Help Starting A Small Business

#61
Great post, Mike. Like a lot of others, I'm in your shoes too, and it's equally overwhelming and exciting. Just from reading through the replies I learned a lot and shifted some of my viewpoints on how to move forward.

My biggest concern with converting from an arborist who works for someone to the owner of a tree company (who is also doing the work) is the transition between leaving the world of working for another company behind and being out on my own while also getting a lot of steady work. The two almost need to overlap, I need to get my name out there and find work, but I also have to support myself, because a month away from a steady paycheck could really hurt.

Do you have any words of wisdom as far as this goes? What is the legit way to build a customer base and get your name known before you take the plunge? I really dont like the idea of working sidejobs with no insurance or true business, but at the same time it seems like that's unavoidable?

Excuse my ignorance, I'm really in the early stages of all of this.

Thanks for all of the input from everyone in this thread
 

TCtreeswinger

Well-Known Member
#62
I'm in the stage you're referring to Matt. Its very difficult to find the middle ground. I found a small company that has a OK climber but they need help. So I try to schedule a couple days a week to work for them. This gives me time to go on estimates do maintnence and design jobs ( i landscape as well) and not rush through jobs for safety's sake.

We are licensed and insured but it certainly is costly! Were an llc and have two guys signed up through a temp agency so that they are insured as well but only use them when we need them. Overall you need more time to work legitimately.

Getting a customer base is the hardest part. It takes time to get repeat customers which you need. Unless you want to be the cheapest removal company around. A good website is important and marketing in general is key. Again more time needed.

I've only had this arrangement a short time but I love it! I'm also going to be building log homes part time in the near future. Something I went to school for but never got into. Its more work than I ever imagined but its worth it!
 

evo

Well-Known Member
#63
I started by doing side jobs under the table, and only took the small jobs like apple tree pruning. I also live in a small community, and many of my clients are people who I see around daily. This month last year I inquired about a local group who does private lending. They are people who are wealthy and rather invest in the local community than in the stock market... I sent an inquiry email off to them just to see what the process was, and I was asked to write a page bio about myself and what I wanted to do. It turned out that they were having a gathering three days later, which I was invited to. Before I knew it I had 6+ people willing to pull out their checkbooks. They all wanted to see my business plan, which at the time was only on scraps of paper. I refined the plan within a few weeks, then by mid July I had a loan. Which got me a larger truck, and a small chipper. I sold my old toyota 1980 4x4 and 10' brush hauling trailer (Which I miss daily) to cover insurance, bond, ect...
I am lucky enough to work part time as a employee, and do this legit on the side. I haven't had any problems making my payments and I have bumped up my income considerably within the first year. I went from struggling from paycheck to paycheck, to being able to comfortably absorb the financial impact of a car breaking down, or needing a set of tires....
Time management is my issue as I have few if any days off to spend with my family, whom I am the sole bread winner..
 
#64
I'm in the stage you're referring to Matt. Its very difficult to find the middle ground. I found a small company that has a OK climber but they need help. So I try to schedule a couple days a week to work for them. This gives me time to go on estimates do maintnence and design jobs ( i landscape as well) and not rush through jobs for safety's sake.

We are licensed and insured but it certainly is costly! Were an llc and have two guys signed up through a temp agency so that they are insured as well but only use them when we need them. Overall you need more time to work legitimately.

Getting a customer base is the hardest part. It takes time to get repeat customers which you need. Unless you want to be the cheapest removal company around. A good website is important and marketing in general is key. Again more time needed.

I've only had this arrangement a short time but I love it! I'm also going to be building log homes part time in the near future. Something I went to school for but never got into. Its more work than I ever imagined but its worth it!
The log home building sounds awesome, I will hit you up once things get rolling;)

I want to be the complete opposite of "the cheapest removal company" and luckily I live in an area with a progressive arboriculture community and a lot of people who will pay money for quality tree care.

I really want to have a large part of the company be PHC/IPM, along with the removals and pruning (because so far all of my side sales are removals, because half the people here also hate their trees).

It's good to talk about this with other guys who are doing this and in the early stages. Thanks again, and best of luck to you.
 

treehumper

Well-Known Member
#65
Approach landscapers that share a love of good tree care with you. Let them be your sales force.

Get insured. Connect with the Shade Tree and Environmental Commission to generate buzz. Give talks to master gardener groups. Connect with some RE agents. They could use someone who can clean up the trees to improve the properties curb appeal.
 

MikePowers321

Well-Known Member
#67
I just wanted to do a little update. Been about 2 years officially being in business. It has been a great joy and a great pain in the ass all at once.

I have built an awesome customer base purely by word of mouth. Doing a good solid job and being friendly goes a looong way and my name spread like wildfire with no real effort at all. Very thankful for this to be the case.

However, I now understand what some of you mentioned about being a climber vs. a business man. I proved to myself I can run a business, and efficiently, but there are certain aspects that are not my cup of tea.

The constant scheduling, calls, estimates, paperwork, and maintenance can be rough at times. I'd be lying if I didn't miss going into work and just figuring everything out on the fly. Now I have time to think about the monster nightmare job thats scheduled 4 weeks out. That's a psychological problem though ;)

Hmmm...how should I put this? I haven't had both feet in the business. My intentions have never to grow big with lots of employees and equipment. But business will naturally start to push you this way. I just wanted a little freedom to do my own thing.

So make sure you have both feet in the water. I was just dipping my toes in to test the waters. It's been an awesome learning experience thus far.

I think I will be doing more contract climbing and simplify my life a bit.

And I know alot of you work your butts off and run large businesses. I commend you all :numberone:
 
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