Have you ever come close to almost giving up on your lawn care business?

There are a lot of barriers an entrepreneur faces while running their business. If you find yourself dealing with some heavy issues, keep in mind you are not alone. Here is a collection, from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, of how other business owners deal with forces that try to stop them from succeeding. I hope you see that if they can push through, you can too.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’ve been through a lot in my life and I didn’t give up.
The death of my first child - I didn’t give up and made 5 more.

  • POW for 14 months - I didn’t give up.
  • Almost filed for bankruptcy - I didn’t give up. I worked through it.
  • Went back to school at the age of 50 - I didn’t give up. Earned my BS.
  • Lived through many depressions - I didn’t give up. Things always got better.
  • Been shot twice.

Sure, I’ve had down times, many of them, but that’s life. I never even dreamed that they wouldn’t get better. If you think you are going to fail, you will. If you know you’re going to survive, you will. Build on your past successes and realize you make mistakes so you can learn from them.”

A second business owner shared “the only time I feel useless is when everyone turns against me because I’m too preoccupied with trying to make something of myself. People get in my way, waste my time, and I end up lashing out at them believing they are not even on my list of priorities. My top priority now is my business.

It’s like I’ve gotten used to having a lashing out attitude. I am constantly trying to make people around me be more positive and productive instead of interfering with my life. I’ve given my girlfriend a good shout about how our silly little problems aren’t worth my time and that slowing me down will keep us from a nice future (she has yet to understand this). I also seem to say things to many friends like, ‘if you’re not here to work, I don’t have time for you.’ Which I know is horrible, but I feel like right now, it’s necessary.

I have nothing to lose but the hope in owning a successful business. Everything else can fall apart. In my mind, once the business is doing well, I will give a damn about everything else.”

A third added “my personal opinion is that family and friends need to come first. And family and friends, if they are true friends, will help you along. We probably all have those who use too much of our time, but then I have to ask, are they true friends? I think of my friends as people who I want by my side through thick and thin. I personally believe that if I have no time for them now, I will never want to have time for them. Because if I wait to have time for them until I am successful, then I will think that the only reason they want to be my friend is because they want to mooch off me. And to top it off, at what point do you say ‘I am successful enough to have time for my friends?’”

A fourth said “an old proverb goes like this: ‘A failure is not the man that falls, but the man that falls and doesn’t get back up!’ I am not sure who wrote it but my father told me that once years ago and it stuck. I knew I did not want to be a failure, so every time I fall I get back up, brush myself off, and go at it again.”

A fifth business owner said “about 3 weeks before Mothers day, I was helping another guy cut down a tree. It was the last day we were working on it and we were cleaning up. We finished about 6:30pm.

I had gotten a message earlier from my aunt that lives about 30 minutes away saying that she couldn’t get her lawn mower started and wanted the grass cut. I told her I’d come out and get it done when I finished up on the tree.

So once I was finished, I jumped in my truck and flew out there, 30 minutes, mind you. I was rushing because I was running short on daylight. I got there and started right on the yard, didn’t even talk about how much.

Well, about 15 minutes into cutting I ran across a real thick area and my belt tensioner fell apart. The bearings in it weren’t greased and it went everywhere. So I spent another 10-15 minutes trying to get her push mower started. Finally, it started and I finished the front yard with it.

By this time it’s dark and I can’t edge with my trimmer in the dark, so I load everything back up. She asks how much she owes me, I say, ‘how much can you afford?’ She says, ‘all I have is $24.’ Pause…

Now I know y’all don’t know, but my family, most of ‘em, are selfish as hell. She lives in a $200k house that she and her husband just bought last August and can’t keep the grass cut.

I told her that I would charge her $75 to do it on a regular basis, then I went down to $65.

The first thing that came out her mouth was, ‘what happened to the family discount?’ I said, ‘what happened to supporting family when they are trying to do something?’ I proceeded to ask her how much her house cost. She said, ‘what difference does that make? It doesn’t matter.’ I said, ‘it does matter, because when I went to real estate school they taught us how to estimate the cost of home maintenance into the cost of a home. If you or your agent didn’t do that then they did you an injustice.’

