Starting out

KevinS

Well-Known Member
Location
ontario
I started into trees in 2005 and have done a pretty good mix of types of tree work. I’ve worked for 3 different companies over my time as an arb but last week the boss talked to me and let me know that things are shutting down.

I’ve got a few jobs lined up and a couple clients that want to stick with me for consulting, etc. So after a few sleepless nights and talking with my wife I’m going to start my own company. Smaller scale than before I’m coming from managing 5 crews to just me. Start small and grow I can’t dump money on a chipper until I earn it.

I know lots of you guys and gals have been here before. Any words of advice or tips to help make sure I stay on my feet?

Thanks
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Don’t do it! But if you insist on going out on your own, here’s a couple tips:

Spend your money carefully, but be willing to spend when necessary. Advertise, especially online, and have a good website built - that’s how everyone searches these days. Find a good team of advisors - a business coach, a small-business lawyer, and an accountant - and listen to what they tell you. All three will be somewhat expensive, but will more than pay for themselves if you utilize them properly.

If you have specific questions, let me know, I’m happy to try to help you out, within reason. I’ve been doing this a while, and like to think I have an idea what I’m doing, and I’m willing to share my experiences with others who don’t have so many.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Location
Maine Island
Why “don’t do it” @Reach ? I can list a bunch of reasons too, just curious as to yours. Good luck out there Kevin, that sounds like a big change for you. Any chance of your boss selling/giving/financing gear and clients to you?
 

VenasNursery

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
I started into trees in 2005 and have done a pretty good mix of types of tree work. I’ve worked for 3 different companies over my time as an arb but last week the boss talked to me and let me know that things are shutting down.

I’ve got a few jobs lined up and a couple clients that want to stick with me for consulting, etc. So after a few sleepless nights and talking with my wife I’m going to start my own company. Smaller scale than before I’m coming from managing 5 crews to just me. Start small and grow I can’t dump money on a chipper until I earn it.

I know lots of you guys and gals have been here before. Any words of advice or tips to help make sure I stay on my feet?

Thanks
If you don’t believe in yourself
No one else will either
8hrs a day working on the job
4-6 hrs a day bids, paperwork ,maintenance
And then family time and 15 minutes to yourself if lucky

I just worked 27 out of 30 days

life in the fast lane

that’s most of the bad side but there is plenty positive too
 

KevinS

Well-Known Member
Location
ontario
Why “don’t do it” @Reach ? I can list a bunch of reasons too, just curious as to yours. Good luck out there Kevin, that sounds like a big change for you. Any chance of your boss selling/giving/financing gear and clients to you?
He treated me as well as I could ever ask for on the way out
 

oldoakman

Well-Known Member
Location
Alorgia
What is your wife's situation? Does she work outside the home? Is she willing to assume some roles in the business, book keeping, billing, scheduling etc? This will take some of the weight off you. When I was in business I had it all on me. We hold other family issues going on but my wife wanted me to tell her what to do and I wanted her to develop her own system. Never got there. Good luck in your adventure.
 

Treezybreez

Well-Known Member
Location
Lancaster, SC
Try to be as organized as possible. I do quotes on Mondays only and this has really helped cut down on confution and makes it more efficient. Get everything in writing. Figure out a day rate/half day rate and offer that instead of itemizing when a client wants a quote for a bunch of trees. Itemize the rest of the time.

Just a few things that I wish I had leaned sooner.

And congratulations on branching out on your own!
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
X2 on organization. For me the biggest item for organization is expense receipts. The first couple of years I kept every paper receipt taped in a binder under a different categories. Do yourself a favor and skip this process, not only is it a pain adding them up at the end of the year but the paper copies fade even when left out of sunlight. Now I scan receipts into an app on my phone and the app keeps a running total of expenses in each category. It takes about 5-10 seconds to scan and then you don't have to hold onto paper copies.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Why “don’t do it” @Reach ? I can list a bunch of reasons too, just curious as to yours. Good luck out there Kevin, that sounds like a big change for you. Any chance of your boss selling/giving/financing gear and clients to you?
First off, if my saying that disuades someone from going out on their own, they definitely would not have made it. More than that, after seventeen years self employed, I would not wish it on anyone. The perpetual problems - employees, contractors, customers, equipment - will about do in any sane person. If they don’t, the hours you have to work the first years will probably finish you off.

However, some people, like me, just can’t work for someone else and seem to need to be self employed. If you’re one of those, go for it! You’ll make it one way or another, in spite of wanting to hang it up and sell off the equipment and employees at least once a month.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
I am the same. Would never work for another person. Have thought about it. Tested the waters a few times. I am not the type to have to answer to others. Also I do not like a lot of people around me. I make good money have a nice clientelle. Fairly upmarket. They can afford to pay my worth. Go for it. I know 3 of my friends who made it in Ontario. You can make it work @KevinS ....
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
Buy a mini, and extra attachments for additional services, if possible.
5 years of productive work will pay for a loan. Mini's are way more dependable than employees, only do what they are 'told', never decide to change a plan you are busy executing, will work every storm at any time, no workers comp, so much easier to keep hydrated...

