Office tips for someone starting out?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by NewbieOwner, Apr 26, 2002.

  1. NewbieOwner

    NewbieOwner LawnSite Member
    from Alberta
    Messages: 61

    Hey folks,

    As some of you know, I'm just getting into this owner side of the buisness (relocated, no half-way respectable landscape maintenance outfits here; and I can't get a decent job with just my h.s. education)

    I did search the forums, found some good advice... Others I question, but figure since no-one else was, I must just not understand...

    I'm going to be starting out as a 1 man operation, my wife will handle the $ side of the buisness (and also offer 'office' services) We've got 3 computers (including the microsoft office), internet access etc. (Ok so the office part we're pretty good for, we've already got more than most small offices)

    I scrounged the $ for my buisness license, and insurance (had to go with 1000$ deductible, not that I can afford it, but at least its better than having to pay the whole shot for a big claim)

    What I'm not sure about is getting my name/number out there, How to estimate yards, what price range I should be looking at. Also, I know NOTHING of buisness administration...

    I'd love to go buy those books that were mentioned in previous posts, but my $ is soo limited right now I can't afford to even change my mind!

  2. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Messages: 3,256

    Well when you can afford it (like $11 US), look for a book by Owen E. Dell called "How To Start A Home Based Landscape Business". Get the third edition, it's the newest one.

    It'll get ya started at least.
  3. John Allin

    John Allin LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,488

    Oh man... I can just see some of the members fuming while reading THIS thread.....

    You're entering the industry for all the wrong reasons.... and your business plan is abit thin......

    Ok.... that said... you've probably come to the right place to get some education. However, all the advice in the world won't suffice for some hard education. Buy the book mentioned above. Borrow the money if you have to... at least it's a start. Can't afford even that?? How you going to acquire equipment.....

    Alright then, try the library. They have lots of business books. Go there every night for two hours and read anything you can get your hands on about "business". Maybe even the book noted above is there and you can then get access to it for free. Read, read, read. You can be self educated. There are hundreds of books that will assist you in 1) advertising, 2) accounting, 3) home based business's, 4) marketing on a shoestring, 5) motivation, 6) any number of other topics related to business. You'll also likely find books on landscaping too. READ all of them.

    And, go ask questions from your new competitors. Pick the largest one and go ask questions. You may get turned away, but then go ask another. That's "networking".... If you have to, drive two hours to the next big town, and ask someone there (you'll be no threat to someone that far away, so they may be more open to the discussion).

    Most of all... be a PROFESSIONAL, not a scrub.

    Good luck.
  4. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Actually, I'm not fuming. haha. I guess it was the "I did search the forums, found some good advice..." that made me feel better.

    I've offered him some things via email. He's in Canada not Memphis. :D

    So Newbie, check your email.
  5. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Sell two of your computers... you only need one.

    Read "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber.... It's $11.20 from Amazon! Plus s/h

    You have an advantage just starting out - if you think about working ON your business instead of IN the business - long term, you'll be much further ahead. When you start working ON your business, you'll realize that you need a lot of education (that goes for anyone... as it's a continuing process, not a one time shot). Invest in your education - as much as you can afford. Your worth ethic should translate to learning ethic - as you should find yourself just as interested if not more so interested to learn than you are to run your business and do the work. The learning is what will make your life easier down the road.

    Good luck.
  6. eslawns

    eslawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    Sell two of your computers... you only need one.

    I disagree. And get a ZIP dirve so you can share information between them. Also, keep a backup of all data relevant to your business. When you face an almost inevitable hard drive crash, you will be glad you did it.

    Most of the people who do this started out with no business plan, but if you expect to stay with it, you will need to develop one. You can find dozens of books to help with this. If cash is tight, go to the library.

    Have a backup plan for work and equipment which goes bad. One thing clients don't like is when you don't show because a mower broke, or you were chasing bad debt (or checks). They may understand once, but it's better to have a backup machine.

    Know your market. Decide who you want your clients to be and do your best to serve their needs. Personally, I've found the more wealthy people to be the worst clients, with middle and upper middle class folks to be the best.

    Continue educating yourself about business, in general, and your business, in particular. Use those 3 computers to determine whether, and where, you make money. Good luck.
  7. NewbieOwner

    NewbieOwner LawnSite Member
    from Alberta
    Messages: 61

    I'll have to go hunt down the library, even the smallest town has one I'm sure! Didn't even think about that!

    I don't think I could get away with selling 2 of the computers, the family would kill me :D One is the AnkleBiters, the other is the wifes. All three are networked, all are able to use our scanner laser printer, fax modem, and cable modem (kids computer is restricted from the modems) Oh, and the digital camera and webcam (Like I said we've got the computing resources)

    I have been working slowly on a buisness plan. I've never done one before, so I'm really having to think and rethink my way through it.

    On the surface, I may be entering the industry w/ the wrong reasons, but truth be told I was thinking about trying it out on my own for the last 2 years of landscaping. But at that time I was thinking of taking some education to help... (of course I could never find time or money for the courses...)

    Right now, I'm working in a "save every penny" mode, I'll grab those books later (or borrow them from the library) Because I still have to buy equipment, and my budget is TIGHT. Spending money on a couple books, which might be needed later for gas or equipment repairs seems a bit foolish.

    I do know my competitors, I met them when I first came to this town, at the time I was shopping for employment. Even if I had been offered a job, I wouldn't work for them. (Both would probably make your heads spin, lowballers of super low quality) They also completely focus on the commercial side of buisness.

    I'll go price out quickbooks later today, see how badly it puts me in the hole...

    Thanks 65Hoss! Check your email!

  8. heygrassman

    heygrassman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 509

    Newbie: Email me ( your address and I will mail my copy of "how to start.." You can have it..I did not care for it but I knew a lot of the stuff in there. Would prolly be good for you ..

    I do strongly suggest the business plan.. I am a hypocrit becase mine is not done but I can either book jobs and learn the ropes or work on the plan.. I chose learning the ropes, but i am working at it piece by piece. It is a great idea. You start learning alot of stuff..

    Good Luck.

  9. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Messages: 3,256

    Andrew if you don't even have equipment yet, what are you doing worrying about buying Quickbooks? Without equipment you don't have customers, without customers what are you going to enter into that Quickbooks program?

    Get equipment, get customers, get an $8 desktop calendar and write what jobs you did on what day on the calendar. At the end of the month use whatever program came with one of those computers to create invoices to send out (my pc came with microsoft works already in it). This worked for me last year and will start me off this year until I decide which progam I want to buy this year.
  10. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    Andrew ... Are you the fellow that emailed me from the "fort" ?

    Lots of oil money there but the cost of living is high. What brings you up there?

    Your quite a bit north of me .. .. Try to get your name out to the oil companys doing anything regarding Landscaping .... Do you have a 4 wheeler and a trailer? We got offered some watering jobs of trees that they had to replace when doing a job. We were much to busy and it was probably a 6 hour drive for us. You know them though is no object.

    I'll keep my ears open for you.

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