Advice for starting a lawn business

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by agureyev, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. agureyev

    agureyev LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Hello I'm a 25 year old college student living in Southern Connecticut. I have been working for a guy who owns his own landscaping business. He has been doing it for 26 years on his own and hires 1 helper at a time under the table. I have 2 years experience working with him and i'm pretty good with a string trimmer, backpack blower, and push blower. I'm good with a small lawn mower although i dont know much about the mechanical side of things other then how to winterize string trimmer and backpack. He uses a skag walk behind mower with velke and i dont know how to use one of these. Basically i would like to save up money to start my own business and get a truck and small mower to start doing small properties. I already have a Shindaiwa T344 string trimmer and a Husqvarna 580bfs blower which i do odd jobs with. What are the first steps i would need to take? Some people say just to print flyers to hang in stores or pay for ads in newspapers, magazines, business cards, etc. If i do this do I need insurance or can i start without insurance and license? What kind of License/insurance would i need and how much would it cost? Advice and guidance on the legal side of things would be much appreciated, Thank you.
    drivenlandscapes likes this.
  2. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,404

    First off you're in college

    So why would you want to start this kind of business?

    You're already working for someone who is half adding stuff.
    So that means you really don't know anything.

    If you work/live in southern Connecticut
    Get a job with eastern land management, yard apes, green giant, Hoffman landscapes
    Or one of the other myriad of large companies that are undoubtedly around you.

    Work at one of these places until you have obtained your degree.
    Then decide what you want to do.

    All the while you will be learning a trade
    Watching a real company operate
    And possibly be offered a nice position in one of those big companies.

    Additionally if you really want to do your own you will have had that much time to save up money to do so and now without college taking up your time , because you are done, you can actually do it.

    Customers in your area , and any one I can think of need to be serviced still by the time you go back to classes

    Go work for the big guys
    Learn the trade
    For real

    Running a landscape commit isn't about "I can't run a weed whacker and I'll figure out the rest"
  3. agureyev

    agureyev LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Im not a full time student and i have my reasons for wanting to do this. I asked for advice on the legal side of things not on what you think i should do with my life. I don't see a problem doing it on my own, the guy i work for makes a good living. It will take years for me to get my degree and I can obviously make more doing jobs on my own then for some one else. There are tons of landscapers out there big companies or not, customers wont have a problem finding some one else. By the way i don't think doing something for 26 years is half assing. Some people prefer doing things themselves instead of dealing with all the extra employees and equipment. Sure there's a limit to how much work you can take on, but if you can make a good living like that then why not. Everyone does things their own way. Other then that if you want to be of assistance, please feel free to offer advice on what i asked. The legal side of things such as insurance and licensing and whether these things are necessary when starting this business.
  4. ltdlawn

    ltdlawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,555

    Insurance is necessary most people think about breaking windows and stuff but it really for knocking out an eyeball... you pay for a window but an eyeball is costly...
    Licensed make you seem more professional but you can more than likely just operate under your name sole proprietorship... but I agree with above more experience is better... you go out there underbidding and under table and it hurts everyone in your community.
    oqueoque, TrainingWheels and JLSLLC like this.
  5. JMK26

    JMK26 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Missouri
    Messages: 1,947

    You don't know how to operate a mower. The key piece of equipment in lawn mowing. That's a pretty good problem.

    He's paying people under the table, which is illegal. His good living is out the window when he gets caught.

    Not really. You're making more working for him than you will the first couple years (at least).

    He was being of assistance. It's solid advice on what you really should do. You don't know how to operate a mower, you don't know where to look for insurance and licensing in your area. 26 years of paying people under the table is in fact half a**ing. Just because you don't want to hear it doesn't mean it isn't good solid advice.

