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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm trying to get everything legitimized and get an LLC and get license and all that kind of stuff, but the only thing holding me back is 4 years of verifiable experience which I do not have. It looks like I won't be able to do any work over $1,000 without this licensing, and my prices and size of jobs are starting to grow a lot bigger than they were a couple months ago. I'm starting to get calls about doing all kinds of projects that that would exceed the $1,000 limit range.

So if I spread Rock and it's 1200 bucks I'm not legally allowed to do it, seems kind of crazy and I'm sure I'll get tons of backlash on this cuz I know there's all kinds of small things that people can screw up on but this is not going to be a workable business model if I have to go work for somebody else or do a bunch of piddly jobs for the next 4 years. I have a welding degree and have spent 6 years in the field and I was considering doing welding over Landscaping but the Landscaping boom hit so big this monsoon season and there was so much work around that I just took advantage of it and made a bunch of money in the process, so I figured maybe this would be the way to go, but maybe I'm wrong and I should just go back to welding which is going to cost me a lot of time and money to set everything up since I just moved and I don't have a shop, but I don't want to be stuck making 200 bucks a day or less when I could be making alot more doing bigger jobs.

I guess weeding out the shysters is what the licensing does, but I have been on plenty construction sites that proves that isn't true. All in all, life is too short to wait that long to make good money and I gotta figure out what direction is best. Any thoughts?
 

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Just go sole proprietor, a DBA license, go to your city website and find out what it takes to be a painter, or power washer, just be a 'yard man' for that time period. What state are you in?
 

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In Oregon, just to apply for and take the licensing exams, you have to prove 2 years of working for a licensed landscape contractor, or four years doing lawn maintenance. I assume this is the same in AZ?
I was lucky enough to just get into landscaping solo on the side for a several years, not really taking it seriously as a career. By the time I decided to get licensed, I already had the history of jobs and clients necessary to vouch for me so that I could apply for the license.
Not sure what I would have done. But you might be wise to work for another LCO for two years. Might seem like a long time, but you would likely learn a lot about what you do and don't want to do.
Otherwise I guess you have to fly under the radar. I am not here to judge you on that decision, I'll let other guys on here and your local competitors decide that.
 

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Pardon my ignorance, but what type of "license" are you guys referring to?
Personally, I am referring to an Oregon Landscape Contractor's License, which allows me to do hardscape, irrigation, fencing, water features, planting, landscape lighting etc. Someone doing landscape maintenance only, does not need this license, and technically they are allowed to do some of the above work to the limit of $500 per client per year.
I am not exactly sure to what license the OP is referring to, but I assumed something similar.
 

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Personally, I am referring to an Oregon Landscape Contractor's License, which allows me to do hardscape, irrigation, fencing, water features, planting, landscape lighting etc. Someone doing landscape maintenance only, does not need this license, and technically they are allowed to do some of the above work to the limit of $500 per client per year.
I am not exactly sure to what license the OP is referring to, but I assumed something similar.

Im in the Kansas City area. I just googled what the Oregon Landscape Contractor's License is. LOL. What a worthless money grab by the state. Pruning a tree requires a license? So basically, if a customer says, " can you remove those 2 lower branches that I just banged my head into", according to their website you can't do it with a "license"?
 

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I'm in PA (sole proprietorship) and I've never heard of any paid licensing required, but I'm just doing lawn care, not landscaping.
We must have a contractor's license if we "build" things. It's either free, or $50 or something - just paperwork, no "experience requirement".
I got that when I first started, but never renewed it because nothing I do falls under it.
 

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Im in the Kansas City area. I just googled what the Oregon Landscape Contractor's License is. LOL. What a worthless money grab by the state. Pruning a tree requires a license? So basically, if a customer says, " can you remove those 2 lower branches that I just banged my head into", according to their website you can't do it with a "license"?
In my state you need to be a licensed arborist to prune trees, but nobody cares if you cut a few low limbs. Now if you were holding yourself out as a tree expert and advertising tree pruning services it's a different story.
 

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the Landscaping boom hit so big this monsoon season and there was so much work around that I just took advantage of it and made a bunch of money in the process, so I figured maybe this would be the way to go
Boom > Bust.
It sounds as if you see a current demand that could lead to lots of easy money for you. If this is a real opportunity, do not think that you are the only person to see it and to jump on the "opportunity" leading to a greater of people competing for the same amount of work. Be cautious.

Have you researched exactly what work you can do without a license or with a license requiring less experience? Generally any license that would require "4 years of verifiable experience" would be for work that actually does require training or experience. Even if you think you know how to do the work, there is a good chance that you do not know enough to
  • do the work competently
  • do the work efficiently enough to be profitable
  • identify the equipment to enable you to do the work competently and efficiently
Do not downplay the value of training and experience. If you want to get into a line of work that does not require training or experience to do it legally, then identify what it is you could do and pursue that.

Personally, I would think working as a welder would be more lucrative and provide a steadier income stream. If you do not want, or cannot afford, to set up your own welding business, then what about opportunities to work for someone else?
 

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In my state you need to be a licensed arborist to prune trees, but nobody cares if you cut a few low limbs. Now if you were holding yourself out as a tree expert and advertising tree pruning services it's a different story.

