Starting Your Own Lawn Care Business – Do you enjoy being outdoors and working with your hands? How about being your own boss?
If your answer to these questions is “Yes!” Then starting a landscaping business could be the perfect career for you. It certainly was for Brian Linson, founder of BL Landscapes.
Starting Your Own Lawn Care Business
Brian started BL Landscapes in 2014 with just one truck and a crew of 2 people. Six years later, the company has become one of the top professional landscape services not only on Whidbey Island, but in the Pacific Northwest.
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You don’t need a lot of money or resources to start a lawn care business. As you can see from Brian’s journey, if you are willing to put in the work and are committed to quality and customer satisfaction, you can start a successful and profitable commercial landscape business.
Landscape businesses design, create and maintain outdoor spaces for homes and businesses. They can range from basic gardening and lawn mowing services to full-service landscape installation of elaborate gardens complete with water features, patios and lighting.
A landscaping company can be as small as a single person with a lawnmower and a few shovels, or as large as a multi-team business capable of offering a range of landscaping services.
A lawn care worker is not just a manual laborer. They are also experts in what plants are suitable for their climate and how to make them thrive. There is also a creative aspect to the job, working with clients to design their ideal outdoor environment.
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Basically, anything involving the land surrounding a home or business is the domain of landscape professionals. Large landscaping companies offer all of these services, while others specialize in one area, such as lawn maintenance or flower bed design.
Brian didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start BL Landscapes. His love for landscape design (and expertise in the field) grew from years of working in the industry.
My first two jobs were working in nurseries and public gardens, and [landscaping] has always been my favorite. I had to stand on my own to achieve something more than just average and actually take it to the next level.
For context, BL Landschaften was founded 6 years ago, but Brian has over 25 years of experience designing, installing and maintaining outdoor spaces. The knowledge and skills acquired during that time were crucial in starting and growing his business.
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This does not mean that you need decades of experience to be successful in the lawn care business. If you only maintain your own lawn or garden as a hobby, you should spend at least a few months as a landscape professional before taking the leap to open your own business.
Remember that there are some aspects of running a lawn care business that have nothing to do with how well you prepare the paths and care for the plants. A good landscaper knows how to estimate the cost of materials and how long a particular project will take to complete.
Without this knowledge, you’ll find yourself navigating your first client prospects through trial and error—and those mistakes can be costly financially and to your reputation.
Mike Andes, owner and founder of August Lawn Care, finds that his biggest help are podcasts and YouTube videos. This gave him the knowledge and tips he needed in his own landscaping business. You can watch our interview with him here.
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When you start working for an established landscape service, you can also decide if you are compatible with the lifestyle. Brian’s work day usually starts between 6 and 7 am, which is not unusual for the industry.
Many people like the idea of working outdoors, but the reality is often not pleasant. Until you’ve spent 4 hours on the rocks on a hot summer day, you really don’t know if you’re fit for the landscape business.
As you can see above, there are many types of services covered under the umbrella of “Landscaping”. For a small start-up company, it is better to focus on just one specialty, such as lawn care or landscape design, rather than trying to launch as a full-service landscape company.
Choosing a feature will help you save money in your initial budget. For one thing, you can buy the specific equipment you need. You can also use a smaller crew if you don’t need people with different skills and expertise.
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In addition to deciding what specific services you’ll offer, it’s also a good idea to think about the types of clients you’ll be working with. BL Landscaping focuses on residential landscaping for two major reasons:
Professional landscaping also has its benefits. You may have fewer clients, as commercial projects tend to be larger in terms of both scope and client budget. It can also provide a more consistent income, especially in the maintenance and lawn care niche.
One of the hardest things for new landscape businesses is knowing how much to charge for services. Brian’s advice:
Different regions have standard prices for landscaping services, so this is the first thing you should look at when determining your prices. However, every project is unique and there is definitely a learning curve when bidding on projects.
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Many new landscape businesses have a tendency to skimp on projects. They want all the work they can get and don’t want clients to turn them down. To combat this, Brian says,
Go out and get your numbers down when bidding on projects. Don’t be afraid to go around and measure everything. Just take your time when bidding because the last thing you want to do is go back to the client and tell them you need more money to complete their project. This is something no one wants to hear.
Once you’ve decided what kind of services you’ll offer, you’ll be better able to work out the logistics of starting a company. including:
It’s important to put some thought into choosing your company name. It’s the first impression customers get when they’re first introduced to your business, so you want to accurately convey the services you offer.
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Once you’ve chosen a business name, it’s hard to change, so there’s even more motivation to get it right the first time. If you’re having trouble coming up with a business name, a business name generator can help you get started.
The best business name is short, simple and tells people what your business does. It should be easy to remember, but also unique enough to stand out from the competition.
Remember that much of the business presence in modern times is online. Check the available domain names before choosing your name so that you get one that matches, at least your customers won’t get confused. You can use WhoIs LookUp to see if a domain is available.
A business plan is a living document that plans for the future of your company. You’ll definitely need one if you plan to apply for a small business loan or other financing, as both bankers and investors will ask to see it.
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Even if you open a business from your own savings, a business plan is a useful document. This is where you outline your company’s mission statement and long-term goals, along with your startup and ongoing costs.
If you’ve never written a business plan before, see a sample business plan for more guidance on what to include and how to write one. Your business plan should include the following:
Not all business plans include all of these sections, but the more you include, the better the document can serve as a roadmap for your future.
All new businesses must be registered before they can legally operate. This starts with registering your DBA, or “doing business as,” name with both the state and federal governments. Business names must be unique, so you should check this database before starting the registration process.
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You must also obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is your business’s federal tax ID, which you need to open a bank account, hire employees, or apply for local permits. You can apply for an EIN through the IRS website.
Specific licenses and permits for a landscape business vary by state. Check with your state’s business licensing association to find out what is required in your area.
The types of landscaping services you provide will determine what specific equipment you will need. After deciding the niche, you should be able to list all the tools you need.
If your starting budget isn’t enough to cover everything on your list, don’t worry. Start by renting the more expensive tools, then buy them as you go. This was Brian’s vision when BL Landscapes first started. Even now he says,
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We buy the tools we need for the job, and when you sign another job, you take some of that money and buy that tool.
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