How to Start and Run a Successful Lawn Care & Landscape Business

Before you “Hang your Shingle”

Plan? We don’t need no stinking plan! There is only one time I personally recommend you do a “full fledged” business plan. When you need to borrow money that you CANNOT get anywhere else. I say this because a true business plan, though a “map” to where you’re going, has much information you won’t really need, use or understand. I favor Marc Allen’s’ approach called the “one page plan”.

I suggest you read the Millionaire Course by Marc Allen to get a better feel for it, but here’s the basics.

• Write down your ideal scene, set five years in the future.
• Write down your goals (extracted from ideal scene).
• Turn your goals into positive, personal, present-tense affirmations.
• Deal with doubts and fears effectively (the book provides a specific process for this).
• Write simple plans for your goals on paper.
• Take the most obvious first action right in front of you, and keep going from there.

So you basically write down your ideal scene, be brave and be outrageous. Then scan this document for “goals” that you can write down. Then write down specific tasks you can take to accomplish these goals. Remember, beginning has boldness! And hard work is simply a bunch of easy stuff that didn’t get done when it should’ve!

Who are you? Who are your clients?

Define your market – define yourself: Who are you as a company? Are you the guy who specializes in cemeteries and schools and other municipal properties? Or are you the one who takes care of that “select group” of wealthy, particular clients who very few have the skill and patience to serve? It’s SO important to define yourself FIRST or you’ll have a “mixed bag” of clients and you’ll make many errors in judgment as to how to serve each type. You can be general or specific, but start defining now.

We cater to middle to upper – middle class, middle to old age, particular but not “spoiled”. This is where we experience the best money, most enjoyment and greatest client satisfaction. On the corporate side, we cater to small properties who are loyal to a company who gives great service. We want companies that say “Ok, he did our property JUST the way we liked it last year, I see no reason to go anywhere else”. I stay away from companies that put their properties out to bid every year. You MIGHT keep the job if you give “knock em’ dead” service, but chances are, saving money will always win in the end. I Stick with small and loyal, and that just works for us.

DO occasionally take clients “above” your target, just not below. Defining yourself is another way of setting your “terms”. For instance, our rate is our rate. We don’t dicker. We say HOW the work gets done, the client gets to dictate the end result. I am paid on time. I do what’s best for my family, I live by the golden rule and I clean up my messes and take 100% responsibility for my life. Notice there are no “or else’s” at the end, no “back doors”. THEN they would be called “conditions”. These are NOT conditions, they are “terms”. There is no room for any alternative and we do not give the alternative space to exist. Period. Most of your personal terms would be the same whether you were married, single, childless or patriarch over a brood of 11. They “define” you, and adhering to them strengthens you and compromising them weakens you.

Metaphysically speaking, when you define yourself, you invoke the great “I AM”. When you firmly define yourself, you will begin to find situations drawn to you that fit your definition. You’ll get calls from the “right” clients, you’ll be in the “right” place for the president of the condo association to stop and talk to you, you’ll happen to be the ONLY contractor that answered his phone that day when the new homeowner next door calls.

Pick two and “Know the WHY?”

Pick Two: This is extremely important! There are 3 things you can offer; low price, great service, great quality. You can only offer TWO out of the three. What are they going to be? If it’s great service and quality, don’t you DARE let clients dicker with you on price. Trying to offer all 3, OR offering a “different 2” from one day to the next will do you in quicker than almost any bad business decision you can make. Who are you? It’s ok to change your mind as you go along, just be clear as to why. Be clear on who you are.

I’m clear that I’m all about quality and service, which is why I hire subs and am “stepping back”. All my successful business decisions can be traced back to a decision to follow these two choices. All or most of my poor decisions can be traced back to a time that I “waffled” and forgot who I was.

Know the Why!: Know what you’re going to charge and WHY. You MUST feel that there’s a reason you charge $40, $60 or $80 per hour or you’ll let yourself be talked out of it. Know WHY you’re in business. What are your goals, what are you trying to accomplish? Where are you going? Another word for “WHY” is “purpose”, and purpose gives the needed energy and passion to everything. Passion is really all you need to get going and STAY going through all sorts of conditions. Passion leads to perseverance. Perseverance leads to success. Perseverance is “heard” by God and the universe as “Hey, this is what I want and where I’m going, regardless of whatever obstacles I encounter”. This is also crucial in budgeting. Know how you came up with your numbers. Do the extra work. Instead of just saying “I want to grow 20% next year”, figure out what needs to happen to accomplish that. How many lawns do I need to get? Make sure you BELIEVE that you can do it, and you understand what needs to HAPPEN for you to do it and your chances will skyrocket.

Sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation? This is one of those questions that can ONLY be answered firmly by a lawyer or tax specialist (you do have an accountant don’t you?!) But I’ll put my 2 cents in here. I believe that ONCE YOU ARE MAKING A GOOD PROFIT, an Scorp is the best way to go for the following reasons:

1. It disciplines you to keep company and personal money separate because you HAVE to pay yourself a paycheck and CANNOT commingle funds.

2. As you make more profit, you get to dictate your paycheck and leave the rest of the profit in the company which simply gets taxed at your rate. For instance, if you are a sole proprietorship, and you make $50,000 profit you have to pay state and fed taxes PLUS social security and Medicare (self employment tax) of 15.3% (you and company side). If you are an Scorp instead, you pay yourself $30,000 and pay all those taxes on it, then JUST pay state and fed on the remaining $20,000, saving $3,060!! Setting up an Scorp is pretty straight forward.

I would say that as long as your GROSS is $100,000 or less and your net before tax profit (including money you pay yourself as wages) is $30,000 or less, you should stay either a sole proprietorship OR LLC. Consult your lawyer and accountant on these matters first though.

