Realistic to leave my job

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by TwoGuyswithMowers, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Georgialawn88 makes some solid points. As a legit biz you can in fact expense much overhead. Buying your own health coverage is a huge issue. I have no health coverage. Can't afford it now. Frankly I'm pondering pushing hard at finding a part time job 20-24 hours a week just for health care benefits. Then I'd cut loose all but my top 20 weekly accounts and work applications around the gaps. Commercial lawn maintence bids are insanely lowish here. It is tough to maintain a $35/$40 price point on a average residential property.

    Your spouse flat out needs to have a mindset and mentality and MUST be willing to sacrifice and actually understand the full implications of a family run business.
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  2. PenningsLandscaping

    PenningsLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,853

    Your gross if you factor in all of the other things you get, including your matching 6%, you're way over 100k.

    You'd be stupid to leave your job, it takes years to build a large profitable business. You're pocketing your part time business money now, awesome, but you're going to struggle for years just to get back to near where you are now.

    Have your wife run the business when it starts to grow. Teach her now, work on the weekends, and when the workload gets too much, have her work during the week.
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  3. PenningsLandscaping

    PenningsLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,853

    And you don't even have a passion for it? And you want to quit a great job for it? You crack me up
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  4. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,083

    I don't like the sound of two things:

    1) "I chose lawn care because it was so easy to get into"
    2) "I know a lot about/enjoy the business side of things"

    These two statements do NOT go together.

    did you actually DO research in the green industry?
    what do you know about lawns, turf, chem, weeds, machines?
    how did you get any training?
    do you think we are all just guys who push mowers and there isn't anything to it?

    I would STOP right now, don't cut a single lawn more.
    Spend some money and TIME researching a side business and not just go for one you "believe" is easy entry, because you obviously know very little about what you have chosen to sink time and money into.
  5. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Youth is wasted on the young.

    We grow old too fast and we grow smart too slow.

    A unscientific study shows that most people that start a landscaping business are not leaving high paying jobs with great benefits and pensions.

    We do not mind the hard labor because with enough customers we will make good money.

    Most new people do not realize that it will take many many years of making little money till one gets there.

    Then with a small window of being open to make good money before we are too old to keep doing the hard work.

    Then to start a business where you are not into the work shows the will may not be there to keep working when things are tough.

    Last, the "twoguyswithmowers" name. Is twoguys working solo or does he have a partner.
  6. TwoGuyswithMowers

    TwoGuyswithMowers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    I reread my original post and I don't believe I said I know a lot about the business side. I did say that's the part I like... that's the fun part. I don't claim to be some sort of expert. I have tons to learn and I enjoy learning it.

    I didn't do tons of research before I started mowing lawns. I just got some customers and started mowing. I'm a self learner and I'm learning as I go. I do lots of reading now... on lawn care and business.

    I'm not stopping now. It doesn't take a genius to cut someone's grass once a week (luckily for me). I've had some of my customers for a year now and no way I'm telling them I can't help them anymore because I need to stop and do some research. I will openly admit that there is lots that I don't know, but I know enough to keep their grass mowed.

    I got started doing this last year only as a way to make extra money to help pay off debt and it turns out that I liked it. But if it so happens that I never take it any further than that, I plan on continuing with what I'm doing now until the debt is paid off.

    I do appreciate the feedback I'm getting here. I think I've learned a lot from this site.
  7. TwoGuyswithMowers

    TwoGuyswithMowers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    I actually do have a partner. He was already mowing some lawns when we decided to do it together. We both had different work schedules and it's helped us get things done when we get rained out or have any other scheduling problems.

    He has a new job now though and is getting out after this season. He may still help next year, but will be paid like a helper.

    So next year I'll be only one guy with his wife helping.
  8. Pietro

    Pietro LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 855

    I have a full time job with good bennies and a pension. I used to run a larger scale operation with 3 workers, and 110 accounts. It was too much. Business grossed about 150K a year, but after expenses it wasn't all that much. Each Zero turn was $325 a month(I had 3), Insurance was $1500 a year, managing all of the taxes, paying the workers every week even though I was CONSTANTLY chasing customers for money. Yea can you believe it, the lawn guy gets paid LAST. Then I woke up. I dumped all of my workers, sold a Zero turn, downsized big time. Kept 40 small close range clients that all paid on time. I do them all myself. Best thing I did. With that being said, here is my advice/opinion. Out of 100 "Lawn Maintenance/Landscaping" companies maybe 10 will "Make it Big" and rake in crazy money. I personally feel like this business is tough for you make a living on. Chasing money is something landscapers always have to do I love the supplemental income from it as a side business. Its tough to rely on my clients paying me on time to pay my mortgage. That's why I love my paycheck from work. Its guaranteed. Then I just hustle hard after work and on days off doing my landscaping. Its the best of both worlds.
  9. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Two guys with Mowers:

    Teacher here making 62,000 a year plus massive benefits. Close to 100,000 in a separate 401k that would be in addition to my NYS teacher retirement system. 33 now with only 20 years to work to retire with 30 years.