    I'm not being rude or mean. Or wishing you failure or anything...Hope it works out great. But you would really learn more by working for someone and asking a ton of questions and learning the trade that way than asking a few generic questions on a forum. This forum is great help, but you can only get so much from here because we only get to see what you in you just asked about insurance and licensing. Ok so with that one question we can only assume you know about writing up a business plan, a marketing plan, filing as an LLC or a sole prop. investing partners or are you investing yourself? plus another 20 things before you even get to handing out fliers.

    But to answer your question. Yes, you need insurance.
    Licensing depends on your areas. Two of my service areas don't require licensing, you can't even sign up for a license if you're a service business. One area requires it, so I have a business license in that area.
  6. agureyev

    agureyev LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Thanks for replying. I said i dont know how to operate a commercial lawn mower(which i can learn if needed), small mower such as a toro i do. In addition, im not looking to undercut anyone or steal any business. Just work on my own with my own prices in proportion with my expenses. Truth is I dont know what i want to do even after i get a degree, but i know for sure i would rather be self employed than work for someone else. And yes i know how much work is involved(for the most part). Thanks for stating your opinion and making it clear that you're not trying to be rude or wish me failure. To answer your question i would like to investing myself without anyone's help if that's possible. The reason i'm asking questions here is because i dont want to flat out ask the guy i work for how i can leave him to do what he does with his knowledge, ya know? Trying to learn many people's perspective who can possibly help me better than him. To be honest i dont know what a business/marketing plan is. Maybe you can explain what this is and why it's needed? The guy i work for has a DBA instead of an LLC. What do you think is better to get in my situation? Ok so insurance is a must and i will need to find out about licensing in my area. What is a service business and how does this apply to me? Please explain further what will i need to do before fliers and advertisement?
    JLSLLC likes this.
  7. snomaha

    snomaha LawnSite Bronze Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 1,231

    Value business and finance knowledge as much as green industry knowledge, if going out on your own
    Mark Oomkes likes this.

    GRANTSKI LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,203

    CT u don't need a license for basic lawn care. Register your DBA w your town hall. Get a sales&use tax ID and start paying monthly CT sales tax. Insurance yea. Theres alot of damage that can be done. I'm guilty of running a cpl.seasons without it...Its not illegal but as soon as you start running a commercial mower it gets alot more dangerous. I spent 10 years learning w another company how to avoid accidents (but now that I'm full time I'll be insured this season). Advertising do everything u mentioned & keep track of where u get the best return.
    Keep in mind ur boss charges his rates based on 26 yrs experience & faithful customers... while you don't know how to run a business or comm mower so maybe don't expect to bring in the same rates. And lastly no matter what your business model even "no expenses"(lol) kiss 50% of every dollar goodbye between taxes and expenses.
    agureyev likes this.
  9. Triptoy2002

    Triptoy2002 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    1. Learning to use a commercial mower is needed. You will cut with a commercial mower 4-6 times more grass than with a push mower. That is the difference between making $15 per hour and making $60+ per hour.

    2. Business/marketing plans are a plan for how you will make a profitable business out of a push mower (or however you start). Having a written plan is needed for a few things, but it is a great way to identify clear direction for the business and prevent you from forgetting a vital step. Read up on business/marketing plans on the net, it will help.

    3. A dba is just a name, like saying that you are Joe The Grass Man or something. An llc is a layer of protection against being sued. With an llc you keep your finances and business finances separate, and if the business gets sued successfully, you (and more importantly your wife) will not lose your house or personal vehicles, personal savings, etc. Alot of people start with just a dba until they reach a certain size, but that is up to you. Dbas are cheaper to start but offer 0 protection.

    4. A service business is any business that offers a service to the customer, and often is applied to businesses where you have to travel to your customer's residence or place of business to perform the service(s) agreed upon. Lawncare, hvac and even the cable company are examples or service businesses.

    I hope these help.
    JH23 and agureyev like this.

    GRANTSKI LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,203

    Even cutting height is important to know. An inch too low in mid summer & you'll burn all your lawns.

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