Thanks for taking the time to read my post - through reading this post you will notice it goes off in many different directions. Since I'm not writing a book I just wanted to touch base all over the field and hopefully some of the info will help you out. First let me start by saying at the age of 26 I was one of the youngest people running a Northeast branch producing 6.8m for one of the largest companies in the country. After 15 years with the same company I got laid off at the age of 33, but thats another story. Newly married, crazy mortgage, and a pregnant wife, I was a little stressed to say the least. Now, of course in the corporate world your always a little leery of getting laid off- after all, "we're all replaceable" as a regional manager once told me, so I had a few lawns on the side I maintained just in case, only producing a couple hundred a week. The day after I got let go I didn't go and cut grass, I did just the opposite, I hired people to go cut them for me. It was a tough balancing act of income to expenses, but I never once took a loan, line of credit -nothing, no initial debt. This way if it rained or didnt snow or just didnt work out, I didnt have to worry about the monthly payments and destroying my credit. As time went by I knew the only way to really build a truly succesfull firm with staying power was going to come from doing things my competitors didnt do. Easy things such as returning phone calls promptly, prompt estimates and really doing what you say you're going to do, simple stuff. As consumers ourselves we experience it all the time, from the cable guy, phone guy, painter, carpenter, etc....hardly ever on time - just do what you say your going to and as a bonus THE PEOPLE WILL PAY for your services for ever. Of course with that, and probably the most important item that should be number one but cant be taught, is your personality. Your personality is what and should sell. If it cant, the only way you'll be able to get any business is through price, and that my friends is no way to build or maintain a business. There will ALWAYS be somebody cheaper and that is not the type of customer you want. Use your relationships to get started. Take a chance, provide a great value, not price, for your services. Now with great referrals through excellent work ( because your getting paid for it) you can now really continue to grow your company while maintaining quality because you have the time to see your crews and just as important MEET with your customers. Alright - I'm tired - kinda quick and not to thought out but you get the idea.