Starting with little or no cash?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Jeep_guy, Mar 23, 2003.

  1. Jeep_guy

    Jeep_guy LawnSite Member
    from SouthPA
    Messages: 3

    Hi everyone! great site. lots of good info here.
    I've been mowing lawns on the side for years, just like alot of other ppl. But I was actually thinking of building it from a side job, into a good part time business for me to run. maybe even someday a full time gig.

    Here's the deal, I have no startup cash. Just some good equipment I've gotten over the years, ( a few mowers, trimmers etc..) and a truck. And I have a few customers I've been taking care of for sometime. Does anyone have any advice for me? Is it possible to start really small, just with what I have and build it up? I would think it's possible, (nothing is impossible) :)
    But it will take some time, but I'm ok with that, I enjoy my current job, it's good for now. But I'd like something more.

    ANy ideas? should I get insurance if it's just part time stuff?
  2. robert payer

    robert payer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    Jeep guy,

    Insurance is cheap.

    Have you considered using credit for start up capital?
  3. Jeep_guy

    Jeep_guy LawnSite Member
    from SouthPA
    Messages: 3

    About how cheap is insurance? And what would I have it cover? does it protect me in case a rock flies out from my mower & breaks a window?

    I have good credit, but I just got married. And with the house payment, truck payment, and all the other regular bills, it would be too much for me to take on another payment each month.
  4. Ritcheous1

    Ritcheous1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    We're in almost the same boat your in. we're looking to start part-time but had no equipment and only a small amount of cash to get going. We recently purchased 2 used bob-cat wb, 1 48" and the other a 36", paid 1,200 for both and they run well, think we lucked out. There are plenty of deals to find, we got both of them on ebay. We're just getting the basics for now, as cheap as we can get for startup. I think there are many possibilities for you. You say you have some equipment already and some accounts.
    Let your current customers know that your planning to expand the business. Word of mouth should get you going as well as sending out fliers etc. Also, when business picks up, and the accounts are there, then look into possible credit purchases, build as you go! I'm looking to get insurance soon, gonna keep reading the posts, good luck!! :D
  5. Paradise Landscapes

    Paradise Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 959


    I'm new to the site. My name is Charles Miller from Warren, OH
    15 mins. From Youngstown.

    I have no money, 4,000.00 visa credit card, bought insurance that ran me 833.00 for 6 mos. due to my lead foot license suspention.
    Truck repair on my 1/2 ton 500.00 Advertizing 1,000.00
    also bought a used 6.6' X 12 Open trailer for 800.00.

    I'm jumping in with my own 2 feet going for my business. No one will hire me (other Landscapers) I said forget them!! I'm going on my own!!

    My eqiupment:
    1989 Chevy Std 2wd Pu 1500 series
    1995 52" WB GD Exmark
    21" Toro
    Bought last year mr T260 Shindiawa Trimmer.
    6.6 X 12' Trailer

    My trimmer saves me a lotta gas. I used others, under powered and took up more refills than my Trimmer.
  6. Jeep_guy

    Jeep_guy LawnSite Member
    from SouthPA
    Messages: 3

    Thanks alot for all the replies. I hope everyone has a great year this season, and can stay on your feet. Do regular insurance companies carry the insurance needed? I mean, exactly, what type of insurance do I need? Is it to protect my customers property? I already have insurance on my truck.
  7. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,915

    It may vary with some states and their laws, but generally, you will need commercial insurance on your truck. It's different than regular auto insurance. It's for vehicles used for the business, it also doesn't matter if it's your personal vehicle. You use it for the business, you will need a commercial policy. Not getting a commercial policy is definitely a risk. Some here take that risk, the intelligent ones don't.

    Next, a business policy which usually carries a million dollar liability policy. We happen to have a two million dollar policy. It varies from company to company. Size of the company will dictate this, but most solo's here seem to have at least one million. Pretty much any insurance company should have these commercial policies available to you. I would check starting with your current insurance provider.

    Doesn't matter if you are full-time or part-time, insurance is a must. Unless you like to gamble and/or cheat the system, that's your choice. Doing what it takes to be a legitimate company is the only way to go. Anything less is unacceptable. Without knowing your costs on these things, you cannot price correctly and therefore are a menace to this industry. This is how we arrive at the problems of people underbidding work and bringing down the market.

