New guy, am I crazy?

Eric Wi

LawnSite Member
Location
Wisconsin
Hey folks, I'm new around here. New to the scene, new to the site, new all around. Let me give some background. I'm a 38 year old married father of 4, and have always been our families sole income. My work, since graduating High School, has always been IT...and I've HATED it for the last 10 years, but with bills to pay and a family to feed I couldn't make any changes that could jeopardize our livelihoods. I currently gross 55k a year, have health and vacation and all that. It's not a bad job, but I'm also not happy.

Come December my wife will graduate and be making more than I currently do, probably more than I ever will in IT (no degree keeps me from moving much farther up). She will have similar benefits as I have now and can take all of those over...so I've been mulling a change. Looking for something I can do outside, that keeps me active and gives me freedom.

My plan: I have an 18x7' utility trailer (new last year) that I will be using to start. I've got a nice Echo 755ST backpack blower, an Echo 225 with a trimmer and edger heads, some equipment defender racks, a nice pressure washer, and my next purchase (the one that gives me pause) is a 52" V-Ride II. I intend to start small this spring/summer with a handfull of customers, as a side gig, and get some experience running the buisness under my belt as well as turning lawncare into more than just a dad passtime. I have no delusions that I'll replace my income in the first, or second year...but am I crazy for making this change? How feasible is it to think I might be able to replace my current income (and hopefully surpass it) in a few years time? I'm a hard worker, true to my word, and love to learn ways to improve.

Future plans are to get a bigger truck, currently have a 1500 but would like to get a 2500 with either a dump bed or a dump insert. Build a box and get a billygoat or something for leaf cleanup in the fall. Replace my open utility trailer with an enclosed trailer, and toss a plow on the truck for winter income.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
Welcome aboard. If you want to build an empire with lots of employees, just search through all the threads regarding finding employees. But there is no reason you shouldn't be able to replace your income as a solo if you learn how to pride your work properly. Learning how to be efficient is key. Not a lot of profit in just mowing unless you have a very tight route. More margins in landscape work. An 18ft trailer is quite large to pull around with one mower, I pull a 7x14 and wouldn't want bigger for my operation. You can't go wrong with the V ride if you have mostly flat land. I just picked up the tiger cat 2 that is on special myself.

Search for posts by @Hurryupelectric on how he did his door to door marketing. He had door hangers made, and walked neighborhoods he wanted to mow in. He only left a door hanger at yards with few obstacles and hassles. He wrote a mow quote for that property so if that person called him, it's a hot lead and they have a higher close rate. If you only have part time this year to learn the ropes, you can't take everything.

There's good info here. Some guys with tons of experience come across as harsh, just realize they have the experience many don't.
 

Mac-s Lawn & Snow

LawnSite Bronze Member
Welcome to Lawnsite, and hey even if you are crazy you might fit right in here. Didn't see you asking for any advice and I don't know your market(unless your from Soup town) but try and hold off on buying that v-ride until you have some accounts. Espicially if you will need a 30" or 36" class mower get that first. Figure out how much lead time the dealer needs to get his hands on the v-ride.
 

Capt J-rod

LawnSite Senior Member
Start small and work your way up. I would begin with an accountant and start a business for tax purposes. Everything comes in stages, being a one man band is pretty simple. Add an employee or two and things get pretty crazy pretty fast. Realize that vacations and weekends become very difficult when people are expecting service. 3/4 ton trucks are only needed when plowing snow, or moving equipment that weighs more than the truck can comfortably stop aka bobcat or mini excavator. Enclosed trailers are a curse and a blessing. They keep your equipment out of the weather, but are less utility for hauling mulch and such. Finally remember to work for yourself, not for the bank that owns your truck, trailer, mower, etc... It took me 10 years of running my rentals to get a dump trailer and good equipment. There are guys with a push mower and a ford ranger that net more income at the end of the year than a big outfit that borrowed their way to the top.
 
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Eric Wi

LawnSite Member
Location
Wisconsin
Mac, I've got a nice honda push mower that I'll use for any lawns with gates I can't get through with the V-Ride but around here the lionshare of fenced in yards have big 6' gates. I'm a research nerd and always try to see things from every angle before I make a move.

Capt, I'll actually be going into this completely 100% debt free. My only current debt is my house. My truck (2017) is paid off, my trailer and other equipment were bought and paid off over winter, and the mower will be bought outright with cash. I formed an LLC last year when my wife and I started kicking around the idea me being able to make a big change once she's done with school and started a DBA here in my state (Wisconsin). I have an accountant that took care of our taxes this year that work for a firm that offers all of the services I may need (if I need). I wont be borrowing a penny, and every dime I make for the next 2 years will be reinvested into the business as my M-F full time gig will still pay all the bills and stuff. I guess I've been planning on making some drastic changes for a lot longer than I realized because it feels like every financial move I've made for the last several years has led me to the point of being able to do this without borrowing.
 
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Eric Wi

LawnSite Member
Location
Wisconsin
Thanks Youngandfree, I only recently found this page but I've been trying to soak up as much information as I can. There seem to be a lot of great resources here! I do plan on expanding to other services, but as a side gig I'm not sure I'm in a position to take a lot more than straight up mowing/trimming and cleanups on just yet. Like you said, I'll take the time while it's a side gig to learn the hustle! Good advice :)
 

Mac-s Lawn & Snow

LawnSite Bronze Member
Thanks Youngandfree, I only recently found this page but I've been trying to soak up as much information as I can. There seem to be a lot of great resources here! I do plan on expanding to other services, but as a side gig I'm not sure I'm in a position to take a lot more than straight up mowing/trimming and cleanups on just yet. Like you said, I'll take the time while it's a side gig to learn the hustle! Good advice :)
What's your ideal number of accounts you would like to have your first year with a fulltime job?
 

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