Regrets going out on your own/words of caution?

Wondering if there is anyone out there who tried to go out on their own, either as a contract climber, or starting their own tree service who ended up regretting it? Or any words of caution for someone entertaining the thought?
 

Bendroctanus

Participating member
Location
Springfield
I would say, take care of yourself. Don’t let busyness, tiredness, and fatigue dictate your diet. It’s going to be rough, but you’ll weather the storms if you eat like a professional athlete. Remember, even if you push yourself to finish out the day, you still have to make it the rest of the month. You are your greatest asset, so take care of yourself.
 
Hmmm, what business model are you thinking? What gear? A major regret was dumping stupid money into trucks/chipper that I could buy cash sale vs financing new. Over a 5yr period the math was apparent as was the downtime and constant headache. Tell us what you are thinking as far as scope and initial investments.
I'm really in the early stages of thinking about it, and have no commitments so far. Still weighing the pros and cons of stepping out on my own. I don't think I will ever want to run a big company, nor will I want to stray too far from production until I need to/can't physically do the work anymore.

I'm only 4 years into the industry, and proud of how much I've grown in that time, but humble enough to know that I am far from a top notch, lead climber.

It sounds like the pros (to me at least) of working for yourself vs. just being an employee are the freedom/control to work as you see fit with whom you see fit, and a potential for greater income.

All this being said, I am working for a really good company right now that is treating me well.

Just considering options for the future, really at this point.

I feel like in my personal life I have had a lot of people encourage me to go out on my own (that know very little, if anything about tree work), and I've seen lots of encouragement to others on this forum, which is great. I just know that it wouldn't be all sunshine and rainbows, and want to have realistic expectations, I guess.

Also, I think at this point contracting sounds more appealing to me than running my own full tree service. Would love to hear experienced people weigh in on comparing those two as well though.
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
I have a lot of opinions on the matter, as one who has owned multiple businesses over about 18 years. Also, assuming you’re in Bucks County, PA, I would be happy to meet with you in person if I can be of any help to you - I’m not far away, just over in Chester Co.

Contract climbing is a good option if you like climbing difficult trees all the time, and want to limit your income to about what you’ll get as a good climber at a reputable company, but want more flexibility in your schedule.

Running a full tree service removes your income cap, but for you to run a successful business that makes a substantial profit, you need to be a businessman first and a tree technician second.

Do you like business more, or tree work? How are you at management, and customer relations?

I do not regret going out on my own - it’s really all I’ve ever known, but it is a lifestyle, not just a job.
 

Edi

New member
Location
Illinois
I still remember the words someone give me before I started my own business.
He told me, you can be really good at what you do but that doesn't mean you can be a good business man or you can be useless as a worker but good in business, it's hard to be at both but it's possible.
In my first years my workers made more money than me a week.
My regret back then was trying to be the"nice guy" but it was expensive trying to make everyone happy.
Later understand that all I have to be is a good employer.
 

27RMT0N

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
WA
Very true about the needing to be a good worker AND businessman, being both is not easy or as common as people seem to think. A lot guys see the 'fat checks' the boss is getting and say to themselves "Hey, I'm here doing the work and getting an hourly wage that is a fraction of this, I can do better!" without having any understanding of the costs required to run a legit business or find that work in the first place.

The thing that gets me the most is that there is never a break, you are never DONE. I cut, climb and meet with customers all day, then go home and maintain tools and equipment, write bids, and schedule for the days/weeks ahead at night. Since starting the business, I'm not sure I've ever had a single moment when there wasn't SOMETHING to be doing that was business related, and that never leaves the back of your mind. Often times, it is in the front of mind and very hard to turn off.

I'm happy to be doing my own thing, but there is also a hell of a lot to be said for clocking out and actually being done with work for the day.
 
Last edited:

OasisTree

Participating member
Location
Central Missouri
Surround yourself with good people, learn to delegate - because your employees will think for themselves if you can give them confidence!!
Learn to turn off - the phone, the desk time, and even think about something else. I still need to do better at that.
Hire a secretary sooner than later...it is well worth it. Spend the money on good client management software, and learn how to use it. Past data on repeat jobs is invaluable.
Buy new equipment if at all possible - if you have breakdowns it costs 3 times - the parts, the time to fix it, and the time you could have been making money or doing something else you enjoy.
Try to do all of your desk work and bidding during business hours - this comes after you have guys that can handle the work.
Don't be afraid of CDL requirements - if you try to stay under CDL it limits growth and equipment. You will be able to afford the CDL guys if you have good equipment and price your jobs accordingly.

Just some thots from my years in the business.
 
Last edited:

Crimsonking

Carpal tunnel level member
Surround yourself with good people, learn to delegate - because your employees will think for themselves if you can give them confidence!!
Learn to turn off - the phone, the desk time, and even think about something else. I still need to do better at that.
Hire a secretary sooner than later...it is well worth it. Spend the money on good client management software, and learn how to use it. Past data on repeat jobs is invaluable.
Buy new equipment if at all possible - if you have breakdowns it costs 3 times - the parts, the time to fix it, and the time you could have been making money or doing something else you enjoy.
Try to do all of your desk work and bidding during business hours - this comes after you have guys that can handle the work.
Don't be afraid of CDL requirements - if you try to stay under CDL it limits growth and equipment. You will be able to afford the CDL guys if you have good equipment and price your jobs accordingly.

Just some thots from my years in the business.
Gold
 

owScott

Branched out member
Location
Lafayette
IMO sub contract climbing and even sub contracting with equipment is the middle road from 100% employee to 100% tree business operator. Sub contracting for alot of other companies is how I met other people in the industry and evenually was the pool of people I put together to run my company. Also you learn how other companies operate and will help you understand where your market is money wise. The step from sub to not subbing at all takes time and can be committing when you make the step. I know people on here go on their own without help or employees, but people to work with you IMO is the key. Doing everthing yourself isnt long term sustainable or the most profitable niether is trying to run multible crews right off. Plenty of people may disagree this is just my take.
 

CutHighnLetFly

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
Cape Cod, MA
I sub contracted to slowly build my self employment endeavor. The network I created thru contract climbing, people let me rent their stuff, gave me work, and some of them now just give us the leads since we are a full service company now, outside of PHC.
Now I did break up with some people, contract climbing is what it is, butbcharge accordingly, be honest about what you can provide, building relationships with good connections, and it has a lot of potential to help you grow. Just my experience
 

New threads New posts

Kask Stihl NORTHEASTERN Arborists Wesspur TreeStuff.com Kask Teufelberger Westminster X-Rigging Teufelberger Tracked Lifts Arbor Expo BayLeafDigital
Top Bottom