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Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by nick2765, Dec 6, 2013.
Library, Internet, time.
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Thanks for the detailed reply and furthering of the discussion, Roger. I understand where you are coming from, but I think one point you're missing relates to the above. If someone here is making a run at starting/operating a legitimate lawn care business (vs. tax-free mowing for beer cash), they can absolutely see cross-pollinating benefits of both.
As I mentioned, I shaped my final year around what would best benefit me in the long run. Those were not tech-related courses, but actually an emphasis on entrepreneurism (now a track/degree at many universities) and public speaking. If I were running a LCO while in college, I would probably do almost the exact same course load. It's why, when the related topic of "should i go to college or build my landscaping company?" comes up, I always recommend to, at the minimum, take a couple of communication courses (read: speech class), some basic accounting, and even a 100 level business law class.
To better apples to apples it, and speaking to your point, will a hospital or drugstore chain care that the OP made pretty stripes? No. Will they care he ran his own company? From what I know of the medical field, no. What it can do is be a lucrative way to help him pay for his education, all while building up those all-important time, task mgt, and communication skills. Now, what if the OP was actually in marketing, business, or tech? It's not the lawn stripes that matter to any future employer, but the running of the business is absolutely germane to the way their candidacy would be viewed. When I would hire for the last firm I worked for (largest global consulting and accounting firm), every candidate had a stellar educational pedigree (very Stepford Wives), so you have to look for differentiators. If someone had small biz or military experience, by and large, they moved to the absolute top of my stack. Both of those gave me great insight as to what they've experienced, all while they were gaining a top-tier education. In your example, using the "straight stripes", "putting down mulch" or "cutting grass" as argument points is rather myopic. It's everything that surrounds those stripes that interests me. I can assure you, I'm not asking Candidate Bob, owner of Bob's Lawn & Land, about his striping.
College is no joke, and as you said before things are much different now. College back then was much different in that the payouts were much higher. A pharmacist who went to school 20 years ago college education only costed them 90 grand and when they finished school were making 100 grand, Pharmacists now have school loans over 200 grand and still make the same salary. What is different now is that students have to be creative, such as most of the college kids (including myself) on here took something they enjoy and saw the potential to make a buck. Its something we have to do, but we picked lawn care because we enjoy it. (at least for me). It is almost impossible to afford school and pay for necessities if we do not work unless someone else is offering the helping hand. I want to be in control of my future and do not want to count on some else which goes for most of the college people on here as well.
That's a great explanation, especially as it relates to medical fields. My better half just wrapped up 17 years of post-secondary education and 300k+ in debt. The problem with many of the medical field educational tracks is that you simply can't maintain any great level of income as you work your way through (if you're even allowed to at all). If you can create a nice nest egg while in undergrad, for many people, it's a "must do". Self-employment and small business ownership are two of the best vehicles to do so.
Maybe I was crazy but Uncle Sam paid for my degree, I'm a debt free degreed business owner, with military experience to boot!
Lots of "I"'s in your Language,Sounds like my little Brother.
What's your solution?
Or would you like us to commend you for your observations?
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Thank you Tony Greek for pointing out to Roger that he's basically trapped in a 1950s mindset, I've noticed several times before he states a similar opinion in regards to going to school for xx degree and spending too much time doing "mere grass cutting" after classes are done. Never mind the fact that most of us are running a company, not "cutting grass". If we were just cutting grass, we'd be working on a crew for a company or municipality.
As for the OP, I graduated with a degree in Horticulture this past spring in May. We were so busy this spring I almost missed my graduation ceremony! I went to the Univ. North Dakota (pursuing accounting) for 3 semesters right after high school and then transferred to where I graduated from. I did not like being there, the "campus lifestyle" wasn't for me. I learned a lot from the accounting & finance classes I took at UND and loved working for the school's landscaping dept., I ran a zero turn every day after class on the properties they didn't do with the larger front mounts. Over the summer after freshman year I found out about the Hort program that was offered by the tech school which was 6 mi from home, it was too late to sign up for fall but I applied & was accepted and began at the spring semester in Jan 2011. I registered my business in Feb 2011 and haven't looked back! I started with nothing more than a push mower, a blower, & trimmer and borrowed my dad's pickup until spring 2012 when I bought my 8.1. I purchased a plow last December just in time for winter to arrive, especially as I already had contracts secured. Purchased a lot more equipment this year and plan to purchase more next year as my company grows.
Thinking back, I'm extremely happy with the decision I made to transfer from a university to a tech school to start a company of my own. My younger brother attends UND and my parents and I went to visit him back in Sept and going back for the first time since I transferred, it was certainly bittersweet. I was bummed that I missed out on the "college experience" partially because I had roommates in the dorms that weren't talkative and I'm not exactly the type to walk up to people and just strike up a conversation, (unless it has to do with sales for my company, then I feel invincible ) however after talking with a few of my friends that are around my age that own lawn/landscape/irrigation/snow companies, I realized I'm much better off where I am now with my company and that I pursued my dream which has definitely paid off! This year we'll be pretty close to increasing gross sales by 400% over 2012 and next year should be a great year again as my company's name is becoming more known. I couldn't tell you "how many accounts" we have as that figure is completely irrelevant as no property is the same. This year we had a solid couple weeks of spring clean ups & fert, 1.5 days/week of maint services and landscape installs every week from May through Sept with the exception of two weeks in July where I was tired of the stress & working and I headed to the Millville Pro Motocross Nat'ls for one of those weeks. Most of the landscape installs it'd be me and 1-2 others on site. September & October were a tad slower but we finished strong with about month's worth of clean ups and did one large landscape removal & install the week of Thanksgiving before we got our first snow storm back last week.
With all that being said, just because I have a degree in Hort doesn't mean I plan to be a 1 crew company forever because "I enjoy the work so much". Granted I enjoy the work with the exception of broadleaf spraying and setting the base course of a retaining wall, I know that the ticket to get my company where I want it (7+ figures) is implementing systems for EVERYTHING and getting out of the field as soon as possible. I'm constantly thinking every day all day how to get xx job done faster & more efficient with more man power or xx piece of equipment, reducing the cost & increasing profit and my time in the field so I can be in the office handling sales & accounting. Books such as "Pricing for the Green Industry", "Green Side Up", & "E-Myth: Landscape Contractor" have helped me with getting systems set up and instilled into my company.
Sorry about the long post but I figure it'll make for a good discussion for the younger guys on here that want to take their business seriously.
One thing to add, typing up this post about how I've basically started from nothing to have everything I have now in a relatively short time with the great clients I have and great network of friends & colleagues within this industry is definitely humbling! I have a long way to go before I'm satisfied with what my company has financially but motivation definitely comes from thinking to the past!
What an absolutely refreshing thread!!! I attended college in the 60's-70's and then went back for a Ph.D. in the 90's and worked as both a grad assistant in a lab and then at a state mental hospital to pay for living and any tuition. Came out essentially debt free. The grit exhibited by some of you young posters with LCO's is frankly admirable. I would hire some of you just based on your tenacity and willingness to do what it takes to get an education and support yourselves. There are many college kids who get the "college experience" and to my way of thinking are essentially worthless when they hit the job market. They lack any real world skills. Kudos to you hard workers and visionaries. Dr. Bob
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