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Getting into the business, looking for a mentor.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by cmdnvs, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. cmdnvs

    cmdnvs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Good evening everyone. Be forewarned this is a very long post!

    My name is Madison, I'm 24 and have worked as a computer programmer/database administrator since I was 17. I currently make 80k a year, and have for a while. I am not in danger of losing my job, I'm not at risk of being laid off - I work for a company that made 14billion in profit last year (yes, profit, not gross). However, I am tired of working indoors - I constantly find myself depressed at being stuck in a taupe room with little to no natural light for 8-10 hours a day, I don't think humans should live that way, I don't think we were made to, and I don't think it's right. I've been doing research on the lawn care industry for about a year, I mowed yards as a side job when I was a young teenager with just a push mower around the neighborhood. Yes, that is the extent of my experience. That said, I've made the decision that I am leaving my air conditioned, taupe-walled career behind to start a lawn care business. I don't expect to make the kind of money I do right now, at least not for a long time, but I do look forward to working for myself, being outside, and living a more normal (as in, what humans were intended for) life.

    I currently live very close to Charleston, SC, this is where I intend to stay while I start this business, a check of yellowpages shows 207 "lawn care" listings within the greater Charleston area, serving a population of roughly 600,000 people. I haven't found any local LCOs that were willing to discuss pricing (and I feel that it would be dishonest to get a bunch to come give me an estimate), however I have discussed with several homeowners who currently have lawn care service and the going rate around here seems to be 60-80$/hr. Yes I realize there are a ton of businesses already in the area, and every day I see a station wagon or a camry pulling a trailer with a push mower and some weedeaters. I don't expect this to be a cake walk, but I do expect to be able to survive.

    I turned in my 2 week notice earlier this week, however at the request of the company I'll actually be staying for 45 days. I intend through the end of December and beginning of January to officially start my business. I have approximately 30,000$ saved and dedicated to this project, I don't want to attempt to start with consumer grade equipment out of the bed of a pick-up truck, I have always been taught and truly believe in either giving 100% or not trying, or I guess you could say go big or go home. I've already joined here and become a member of ALMA. I want to have every chance of succeeding, and I don't feel it would be fair to myself to not be willing to invest everything I have in this, either it works and I will be a business owner living off the profits of their company, or I will be in debt and going back to the office life that I hate.

    I am treating this like any other business venture, I have been working for about a month on a detailed business plan, I've purchased some market research for the area to get a better idea of the incomes of different areas so I know where my most profitable (but probably harder to get) customers are. I've been narrowing down my selections for equipment (I also will be acquiring a used truck and an enclosed trailer) although I don't plan to start off doing anything other than mowing trimming and edging (I don't want to jump in head over heels trying to learn those things as well as what to plant and where, or what flowers grow the best in shade), trying to decide on a company name, and select the best marketing tactics. I have some additional money that I could use for marketing, I am not afraid of post cards, fliers, door hangers, or anything else. I may not have much experience but I am a fast learner, I graduated highschool at 14 and was in college the next year. I can learn to do anything, and I can be good at whatever I do. I will not fail at this if the market can support just one more company.

    I realize that the 'looking for a mentor' part of my title might be a little odd, I know that Lawnsite exists for the exchange of information amongst people involved in the industry, but I'm hoping to establish a personal relationship with a few owners (I don't mind if they're in my area or not, although having someone here or close to here would be ideal) who I can discuss any aspect of the business with, I don't mind if it's here on Lawnsite, via PMs here, via email, or on the phone. Whether it's about equipment, specific questions about how to deal with a type or grass or shrub or what not, marketing, where to find employees when the time comes, you name it. I don't want to be the type of person who gives the industry a bad name because I don't have any experience, and I hope that through this site, and hopefully some personal help I can get off on the right foot.

    Feel free to bash me, or offer advice, or anything that you want, I just figured this would be a good time to get my foot in the door and introduce myself.

    Sorry for the novel, and thanks for your time!
  2. zak406

    zak406 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,516

    take that two weeks back i think you would be better off starting off on the side and build until you have enough work to quit your job with no income.
  3. zturncutter

    zturncutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

    Why did you decide to just go cold turkey and start full time, why not start part time to give yourself some experience before losing your steady income ?
  4. cmdnvs

    cmdnvs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    I guess I can answer both questions with one shot. Honestly, I don't mind taking a hit on income (obviously), I am sick and tired of the life and job that I have, I can't fathom the idea of keeping a job where I'm locked up like an animal all day. I'd rather be outside, and I don't see a reason to try going part time when I think I can do better by going at it full steam.

    Like I said, I feel like I have to give this my full dedication and support, all of my attention, I know it might make some sense to ease into it, but if you spend your whole life testing the temperature of the water you never go swimming.

    Also, I know that if I jump into it with both feet, I can get a better faster understanding of things, I also intend to use my software background to make some custom tailored applications for my use (which, if it works out, I'll share freely with this community). I've already gotten the game plan ready for making an application to calculate my production ratios, that once inputted (and can be changed with any and every piece of equipment), I'll work on a tool for estimations that will tie the two together, that way I can give accurate, printed estimates quickly (tablet PC and wireless printer in the truck I envision), as well as if I decide to go with invoicing or monthly billing, I can set up recurring billing and bill cards/accounts the morning that I'm headed out, have the computer generate my GPS route, and either leave off or notify me of anyone whos payment doesn't go through. I know I won't be able to focus all that attention if I'm part time.
  5. madisonguyton

    madisonguyton LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    wow!!! if you get that software finish please let me know:clapping:! and it would be great if you would make it MAC compatible too haha... nobody has anything compatible with the MAC OS
  6. cmdnvs

    cmdnvs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Maybe if there's enough interest from the community I'll start a separate thread with requests to include in software, I don't think there's an all encompassing decent product out there, and I'd be more than happy to provide one.
  7. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    I hope you would be selective in your choice of a mentor. With that in mind look at some of my past posts and specifically my e myth thread. Then Pm me when you get to 10 posts if I pass the interview.
  8. SW Services

    SW Services LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    I know I have said this before somewhere on LS... I commend your efforts and dedication to start the buisness, however, 80k is year is a damn good income. I wouldnt even think of going blind into landscaping. Its a very very cuthroat buisness and takes a while to get to an income you can live on. I would go part time and mow after work and on the weekends until you figure out where your standing as far as accounts go. I would hate to see you end up out of buisness, out of work, and out of an income in case you do go under. Thats what concerns me with people who just want to walk away from their 60k a year jobs and start landscaping.
  9. g21

    g21 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    You are in one of the best markets in the country for growing a landscape maintenance business. You will be able to grow as fast as want. Feel free to check out ALMA, there are plenty of people who will help you. Also, I'm not sure what type of programing you do, but ALMA is looking for someone to do a proprietary software program for tracking manhours out in the field. If you have an interest, shoot me an email.

    Good Luck!
  10. Falcon50EX

    Falcon50EX LawnSite Senior Member
    from GA
    Messages: 994

    When you get the program runing I could use something to track fert aps.
    On my first carrier I was told it would take a lot of persistence and it did, but I love it and I never hate going to work. Because of that I started my fertilization and weed control business on the side and all is well. So Good Luck

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