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How often do you redefine your business vision?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mdvaden, Jun 13, 2003.

  1. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    About 6 years ago, we moved to Savannah for a visit to the east, to see that coast, and experiment with pruning business there.

    I was not sure if I wanted to stay in horticulture.

    The 8 months down there enabled me to decide to stick with this industry. I did that by figuring out what I don't want to do - that's weekly maintenance. And I don't like irrigation work.

    With that in mind, I realized that although pruning skills transfer across the USA easily, landscape skills don't. I was trained for the Pacific NW. That meant Portland or Seattle area. 1 day in Washington was enough to determine that Portland area would be my permanent stomping grounds.

    5 years later, I now find my vision becoming more focused once again.

    I realized that I want to do SOME installation, A LOT of design plans, and A LOT of pruning.

    Whereas I contracted all pruning and tree work the past 2 years that came my way, I'm now retaining all smaller pruning, and some large tree work - referring a few large tree jobs.

    Finally, I'm sending out referrals, and picking my avenue. Maybe in part its because I don't need it all.

    In addition, we will no longer take "repeat neglected yards". We don't mind fixing it once, but don't call again. Part of our vision now is to stick with people that maintain their yards, not those that repair it every two or three years.
  2. jwholden

    jwholden LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Messages: 218

    I have changed my vision this year as well. After growing tired of lawn mowing and my heart just not beeing in it I decided to go design install full time this year. Funny, but a lot of people thought I was crazy to give up the steady income of maintenance.

    I have been trying to do all the things I hadn't while in the lawn maintenance business. Return calls promptly, find time to design landscapes, keep advertising consistently, etc. People have responded very well and I'm having a great year!

    I do provide maintenance; mulching, pruning, edging to a small group of my cutomers and I figure this is my work for the slow times because it doesn't have to be done by a certain date.

    My vision half way through the season is to make sure I get the money I am worth and appreciate how lucky I am to be doing what I love for people who love what I do!

  3. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    Maybe it was a mini-vision then, but in 1988 when I started business, my heart was not into lawn maintenance either, since I was barely removed from having worked at 7 golf courses.

    Its interesting how some people deal well with routine - same place every week.

    Several folks I know do routine commercial window cleaning accounts as a mainstay and love it.

    But for me, Its like a ball and chain to be at the same place every week.

    I love new places, new people and fresh projects along with yearly visits to the past locations.
  4. llgardens

    llgardens LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    I began lawns in 1990 and slowly have moved toward the landscape aspect of the green industry. We still manitain a modest mowing schedule of 55-60 lawn accounts per week, however I no longer advertise mowing. I have promoted the change in focus through newsletters, advertising and such. Some people still refer to what I do as a lawn business, but the funny thing is...this year only about 20 percent of sales will come from grass.

    I too think of discontinuing lawncare but cannot turn down the 8K or so a month, not to mention some of my best sources for advertising. Maybe I'll change my mind in a couple years...:blush:
  5. vardener

    vardener LawnSite Member
    from MD 7
    Messages: 49

    Well, I knew I'd have the opportunity to post this message. Hang on, this one will keep you busy...

    My number one priority is to ensure that my family is well supported and comfortable. That not only includes finances, but as well budgeting my time spent with my lovely wife and two brilliant children.

    I am in the Air Force, with about 19 months left in active duty. I DO plan on separating. I have served my country the best I can and I feel that it is time to move on.

    I started a landscape design, installation, and maintenance business last April to make ends meet out of a beat up pick up and started building my equipment collection since then. I don't cut lawns, but I don't mind one day having a crew that does it for me. My plan was to get out of the military and go full time with my business.

    I have worked in the green industry for about 10 years and I grew up with a greenhouse in the backyard, so I have alot of experience with plants. I have a natural eye for design, so I have built upon those skills.

    I don't have the time to do more than a few jobs per month, but I match my Air Force income part time landscaping. I know the money is there, but this winter we found ourselves with child again (the 2nd) and I had to redefine my vision.

    Because of my military situation, I have a great opportunity for education, so one day I thought, why not take advantage of it? I started to look into getting a nursing license. You can get an RN in 2 years with an associates degree, and you've got a good job with great benefits. Pays darn good too.

    But am I doing what I love? That's what is important to me. If I'm pulling 60 hours a week so that my family can be well fed and have a good roof over their heads, shouldn't I be happy where I am? not to say that nursing wouldn't be a great job. I think I would really enjoy it, but MAN, landscaping is a paid hobby for me. I know i can make good money doing it, but the jump from a totally supported environment in the Air Force to a self employed where's-the-next-paycheck lifestyle is a scary one.

    A very wise person once said that the key to a life without regret is to do everything that scares you.

