Blessings since deciding to go fulltime (long)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by rkbrown, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. rkbrown

    rkbrown LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 533

    As I have posted earlier, I got laid off from my regular job on Dec. 6. I worked writing software for an energy brokerage company. Due to the uncertainty in the industry, I decided to get back into the landscape maintenance business part time this past season (I did work for an lco while in college). I got a very late start and had a boatload to do at my regular job, so I didn't market too aggressively. I had only 2 regular accounts, but had quite a few broken mower and vacation calls. It allowed me to buy some commercial equip (2 used Toro proline 21's, Stihl FS-80 trimmer and Echo PB 602 backpack blower). I wrote an informal business plan and came up with a marketing strategy to start in February that includes business card sized ads in monthly subdivision newsletters and the local weekly paper as well as targeted flyers.

    I really enjoyed doing this part time this season and I learned quite a bit, too. Even in the heat of the Houston summer, it was nice to get outside on a Saturday or weekday evening after a 50 + hour workweek at the regular job and be alone with my mower, trimmer, blower and my thoughts (I seem to do my best thinking while walking behind a mower). So, earlier this fall, I thought that if the inevitable occurred (getting laid off), I would give fulltime lco a shot. I also took the state mandated course for irrigation and will sit for the test on Jan 24. I started saving my $$ for other equip needs whether I was full or part time. I need a trailer (16'), a good walk behind (probably Exmark Viking 32" since we have 35" gates for new construction...and this will be my primary mower for at least 1 year), a good set of extended hedge trimmers (I'm still a scrub here...use electric for home and manual clippers when I am out at a client :blush: ), and a good edger (Probably a Stihl FC-85...although I have gotten fairly good at edging with a trimmer :) ).

    I was hoping that the layoff, if it occurred, would happen closer to Feb/March as the season would be starting up. Obviously, this did not occur, so the money that I have been saving for equipment needs to go to living expenses. I have little savings due to the fact that 4 years ago I got laid off and was unemployed for a full year. I have been fairly good at saving during my career and due to this I had one year worth of salary to live on during this previous unemployment. But today. my savings are minimal.

    The blessings that have occurred since the decision to go fulltime are:

    1. Wife is looking forward to going back to work. She is an elementary school teacher by trade and will go back for at least a semester, possibly 1.5 years or more if need be. She has been homeschooling my twin 9 year old daughters who are in 4th grade. They are coming around to the idea of going to public school. Two of her friends that worked with her years ago in another district are going to their principal today to tell her about my wife and that she is a perfect fit for their gifted and talented language arts position that has just come open (this is what my wife's Master's degree is in).

    2. My daughters needed clothes. A neighbor who has twin daughters that are a year or two older than mine was going to give a bunch of clothes to charity, but thought of my wife (neighbor didn't know anything about the layoff) and brought us 4 large bags full of beautiful clothes, many pieces worn less than a handful of times.

    3. A friend of mine from church, who is coming over today to help set me up on quickbooks, and who is self employed, stopped me Sunday and asked what was going on. I told him what I have done to this point. I told him that if things get too tight, I have a whole life policy that I have been paying on for 20 years that I could cash in. Turns out, he used to run an insurance agency. He told me not to cash it in. My dividend should more than pay for my premium. I can take out a large part of the cash value (80 - 90 %) and the dividend will pay for a large chunk of that, too. That would not only help with bills, but also could be used for capital for new equipment.

    4. Yesterday, out of the blue, I got a call from a 30+ year old woman who happened to get ahold of my business card. She just moved into a new house (her 1st) and said she does not own a mower and has no desire to. I met with her and explained my maintenance program. She signed right up. She also wants me to design and install her landscape. She doesn't like the minimalist design that they put in tract homes. Turns out, she got my card from the gym where my daughters trains for gymnastics. I have been one of their meet sponsors (a business sized card ad in the meet programs), so they allow me to keep a stack of cards at the reception desk.

    Thank you all for your sharing of knowledge and expertise as well as your encouragement. Without this site I would not be able to give this a shot.

    LAWNS AND MOWER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,129

    Good luck!!!! Be dependable and do quality work and your business will take off. You'll be surprised the work you can get from word of mouth. I haven't advertised in 9 years. Don't be afraid to learn from your mistakes.
  3. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    Sounds to me from what you wrote, you're well on your way to becoming an independent business owner. I wish you all the best.

    Feel free to email me if you have any questions. We're starting our 9th year and use QuickBooks as well.
  4. SIG

    SIG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 188

    Good Luck rkbrown!! I will be starting full-time this year after 3 part-time seasons. It's a little scary to give up a 50,000 a year job, but when you getting up to go to your job it's time for a change! Good Luck Again!!!
  5. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    I quit a good job as a 401(k) consultant to open my biz back up. I just couldn't stand working for anyone else and hated to look out my window and see all the green(nature) that I was missing. Thankfully I didn't have a family to support, but it should be a great motivating factor for you. I gave my notice on March 1 and left my job on April 1. When I gave my notice I had only 2 customers. But failure wasn't an option so I did it. I would walk the streets all night putting out flyers. I would start at 9pm and walk until 2-3am. THIS WAS BEFORE I KNEW ABOUT NOT TOUCHING A MAILBOX. SO I DON'T RECOMMEND THIS TO ANYONE NOW. You can do it, you can make it succed, but its up to you. Success is a frame of mind.

    Good luck and if you need anything let me know.
  6. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,075

    I wish you the best of luck. This must have happened for a reason. Think positively and work hard! Everything will work out in the end if you put your mind to it.

  7. Toroguy

    Toroguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    The fact you shopped around to find used equipment that will complete the work as good as new equipment bought on credit tells me a lot. Frequently I get the feeling this site can be like the teen years, meaning competitive. Members trying to out buy or outshine other members numbers or equipment. But a focused reader can still find a profitable method suitable to their budget and situation.

    I once considered a partner, he decided against this line of work. The reason: "I want a more secure job". Since that discussion four years ago he has had his secure job schedule flipped around and has been threatened to be reduced to a part-time employee. As an employee of another you are subject to their motivation, cost controls and whims. Also being from Houston you may even know some of the unfortunate people whom were affected by the Enron "crime".

    Emerson wrote: "There is nothing as sacred than the integrity of your own mind".

    Follow your own path, only you contol your fate.

    You have the right frame of mind and a solid plan in place.
  8. Jimbo

    Jimbo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,093


    You didnt have to be from Houston or even Texas to lose a bunch in me.

    Good luck through the winter and next season. It sounds like you have thought out all the details, and have a plan of attack. I have faith that you will do fine.
    Take care!

  9. lawnworker

    lawnworker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 897

    Rk Brown, good luck, you should do fine. It sounds like you are a smart person with a good wife that helps out alot. Next year will be wide open for aquiring new accounts.

    Somehow, I always find what I need. The lord knows what we have need of. Sometimes I get by on so little but its what is needed at the time.
  10. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot LawnSite Member
    Messages: 167

    Good luck & best of wishes to rkbrown. I also face layoff at the end February. I work for a large agriculture insurance company that is shutting down my division. I look foward to working for myself full time, although I am going to have to work hard to drum up more business.

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