Anyone have regrets/joys leaving a decent full time job for starting a business?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by MDLawn, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Sorry man he does. You don't build a new house on 5 acres, have new dirt bikes every year, toy hauler, new cummins dodge every few, equipment up the wazoo on a workers state salary and wife not working with two kids. Oh yea he's cheap too so he is not over extending himself.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  2. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,463

    and he needs all that stuff why?

    yet another reason I still live with my parents. I don't have all those extra none essential toys that would require me to have my own place to store them at.

    I live very simply. saving as many pennies as I possibly can.

    Messages: 1,343

    I may be the guy your looking for to comment.
    8 years ago I gave up my career in the restaurant industry . I was a general manager of a well known restaurant chain in the northeast . i managed a few different locations for them before I had the opportunity to manage one of they're best performing stores and I must say they were great to work with and I was always well compensated and normall appreciated . Great pay, good benefits, 401k , company trips for me and the wife. Etc.

    I know what your thinking...................... But wait

    1) my wife is a nurse who at the time was, not working. But was willing to do so. 3 little girls at home and the wife had not worked since the first was born.

    2) my view on any service industry was just that. Provide a great service at a reasonable rate I would be successful.

    3) I have my bachelors degree and how hard can it be to landscape right?

    4) in the restaurant industry I worked all the nights and weekends that my kids had activities or family parties etc. I truly felt as if I was missing out on they're growing up.

    So that's it!
    My wife went back to work part time nursing for our medical and dental benefits and I quite my career to begin fresh.

    The first few years were no fun at all, learning the trade and consistently increasing my knowledge base to become more proficient and better at my new career.

    Now I worry about consistently increasing our customer base, retaining clients as we grow, payroll costs, operating costs in general, paying for the mortgage for my shop on top of my mortgage etc, etc, etc, .

    I still work hard and long each and every day I can. The money is coming but you have to remember each time you take on an employee or purchase a new piece of equipment or a truck takes a dump that is directly effecting your pocket.

    Am I making the money I used to when you include the total package?
    Am I a happier person for the move and do we live comfortably?

    I am now and if I want to continue to increase our company will continue chasing the bone.

    Hope you make the right decision for yourself and your family. Good luck and feel to pm me if you have any direct questions.

    Good luck to all finishing up this season.
  4. zak406

    zak406 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,516

    I'll bite, I own a jet ski granted I bought it used off a friend for a good price. I enjoy it. Do I need it ? No, however I don't get to take vacations because of school and my business. I don't get days off often however when I do I use the jet ski as my vacation. Most people spend 2-3 grand a YEAR on vacation so I figured spending 2 grand and using that as my vacation for a few years is cheaper and I have a asset that I can liquidate if need be...... People who spend cash on vacation lose there money you can't liquidate a vacation. I'm not saying vacations are wrong or bad but that is my view on my toy. Eventually I'd like a boat but that's down the road
  5. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    He with the most toys wins!!! Right? NOT...
  6. coolluv

    coolluv Banned
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,514

    There are lots of reasons why some businesses flourish and some just get by.

    Money and connections are a big part of being successful. If you start this business with little money and your family is not connected...then its going to take a few years just to break even.

    I've talked to a lot of small business owners over the years. In every type of service business. There are a lot of things that look like one thing on the surface but when you dig deeper you see the reality.

    I see larger companies around me and I I would like to get to that level someday. But if you look behind the scenes you find out that they are barely making ends meet and can barely pay the guys.

    I've talked to guys that in 4 or 5 years grew to a million dollar company. Your that's impressive. But..what you don't know is...they have parents with money and connections. When I worked in construction I would see all the subs performing their work. I would talk to the owners of the companies.

    After doing some digging you find out that the guy that has all the fence work is somehow related to the developer. The concrete guys are connected somehow. Point is....if your just a Joe Blow its going to take you a lot longer to grow your business.

    Money also plays a big part. How much you are able to spend on advertising. Advertising is not cheap. You also have to look at how much competition is in your area. What types of customers are in your area. If you live in Bum **** are those customers going to be able to pay the wages you need to make a living...or will you be struggling just to make ends meet.

    Location plays a big part of your success. This business is a never ending money eating monster...that needs to be fed constantly. Every time you turn around you need more equipment as you grow. What most don't realize is the true cost to running a business like this.

    They get the counting lawns syndrome. If I have 10 $30 lawns I can make $ if I get 20 I can make $600. What they fail to realize is that with growth in income comes growth in expenses. Your not filling up that gas can once a week and that truck once a week...your filling it up daily.

    The shooting star syndrome. What's that? That's the guy that thinks if I lowball I can get accounts....and they will....and you will see them grow really fast in a short few years. Then that nasty thing called overhead rears its ugly head. See from the beginning they were making money...cashing is good.