    I can help you, as I work with/advise lots of young local contractors, and I am exactly in your position, and I decided to keep my profession and still do this on the side.

    A few key ideas to ponder:

    1. Mowing is time/equipment/maintenance intensive. It is also one of the lowest paying areas of the landscaping realm, which is why I went into design/build, and hardscaping. As a teacher I knew that being able to schedule jobs on a Saturday for a 1,000 dollars was going to profit me way more than mowing a ton of jobs for 45 a cut. I get out at 3 but I want to concentrate my effort into one day and not 6 or 7 lawns after work to not hurt my family time. I do a spring cleanup here for 1,000 bucks on my larger estates, in an out in 8 hours, with only about 400 in costs. Key Idea: Concentrate your hourly effort into high paying side work.

    2. During the summer I knock out about 40-50k in gross sales which is easy with a few hardscaping jobs and 4-8 complete landscape installs which sounds awesome right? Wrong. Businesses on average profit about 20% from their gross, after taxes, fuel, insurance, workers comp, etc. So if you gross 100k plan on putting 20 in your pocket and driving a fancy truck as most do on here(I don't advise that) Key Idea: Remember that gross sales sound awesome, but they really don't paint that way in real life. As a side job guy I know what your feeling, your flush with cash from the "extra," and your getting hooked. Its like a drug. Be careful, I did a huge hardscaping job for 30k a few summers ago and almost quit my job, problem is the next few years I had nothing that large. I also took a real hard look at those numbers and when I finally looked in an unbiased way I realized I would have a hard time living off that money. You can make numbers up that even you can fool yourself with. BE CAREFUL.

    3. This is the tough one to hear so I am going to break it to you softly. It looks like all fun and easy, riding a mower, smelling the spring time, being your own boss, but there are really hard days owning your own legit business. You will stare straight back into the office and wish you were in AC not fixing another breakdown. Take it from me, running a small business is easy the first few years, and its awesomely exciting. But if you really are going to work as hard as you say to make the money you say you are going to make, you will be putting in more hours and trading a lot more. Key Idea: Life is about tradeoffs, everyone thinks being a business owner is easy, the truth is, it is risky, time consuming, and you might just lose all your free time. Make a list if the things you would give up to have your own business, and you will see it is a tougher decision that it feels like right now.

    4. Do yourself a huge favor, shadow a few full time landscapers/business owners for a few days and see what it is like. Do a few days with someone in the hectic spring, then do a few in the slow winter and see what that is like. My entire family is contractors/self employed in some form or another, and I see the stress and tired on their faces. Owning your own is tiresome. Do you want to work that much? Key Idea: You need to see past your own limits, before you make a huge step.

    Now with all that being said, I travel a lot, and we Americans have it all wrong. Our culture places too much emphasis on the dollar amount at the end of our name. Please be careful with advise on this site, because for most of the people you post to, 80,000 plus is a dream. You have to do what is right for you. Life is about passion, and feeling good about what you are doing, but we need money to survive. We work too hard, in jobs we hate, to buy **** we don't need, to impress people who don't care. You want to avoid that. If you really want to make the switch, try giving it a few years get a bit bigger to see where the stress points are, and try to stay open minded. I talk about switching all the time and my wife reminds me how good I have it.

    I work 180 days a year teaching, and make an average pay, with great benefits after 10 years of working. Sure I get bored and my job is stressful, but I realize that anything you do for side work is going to seem glamorous. I still don't know if I will make it 20 more years doing this and I don't know if I will make the jump. I just realize that when I start day dreaming I never seem to think about the tradeoffs. My wife says all the time the grass is always greener!

    Side note: If you are just after the money: If average businesses have profited 20% since time immemorial (look up the stats), then how does that compare to the almost 10% return in the stock market for doing nothing? You could take your extra cash, live on less, and throw more into the stock market, and now all your dollars become your employees working day in and day out, making you rich. if you really want a business your choice is: make 10% and do nothing or make 20% and bust your ass, is how I have always explained it to young guys starting out.

  10. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    Your going to take a pay cut. And if you want to keep the wussy hours you have had its going to be a big pay cut. Now if your still interested in mowing lawns then go for it but go in with your eyes open. Your not single which is mistake #1 in many of our eyes cause that limits your hours and the risk you can take.

    Now you are right you can make money mowing. I was unable too with employees but since I eliminated them this year I hit the numbers your dreaming about. And the profit is much better than 20% like 3-4 times that. But my hours would upset a wife big time. It's Sunday I just got home at 9 pm tonight from pruning hedges and tomorrow I'll work till 8-9 pm again most women don't take that too well. So whats driving me this month, well my partner and I are pushing to hit over 30k this month. Few solo ops can talk about numbers like that and it sounds like what you want but its no 40-50 hour a week job. I do that by Thursday evening.

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