Getting on the books (help Me out)

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by ptlawnguy, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. ptlawnguy

    ptlawnguy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    This is my second year cutting 2 good yards. I am a wood shop teacher (with summers off) and enjoy lawn care. I Have three acres myself. My question is (1) How much money should I be bringing in a month before I get an official business? I do plan on doing this for MANY years. (2) What kind of hoops do I have to jump through to have a real business? I would be happy bringing is $300.00 bucks a month. I am not out to quit my job and go full time. I think I have the best job in the world next to Hugh Heffner. Lastly (3) Can I have signs on my trailer if my business is not legit?

    Your help will be greatly appreciated.
  2. weathervane

    weathervane LawnSite Member
    from mass
    Messages: 19

    if you are only making 300.00 a month or a week it is not worth paying all the taxes and insurance that go along with a real far as signs go they wont hurt.
  3. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Former Moderator
    Messages: 6,073

    Personally we hate paying taxes when the next guy isn't. Why shouldn't you have to pay taxes on the money you make whether it's $10 or 10,000 a month? No one will know right if you cut a few lawns on the side huh?

    The State of Pennsylvania will require you to collect sales tax on your mowing services. It will be either 6% or 7% depending upon what county you live in. Now mind you, not all services are sales taxable, it gets confusing what is and what isn't sales tax, so you can reference some of that here at:

    You will need to get an EIN #, and your sales tax id number, and a DBA once you get a business name picked out. You will file your sales tax online at:, depending upon how much money you make, it will either be filed quarterly or monthly..

    Business insurance is not that much and something you should have incase you have an accident while on a customer's property. Erie Insurance is the best rates we have ever found.

    People always complain about the lowballers, the young kids pulling their wagon down the street with a mower attached to it.... but it's the people with full time jobs that think, "hey i'll make a few bucks on the side, this will be easy,", that really screw up this business.
    Good luck, and i hope you decide to turn your money in and do it right.
  4. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    Ditto what Jodi said ...

    I had a teacher, a son of one of my customers, call me a few weeks ago. He wanted "my excess," that is, all those customers I turn away. He was planning to do what you are doing, work during the summer, then return to school in the Fall.

    I asked him a few questions, ones that would pertain to you as well:

    1. EIN number
    2. Registration with the Dept of Revenue for sales tax collection
    3. Contractors insurance
    4. What was the plan for his customers when August 15 came; why would somebody hire him, knowing his longevity was only for a few months, leaving them in a lurch for the rest of the mowing season (until Thanksgiving, or thereabouts), and the full leaf removal season
    5. How about hauling away clippings (most lawns in the neighborhoods are bagged, at least in part
    6. Did he have trimmer, edger to do a finished job
    7. How was he planning to handle properties over 3/4 acre (he only has a hand mower)

    Maybe the idea isn't such a good one.

    If you are planning a "cash only" business, then take Jodi's first comment seriously -- why should the rest of us support those who choose to take a low road?
  5. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Former Moderator
    Messages: 6,073

    I would like to become a part time wood shop teacher in the winter when I'm bored. how can I go about doing this?
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    My issue with this is that I spend 10 percent of my annual gross on advertising, and when I'm out a few thousand dollars a year and everybody wonders why I am so busy, I am nevertheless none too keen to just send overflow away like so much gratis business.

    Back to the original thread:
    I'm a don't look / don't tell kind of guy, meaning what you do and how you do it is your business and no offense but I really could care less how you do things, don't bother me one bit.

    As for the signage, if you plan on not being legit, I would recommend being as low-profile as possible. On that same note, and this gets tricky because if you ask then they might get suspicious, but your insurance company may not insure your vehicle under personal if it has signs (and perhaps this applies to trailer-located signs as well, I wouldn't try and get cute with the rules here).
    Reason I say this is because I have no signs for that very reason - It would cost me at least a thousand dollars more in insurance every year just to have signs, as this would make me commercial under my insco's policy > Keep in mind that I did ask a previous Insco a question related to this once, and they dropped me because they said asking was admitting or some such bs. Stick with your current insco until further notice but I would advise against signs - maybe spend the money on a newspaper ad instead.

    If you're happy with your current job and you just want to earn extra cash, why not keep your job and do this cash thing but at the same time start putting some money aside in a spare bank account, do that until you have 10 or so thousand and man you will have a head start and at least half your first-year headaches are taken care of (not quite, but it helps a lot).
    It is always good to have spare cash, more is better and if you later decide not to go full-time, why then you still have that money lol !
    That's all I can think of for now.
  7. Evergreenpros

    Evergreenpros LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,154

    EIN is Employment Identification Number, you only need one if you're going to employ people. There are no special taxes you pay when you work by yourself on the federal level, just fill out the proper schedule C on your 1040 at tax time.

    It is illegal to operate a business without a license. You have to pay the Lord of Government his just due or else. Doesn't sharecropping stink?

    You just need a business license, they will give you all the information you need to know about taxes, filing, etc Trust me, they want their money bad.

    Insurance, signs, advertising, pricing, amount of work, that's all up to you. As long as you pay your just taxes the government doesn't care what you charge, if you have a sign or not, how much you advertise, if you get run over by a mower, get sued, etc

    Just as long as you have a business license and pay your taxes!!!! People do understand that not paying or reporting your taxes can be tax evasion which is punishable by jail time. Yes the Lord of Government will get their due, no matter what.
  8. ptlawnguy

    ptlawnguy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    I was way off on my esitmate of money. I already make about 700 $ a month for just grass cutting. I do plan on working while I am teaching as I am right now. I just don't commit to mulching jobs and such until school is out.

    ENDURO LawnSite Member
    Messages: 64

    In Virginia, all you need to become an official business is to go to your local court house and fill out the DBA (doing business as) form and pay $10. To be perfectly honest that's about it. Now, that being said, there are dozens of things you should do. Most importantly, get a commercial liability insurance policy. A million dollars cost me $60/mth. A small price to pay if your mower kicks up a rock into some kids eye!!!
  10. ptlawnguy

    ptlawnguy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    Thank you for the info guys. I Know have an idea of what I have to do. I definitely do want my business to be for real because I will only be getting more clients, not less.

    As for Matts question, Get an technology education degree (go to college for 4 years (cost- $50,000) and be a substitute in the winter season and make $60 to $120 dollars a day.

    Sounds like it just might be worth while?????

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