    So this is the plan now (at least until I can think of something better)

    I leave the USAF in Feb 2005.

    Move home (finally) to the great state of TEXAS.

    finish my nursing degree (1.5 years)

    Meanwhile, run the landscape business like I do now, only in Texas.

    A great thing about being a nurse, you can work whatever hours you want: day, night, full time, part time...

    Over the next 5 years, starting in 2007 when I become an RN, i'll transition from full time nurse/[part time landscape business to part time nurse/ full time landscape business.

    by the time I'm 35 (2013) I hope to own a small retail nursery that I get my supplies from for my landscape design/install business, with one lawn crew to keep a steady stream coming in (that, and I love to cut grass)

    I want to retire at 40. Unless Jesus comes back first ;) By retire I mean hang out with my kids, work on my early bronco, and draw pictures (landscape designs) I'll still own the business, only someone else will run it.

    So, back to the question: How often do I redefine my business vision?

    Answer: every day.
  6. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    I've never been in the service - one of my few regrets - no matter what anyone thinks, and no matter what the services are really like.

    You're in the one branch I probably would not have chose to be in. But then again, I would not have to fly.

    Marines would have been choice one - I love rifles and marksmanship, and hard work.

    Navy would have been close second.

    ( Are those two separate )

    Too bad you don't know how to climb trees!!

    I've got a friend that learned back east. Met him when he came to Oregon - without a pickup, but with a chainsaw and some rope and saddle.

    Starting with a $2000 flatbed pickup, and a stack of business cards, I think he hit near $100,000 per year in less than 4 years.

    Good work, knew his job, courteous, always to estimates on time, and a detailed clean-up including stacking the wood rather than piling it.

    Good idea setting vision every day. Is that the way you were, or did the military fashion that into your life?
  7. vardener

    vardener LawnSite Member
    from MD 7
    Messages: 49

    I think my wife put that into me. She's very ambitious.

    I love to trim trees. most of my tree work is from the ground, though both my wife and I want to take a recreational tree climbimg course in the South withnin the next couple of years. I wish I had a friend up here that could teach me how to work with ropes up in the bigguns.

    I chose the AF for the quality of life, not the job. My wife and I got married when she was 19 andI was 20, as a result of joining, we were able to buy a home and have some security that we would not have been able to afford, otherwise.

    If i HAD to join a branch of the military, I think I would have gone AF again, but I would have been a SEAR instructor.

    Those are the guys that teach pilots how to survive after they have been shot down.
  8. llgardens

    llgardens LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16


    You posted "heres something that will keep you busy"...actually that it seems like will be keeping YOU busy. From a guy who finished a Bachelors in Education as a non-traditional student while working evenings and operating/building a company, I can relate to your ambition as I have done it am doing it...I have a lawn crew that works for me and I sell and oversee about 7 landscape jobs a month.

    Planning for future ideas and setting up oneself on how to meet them is always a good idea. Early retirement sounds good in theory, but in practive is a little more difficult than I thing your leading yourself to believe...especially considering that you are making babies that will have needs for years and years...

    Best of luck to you...
    Believe in something and you'll go where you Believe
  9. vardener

    vardener LawnSite Member
    from MD 7
    Messages: 49

    Thanks for your encouragement, llgardens.

    Retirement at 40 doesn't mean never working again. I know alot of folks work a 9-5 and feel like retirement means having to drive an RV acroos the country and never doing anything to earn money again. If I can, like I said, get someone to manage my business, while I hang out with my kids and design a few landscapes here and there, that's retirement to me. I do what I want, when I want. If i want to tke a vacation on the fly, I'll do it.

    I think it's a reasonable goal. I have to set my sights somewhere :)

    It sounds like you and I have some things in common, llgardens.

    Do you have any pics of your installs or yards?

    I have none. Most are in hard copy, and my scanner pooped out. I want to eventually build a website, but I'll wait for a digital camera to do that.

    I am biddding a nice job this evening, I'll borrow a buddy's camera for that one.

  10. llgardens

    llgardens LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16


    good luck on the sale...I have some photos on my harddrive, but they are too large to fit, and I'm not quite certain as to compressing or saving as jpeg...I get help with that stuff.

    I would agree that goal-setting in this business is a must, because the competition in my area (St. Paul MN) is very tight as our season is only 7 months at best.

    People can tell who the best person to contract for work is. I try and be that person, by hopefully coming across as genuine and sincere and proposing work in their best interest.

    Something I like to tell prespective clients:

    I only have to be here fore a few days...you are the one who has to (gets to) live with the landscape every day; so make sure you're getting what YOU want!

    Talk with you later and I'll try to get some pics posted

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