The only thing you need to test for and get a license for here in Kansas is pesticides and herbicides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Boom > Bust.
It sounds as if you see a current demand that could lead to lots of easy money for you. If this is a real opportunity, do not think that you are the only person to see it and to jump on the "opportunity" leading to a greater of people competing for the same amount of work. Be cautious.

Have you researched exactly what work you can do without a license or with a license requiring less experience? Generally any license that would require "4 years of verifiable experience" would be for work that actually does require training or experience. Even if you think you know how to do the work, there is a good chance that you do not know enough to
  • do the work competently
  • do the work efficiently enough to be profitable
  • identify the equipment to enable you to do the work competently and efficiently
Do not downplay the value of training and experience. If you want to get into a line of work that does not require training or experience to do it legally, then identify what it is you could do and pursue that.

Personally, I would think working as a welder would be more lucrative and provide a steadier income stream. If you do not want, or cannot afford, to set up your own welding business, then what about opportunities to work for someone else?
Yeah I don't think I could ever go back to working for someone else, the s*** pay and the headache of workplace politics is just too much.what was nice about the Landscaping is that since there are so many yards to do that once I work for a week or two I get recommended to a bajillion other people.

Yeah I'm kind of in between a rock and a hard place, I wish I would have had a couple years experience doing this with somebody else, because I think I'd be absolutely killing it right now, but I have zero background and Landscaping. There seems to be so much work out there, and most of the competition out here seems to be very low quality.

I remember looking at solo operations/inexperienced guys do fencing in welding and it was mind-blowing how bad the quality was and the mistakes they made that were so rookie. I would hate to be the landscaping version of that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Im in the Kansas City area. I just googled what the Oregon Landscape Contractor's License is. LOL. What a worthless money grab by the state. Pruning a tree requires a license? So basically, if a customer says, " can you remove those 2 lower branches that I just banged my head into", according to their website you can't do it with a "license"?
I painted some fascia board on a house and I talked about it on a contractors forum and they lost their ****ing minds that I was scraping older lead based paint without a contractors license. One dude called me a scab worker. Somewhere there's a separation between liability/the law and beurocratic strangulation. I get both sides, but I also smoked cigarettes for ten years and I'm sure something Monsanto related will kill me before my heart gives out.
 

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In my state there is a license that supposedly if you put anything into the ground landscaping wise (making it real property) you have to have a license as well. I’ve been in this biz almost 30 years and only learned about this roughly 3 years ago right befor Covid. No experience just pay it which tells me all I need to know that it’s a money grab like most things. I no longer do installations.
 

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I wish I would have had a couple years experience doing this with somebody else, because I think I'd be absolutely killing it right now,

Time for a wake up call bro...
You gotta love doing this stuff, and be a great business person to "kill" it..
I'm not being pessimistic, because I think I maybe I was once where you are now. I did some stuff under the radar, like many others probably did, but you will never "kill it" unless you are properly licensed to do the work you want do. Sure you may make some damn good money on a job or two, but then that will get absorbed by some bad losses and empty weeks waiting for work to come in. Bite the bullet however that looks, set a reasonable timeframe for yourself to be successful and it will happen.
We are not all old naysaying codgers on this forum. Most, or many of us worked hard and smart and made the right decisions to attain longevity in this business. It's not as hard as it sounds to be patient and make the right decisions. I have known many guys who were "absolutely killing it" the last 20 years in the landscape industry, and none of them are still around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Time for a wake up call bro...
You gotta love doing this stuff, and be a great business person to "kill" it..
I'm not being pessimistic, because I think I maybe I was once where you are now. I did some stuff under the radar, like many others probably did, but you will never "kill it" unless you are properly licensed to do the work you want do. Sure you may make some damn good money on a job or two, but then that will get absorbed by some bad losses and empty weeks waiting for work to come in. Bite the bullet however that looks, set a reasonable timeframe for yourself to be successful and it will happen.
We are not all old naysaying codgers on this forum. Most, or many of us worked hard and smart and made the right decisions to attain longevity in this business. It's not as hard as it sounds to be patient and make the right decisions. I have known many guys who were "absolutely killing it" the last 20 years in the landscape industry, and none of them are still around.
Your right, and I am not saying I'm killing it at all right now, but in a year or two I have no doubt that I wouldn't be with the added experience. Networking and pleasing people enough to continuously get referrals have been cake, but I am turning down jobs because I'm not going to do anything that is too far beyond my ability and Arizona's 1000 dollar limit for unlicensed guys. A hair beyond and I'll do it, but not way beyond...I know I have to take smaller steps to not screw them or me. A big job for me is 1000 bucks right now, but I've passed on larger ones. So far I've been pretty steady at 1000 bucks a week with just line trimming, tree trimming, and blowing.

Alot of these yards turn into "what else can you do?", And it's gut wrenching to say " im unlicensed and am only doing landscape maintenance or very small projects at the moment". It's also a bummer because the average yard is taking me enough time to not be able to do anything else afterwards I so it's limiting my workable hours. I bought a generator and am hoping to fill some time in with repairs, but I'm going at this blindfolded and seeing what works and putting every bit of advice I can into my plan.
 
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