Mini s don't drive, though. Lots of tree laborers don't, either, or shouldn't.

Maybe, your market need a chipper more.
Look into financing.


Luckily, you've seen most of it, on your bosses' dime, and can learn from them.


What a these 5 crews of trained guys going to do. Your new employee or competition??
 
Last edited:

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Location
Maine Island
All that Reach and the money. Sweet to get those checks and gross in a day what one would get in x working for someone else...but end of the year with the accountant it’s a different story. I hope this year (#6?) will show more profit but what an uphill fist fight, equipment especially. Headaches galore but makes our home life and raising our daughter the way we want doable.
Edit: an employee has a much easier time shutting off the work brain when they head home. I got a call from a client at 10:30pm this past Sat, didn’t answer but not uncommon to get calls and texts every day.
 
Last edited:

Boomslang

Well-Known Member
Location
NB
Ask yourself what you want out of this long term. Are you the type who just wants to earn a living? Or do you have big dreams?

Some people are happy with just themselves and maybe one or two other workers knocking out small and medium sized jobs. Keeping overhead low. Not answering the phone after 6 o'clock. Finding a work-life balance. And staying that way.

Others want to be the next big thing. Take out loans. Constantly buy or upgrade equipment. Add additional crews. Always looking for the next opportunity to grow. The long term payoff might be better.

I've hummed and hawed about starting my own thing for years, but the freedoms of just being an employee are hard to give up. I get paid reliably and consistently. As an owner there are times where you won't pay yourself due to any number of circumstances. When I leave the yard at the end of the day I switch off work mode. I just go enjoy being with my family. There's no looming paperwork or maintenance or scheduling or estimates that could be done. If one day I decide I want to go live in a yurt on the Mongolian steppe I simply pack up and leave. I'm not responsible to any employees or customers or creditors.

I'm sure you'll do fine with whatever you decide.
 
Last edited:

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
Define to yourself why you want to have your own business. If its for the money you may reconsider. For me it was i wanted to do things my way, money wasnt the primary reason. Sure the money will come but only after years of commitment and work. Owning a tree business is a life style.
 

AdkEric

Active Member
Location
Adirondacks
Now I scan receipts into an app on my phone and the app keeps a running total of expenses in each category. It takes about 5-10 seconds to scan and then you don't have to hold onto paper copies.
Mind if I ask what app you're using? I'm getting tired of messing around with all my paper receipts.
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
Mind if I ask what app you're using? I'm getting tired of messing around with all my paper receipts.
Not at all. The app I am using now is called "smart receipts" on android. It backs up onto my drive so that if I were to ever lose/replace my phone all of the info is still there.

It's as easy as taking a picture of the receipt at the time of purchase, selecting the category (fuel, supplies...) and typing in the cost. If you opt to pay for additional features it can actually read the receipt and fill in those fields for you. I prefer to do it manually to be sure that it is in the correct category and at the correct cost.
 

AdkEric

Active Member
Location
Adirondacks
Not at all. The app I am using now is called "smart receipts" on android. It backs up onto my drive so that if I were to ever lose/replace my phone all of the info is still there.

It's as easy as taking a picture of the receipt at the time of purchase, selecting the category (fuel, supplies...) and typing in the cost. If you opt to pay for additional features it can actually read the receipt and fill in those fields for you. I prefer to do it manually to be sure that it is in the correct category and at the correct cost.
Thanks!
 

B_Strange

Well-Known Member
Location
Simmonsville
+1 on an accountant and attorney. I did not do that and just had to tell my wife we have to pay the government this year. Didn’t know how taxes worked. Now we got hit with a 4K tax bill. So my wife is going to train with a local accountant on Quickbooks. So get an accountant and itemize and keep good records. I’ll not make this mistake again.
 

Tom Lynch

Active Member
Location
Brockville
Know your target market and sales. Know your own work ethic, including back end paperwork, organization, stress management. Have the supports you need in place, you can't do everything: accounting, bookkeeping, lawyer, marketing, maintenance, sales, reception, staffing, payroll. Have written contracts!

I'm just starting out solo, with a very simple and flexible plan. I own everything I need to do the work I want. I have VERY low overhead. I work any time, anywhere, most any profit level; I land work or get a contract, I go. See how things shake out. No commitments; kids, spouse, loans, mortgage... I have no goals this season, just exploring. It has been incredible :love: I'm kinda in a unicorn scenario, I'm not sure I would want to take on the stress with the typical mortgage, family, consumer debt.

Have an offseason plan! Disability insurance!

Best of luck! Hit me up if you want a contract climber. I'll be in your neighborhood on the 18th for a rec climb, with JLS Tree Service, come play :cool:
 

New threads New posts

Kask Stihl NORTHEASTERN Arborists Wesspur TreeStuff.com Kask Teufelberger Westminster X-Rigging Teufelberger Tracked Lifts Climbing Innovations
Top Bottom