Am I nuts???

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Loud1, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. Loud1

    Loud1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I have been thinking about starting a part-time lawn care business for the last few years...after work and weekends to suppliment my income. My goal is to start early next year to promote business in my neighborhood covering more ground and expanding the territory each week. I'll just use my current equipment: a year old Toro lawn mower and trimmer and add equipment if the business takes off. I'll probably purchase another mower and trimmer as backup if the current equipment goes down and also pick up a blower too. I want to keep expenses low as the business starts and offer a basic mowing service only at first.

    Current Situtaion

    Recently I have become dissatisfied with the corporate world working long hours, under lots of pressure with no appreciation and tiny increases in compenation, so I'm thinking of trying to make it full time with the new venture. The plan is still to start out part-time but to aggressively try to make the business grow faster than originally planned. I've shared my idea with family and friends and they all think I'm crazy because of my age...I'm 44 soon to be 45.

    I worked my way through college in various lanscaping jobs (mostly mowing) so i have a taste for the work. I love the outdoors, even in the summer heat, and I do not shy away from hard physical work.

    I have cosidered working for someone for a year or two to learn more about the business but I don't have time on my side at my age. Also, I think that most would prefer not to hire someone like myself so I think starting it from scatch is the way to go. I have started looking for lawn businesses for sale in my area but the few I have found were well away from what I can afford.

    So that's my story. What do you think? Am I nuts???

  2. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,397

    Yeah, you're nuts.

    When I have a customer that signs up, sometimes they say key phrases that tell me what they will be like. For example, they might say "I am going to be your best customer" which, translated means "I will be complaining a lot."

    You had a key phrase here when you said that you could work hard and that you really liked the outdoors. This tells me that you probably have some idea in your head about how things will be but it is not reality. It is like a climber that feels really good when he is sitting at base camp but finds that he doesn't have what it takes about 1/2 way up the mountain.

    Running a lawn business has very little to do with your experience in mowing, your tolerance for heat, and your love of the outdoors. Yeah that helps but if that is what you are basing this on then you are setting yourself up for a time when you find that you are old and cannot do the things that you once did. Then what will you do for income?

    The thing that matters is knowing how to run a business. We are cutting grass. Any fool can do that. So then why do so many go under or quit? Some of them had the same things that you do for a foundation and found that they couldn't take it. They didn't know how to run a business.

    If you want to do this, then think like a business man - not an employee. Figure out a plan where the end result is that you are doing none of the physical work but are netting at least 75K per year. If you can't do this, then stay out. It is not for you. But if you can . . .
  3. Vassk1

    Vassk1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 49

    I disagree. The only way he can even possibly make that kind of money is by purchasing an existing business which he has said he cannot afford. He also stated that he has a college background and much experience in the corporate world. That doesn't mean he is guaranteed to be successful in this endeavor but I like his chances more than Homey the clown who dropped out of high school to start a business.

    Sure he is older, but if does mass advertising he could build up his business to where he doesn't have to do the labor in a few years. Whether or not he can handle it physically remains to be seen. He never mentioned how much he is able to invest.

    Major con is the growing season isn't all that long where he is from.

    If I were him, I'd try to purchase a laundromat. Ton's of apartments in Boston area.

    Good luck
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I think PTP hit the nail on the head, I read the same things myself but have other ways to say it...

    First I detect a wishy-washy attitude, someone who is not so sure inside despite statements to the contrary, the entire paragraph is filled with 'I am ready' while at the same time the doubt presses in with 'IF it takes off.'

    So, get serious and get with it, or get out.

    p.s.: funny thing about those key phrases, ptp... I like the one about 'I have a LOT of friends and I will send you a TON of business!' which, translated means 'I am not paying you much and I will be telling you what to do, how, and when... And if you're lucky, I'll send you 1 MAYBE 2-3 friends of mine who are usually pitas like me.'
  5. jim d.

    jim d. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    I don't think you're nuts. I'm gonna be 57 in a few weeks and I'm just starting out, too. Don't be discouraged by what you hear here, but do be aware that you may indeed find that once you've been out doing it long enough for the "romance" to wear off, you find that it's a bit of a tough row to hoe. I can appreciate very much the attitudes of those who say you must be a businessman, and at a certain level that's very true. However, you can still make very good money as a solo op or with just a helper or two. I have a good friend who is a kidney dialysis nurse. She went through nursing school; learned to be proficient at this type of health of the most complex and difficult in all of medicine; spent 25 years at her job, putting up with arrogant doctors and incompetent nurses and occasionally losing patients she had grown very fond of...and after all of that, she's making $25 dollars an hour. Savvy people in the grass cutting business do that routinely almost from the very start, and $40 or $50 dollars an hour is not out of reach with the aid of a helper or two.

    The only things I think that might sink you are 1) Over-investment in equipment, i.e., trying to grow too fast. 2) You find out you're not really cut out for it once you've been at it long enough for the "romance" to wear off. 3) You fail to plan properly (rain, down time, insurance, taxes, health insurance if needed, maximizing employee time, etc.).

    But as long as you get out there and work, and you enjoy it, you should do fine. I know of no other business in the world where you can earn as much money as quickly as in this business. I wish I would have tumbled to it decades ago.
  6. eyes&earsopen

    eyes&earsopen LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    I'm just a newbie at this game, but I like what I'm hearing from jim d. In reading the original post it brought the movie Shawshank Redemption to mind. The old man Brooks got out of prison and after a few weeks on the outside he put a rope around his neck and then stepped off of a chair, eventually hanging himself and ending his misery. His great line after observing the "new world" was ... "looks like the whole world went and got itself in a big damn hurry". Or something like that. Anyway I think people read too much into what you were saying, and you probably only said that to make them really believe in you. All that really matters is if you believe in you. These vets on here became vets after being rookies, and when some of them started out they didn't have a website to consult for different problems and situations. I think at the end of the day, you will get out of it what you put into it. I know I feel a lot better with a resource such as this site to help me with my venture. If I fail I guess I might have to kick a chair out from underneath me like old Brooks! Oh well I could do that after getting home from my current job some mornings.

    GREENITUP LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 274

  8. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    im 43, and after working in the heat this year, i can really bust a$$, probably better then most 20 yer olds.... just start small and dont try to grwo too fast, part time it at first and build a customer base...

    good luck
  9. i_plant_art

    i_plant_art LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 558

    got out of the "working world" thought lawn care would be great....... 3 years and 142 accounts later i am thinking of selling it off to go back to the "working world" make sure it is what you want to do ... you think you have a headache now.... hire 2 people, buy another truck, ugh the headaches............
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Well yes it is true, we ALL went throu the same spiel I guess it's just us trying to save someone else the headaches but I guess they're going to be there regardless.

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