Starting Up

Good Evening

I have spent most of the evening browsing this forum reading everyone's posts and taking information in. I am in the process of starting up because I have always had a life goal to own my own business. I am coming back into the industry after a hiatus. The business plan, website and social media pages are pretty much finished. Next month the business will have been registered with companies house. A few questions I have are 1. Is it worthwhile leasing a van or buying one out right. 2. Should I aim for a mix of commercial and residential business. 3. If there is one thing you should have done when you started up what is it?

A bit about me. I have a nvq level 3 in amenity horticulture (sports turf) with approx 8 years experience in sports turf maintenance, sports turf construction. I left the industry in 2008 when the credit crunch hit and was made redundant I have recently moved to Cornwall and I am starting a BSc in horticulture (garden and landscape design) at Plymouth uni in Sept. It is time to get back into the industry I love.  

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  • PRO
    1 van I lease mine it works for me
    2 a mix I think is a good thing
    3 I wish I had spent more on my first tools instead of cheap and buy 2 or 3 times.
    Good luck with it
    • PRO

      Hi Rich

      Who do you lease with? i have met up with northgate and i like their flexibility but overall their cost is quite high per month. Id like to get a couple of small commercial contracts to build the business up on and take residential work around that. I am thinking i may spend a bit more on tools as they are going to get hammered and i don't want them braking down al the time.

  • My first thought would be to buy a cheap van and see how it goes for the first year.  Customers may be hard to come by for the first year or two. 

    A mix of customers works and gives you more flexibility.

    Good luck

    • PRO

      This is my conundrum, the outlay for lease is less but much more long term but that covers service and maintenance worries too. where as buy may be short term issue for funds but then service and breakdowns are all down to me.

      That's the mix id like to grow the business, thank you

  • I would look at a cheap van 1-2k to start off with.

    A mix of domestic and commercial work is good, I find the commercial work keeps us ticking over during the winter as the domestic is non existent from Nov to Feb.

    Flyers is a great way to start off, Ive just seen an offer of 10,000 designed and printed for £99!! Delivery companies range from £30 to £40 per thousand. Ive always gotten an excellent response and its instant work usually.

    • PRO

      The mix of work for me is the most important part for me. It will allow me to grow and build my business around commercial contracts.

      I haven't thought about flyering but that is something i will definitely consider doing. How would target commercial properties?

  • Hi Dan, 

    Firstly best of luck with the new business. You seem well prepared to enter the local market. However I think there are a couple of points to be consider.

    If you have recently moved to the area does this mean you have less contacts than you might have had if you'd lived there longer. Contacts and business generation are very important factors and must be top priority.  Websites, social media etc only go so far and require people to know about you first. Networking meetings, flyers and being out and about are vital to kick start and initially grow your business. 

    The other point or query I have is the BSc. How much time will it eat up because I simply do not have time to study at degree level. Admin, quotes, invoices, payroll, tool maintenance etc eat a lot of time.

    Also why is your degree subject different to your main business (design v maintenance)? Is your business plan and intention to create a maintenance business or a design one? Maybe you just want to study for enjoyment. I also think that if you take the time spent on your BSc and apply it to business creation you'll get a lot more benefit from it but I completely understand the desire to be educated and qualified. 

    In Phil Voice's humble and experienced opinion it is difficult to create a business dedicated to design alone. My experience echoes this. 

    I think businesses evolve and should be allowed to do so but if you asked yourself what you want your life and business to look like in 3 or 5 years time and then work backwards you'll find the milestones present themselves naturally. 

    1. Buy or lease a van, its no biggie

    2. Mix is by far better but commercial is more difficult to sign up

    3. Work harder at business generation

    Best of luck, Neil

    • PRO

      Hi Neil

      Yes I don't have that many contacts in the area at the moment but I am looking to network asap. flyering is something I am definitely going to have to do. I plan to start the business in the area i have my experience in. The reason i want to do the degree is so i can diversify the business and give it as much scope to grow as possible. I'd like the business to be a one stop shop for a landscape needs in the future hence why i am going to start the degree in September.

      Thank you for you advice.

  • I am in my third year since starting out on my own. I didn't have a huge amount of work to start with so worked out of my estate car until I got to the point where I could see where my business was heading and what size of van I would need. Some of the work I do now I wouldn't have anticipated when I started so you need to be a bit flexible.

    I also was going to study horticulture in my spare time but in hindsight I'm glad I didn't because there is no way I could fit it in with the workload I have now. To be honest, my clients couldn't care less about qualifications, they just want someone who can do a good job.

    Websites and social media are all well and good but don't be surprised if they don't bring much in, particularly in the early days. Most of my work has come from ads posted in shop windows in the villages within 5 miles of my home, and then recommendations via word of mouth.

    Hope it goes well.

    • PRO

      I'd love to use my car but i don't think the girlfriend would be happy when she has 2 screaming kids bored in the house lol. I think flexibility is key to driving the business forward as it good customer service in my opinion.

      With you not studying did you find you picked a lot up anyway. As i am a believer that experience is key in any job. I will be posting ads up once i am happy with a design of it, With the recommendations of others on this thread i wil be flyering as well.

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