Career Choice, What we choose to do worth it?

Duncan IN

LawnSite Member
I choose being a comericial cutter becuase I love mowing and all the benifits of being my own boss, along with many other things. I am 20 and I am having doubts about wether or not I should stay in this business. I love what I am doing. My parents would like to see me get into another profession that offers benifits and all that stuff. I am not going to go back to school this next sem becuase I see no need of going to school since I was just trying to get a degree in a field (heating and AC) that I did not want to be in. Can a person be successful in this profession granted he put his heart and time in it. How many of you would say get the degree? I would like to get the degree but my heart is not in getting one. I love having my own mowing business. Some questions I have been wondering is how do you guys support yourselves and family in the winter, besides snow plowing. What will you do when you get older? What about retirement? These are just some of the questions I am wanting to know.

Levi Duncan

Lone Tree Lawn Care

Vibe Ray

LawnSite Senior Member
Slidell, LA
Very good question and wish I could answer your question accurately with me being a beginner and all, but I can mention the fact that, from talking with everyone on lawnsite and my own personal experiences, I get the impression that you certainly make a living from it. Retirement? I would say just plan far ahead and you should be fine. But in the end, nothin' beats workin' in the good old outdoors!!! Air conditioning is for wimps!!! LOL


LawnSite Senior Member
baltimore, md
Yearly contracts will get you paid right on through the year, even in winter months. Its not the easiest thing at first but sooner or later it will be to your benefit to sell contracts this way. Sell what you can, lawn maint., mulching annuals, perr., etc., then divide the total over the 12 months and charge accordingly. As far as retirement invest in a roth ira or likewise. As long as you put a certain amount away now you can figure out what you want to have at retirement.


LawnSite Bronze Member
No.VA, zone 7
Yes, get a degree so that more doors will be open to you. Have you considered a degree in turf management? Maybe a minor in business also. Regarding benefits, you have to plan to provide your own benefits. As you take on more financial responsibility, consider getting disability insurance so you can pay bills even if you can't work for a while. Remember that this business is tough on the body and will eventually take its toll on you. Just read the thread about 'how old are you'.

Pauls Mowing

LawnSite Member
Sioux Falls, SD
Don't go to college to please your parents. You are your own person. You are responsible for your own life. Go to college to please your self and get your education to better yourself and your family. Take classes that will further you and your business. I really enjoy self employment and lawn care work, but I must look at the big picture. I'm a locomotive engineer by trade, work M-F days with weekends off. At my age (46), I'm not about to give up my railroad retirement, and other company benifits. I started Sept 1,00. I have 15 residential properties, both lawn and snow removal. I am working on securing three large commercial accounts for next year, two are mow/trim, one is a right-of-way mowing. If I am sucessful in these, I'l get out of the residential. My point here is if you really want it and enjoy it, go for it!! My wife works part time, so we work together in this and enjoy it.

Works for us!



LawnSite Senior Member
S. Jersey
Follow your heart. Before and during college I changed my major 3 times. Finally realized that in high school and college the answer was there all along. I didnt take any business courses although it would have helped. Having supportive parents helped too.
Supporting yourself financially will take some time. Youre at an age now where you can afford to take a few risks. I got started at 22 along with a part time job for spending capital. They gave me the benefits I needed. Now this yr. I'll be looking into covering myself.
The future looks promising. I have been setting aside the max amount you can put into IRAs and mutual funds. Ive known guys who spend and buy crap that they dont even need. Some just dont plan on their needs. Just remember that you have to love the business for what it is and not for the money. The money is a plus and it will come....later and bigger. Like I tell my clients, If money wasnt worth anything in this world Id do this for free! Mail me if you have any questions.


LawnSite Bronze Member
South Bend, IN
Go spend an afternoon at the library. Ask librarian for college reference books. (They usually can't be checked out, at least the current ones.) Look up subject areas of turf related and horticulture related fields, and find schools of interest to you. I believe Vincennes has a two year associate degree program, for one.

When you can tell the school what you want them to teach you, you're ready to go to advanced education. Sounds like you are on course now. Be careful about advanced education, it's just another business for many in it. You have to seek out the real teachers, and there aren't many of them. Get a good start then, and plan on learning forever. If you know everything now, you should be making $5000/hr, no matter what field you are in.


LawnSite Senior Member
In our country (The greatest on the face of this tiny blue planet), you have the chances to do what YOU want. Desire and determination can make it happen. If your desire is in lawncare, you can do it! How you go about it is all YOUR own. Like the old say'n "More than one way to skin a cat".

You can take professional classes, seminars, read books, etc... to get your lawncare, pesticide, turf, etc.. knowledge up to a working asset, all while you are starting out. As your knowledge grows, you can add services until you are the biggest company around or the smallest, whatever floats your boat. I personally do not see the need for a college degree to start your own business in this feild. In other industries as well as the green one, entrepreneur's hire people with degrees. If someone does not have a really good business sence, then maybe a few classes in business or accounting would not hurt if you did hire a really good trustworthy accountant.

Retirement and insurance are a very important issue for any self employed person. In my opinion, you need to treat them both just like any other expense of doing your business, like the cost of a mower, gas, etc.. Now with your age, and just starting out, you can build these areas as you build the business as well. In otherwords, get liability insurance now and retirement programs later. These issues will change as your life changes as well, as you get older, married, etc...

Winter income starting out can be a issue if your not making enough the first year or so out the gate to get you through the year. You might need to work a job the first winter. The following year, make a plan to save money to pay yourself a set wage through the winter months. Setting up contracts to go 12 or 10 months, even though you only work 8, is a great way to help this issue, but usually it is only full service commercial accounts that will go this route. Setup bills, that you pay, not to have payments in the winter or save for them in the summer months.

In the future, winter is a good time to do all the pesticide testing, seminars, short courses, etc...

Good Luck!



LawnSite Senior Member
Northwest Ohio
You asked what to do in the winter months. Get your degree in HVAC and then cut grass in spring and summer and do repair work on furnaces in the winter months. Tell all your customers that you also repair AC and furnaces. You could build both business at one time. Like others have said you have to make that decision for yourself. Just something to think on.
Good Luck,


LawnSite Member
Seattle WA
In our profession it seems we have a big variance in the types of people involved. It is probably because of the ease of entry(just some money for equipment and toss a few flyers). Although I have no proof I would say that most highly successful companies have a person behind them with some type of higher education. I am biased because I graduated college, but I do feel it gives you a leg up on the competition.
When I was in school I didn't know what exactly I wanted to do. I did know that I would work for myself one day. After a while I fell into business and since then things have just come together. The thing is that even if you don't graduate in a field that you use, you still gain a lot of knowledge that crosses many boundaries. Another huge positive is customer perception. It might not seem fair but when customers learn I am a college graduate I immediately have some credibility with them. Don't get me wrong, I am not egocentric I just think that education is great and it opens doors.
A great example is a local business owner who has his doctorate in plant pathology. He doesn't do any better job than any of the other spraying services, but since he touts his doctorate as his main selling point he does extremely well. Once again, instant credibility.

Just my 2 cents.

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