Bobcat, I deffinitly learned the hard way with those leaf jobs, I way under bid on my first year, now, I walk the property and kick up leaves all over place just to see how thick, wet, or clumped down they are. You are on the right track, over 50% of my business is word of mouth. As for equipment, always keep your eyes open, yard sales, craigslist, ebay,etc. Always have backup equipment as something will break sooner or later. Last years, I had 4 blowers, 6 rakes, etc, now down to 2 blowers and 2 rakes, as the others broke. Got to get more rakes!