We all have our dark moments when we pause from traveling on our dream pathway to ponder if we have what it takes to make it. Sometimes these moments charge us up to push onwards ever stronger. Sometimes we further discourage ourselves and end up quitting too soon. If your dream is to own and operate a successful lawn care business, you need to read this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and see how one landscaper pushes himself forwards in a time of despair.
He wrote “I was sitting here just going through the thoughts of selling my lawn care business and getting a ‘real job.’ But I know in my gut that I’ve never been happy working for someone else. I talked to myself for a whole day telling myself to not give up. I keep telling myself, one more year! Give it a chance to grow. I’ve just got to figure out how to make it through until next year.
To better understand my story, I need to take you back a few years. Back then, I had a great job in the lawn care industry working for a local business. I was making a good living. Things got thin in the winter from time to time but I never had any worries as I budgeted well.
I was never really happy working for the person I was working for though. He wasn’t a bad guy and he always paid on time but we just had two different business philosophies. To him time is money, to me quality is money. To him the way to be there for your family was to not be there because being there meant not bringing money back. To me the way to be there for your family was to spend actual quality time with them regardless of the money not being made at the time.
I knew there was going to be a rift at one time or another so I managed to save up half a years worth of bill and food money. At the mid point of the year a family member offered me a job if I’d come to work for him at his computer business. I was to be the programmer (something I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was younger and had gotten my first computer). So I worked out a deal with him and turned in my 2 weeks notice to the lawn care company.
For the first year the programming gig worked out fine and then the pay stopped coming in at regular intervals. I had been planning on starting my own lawn care company from the time I quit the last job but I signed a non-compete agreement that lasted 2 years from the last day of work in exchange for winter money. The non-compete applied to lawn applications, not mowing. So, the first pay I got from programming I bought my walk-behind mower and planned on outfitting my truck with a spray rig one piece at a time.
It was going well until October of the following year which was the last time I got money from the programming job. So, that next spring I went all out and got my insurance and business IDs and basically prayed for jobs to come in. Thankfully with my lawn care marketing, they did. The business almost immediately sustained itself but that was just about it.
This year has allowed me to get minimal equipment and truck repairs and pay for food for the family but the bills are another story. I’ve been late on a few, which I’ve never been before, and borrowed money from family for a few others.
I’ve added my fertilizing and weed control business to the mix and that ate up the rest of my savings and I still don’t quite have everything I really need but it will do for now.
That pretty much brings me to now. The savings are gone, the bills are due, I’ve got a dentist appointment next week that I don’t know how I’m going to pay for and people are already canceling their lawn care services for the year just because it got a little bit cold last week.
I keep talking to myself, saying ‘things are bound to be tough from time to time but it’s much better than working for someone else, going nowhere, and making them rich. I’ve got to keep going. If for nothing else just to keep the old boss from saying ‘I told you so.’”
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