Is A Landscaping Business The Startup For You?
Do you want to be your own boss? Is your fondest dream running a company of your own? Take a look at the possibilities involved in starting up a landscaping business! Landscaping has long been known as an industry with modest entry requirements; this makes it perfect for driven entrepreneurs who want to try making something out of (practically) nothing. Here are some basic concerns you should keep in mind if you want to make a go of it in the landscaping business.
Advantages to a Landscape Service
Running a landscaping business is an excellent choice for the entrepreneur with limited resources. Your start-up costs are minimal (although a cash reserve is an excellent resource, see below) and the market for your services is vast. The landscaping industry is worth more than $60 billion in the United States and this is likely to grow further thanks to shifting demographics — fewer and fewer baby boomers are handling their own yard work. Don’t restrain yourself to the idea of mowing and maintaining residential lawns, either; there is great money to be made in providing landscaping services to commercial customers.
Unlike a lot of modern start-up opportunities, landscaping involves plenty of time (a majority of it, in fact) out-of-doors being physically active. It’s not just manual labor, either. To be successful in the landscaping business, you need a good grasp of financial matters and excellent interpersonal skills. As noted above, there’s real profit potential in this industry, too. A sensible landscape business can start from practically nothing and end up clearing $50,000 or more in its first year. You can increase this revenue stream tenfold with sensible expansion over the course of a few years.
What You Need To Start
Compared to some businesses, the start-up requirements for landscaping are ridiculously modest. A few good pieces of equipment and a reliable truck are all you really need in terms of physical capital. A reliable riding mower will likely be the centerpiece of your nascent business, and it’s worth investing in a long-lasting machine. Besides other power tools (hedge trimmers and string trimmers) you’ll also need a decent selection of basic hand tools such as shovels, rakes, loppers, and shears.
The personal attributes required to succeed in the landscaping business are more important than the equipment. The vast majority of landscaping start-ups begin as solo operations or partnerships. This means you’ll need to be prepared to work long hours doing plenty of physical work at the outset. A certain amount of technical skill in handling your equipment is necessary, too. You may need to brush up on your gardening skills to prepare yourself.
Doing Your Homework
While landscaping is one of the last remaining industries that exist in a largely unregulated state, don’t assume that you can simply hang out your business license and go straight to work. Research your local construction codes and building ordinances to see what kind of regulations apply to landscapers in your community. In certain states and regions different parts of the green industry require licensure. Irrigation may require special licenses in the drought-stricken southwest, for instance, and applying pesticides is often carefully regulated.
If you find that licensing is required in your area, the start-up requirements of your business may grow rapidly. Securing a contractor’s license (required for landscaping work in states like New York and New Jersey) will require liability insurance and completing an extensive application process. Resist the temptation to try “flying under the radar” when it comes to licensure; few things can cripple a young small business faster than the penalties most states levy against unlicensed professionals.
Attaining clients in 2015 is different than it was 10 years ago. These days having a website is mandatory as most of your calls will come from the internet. According to Lawn Care Sucks, flyers and door hangers are a thing of the past. You will need to have a Google Business listing as well so that happy customers can leave you good reviews. Understand that reviews are a “two way sword” as customers are more inclined to complain about bad service than praise a great job. You should actively court good reviews from your customers.
The Seasonal Problem
As you can imagine, demand for landscaping services peaks in the warmer months and dwindles sharply during the winter in Northern states. Here in Arizona there is work all year. Although you can take several steps to broaden your array of services and lessen the impact of this seasonal swing, you need to plan ahead and budget your income carefully in order to survive the lean months.
Examples of off-season services include snow removal in winter, winterizing lawns and plants during fall and even Christmas light installation. These services can keep your income healthy during the colder months, but bear in mind that they require additional equipment and expertise to offer effectively.
Sadly, not all landscaping businesses are destined for greatness. Of those that fail, the overwhelming majority succumb to poor business and financial management rather than any failure to handle the landscaping work itself. You should inoculate yourself against this risk by making sure your business skills are up to snuff long before you start cutting grass. Prepare a basic business plan for your company so that you have a strategic guide. This is strictly an internal document, so it doesn’t have to be fancy — just lay out a road map for your success.
As noted above, a cash reserve can be one of the most valuable assets to put in place when you start your landscaping business. Your needs will of course depend on operating costs in your region, but as a general rule of thumb accumulating $50,000 dollars to cushion your first year of operation is a sound way to prepare.
On a more detailed level, one financial skill you’ll need to develop is a talent for estimating your prices. Novice landscapers typically operate on an hourly system by estimating how long a given job will take and multiplying this by a base rate. This system rarely accounts for the idiosyncrasies of different jobs and can be highly inaccurate. As you gain experience, you should be able to price your services more accurately based on square footage and a good understanding of how you’ll handle exceptional cases.
Avoiding Legal Woes
Another major stumbling block that trips up a lot of landscaping start-ups is a lack of legal expertise. Homeowner-landscaper disputes can turn nasty and litigious with startling speed, and the landscaper is often on the short end of the stick. The best way to protect yourself is to invest in a little sound legal counsel as soon as possible. Get a lawyer to draft a basic contract for you which can be adapted to each job you do.
As your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire employees. Make sure you do everything you can to be a good employer and take steps to protect both yourself and your employees from legal hassles. While a large segment of the landscaping industry operates on a cash-only “under the table” basis, this is rarely the foundation for a long-lasting company.
Protecting Yourself In The Long Term
While some entrepreneurs have had success running landscaping services as venture opportunities — building them up and then selling them off — realistically you need to settle in for the long haul in order to make your company successful. Besides the financial and legal considerations discussed above, you also need to look after the health and safety of you and your workers. This means ensuring that all of your equipment is properly maintained and that it’s only operated by trained and experienced individuals. Poorly-maintained equipment can cause everything from serious injuries to Reynaud’s disease (from excessive vibration.)
If you experience success with your business, you should also work to enhance it by exercising your talents for networking. Join professional and civic organizations to make yourself a strong part of your community. This will also help you stay abreast of the latest developments in your industry.
Although it’s exceptionally easy to get into the landscaping business, truly thriving requires plenty of hard work, dedication, and talent. Keep learning more about the industry before you take the plunge and open up your own business; preparing yourself thoroughly is the best way to master the challenges that lie ahead of you!
If you want to grow your own plants to install in residential and commercial landscapes, you will need a greenhouse. Some aspects you will need to look into are:
Systems integration and design
Greenhouse evaporative cooling and ventilation
Light management in greenhouse
New strategy of greenhouse environmental control
Automation and Mechanization
Plant monitoring systems
High tunnels and other modified environments
Resource and energy considerations would be:
Closed and open greenhouse systems
Non-fossil fuel energy sources (renewable energy use
Sustainability and greenhouse ecosystem analysis
Plant Response to Abiotic and Biotic Environments
Mitigation of heat and temperature stress by controlled environment
In order to improve plant tolerance to abiotic and biotic environmental stress, your considerations will be:
Strategic use of environmental stress in plant production
Pest and disease control in greenhouse
Plant growth modeling and simulation
Culture and hydroponics
Plant made pharmaceuticals (PMP)
Manipulation of plant bioactive compounds
Post and pre-harvest produce quality control in greenhouse
Bio-based products and bioenergy production
Seedling production and grafting
Understand that growing your own plants is a large investment that pays off later rather than sooner. Make sure you have sufficient cash flow to keep your business running while investing in green house materials.