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Incorporating new services/skills

Ive been working in Gardening/Landscape Gardening/ maintenance for 8 years. Currently I’m a self employed gardener who is starting to offer small scale landscaping services including paving, decking and fencing. I’ve worked on very very small scale versions of these things with friends and experienced people and worked in gardens where these things are being built in front of me and talked to the people building them. I’ve been spending hours watching videos, speaking to experienced landscapers; I’m right now in Australia for a year working for a landscaping business which has taught me tons.

What I’d like to know is other than watching videos, listening to podcasts, reading books and talking to experienced people. How do people go about learning new skills similar to what they’re already doing without doing a course and having to spend ££ all the fees and take time off?

How do people go about offering a new service that they are not 100% on but will not get any further without actually doing said service. My thoughts are to offer the service for a reduced fee and only taking on small simple jobs.


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  • PRO

    8 years? What you waiting for...dive in there.

    You answered your own question, offer reduced fees especially for people you know, get your name out there and bump prices up after confidence and reputation built. Nothing teaches you better than just getting your feet wet, or should I say muddy.

    • I guess I’m just concerned about missing out an important step which may end up costing a lot to fix and damaging what reputation I have. But as you say, time to get stuck in, take my time and if needs be bring in the people I know who are happy to offer help. 

  • Sounds like you’ve got plenty of experience already. Common sense goes a long way too ie fence posts deep enough, don’t build a patio on a swamp :)

    • Most of this is due to me not being able to put any of the skills and wisdom if collected over the past 18 months into practise till January 2019. 

      If only you could learn experience. 

  • Just looking at it from a different way, if you are prepared to take on work at a reduced rate, why not do a course or two, maybe to get your confidence up, and charge full rates from the off? The cost of the courses would soon be paid back and there would be no risk of  (possibly) a reputation as a cheap landscaper. Don't mean to preach, just a thought. Glen. 

    • That’s a good thought. That’s like a last resort option for me, I’ve got a good half a dozen people I can lean on for help and advice who are all very experienced. Confidence will come but I just need to get going. Got any decking jobs going?!

  • PRO

    Hi Josh. I think one of the biggest obstacles is not ability, but rather, self-doubt. Have faith in yourself, then this will be supplanted with confidence once the first year or so is complete. Mistakes are all part of the process, and this irrational fear of mistakes is what scares off 95%+ of the population in moving forwards. That's the "secret"; loads of people do have the ability, but you must understand that unchartered territory is **supposed** to bring mistakes/issues, and that these challenges are what makes you experienced (and eventually an expert). Rather than unreasonably expecting things to go smoothly, expect issues and learn to thrive on them, knowing that they're training you up.

    Of course, nobody is advising anyone to be reckless/careless, but after a certain point of education it's time to just go on the front line and learn as you go. Trust in yourself, not that you'll do almost a perfect job, but that when problems arise you will have the fortitude and natural ability to "cross the bridge" (like the instinct in learning to walk). Don't lean too much on others when it comes to matters of attitude/motivation, especially those who like to spew negative rubbish (as a rule of thumb, they've trained themselves to never try, so they never risk "failing"). So many people have read loads of books, watched many training videos etc but this doesn't replace the action (although they think it does, and wonder why they've got nothing to show for it). Don't make that same mistake of forever consuming information like an addict, but being paralysed into no movement (rationalising that you're waiting for the "perfect" opportunity). The mind is quite cunning at making up excuses for doing nothing, and sometimes the "information age" can be just as much of a hindrance than lack of knowledge is (i.e. taking in just one more nugget of knowledge can = procrastination).

    Funny enough, many of the problems you surmise may happen, don't actually happen, and problems you don't expect, they happen. For example, you may have been advised to always keep your schedule booked up well in advance - many people say this, and it has its merrit to a degree - so you have a fear of getting enough work and end up accepting everything that comes along...lo and behold you're over-booked (underestimate the length of jobs) and end up under a lot of pressure. This leads to exhaustion/lack of motivation, resentment and more importantly, no mental space to make good improvements. That's just one example of how things can flip if you over-analyse before actually getting stuck in and learning as you go. Out of interest, if you wanted to avoid this situation, plan out your years finances (savings = even better) so that you can live off a very basic wage, then you can give jobs longer than projected, and if they're done quicker you get a well-deserved rest between jobs, plus no stress about making ends meet. Don't underestimate the importance of your health/wellbeing (much of which is gained simply by rest), it's essential for a job done well.

    Hope this helps!

    • Christ Paul! Awesome advice, the one thing I’m lacking is experience and therefore confidence, but working for myself and building outdoor spaces for people is my dream so I’m not going to let anyone get in my way! But you’re right, looking after yourself and leaving room for mistakes and over running jobs is really important. 

      • PRO

        No problem, glad to help.  Yeah it is a great job, you get to contribute to someone's livelihood and enjoy the process at the same time.  If ever I lose focus that's what I remind myself of.  A fence is not just a fence, it's someone's feeling of security, peace, calm, relaxation.  A patio isn't just stone/concrete, it's a family/friends enjoyment centre.  A renovated garden isn't just mud/organic matter, it's contributing to someone's sense of beauty/contentment.  Sounds corny but it's true!  

        • PRO

          +1 Paul - great insight in those responses ...

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