    If you are not prepared to pay for these expenses at the time of doing business, you should not start or continue the business. Just because you are tapped out with house, marriage, and truck, doesn't make it o.k. to not have insurance. The numbers your service is priced at should generate the revenue needed to cover your insurance costs per month, therefore making it feasiable to have insurance. If you cannot afford insurance and are currently mowing lawns, don't you think something is wrong?

    Cost wise, your insurance premiums will be based off the value of your equipment, coverages you will want (1 million, 2 million, etc..) and I would imagine past history with insurance companies.

    Lastly, you should consider what will happen to that home of yours should something tragic happen while mowing a lawn. It is very possible that a stone could come from that mower, make it's way across the street into a little child's eye, and you will then be living on the street. Accidents do happen, regardless of variables involved, and you need to be covered should that day come.

    Take your time and do this right. Get what it takes to be legal and safe. If you need to hold back another season to save money from your job, then so be it. Good luck with it and do things right.

  8. Gr grass n Hi tides

    Gr grass n Hi tides LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    You will need general liability for your company (L.L.C., Inc., etc.), liability for your auto & trailer, of course, and probably a certificate for workers comp coverage. You can get coverage for your equipment if you like, which is pretty cheap - maybe $100 - $200 per year depending on how much of it you want to cover. Coverages for equipment vary a lot, so ask specific questions & show your insurance agent your equipment list.

    The general liability covers your business in case an accident happens, like your mower throwing a rock and hitting someone in the head. My 1M/2M policy for the year was $550.

    Your auto coverage probably automatically picks up the trailer, but check with your insurance agent to be certain. If you do have an accident on the road your general liability might kick in to pay a claim too, but again check with your agent.

    If you plan on handling commercial accounts (e.g. for real estate agencies, shopping centers) they will probably require the certificate for workers comp. If they are smart they will. My understanding is that if you are a sole proprietor run business you can waive comp for yourself (for my personal coverage it was $3,000 for one year). Just don't get hurt, or better be sure and have good health insurance. Having the certificate is "piece of mind" for the person you're working for. Mine cost $850 for the year. Our comp rates in this state may run different than yours, but once again check with your agent. With the policy I have I can pay a part timer $8,000 this year without coming out of pocket for any more comp coverage.
  9. jwilson32

    jwilson32 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 64

    I have general liability and it ran me $200 for the year which covers up to 2mil.
  10. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 768

    Yes, it's possible to start with almost nothing, that's how I started my business. With the lawn service you can start with minimal equipment, but as soon as you start getting busy it should be a priority to get better equipment. I used some really old Snapper mowers for a while, because I got them cheap, but I lost money in the long run, when the mowers would break down in the middle of a job and I'd have to go across town to take it back to the shop, and sometimes I'd have to wait a week or longer to get it fixed. I don't even have decent equipment to this day, but that's mainly because of poor planning and the fact that I've quit the business a few times and had to start over, like I am this year. I was able to keep up with at least 30 residential with 2 21" mowers, one Snapper with a "commercial" Tecumseh (I would not reccomend a Tecumseh to anyone) and a John Deere 14SB with a Kawasak, that I picked up used for $200. It looked like hell, but I really needed a mower to replace my Honda Harmony (I wouldn't reccomend a Honda, unless it is a more expensive commercial one) and I figured for $200 I'd be happy if it lasted a couple of more months. The Kawasaki is a great engine. I've had almost no problems with it, and it still runs good after years. The self-propel on the John Deere kept breaking, however, and the aluminum deck got a hole in it. This is why I'd reccomend a Snapper for a 21". The traction can slip on hills, but the self-propel doesn't break much, and they seem to be built better than the John Deere I had. Anyway, in addition to my mowers, all I had was usually 1 trimmer, a Shindawa T27, and after that got stolen, an Echo 26cc. Both trimmers were great and hardly ever broke down on me. I used a cheap WeedEater blower, which I hated, and got a handheld Echo later, which was decent for blowing off driveways. So, for a minimum setup, I've proven you could handle at least 30 residential accounts (if the yards aren't too big) for around $400 for the cheapest Snapper with self-propel, $400 for a 26cc line trimmer, and $150 for a blower, and that's still less than $1,000 brand new, and all fits in the back of even a small truck.

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