This is my first ever blog, I've been reading a few of them on here and thought I'd give it a go. Hopefully i won't be boring you silly. Well here goes.
I thought I might write a little about my beginnings and my future as a garden maintenance provider. When I first began I was a single parent, being at home all the time when my daughter was young I spent a lot of time in my garden with her, and I really loved it. When my daughter started school I wanted to use the freedom that I hadn't had for 5 years.
I began helping out neighbours and family with little gardening jobs, I didn't have a driving licence so as transport I acquired a long centre axle barrow from the greengrocers in the village, I dragged it back to my house with one wheel seized up and spent a day making a new wooden platform for it, fitting two new tyres and sorting the wheels out.
I had a few hand tools most of which were my granddads, I had an electric Soverign lawnmower (also my granddads) and I would strap everything to my barrow and push it round my village to my few early customers.
Obviously the barrow made me stand out (also kept me fit too as it weighed a ton) and it didn't take long for a few more customers to appear. One of which was the pretty lady who owned a cafe in the village where I used to have a coffee everyday, who happens to now be my fiancée!
I soon realised that this is what I wanted to do as a proper job and started to get advice from my dad who has owned his own engineering company and a taxi company in later years.
I took the leap and took out a £4500 personal loan, took my driving lessons and test, got my dads old Rover car going, taxed, MOT'd and insured, bought myself a computer and internet access. I also bought a petrol lawnmower and some other tools. I opened a business bank account and took out PLI and registered as self employed with HMRC.
I slowly started getting more customers not through advertising (I've never advertised) just through word of mouth and referrals. Also around this time I moved in with Gina which enabled me to work longer hours as I didn't have to pick my daughter up from school.
I saved up and bought a van (the same one I have now), got some more equipment. I really got stuck in and worked hard. Built up some good customers and a good reputation.
Each year has been better than the one before and I have now got a decent range of tools, a few of my granddads ones are still in use, A shovel which is about 40 years old, a Rake of equal age and a trowel. It's nice to still put these tools to use, My granddad would be chuffed.
I now have some good commercial work which comes from a property management company, the proprietors have been domestic customers of mine for 3 years and in 2011 they gave me the contract for maintenance on their properties gardens. They also finished building a large barn conversion opposite their own house and I am the the proud groundsman there too. They are close to finishing another Barn conversion in another village and i am going to be taking care of that too.
I also have a brilliant job at a large manor house, Its a challenge keeping up with everything there but an enjoyable challenge, I get on very well with the customers (we will be having our wedding reception in their gardens), and it's a beautiful place to work.
Alongside these jobs i have a lot of smaller domestic customers, and get a lot of one off jobs which i like to do as it helps get the word out.
Being part of LJN has given me that extra bit of motivation, It is good to know that I am not alone, all you guys are out there everyday like me, grafting and building our businesses. I am not at all bothered by working alone, I enjoy it. I am not really a "people person", I couldn't work in an office or anything like that. But it is good for me to be in touch with other people in the same or similar situations to me, and to learn from those that are more experienced than me and hopefully, occasionally helping someone out myself.
I am looking forward to this year, I have plans for a new (newer) van, some better equipment and whatever other changes i see necessary to build things up and move forward, I don't want my business to remain the same, It has to progress. I am, as you may be aware, getting married this year to Gina my beautiful better half. She has always supported me and my business and puts up with me moaning about the weather, walking mud into the house, sawdust ejecting from my boots when i take them off in the hallway, storing tools in every available space, making her nice towels dirty when i have washed my hands, and all the other things that comes with living with a gardener.
It should be an exciting and positive year for me, and i hope everyone else has a great year and achieves their goals and more!