    They really didn't know how much they were making but they were paying the bills and had some left over so life was good. See that's the don't really have to pay attention to money in the beginning and you can get away with that for a while.

    Its the frightening realization that hits when you get to the point you realize you have more going out then you have coming in......then poof...your @$$ is gone....and the next fool comes along to take your place. I know of a few companies right now that are on thin ice....can't make payroll and tell the guys they can't pay them today but will pay them next week.

    But on the surface you would never know that. You see the trucks and you see them on those big commercial properties and you see all the residentials that they do and you think....Man those suckers have it going on...I want to be them when I grow up. Then Poof...their gone. When you look in the sky you see that shooting star that is bright as hell and then the light dims out and poof its gone.

    Back in the little town I grew up in I remember they had a Young entrepreneur section in the local paper highlighting these young successful business men. I would laugh when I read the was a who's who of the local rich kids.

    Not hard to start and run a successful business when your parents are wealthy and have political connections and Daddy funds your operation and insures your success. These guys don't bid work...they get work because of connections.

    Its no different in any part of the country. Those sweet contracts just don't go to any Joe Blow. I'm sure there are guys on this site that have commercial accounts because they know someone and if they didn't they wouldn't have those jobs. The bigger guys get big because they grease the wheels....have the connections.

    Its possible to start out as Joe Blow and make the big time....but its going to be a lot harder and take a longer time. Commercial accounts are not the Holy Grail either. Like most know..the industry in general has been on a downward slope for years. But some guys will trip on their Dick just to say they do those commercials...even when they may not be making any money or very little money.

    Then of course you have the illegals that are bringing down wages to match Third World wages. Around here its like Cockroaches. You drive into a Subdivision and you have to drive around the other 30 LCO's in there to get to your job. Most of which are illegals or rednecks that don't have a clue.

    I got into this business part time as an experiment of sorts. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of running a business. I had a good career making $75 thousand a truck...good benefits..and so on. I was forced into full time when the economy crashed and I lost my job.

    Its funny how you don't realize how many other guys are in this business until you start your own and then you start to pay attention and realize...Wow how many guys are doing this? Are there enough customers to go around? Most customers want a low price and just mow, blow and go. You can't make enough on those types and building a business on those types is hard.

    Finding good paying and loyal customers is hard....and it takes a long time to build a business on those customers...but it is possible. But you can't be just a mow,blow and go business. So that means you have to be able to do it all...and that means more equipment and more knowledge...and more money.

    Then there is the employee aspect of this business. Its hard to find guys that are willing to work in the heat and bust their @SS for the money you are willing to pay.

    I could go on but that is enough for now. Remember most people will lie about their business and how successful they really are. This is an easy business to start and run in the beginning...but you will soon find out that its not as easy as you think it is...and that job you hate now...may look like paradise once you've been in this business for a while.

    BTW... ask your buddy to see his tax returns. He may be *********** you.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2012
  7. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    I did landscaping when I was young.

    In 07 the economy took a dump and so did my job. Lucky I had a 42" and 20" mowers and a small 4'x8' trailer. Pulled by a 05 jeep wrangler unlimited. That's the one with the lengthen rear body section and longer wheel base. During mowing season I take out the carpets and keep all the side curtains off so the rear is used as a pick up bed.

    Wish I had a pick up truck but other things are needed of more importance.

    I consider myself happy now and wish I started this back when I could of went to a local college and gotten a AAS degree in Horticulture/Landscaping 30+ years ago.

    At this point I no longer want to work for any one else but myself.

    As Coolluv said many people walk around with their chests all puffed out because of their success. But hide the fact their success has nothing to do with themselves but due to family connections and wealth.

    Though those with out connections can make it as well in this country though it will take longer.

    As to what Coolluv says about the guys not realizing costs working to cheap hurts not just them but the whole industry depressing prices.

    This is why I can't understand why people post here saying they sub out to the nationals. Their being low ballers. They will be the first one's to complain about the Mexican's low balling and ruining the industry. Then as soon as they stop complaining about the Mexican's their off out low balling just like the Mexican's.

    The thing is when starting out we only get stuck with the problem customers.
    The reason is the Good customers are being taken care of and have no need to change. Who knows how many low balling LCO's they had to go through before they found a good one. So they want to keep him.

    New LCO's get the cheap ass that is always price shopping.
    Or Mr Cheap ass's LCO from last year is out of business from selling their services to cheap.
    Or the Mr Free Bee that always say's while you're here can you do this.
    Or Mrs Bee Itch that is simply pure pain to deal with.

    You see once a LCO gets his schedule filled he starts to drop Mrs Ball Buster, Mr Pain In Ass, Mrs Later Payer, etc.

