How to fail in the lawn business by someone who did it.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by PROCUT1, Feb 18, 2009.

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  1. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    I grew up in that neighborhood and started my business there riding around on a lawn tractor. Everyone knew me from that. I just marketed that neighborhood very heavy, constantly for years. Got to know almost everyone. When houses were for sale, i tracked them, I would meet the new owners as they were moving in.

    Just by constantly seeing us in the neighborhood all day everyday, people would naturally call us.

    Thats probably the one part of the business I miss. I really had fun with that neighborhood
  2. FourTrees

    FourTrees LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 6
    Messages: 310

    Good critical point.

    The difference is in who owns what. Do you own the business or does it own you.

    You ask yourself if I could not go to work for five, ten, twenty days (insert 1 million reasons) here; what would happen to my business.

    If the answer is that it would collapse or no work would get done then your business owns you. The risk here is that if you break a leg, get west nile from a squito, have a close one die; then chances are high that you business may not survive. What happens as you get older we are not indestructible?

    A good businessman sets up his business so that he runs it. If he has to step out for a day, a week, a month; the business will continue to thrive. this is the best business. If any of the fore mentioned disasters happen then you still make money. You could be in another state taking care of Mom after the death of your Father (making calls and such to make sure things are still going withough much hassle). You could be sitting at home mending that dislocated back or broken leg, and the business still brings in the money. You die and are able to leave a well functioning company that continues to bring in income for your family.

    The broken leg thing is from expereince. One month into doing this full time, I bust my leg. I cried (yes I am man enough to admit I cried. I was angry and frustrated), but I had a plan so I kept going. I got the help I needed, but they were not trained enough to run the business without me. Do many of you know how painfull it is to go back to work two days after breaking your ankle. Riding mowers are nice, but they sure can aggrivate a broken leg and cause it to ache constantly. I was in a cast for a month. You should have seen me try to trim with one crutch and a leg in a cast.

    I survived, barely. I was angry at myself because I knew better. I have a degree in business. I had not had enough time to develop my plan and implement it. Implementing the plan is critical, but you have to have it first. Then you get things running, BUT you must have you exit strategy from the day to day work. If not then you are not running your business it runs you.
    Eventually something will happen that keeps you from daily work (old age, retirement, tragedy) are you prepared for that day.

    (takes of the gloves)
    A solo guy has a nice job that pays him well. A business man runs his business how he chooses to.
    hort101 likes this.
  3. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,536

    Your owned by your business no matter what. I ran a construction company for 11 years. I had 3 crews and over 1M in equipment. Its still owned me!
  4. Grass Happens

    Grass Happens LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    Thank you for such a great post. I have been on the fence this year about wanting to go on. So far I have seen three trucks with new business names for some sort of lawn work, and its only February. It's only going to get much, much worse. This will be my fifth season part-time, and so far all my equipment is paid for. Used, but paid for. However, I need a bigger trailer, and in all necessity if i get a new trailer, my 92 ranger really needs to go to a 1/2 ton or so.
    Now I find out my best friend wants to start a mowing business, he is in debt from a business that went under, just like pro-cuts. Got too big for its britches, HAD NO bookkeeping at all (I know I worked for him) and now he owes ALOT of money. Asked me in a rude way if i wanted to give him my accounts, and then work for him, because he'll be bigger then I am, and it "would make sense"
    I was about to give in, but I took solace from your post, I'm going to re-examine my numbers, get my advertising ready, and only pick up x amount of customers. I'm not sure what that X will be yet, but I wont be like last year, trying to be everything for everybody.
    Thanks for proving not all landscapers/mowers are cocky jackasses.
  5. bobw

    bobw LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 807

    Isn't it nice that he figures that you'd give him your business to destroy? Some friend.....
  6. humble1

    humble1 LawnSite Silver Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,519

    you should read my thread around page 6 or 8. I was making so much money landscaping that i was going to dump the mowing. My wife stopped me from buying a mustang, just because. I thought i was making money. I wasn't
    hort101 likes this.
  7. johnnybravo8802

    johnnybravo8802 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Ga.
    Messages: 2,319

    Some people do have success in a business though. My father-in-law made $41mill. last year with his masonary contracting company. He has been doing it for more than 30 years-started out in Pennsylvania with one pickup and wheelbarrow and has never layed one brick. He made his fortune off of other people's backs. His favorite example is of the guy who started the Hershey factory-he failed 10 times before he got it right-I'll never forget that!!!!:clapping::clapping:
  8. Grass Happens

    Grass Happens LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    Yea, it puts me in pickle, because this IS my best friend, but I am realllllly pissed about it. I'm just going to pretend it didn't happen, and see if he drops it. I wouldn't have minded helping him out out at all, but just saying "here is all my stuff, what time do you want me to start boss?" is a bit much. I may be small, but it's mine, and it's paid for.
  9. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    The original post is so right on its not even funny. I was told this basic idea by an old timer back when I begun, and although I questioned it I always remembered it. As I developed the business it made more sense. I run into "big" guys all the time and they usually laugh and joke about my small little business. They then proceed to tell me how many tandems and excavators they own and are sitting idle, then they try to get me to buy an investment house that they have been sitting on for 2 years. Years ago I would feel intimidated, but today I can confidently laugh, look them straight in the eye, and say "that's nice but I still make more money than you." The ones that know it shut up real fast. There is a very good reason that in a market with 50+ companies there are only a handful that have been around more than 10 years.
  10. capnsac

    capnsac LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 702

    No need to laugh in their face. I know it is a nice feeling to know you have something better then they do. Let them have their fun at your expense, let your actions do your talking. Let them scoff at your small operation, but then when they see the house your living in, the car your driving, etc. Let that do the talking, they'll question and wonder how you are doing what you are doing. It will give them something to talk about. In the end, your silence speaks VOLUMES as far as your character goes, and the large group of people not doing the name calling will respect you even more for it.

    Take care.
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