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should I start up my own business?

Hi all, I work in the farming industry at the moment but my roots have always been with garden work and tree work. Worked for a long time in the garden world then went onto the forestry commission, I'm self employed now and wondering if it's the right thing to start up my own little business.I'm lucky enough to not have a mortgage due to certain circumstances, but I have a family of 5 all together to feed.My winter months would be covered as there is certain work I can do piece work in the winter from November till end of April, it's just the other 6 months I would need to find work, as in lawn care hedges,trees, pruning, garden clearance etc etc. I have a great eye for design but I'm not experienced enough for landscaping I don't think??? Like all the small details putting a wall up levelling ground the right way etc as haven't done that before but I know there's good money there!!I'm just after I put from you guys whether I should take the plunge or not? The only tools I have are 2 good industrial husqvarna chainsaws and a cheap mower for my garden lol. And a normal estate car.Any input feedback or ideas would be great guys.just sceptical of the money to be earnt, everyone seems to be doing it now a days

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Replies

  • PRO
    Go for it ! I set up on my own at the beginning of 2016 and haven't looked back, plenty of regular customers already and I have a waiting list. Get your pricing right in the beginning as it's difficult to increase from a low starting point and enjoy yourself ! Spend money on good equipment as you need it and avoid cheap stuff, it won't last and will cost you in the long run.
    • Thankyou, how do you price? Per job or hour? I'm worried I have a settled job now where I just put an invoice for my hours in and I'm going to be rushed off my feet with paperwork etc in evenings? Just have doubts in the customers and business etc not I'm myself and my hard work.
  • PRO

    Having to give up your farming work is a major consideration when you have a family If you are based in a rural location your nearest town will be your starting point , does it have a large or small population and what is the competition like , you say everyone seems to be doing it , Is this because there is a great demand for gardeners in your area .?  

    You are already at an advantage with your background and experience in tree work there is always a great demand for tree surgeons and you have the winter months covered , just make sure you have enough gardening work lined up to replace your income from farming , The LJN starting a landscape download book is well worth a read . 

    Many people start out with the family car and a trailer , I started out on a bicycle using clients tools whilst doing an evening landscape gardening course at college then became an employee on an estate where i gained lots of experience before starting my own business , I had a different trade to fall back on repairing and making jewellery if things went wrong but i never looked back .

    Setting your rate there are many posts on here which reflect different view points and offer excellent advice .  

    • Thanks for your comment, yes that's the thing, leaving a regular wage a week for the hours I put in farming to go to an income that's Unknown. I'll be honest I earn around the £500 mark every week to be safe in farming and that's 5.5 days a week, about 52 hours. Not sure what I could earn gardening!?!?

      Regarding 'everyone doing it' it might just be because I was in the industry that I notice more people and maybe if I was a plumber I would notice all their vans if you get what I mean. I am in south east Kent so the garden of England lol. My initial town might not be the catchment area but I would say about5 miles out of my town is where the work lies.

      Ooooo what landscaping course did you do in evening? City and guilds?
      • PRO

        I suppose you have to weigh up any benefits you may lose from your current position , pension , holiday , sickness benefit , but if you are already self employed you may not have these .  South East Kent i should imagine holds lots of opportunity and lots of competition and long hours if you are working single handed . 

        If you build up a customer base of regular clients then that becomes your income less your outgoings like charging to dispose of garden waste , insurance ,advertising  to name but a few , all these reduce your take home pot so £100 per day may be reduced to £70.00 a day for basic maintenance once you take away your outgoings , so start off on the right foot with your pricing but you have the benefit of building upon your background knowledge in forestry , a niche market . 

        The course i did was a leisure course run by a landscape gardener with a teaching qualification like you might do a photography or learn to play the guitar course . and a lot was crammed in although it did not lead to a qualification but i got a lot from it and i was in too much of a hurry for anything too long and drawn out lol .

        The RHS do similar evening courses which do lead to qualifications . 

        • Thankyou, it's just a worry that I won't be able to make it work out and then will be out on my ear! I tried to make a go of self employed/ own business in forestry but I didn't have enough capital to get going really about 6 years ago and I couldn't compete with the competition but gardening I think would be easier. What hours do you work? I was looking at working 5 day week. How much of your day/time is looking at jobs pricing etc?

          I priced a few private garden jobs when I was doing forestry, for tree removal mainly but quotes weren't accepted. Maybe I was too high priced. Just have doubts and if anyone can overthink something that's me lol
          • PRO

            I don't believe you are overthinking Adam it's a serious decision you will be making , Is it possible to test the waters whilst still maintaining your current income ? You can perhaps advertise in lieu of starting out and see what the response rate is without putting all your eggs in one basket , 

            I work as long as i can all the time , Mostly i work alone and it can burn me out , occasionally i get the help of a colleague with complimentary skills  making things more efficient . When i started out on my own it was a leap into the unknown but i had confidence in my advertising strategy , The best tools i could afford which was a stihl combi , a Toro re cycler mower and an assortment of useful hand tools . The phone started to ring on day one and pretty soon i was booked up but earning less than i was as an employee , the business was just eating into my earnings sapping my funds and i realised i needed to buy more equipment yet i was working around the clock and i had committed myself to a low hourly rate and painted myself into a corner . 

            The only way out was to put my rate up and think self preservation rather than people pleasing . 

            Had i discovered landscape juice sooner I would have started pricing my time at a much higher rate , there was a quote on here recently in a post '' make sure the opportunities you are offered fit into your criteria '' it's so important to set out your criteria its a great form of navigation and enables you to filter out the chaff . 

            When it comes to looking at jobs and pricing firstly i can smell a time waster , my intuition kicks in during the phone call , The ones which are of interest i go see after work .  I don't like working weekends i like some family time . If i do have to work at weekends i quote my premium rate unless its for an existing valued customer . 

            You can be guaranteed the best support and advice possible on this site though Adam , Many different and varied viewpoints but every little helps .

            • Yes it's such a difficult decision, it's very hard to say as I spray fruit at a farm with tractor and sprayer, I have my spray qualifications! So I'm sort of relied on for a certain amount of days a week and that's the problem with my job now is you can't plan anything as if the Tuesday let's say is wet you have to go in on the Wednesday to spray as couldn't when raining. Me and my wife can never plan anything lol. In the winter months it's a lot more relaxed but obviously so is the gardening trade.

              Also starting to do bits now and then to gauge the market for me would mean I would need to invest in a decent mower/trailer/ tow hitch for my car/ and other tools.
              • Yes the help you've given me so far is brilliant Thankyou
  • as others have said your wages plus your overheads not forgetting the p.l. insurance and a few weeks of inclement weather over the year, servicing and replacement of tools holidays and the clients whom nock you off in September" and restart you in  May/ June  (thankfully I only have one)

    I work it on a 40 hour week over 5 days which gives me the chance of Saturday to catch up if needed I also employ one man full time witch is more expense on the overheads, accountant and payroll, employees liability insurance  

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