    My schedule is not full so I will take Mr Pain In Ass, Mrs Bee Itch, and Mrs Ball Buster as customers.

    I refuse to be a low baller. If I don't get my price I walk away from Mr Cheap Ass.

    I will take on Mr Free Bee but I won't do extra work for free. So he will probably drop me. That's ok I got my rate while it lasted.

    Mrs Later Payer will be dropped. To many LCO's, I will not be one of the many LCO's that post here that what are they to do their two weeks away from one of their customers being 90 past due. I guess because they are to desperate grow their customer list are afraid to drop customers.

  8. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Dave, thanks for the response and the thoughts you say are already in my head, whether anyone wants to believe it or not. I'm not some po dunk moron who thinks there is a golden chalice at the end of this. Far from it. Part of me was thinking about just making enough to have a self employed job.

    Have I used a spread sheet to estimate incomes, yes. But my spread sheet includes proper amount of things like:

    Appropriate amount of equipment needed to complete the work
    Appropirate amount of man power needed & wages
    Insurace costs (auto, business liability, workers comp, eqiupment, etc...)
    Fuel costs per day based on the number of accounts
    Equipment turnover (the stuff doesn't last forever)
    Advertising costs that as you say are astronomical
    40% taxes taken from my income (remember I live in NY)

    I can go on but don't really want to have a list a page long. Basically I started this thread because everytime I pump numbers into the spreadsheet (which have formula's to increase the costs per job) that end result is just a low number for a full time job, because of those costs. And like you said the more jobs you take the more equipment and manpower you need which neither are cheap. So again I'm no dummy. Have I done it full time, no. But I have a bunch of paid off eqiupment from being part time. That's why I'm starting this and made the statements about living in mommy and daddy's basement.

    Connections, you bet, doesn't any successful business have connections? And for those that are still ragging on my friend, he has too many connections. Friends and family owning large commmercial properties and $500,000+ homes. When I started with him we mowed his uncles place in one of those neighborhoods and in 2 years he had 20 properties in that place and honestly I think he has them all now except the people that mow themselves. He basically kicked every other contractor out because of his quality. For years all the neighbors would come to me or him asking how much and they'd all roll their eyes and walk away. Finally after years of Joe Mow they sucked up and went with him. So drop the trailer tailgate and mow for 6 hrs straight. Making more just by doing that and not driving everywhere. Then each of those wealthy doctors, lawyers, etc... referred him to more wealthy doctors, lawyers, etc.... So for sure he has had inside help. Also he hasn't advertised one day in his life, go figure. I think we had one dumpy house on his route. Then on top of the lawns we were doing everyones landscape maintenace. We only did a few install things when I was with him but now he does much more of that too, along with picking up more mowing, more landscape maintenance, more snow plowing. So his connections definitely helped him and I don't need to see his tax records. I've seen enough checks, know what he charges (we talk every year), know how many accounts he has, etc... Again anyone can point the finger and say "Yeah right", mainly the ones who are struggling. He's been at it 15+years and he tells me ALL the time, "If you want to make money doing this stuff you have to be in it for the long haul" Did he make a ton of money year 1-10, probably not. But now he is soo much more established so what is there to doubt?? He gives people a price and if they don't like it he walks away, funny thing is like I said above they all eventually sign on.

    Dave, you had a job that paid well (eventhough it ended), this career I have pays like garbage (because of the place I'm at is super cheap) and there are not many positions available in the career field but some pay well into the 6 figure range. But again even these need connections or being part of the "Good Ol Boys" club. I sit at my job for no other reason than top people in the field making reccomendations for me, not because my resume was typed correctly. I do live in and right next to one of the wealthiest communities in the western half of NY state so that isn't a problem in terms of having poor people wanting services. Getting the wealthy to part with their money is tough with po dunk larry thinking the thoughts you have posted. I'm sure I'll continue to plug away part time. Like I said I've got the equipment paid for and both my wife and I can support our family on our to two paychecks. The landscaping is just the gravy on top I guess, just like my friend. Yes I pay taxes on my income, have business insurace, and any other documentation I need. Heck, I even have a website, most full time guys on here do not.... So please people don't give me the part timer rant.

    Again I like the thoughts being tossed around, critical thinking at it's best even if we all don't agree. We don't learn anything by always being nice to each other and saying everything is gold.
  9. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Thanks for the response, your thought process is exactly mine, but at least I've been at this 10 years so learning work isn't the issue. Business ins and outs is more the learning curve. Sometime I'm sure I'll hit you up with a PM.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  10. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    You two live different lives, and thats fine. You're simple and he wants as much as he can out of life. Nothing wrong with each but thats why you and I would probably argue more than agree, because we are different, not better than one another, just different.

Share This Page