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The in's and out's of starting a new business

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by sweetland, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. sweetland

    sweetland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,441

    Hi guys I have worked for a grounds crew for three years now and I have always used the biggest and best equipment never having to worry about contracts or billing or anything. I was hoping people could give me some pointers on what equipment I should have to start off and how to collect payment and so on. Just some simple things to get me off to a great start would be great, thanks guys
  2. AzLawnMan

    AzLawnMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    I hope you dont take this the wrong way but, what makes you think that because you have worked in the business, that you can now run one? I mean I worked side by side with my dad for 10 years never having to worry about all the things you also mentioned. When he was ready to leave and I was buying the company, we had a 2 year plan on me learning the books, billing and dealing with customers. I must say I am 3 years in flying solo and am still learning the in's and out's of the business side of this. Everyone thinks that they can mow a lawn, and they can, but not everyone can run a company big or small. I have 8 full time employees, and along with operating the "mowing" side of the company I also do all the books. I must say, I spend around 10-12 hrs a day running the crews, then I come home and spend another 4-6 hours doing paperwork, billing and all the things that come along with "running" my company. I just see alot of guys get into this business and really hurt themselves, either by not being organized, not paying taxes or falling behind that they have to pay some one to get there books back in order, which is very costly. I was lucky enough to have my dad go through all that by the time I came around, it was pretty much written down, I just had to follow the directions.
  3. sweetland

    sweetland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,441

    Dont worry i didnt take that the wrong way. I agree that everyone thinks they can just mow laws and thats it and thats not where i am coming from i never said that i thought i could run one just because i have experience. The only thing i know is that i can do a good job quality wise but i need help with where to start on the business end of things which is why i came here asking for some advice. Im also not an idiot who is going to take on a million clients my first week and im not going to hire anoyone just myself and my dad to help out, i want to start off slow and learn the ropes the right way so i can attempt to build it into a fully running company where i wouldnt be the only employee like i am planning on now. I just need some suggestions on things which will send me off to do my research thats all.
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  4. sdk1959

    sdk1959 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 909

    Whether you stay solo or expand to using crews do not start out with monthly billing. Some drawbacks are: Much more record keeping of who paid who didn't, your money is tied up all month, limits cash flow, expense of mailing invoices, deadbeats who don't pay.

    Get paid after every service. If you keep a consistent schedule your customers will have a check waiting for you the day of service. Should you get off schedule because of rain a simple phone call the day before service to your customer and they will have a check ready for you.

    Monthly billing is much more suitable to a large operation that offers several services (fert, landscaping, snow removal, irrigation) and will bill their customers 12 months out of the year to spread out the payments. Your not there yet.

    The K.I.S.S. method works for most business endeavors. It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid if you didn't know. Don't make things more complicated than they should be. Good luck in your business.:)
  5. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    your best bet is to start with a business plan. Start doing some research on what is needed to put a solid business plan together...you will answer your questions and in good detail.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I agree, you need a plan.
  7. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

  8. Stevegotcrabgrass

    Stevegotcrabgrass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    I bet 95% of most LCO's don't KNOW how to run a business. I bet most of them can get by though. To be honest, the billings and book keeping will be cake in most service businesses. But that is me who has experience RUNNING business which are more complex. I agree with the above post. Work hard and be smart and you will be okay. American drive. Do it legal and keep asking questions.

    My advice now:
    I only recently started also. 33" troy bilt wb (is it commercial? who knows but it cuts) a weed wacker, a blower, a trailer and a truck. I have a 21" as a backup.
    If it cuts you can start with it. Efficiency might be less than desirable, but thats where hard work comes in.

    As far as billing, set yourself up on something as simple as an excel spreadsheet and keep track of all expenses as they can be used to offset revenues to arrive at net income (i.e. taxable income) Get insurance and get licensed in your state. Keep it simple. Weekly billing, monthly billing all depends on your business needs. I don't feel a general answer is correct for all businesses as each business often faces its own issues. I bill every 15th and expect payment in 15 days. I asses a late fee for accounts with outstanding balances over 30 days. Keep an open mind and ear though and know your customers. Know that joe the mechanic just lost his job and might need some time to get on his feet. Maybe give him some slack. He might tell 20 people how you helped him out. I can go on forever.
  9. sweetland

    sweetland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,441

    thanks guys your imput has been very helpful. How do you suggest I get clients? I was thinking about flyers with my card on it and putting them in peoples mail boxes is this pushing it or a good idea?
  10. Stevegotcrabgrass

    Stevegotcrabgrass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    My recommendation is word of mouth. Start with your neighbors and do a great job and pay attention to detail. Take pride in what you do. Treat every lawn as if you were cutting the lawn of the girl you really wanted to bang in high school. If you do good work your business should grow on it's own. Get your name out there too. Look professional. Decal your truck nice. Operate clean equipment and keep a polished look to yourself and your crew (if applicable)

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