I need help making a decision about college and the property maintenance business..

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Adam3669, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Adam3669

    Adam3669 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 311

    Well I am a senior this year, and I will be going to my local community college next year to get my pre-req's out of the way, and to keep working on my business instead of having to be away from everything. I absolutely LOVE working in this industry, and will be aquiring my older brothers business this season or next (lawn care) and their 40 accounts or so. I am hoping to have 60-65 accounts by that time. The only problem, is I know that if I want to keep pursuing this business/industry, I will need to take classes on entrepeanurship(sp??) and related courses and possibly major in something similiar. I really want to do this, but I'm afraid that if the lawn thing doesn't work out way down the road I won't have any kind of degree to fall back on.

    What did you guys do?
  2. jaybow

    jaybow LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mi
    Messages: 1,089

    I would skip the entrepeanurship class and maybe take hardscaping,landscape design,irrigation and these type classes.Maybe work on getting a license for pestacides and fertilizer as well.There are alot of ways to make money in this buisness other than just lawn service.These are things I need to work on to.

    DLAWNS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,780

    I don't know your whole situation. But coming from someone who has about half of a degree in business management and never finished, go to school and possibly get a business management degree, that way it leaves you with more options than just the lawn business. You could also try and see if they have a horticulture degree program. More and more schools are offering this. In my case, lets just say I was not one with the books, but if you are slightly interested in school...do it up.
  4. Adam3669

    Adam3669 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 311

    Well, my college is pretty much going to be paid for (minus grad school) so I know I deff. want to go to school. Im just trying to decide If I should focus my studies on Horticulture or go into something more broad like Business Management or something. Im afraid to narrow it down to hort. because I know that career path is not guranteed.

    DLAWNS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,780

    Maybe you can major in business and minor in hort or at least take some hort classes to fill in the gaps in your schedule. I don't know if I'm being that helpful but I figure the responses couldn't hurt.
  6. humble1

    humble1 LawnSite Silver Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,519

    stick w/ the biz degree, number 1) it will help you as your biz evolves
    2) should you wake up one day at age 40 married w/ kids and sick of all the aches and pains you have a great fall
  7. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    My encouragement would be to devote yourself to a good college education. That means not merely taking the academic course work, but also to be involved in organizations, clubs, seminars, and other activities. Your interest in entrepreneurship is to be cultivated. Nearly anybody can learn hardscape, landscape, etc., but only a few have the vision and fortitude for being an entrepreneur. Work at building relationships with others at the business school. Get to know those who can help with sales/marketing, finance, and resource management. Those folks that you get to know at that time can be vital to building a business afterwards.

    Set aside the lawn service business and work at getting a complete education.

    Since you have an interest in business, work hard at taking the courses to prepare for a good career in the business world. This will give you skills and education that can carry you much further than sitting on a ZTR mowing grass, or laying blocks to build a wall. You may end up with a business that does those things, but you will be far better prepared to work such a business than those who came through the ranks of hard labor. Many more start up business fail due to the lack of having good business skills, than fail because somebody couldn't do the work.

    This thread is not unusual. Many others have asked the same question as you are asking. Many posts encourage the originator to "keep your business running so you will have something to work when you finish." Also, some posts speak about "yea, I went to the local college, kept my business running nearly full time, and now that I'm finished, all I am left with is debt for the schooling, ... it did me no good to spend that time." I would suggest that these folks spent more of their energy on their business than they did on their education, only went to school to take the necessary courses, and never involved themselves with anybody else through groups, clubs, seminars, etc. They were merely cranking through the courses on "as needed" basis, and did not immerse themselves into their education. Then, they are asking why didn't all that time in college do me any good.

    Your value in the marketplace will be directly related to how unique your contribution to the workforce. In other words, having an education sets yourself apart from others who might be competing for the same opportunity. Having an education opens opportunities that will never be open to others. This is not to say that an education gives you a free ticket to success. Nor, does it say that somebody without a good education will not be successful. Reality is far from those extremes. However, statistics are much more in your favor with a good education.

    For those who kept their business running during college, how many of them remain in the industry? I don't know. Go to the thread in OT that asks "how you got in the business." I don't recall reading any posts there about having followed that path. I think the overwhelming number of posts are along the lines, "... I was doing XXXX, didn't like it and started my own LCO business." My point is that the situations where somebody goes to school to run their own LCO business afterward is probably very rare. From that thread, and others that have been posted in the past, it sounds like most got started from a path other than one intentional plan at an early age.

    Getting started as an LCO is relatively easy, no training, no skills, and little startup costs. Most seems to start with residential grass mowing. That is why so many come and go, why there are so many complaints about part-timers taking work away from the full-timers, and why pricing cutting is rampant. There is nothing unique in getting started. Having a business education, with a bent toward entrepreneurship will give you opportunities that exceed the business plans of most LCOs. Think higher!

    I know some on LS will not agree with what I have stated here. My thoughts come from my experiences, my background, and many years in the business world. I know others will have different viewpoints, based upon their experiences and background.
  8. B_gerrits

    B_gerrits LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 297

    I think getting your bus deg with a minor of Hort would be the way to go. This would give you something to fall back on if the green industry didn't work out.
  9. KS_Grasscutter

    KS_Grasscutter LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,338

    I am a junior this year. Plan to graduate high school one trimester early next year, to have time to focus on building up my business a little before August. I will go to the local community college for 2 years, to take ag and business classes. Then I'll be done. I am in kinda a good situation though, if I decided to go to KSU, I have the funds available because of a college fund my grandpa started for me when I was born. Of course on the other side of that, if I just go to the community college here, I'll have enough left over to get a new truck or a MDGHS high dump Walker with every option I could think of.
  10. B_gerrits

    B_gerrits LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 297

    I don't know why you would take ag classes if you want to do landscaping, landscape design, horticulture, yes. I don't know what the landscaping industry in your area is like but here it is very saturated, water is getting expensive, lawns are kinda fading as the preferred landscape choice. I definetly would not buy a new truck because this industry will thrash it and make sure to justify any equipment you buy which means make sure you have work for the equipment before you purchase it dont assume you will find work for it after you purchase it.

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