How old were you when you started in this business ???

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by chesapeake, Apr 10, 2001.

  1. chesapeake

    chesapeake LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I am asking this because I am thinking of LawnCare as a career change. My current situation - I am 43 years old and have been a Computer Programmer for the past 20 years. I am married with two children (6 and 4 years old). I work in Denver, Co and commute about 1 hour each way. I make good money, with good benefits. But I have never really liked working in an office, at a desk, etc.

    I really dont like programming that much, but I really like mechanical things (trucks, motors, tools, etc) and being outdoors. I work in my own lawn as a way to unwind from the office stress.

    I am thinking of moving to a town in Nebraska of about 45,000 population that I like (for a variety of reasons, including hunting, fishing opportunities, lower taxes, cost of living, better environment for young children, etc). The opportunities for programmers are not so abundant as they are in my current location, and besides that I dont really like my work that much anyway. Lawncare seeems like a viable business with relatively low start-up cost.

    What are your opinions on my situation ??? Would you recommend starting out in this business at age 43 ??? What are the downsides of lawncare business ??? How much money could a guy like me make working 50 hours a week as a one man operation during the first few years ??? After getting established and making the move to hire employees, then what would the income potential be ??? What are the pros/cons of working as a one man or family operation versus hiring employees ??? What do you do during the winter months ???

    I am not greedy and dont expect to get rich in a new business. I have a strong work ethic and always do any job I do well, and would strive to do quality, timely work with good customer service. Just like I do with my software development.

    Any input appreciated.


  2. klc

    klc LawnSite Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 27

    I have been in the business for 10 years now
    Im 36 and I feel my body is not going to take the work load I push on my self
    The cost of getting started is all on what you want to spend and how far in debt you with to get into
    A 50 hour week is something I havent seen for a long time
    try 65-80 hrs in the summer and in the winter as the snow flies
    You will have no vacation time
    The best thing for you to do is get on a crew in denver as part time and see have you like it or visit with a owner in person
    Good Luck
  3. oneEXMARKfan

    oneEXMARKfan Banned
    Messages: 254

    I can't answer many of your questions, but I can understand your situation (somewhat), My brother's been programming for over 22 years (he's 40 now) and if I had kown how much "stress relief" he could get from "working outdoors" I would have had my Ford 3000 (3 cly. diesel) down there along time ago. He's been doing good too, spreading gravel with the box scraper, plowing a garden (cultivating, disking, tilling)
    It does my heart good to know I can help him.....cause he seems so happing when he's doing it. I've always been lucky enough to be outside in the sunshune & fresh air... Good luck to you, and others here are much better qualified to answer your questions.
  4. Guardian

    Guardian LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 269

    If you can secure some contracts, you'll have income during winter. Of coarse, I know nothing about snow - but here in Florida during my 1st winter, I had an income of $4500/mo from 7 commercial & 10 residential contracts. Oh, the best thing was I only worked 16hrs per week. I miss winter:(
  5. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Messages: 4,830

    42 when I started.
    Down sides are too much rain or not enough rain.
    Income depends on the area, how many acounts you get and how much extra's.
    In the winter you could plow snow.
  6. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    I did this for many years as a kid until I went into the Navy. After college I tried the desk job thing and eventually came back into this full time. I would not change a thing. Its not work to me, its my business! I enjoy being my own boss.

    Moving to a new area and getting a customer base established will be the hardest thing. Your 1st year could be slow. After you get to know people your work load will pick up quickly.

    We don't have snow here in the south to plow, so I get to handle leaves all winter. I could have worked 30+ hour weeks all winter if I wanted to. I work at least 11 out of 12 months.

    Many people want in this business, but many don't stay in it. It gets too hot for them and they don't manage their money well. To many people think like an hourly employee instead of an owner. Work smarter not harder and do other things besides just mowing. That is the only way you can stay in this business and grow.
  7. eslawns

    eslawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    I did this as a teenager for a couple of summers.

    When I got canned from my old job, I decided it couldn't be worse to fail in business than lose a job, so I gave it a try. I was 28, and this is my 7th season.
  8. Was 25 when I started, now 40! Just love the bidness. I bought mine. Only accounts though, it was worth it. I had upward mobility built in on account of the leverage of being in buisiness instantly. I imediately started taking on new and better paying accounts.

    Since then, I've done nothing but decline most requests for new bidness on account of I ain't (excuse the vernacular) greedy too! And, I don't need the hassle of doing buisiness in high cost Hawaii with employees. If people think my prices are high now, wait until I hire a couple full timers with benefits! Really, this state is basically anti-bidness in spite of any appearance the current administration projects as being buisiness friendly. No tax cuts-no bidness. Lots of attrition in new start-ups, esp since we been in RECESSION since the yen went BAD in 1990 and you need to live simple to simply live. Sorry for venting, but good advice comes with a price on Lawnsite! Still like my free rainbows,sunsets,bodysurfing,surfing (when I'm not working)waterfalls,ethinic diversity (esp. the food).

    Good buddy of mine just moved from here to Sunnyvale Ca. He ran out of programing work on a steady basis and is now doing much with telephony etc.. He will be back asap.

    Can't beat my office though,blue skies, white puffies, big blue ocean, jungle fun in the mountain accounts.

    Takes some work as it is physical but it is good for the waistline.

    As far as what you will make. LCOs are like lawyers, they charge what the market will bear.


    Hope this helps.

  9. WLC

    WLC LawnSite Member
    from NE TN
    Messages: 80

    If there is any advice you take from here on out, take this whatever you feel is your "passion" in life. Obviously you are unhappy with what you do now, but ask yourself, is it your job, or your career. These are two totally different things. Is computer programming something you're passionate about, or is it lawncare? Once you answer that question, you'll have a better idea on what you should do. You should also ask yourself, what would be something you would do for the rest of your life and not get paid for it and still be happy doing it. Whatever your answer to that question, THAT is what you should be pursuing. If it is lawncare, I'll tell you this...the better you serve your customers, the better your business will thrive. Kinda obvious huh?

    Realize in starting a new business, your first year will be virtually profitless, that's with any new business. I will tell you this, lawncare is a hard and dirty business; however, nothing is more gratifying than taking a look at some of the work you do. And who can beat being your own boss. I wouldn't hire any employees until you can build a good loyal customer base. Take advantage of being small so you can deliver specialized attention to your customers, because when employees are hired, attention to detail can suffer.

    Also, invest in the best possible equipment you can afford, buy tools, not toys. It is also a wise idea in your first year to keep RE-investing into your business so you can build it up strong. If something breaks, you can fix it right away, or replace it without downtime.

    You know, if you like to work on motors, with tools, etc. the Exmark Manufacturer is in Nebraska, maybe you can look into a job working with the equipment itself as opposed to the lawns?????

    All of this may be more than what you asked for, or maybe not enough. Hope some of it helps. Good luck!
  10. snoweagle

    snoweagle LawnSite Member
    from N.W Mn
    Messages: 5

    I too am like you , Iam retired military and also tired of working for a bunch of A$$e$ so last year I tried the snow removal buisness and am trying the lawn thing this summer I already have 4 accountsthat are for sure, I like working out doors as it is relaxing, I'm not out to make a fortune but just to help offset my pension, I look at it as a great opportunity and a big lesson and I am hopeing I do well. I live in a very small tourist town and from the experince I got from snow removal I know I will do ok in lawn service.
    The biggest thing that helped me in the winter was word of mouth. So I know once I start the lawn service I will be ok. Good Luck to you!

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