In today’s economy, many people have started small businesses on the side to make extra money that their day to day jobs do not provide them. One type of business that has proved very popular in this economic climate is the private landscaping and lawn care business.Having worked as a dealer of outdoor power equipment, I have had the opportunity to watch, and help, several small businesses of this sort start, expand, and eventually prosper. Along the way, I’ve also had the chance to talk with the owners of these businesses, and get an idea of some of the tips and tricks they have used to get to where they are. Read on to get the reader’s digest condensed version of some of what I have learned directly from them.
Firstly, you are going to need some basic knowledge and equipment. Don’t worry, you don’t need a horticultural degree to mow grass, but you do need to have operated a lawn mower at some point in your life. As long as you can mow and trim well enough to make a lawn look neat and tidy, you will be alright. Assuming you feel confident in your ability to do this, you will need to look to the next stage, which is procuring the basic equipment you will need for your jobs. Many people try to start with just one lawn mower, but I personally recommend having two. This way, in the event that the first one should stop working in the middle of a job, you will have a backup to at least finish that yard with. This will keep you from having to stop in the middle of your work to attempt to make repairs or adjustments. The two other basic you will need are a weed trimmer and an edger. You don’t have to go for the most expensive professional models right off the bat, all you need is something reasonably reliable. This combination of equipment will allow you to offer the three basic services of mowing, trimming, and edging. This will get you started, and give you a chance to get the feel of running your own small business.
Secondly, you will need a client list. The best way to build a list quickly is to start offering your services to friends and neighbors who hire out their lawn care. If you do good work for them, there is a good chance they will recommend you to other friends, and so on and so forth. Word of mouth advertising in this type of business is invaluable. If you have a slightly larger budget, you can also do some basic signage advertising. Put a sign up in your lawn with your services listed along with your phone number, or ask local businesses if they would be willing to let you hang a small flyer in their window to advertise. You can even offer incentives to your customers for referring new jobs to you. For example, offer a promotional deal where if a new client says that he or she was recommended by an existing client, the existing client who made the referral will get a free mowing. This will help word spread even more quickly, because your customers will have an incentive to send more work your way.
Once you have built your client list and are making money in your side business, your mind will doubtlessly wander into ways to expand upon it. There are many directions to take it from here. With a little extra equipment, you can offer extra services such as tree pruning, lawn treatments for weeds or insects, fertilizing, or even decorative landscaping. If your skills reach beyond the lawn, you may also want to offer your services as a general handyman to your clients. Chances are there are other small tasks they would be willing to pay for some assistance with. You may even consider taking on an employee if you are reasonably successful, as this will allow you to work through your jobs faster and get to more houses in a day. Remember, greater volume equals greater profits in this business.
As time goes on, you’ll probably settle into a routine that you are most comfortable with, but the beauty of this business is that the sky is the limit. Many people have started out small, just as you plan to do, only to find that what started as a side business has become their primary source of income. It is all dependent on what you want to put into it and what you want to get out of it. So if you need a few extra dollars or would like to have a business to fall back on, you may want to try lawn care services. You might just be surprised at what can happen.