunity to make a good business impression. If you start a business and are not able to meet commitments to your customers, your "digging a hole" you may never be able to "backfill" euphorically speaking. Finish school, obtain as much practical experience in the field as possible through employment p/t with an excavation company. This will help you become a better equipment operator and more knowledgeable in the practices associated with excavation. You may find out its not what you thought it would be. Finish school and then look at your options and see what things look like then. At your point in life, I would try and keep as many options open as possible. Straddling yourself with debt and a business at your age will limit your opportunities. There will always be holes to dig.

    As a secondary piece of advise, picking equipment is one of the final things to consider. First decide what parts of the market you want to enter, this done by researching the services offered by others in your field. Find out how well it is being done and what is not being offered by others. Once you know the needs of the area you want to service, then pick equipment that will fill that void. As a final note, keep your personal financial situation clear of bounced checks, missed payments and credit card debt. No small task when going to college. Unless you have money behind you, getting equipment loans at your age will be enough of a struggle without credit problems. Good luck.
  8. Krois Landscaping

    Krois Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    Best advice is to work for an excavating company in town. I'm going to be 20, and this will be my 3rd year working for someone in the excavating business. By working for someone though, i know now that it is what i want to do in the future. Also by working for someone, you're learning on their time and get to know the correct way to do things. Theres a lot to learn before going on your own, and it will probably take me another 3-5 years working for someone else to learn the trade. I got my class a cdl when i was 18, i'm apprenticing to get my septic system installers liscense, and i would like to get my P7 Sewer/Water line installers liscense and Class B demolition liscense before i go on my own. Theres a lot more to the business than running a skidsteer. If you don't know how to bid jobs, handle paper work, handle customers or read plans then its hard to suceed.

    Before you go out and buy a skidsteer, rent one a few times from a local rental place. If you get a big job, rent one for a week or a month. If you buy a machine, do you have a truck to move it, do you have a place to keep it, are you able to afford it when its sitting?
  9. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,915

    You have never really said what your "business" would do. Also, they're skid-steers or skid-loaders. You'd be starting a skid-loader or skid-steer business. Bobcat is a brand name, not a type of machine.
    Anyways, what exactly would you offer? A machine with operator for hire? A rental company? Not sure what you are going to do.

    If it is you and a machine for hire, I don't see much success in that. Just not a demand for it. Landscape companies and grading companies all have these machines. With the variables involved for the use of these machines including exact times of usage at job-sites can be easily swayed because of weather, material delivery, progress elsewhere on that particular site, etc.. Someone isn't going to hire you to finish grade something and pay you an hourly price to sit there while that last load of dirt is behind schedule, or a buried downspout got crushed and needs repair, or they need to move a tree to a different spot in the design, or something to that effect. As opposed to the company owning the machine, and the operator can jump out of it at anytime to lend a hand.

    Maybe there is a need somewhere for it, but in the four years I've been doing this, I don't see anywhere that service would help us. The idle time during the day that these machines can see at times, is too great a risk to hire the service out as opposed to owning or renting the machine themselves.

    Would it work though? It's very possible. I just don't think it will work enough to make money at it.
  10. Groundcover Solutions

    Groundcover Solutions LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,254

    Well I am going to be 21 in april. this will be my second year of full time college with also running a large scale company. Last year when I started i was a little over my head with both college and work so I let college slip which was not the greatest idea but something had to give. So I withdrew from a few classes in order to meet my works schedual. this year I have hired more employees and given another employee more responsablities. When you are the boss there will be people who need to talk to you and will be looking to you for help. This will not come on your planed schedual so you need to be prepared to be flexable. I hope to run alot smother this year with schedualing worked out much futher in advance than last year. I belive the advice given from above posts is great advice. But if you are going to spear head it and just jump in and make sure you dont slak on either end.

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