I then told her that I’d charge about $120 for a yard her size, front and back, if it was anybody else. She said, ‘$120?!’ Mind you, I didn’t do the back this time, because it was already dark.

Her husband came home in a Jaguar while I was in the middle of trying to get her push mower started. We spoke, he watched for a minute and went in the house.

I got $24 from her and moved the hell on. The following business day, I had to go to the lawn equipment store to get a tensioner and spring. The total came up to $43. Now, I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t even make enough to cover gas to and from her house, I broke my walk behind mower, and didn’t make enough to buy the parts I need to stay in business. Stuff like this bothers me to no end.

This is what I come from. This is the support my family gives me.

Then a few weeks later, I was in her area doing an estimate for somebody else and decided to do her yard on my way back in. Nobody was home, she’s a teacher. I did the front no problem, edged it up like a surgeon, then opened the back gate to the back yard and it’s waist high. I’m 6′2″ and her grass was WAIST HIGH.

So I dig in, starting with my trimmer, 3.5 minutes into her back yard I decided I don’t have the time to do it all and felt like I was going to run the risk of possibly breaking my walk behind again. She has a wooden privacy fence around the back yard, so I’m just going to trim all the way around the inside of the fence. I spent 30 minutes doing that, it was work!

After I trimmed, I loaded and left. She didn’t call me, I didn’t call her.

A few weeks later I get a call asking if I’ll cut her back yard. She said, ’somebody already did the front, I think my husband got somebody to it.’ I said, ‘I was just out there and did the front and trimmed the back.’

The first thing out of her mouth wasn’t ‘Thank you’, or ‘Oh really, I appreciate that’, it was ‘why didn’t you do the back yard too?!’

I told her, ‘I really didn’t have the time to cut any more free grass that day.’ We talked some more and I basically told her it would be $60 to cut her back yard. She tried to get me down to $40 and I wasn’t going for it. I told her I’m not doing it. Haven’t talked to her since.”

A sixth said “I think personally, I set my expectations too high going into a new venture and when I do not see immediate results, honestly the thought of giving up has passed my mind.

On the lawn care side, my focus in April was lawn mowing, and I spent a lot of money on marketing material (80% is still here in the office) and started, with no results. I did some research again, competition for mowing was fierce. I saw there was no money in it….now what???

Things happen and sometimes for the good. I had a call from a friend of a friend. He heard I had started this business and needed an area leveled for a play center. I had the equipment and did the job. That was the real start of my company. He asked about his lawn and hired us to spray it as it was in bad shape. It was a massive lawn. Then he hired us to do tree clearing.

I was having a burger with him one afternoon when the mail arrived. It included a local paper. I looked through it and took down the contact information. It is a free paper mailed to every home in the area 20,000 +/-. I put an ad in the last week of April, OMG the results were insane.

Now I had a new problem, I needed staff to complete all these jobs I was getting. I decided to use a temp agency and it worked ok, but not great.

My next problem was equipment. I had the work, so do I spend ten’s of thousands of dollars in these economic times to perform the jobs? I thought….if things are so bad, why am I getting so many jobs? Forget the economy. Stop listening to the media. Get the equipment and do what you love to do and I did. Results???? Well according to my business plan, in the seven weeks of operation my revenue as of today is what I expected at the end of year two!

Has it slowed down?? Not at all. The jobs are pouring in and what I am finding is the jobs are getting bigger. I quoted three yesterday and got all three. These are massive jobs for me. One is leveling 36 loads of fill, 14 loads of top soil, sod and spraying organic fertilizer. That will take at least a staff of three well over a week to perform. The first few days will need two machines, an excavator and a loader. The next job is clearing four acres of down trees and chipping them. That job will take two week easy.

The last job I looked at yesterday was tree clearing again. Two acres with 300+ trees down from wind. Then as we were talking, the customer asked for two culverts which would need 200 feet of drain and a new driveway with a parking area for visitors!!! That will take another two weeks with at least four staff.

My point with all this is it can be done and I am a believer the work is out there. Sometimes we have to look around and go after it.”

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