Starting a Business – What I Learned…

The idea of starting a business can be equally as scary as it is exciting.


The good news is…


It doesn’t have to be scary. I started my own landscaping business four years ago and I can safely say it is the best thing I ever did. But I am fully aware running a business won’t be for everyone.


What I can do though is talk about my own experience, what I have learned, and where to start.


So let’s begin…


Do Your Research

The first thing I did was to research both the landscaping industry and the area I lived in to see how viable starting my own business was.


Nationally I found that 67% of Americans used professional landscaping firms and also reports that the sector was expected to experience steady growth until the mid-to-late 2020s.


Locally I found a distinct lack of competing companies and a fairly middle-class residential area, with many homeowners with busy jobs and less time or inclination to keep their yards tidy.


Define Your Business

A landscaping business is a broad term that can cover several different activities. I knew that as a new business, and starting out as a one-man-band, I could not reasonably cover everything.


I began by providing a simple lawn mowing/seeding and pruning and hedging service. As time went on, and I acquired new clients, I was not only able to expand the services I provide but also employ my own staff to cope with the increased demand.


Anyone starting their own business will need to do the same, define clearly the services on offer and how they will be delivered.


What Qualifications Do You Need?

I found that landscapers are not required by law to have any formal qualifications to work in the field. However, I did have plenty of hands-on experience and numerous qualifications and certifications from previous roles.


This is something it is important to investigate when considering starting a new business, are there certain qualifications needed? If you don’t have the experience is there a college or vocational school you can attend?


Financing Your Business

Undoubtedly one of the most daunting aspects of starting a business is financing it.


First things first, create a business plan. Work out the costs of anything that needs to be purchased and the levies for any licenses that need to be obtained. Then factor in running expenses for six months with minimal to no returns.


I used some of my own personal savings to start my business, and I mean ‘some’. Banks are also willing to provide capital for new business, however this has its pros and cons.


The major downside is that often an asset will need to be attached that the bank can recover in repayments are not honored.


The upside is it means you are not using personal savings and occasionally if banks are presented with a really solid business plan they will offer you an unsecured loan. That means no assets will be seized if you fail to repay the loan.


Legal Requirements

Registering a business legally makes it a much more attractive and credible proposition for both potential customers and financial institutions. Essentially a new business is likely to fall into one of three categories: a sole proprietorship; a general partnership; a limited liability company.


Each has its own pros and cons which are worth researching.


Tax and Insurance

It is a legal requirement in the US to file periodic tax returns. To do so I needed to obtain a Tax Identification Number from the IRS, and, when I took on employees, I needed to get an Employer’s Identification Number from the IRS.


Different states have different tax requirements, local state offices will be able to give specific details.


Also, a solid insurance policy is a must too. A reputable insurance broker should be able to offer professional guidance.


In a nutshell…


Setting up a business requires a lot of time, planning and effort. It is a big commitment but is something I have never regretted and remains the best decision I have ever made.


Good luck!


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