A couple of points about incorporating:

• DON’T buy expensive ledger and corporate package. It’s only a fancy 3 ring binder and corporate seal. Google “corporate seal” if you really want one, but my understanding is that they are no longer necessary.
• DO spend 50-60 on an incorporating package OR a program like LLC maker because it just simplifies and clarifies everything for you. IF you are comfortable researching, go ahead, but my advice is that if you can run a business, you can incorporate yourself without a lawyer. I just bought a “maintenance package” that includes minutes and bylaws to keep everything tidy and legal.

That’s it for now!

No Lawyer Required – Small Claims Court

Your best friend, or someone you thought of as a friend, asked you for a loan of $2,500.00. You had the money, and you liked the guy, so you said okay. Two months have passed, and he bought a new house. You know he’s not hurting. You called him after you heard about the house and asked when he was going to pay you back. He said he had huge expenses now because of the new house. He said soon. Two weeks later you called again. Again he said soon. You just put the phone down. You’re tired of calling. He said soon again. What to do next?

This situation sounds like a case for small claims court. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Letter

Write your friend a letter. Tell him that he has two weeks to pay you back. Tell him you want to resolve his payment to you in a friendly manner, but if you do not receive a check within two weeks, you will see him in small claims court.

We’re hoping that the letter resolves the non-payment problem. If it does not, you’ll have to continue to step two.

2. File a claim

Go to your local small claims court and complete the forms. You can probably download the forms from your county’s small claims website. Submit the forms to the small claims court. The court will schedule a hearing.

3. Service of process

Your friend has become the defendant. He must be served at least 15 days before the hearing date if the defendant lives in San Francisco county. If the defendant does not live in the county, s/he must be served at least 20 days before the hearing date. A capable adult must serve a true copy of the claim. You cannot serve the defendant.

4. Evidence

You next gather all evidence to submit at the hearing. Evidence would include a copy of the cancelled check that you gave your friend and dates and notes of all phone calls that you made to him. You may want to take a photo of his new house.

5. At the hearing

Small claims courts are generally much more informal that other courts. The judge will ask you questions, and then s/he’ll ask your friend, the defendant, questions.

If you have presented the situation with evidence, the judge will probably rule in your favor.

You’ve won your case, and your friend is now going to pay you back, but suppose he doesn’t. Suppose he is a real jerk and has decided that he wants you to have to work just a little harder to get your money back.

6. Collecting a judgment

You have to collect the judgment. The defendant may pay the amount directly to the court. If the defendant does not have the money, the defendant may have to pay installments.

If your friend refuses to pay, you can complete an Application and Order for Appearance and Examination which would require your friend to appear in small claims court to have his income and resources examined.

You could also consider wage garnishment by completing a Writ of Execution. This writ could also levy your friend’s checking or other bank account.

If your friend has a business with a cash register, a sheriff can go to the business for a till tap. The sheriff can take enough money from the cash register to pay the judgment debt. The typical sheriff’s fee for a till tap is $85.00. We hope your friend doesn’t put you in this situation, but if you are ever in this situation, the purpose of small claims courts is to resolve small problems without the expense of an attorney. This is the do it yourself legal remedy.

Disclaimer: This article is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, seek out a licensed attorney. Remember that small claims courts do not require an attorney. If, however, the losing defendant appeals the small claims court’s decision, the new venue is a superior court. In a superior court, you will need an attorney.

Crucial Steps to Take During Your Search for the Perfect Bankruptcy Lawyer to Represent You in Court

Considering how our lives have become so dependent on credit cards for every little purchase, it becomes very easy for people to lose track of how much money they owe and before they know it they get buried in so much debt that they find it impossible to recover from it. This is not only limited to people but carries on to businesses and organizations as well. The borrowing and lending of money and the purchase and selling of goods on credit are the main reasons which lead to excessive debt. This is why we have bankruptcy laws to help people recover from excessive debt and start fresh. But the laws of bankruptcy are quite complicated and in order to file for bankruptcy you need to have a competent bankruptcy lawyer to help you out.

To begin with, the very first step that you need to take before filing for bankruptcy is to hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. This step though might appear to be very simple; it is in fact the main step that will determine how your bankruptcy case unfolds in court and how likely you will succeed in it. The bankruptcy lawyer you choose is your future and therefore you need to take the utmost care and caution when choosing which bankruptcy lawyer to hire to represent you in court. This article is written to specifically help you out in this step. You will get to know all the steps required for you to successfully hire the best bankruptcy lawyer for you.

The first source to look into for bankruptcy lawyer referrals is either your friends or any other lawyer that you may know. If you do not know of any person who is a lawyer or any person who knows a lawyer than the second source to look into for a bankruptcy lawyer is the yellow pages. This is a convenient and quick way to get a name of a bankruptcy lawyer working in your area. The yellow pages usually list all lawyers according to their specialty therefore looking into the bankruptcy section will immediately give you a list of all bankruptcy lawyers in your area.

The next step involved in your search for a good lawyer is to start gathering some background information on the names you have in your list. Background information can easily be found on any lawyer through the internet. If not you can call up the court and ask them for a review on the lawyer you are interested in. Check out for which bankruptcy related lawyer has the most number of successful cases and which bankruptcy related lawyer has the longest work experience of practicing particularly in your area and your local court rather than in any other state. If a bankruptcy lawyer has a longer experience in another state then avoid hiring him or her because the laws and regulations change a lot from state to state and that bankruptcy lawyer might not have sufficient information to represent your case.

Once you narrow down your list to two or three lawyers then start calling up each bankruptcy related lawyer and ask them to allow you to visit them for a consultation session. These consultation sessions are normally free. If a bankruptcy related lawyer is charging you for it, avoid him or her. This initial session with a bankruptcy related lawyer will help you make the final decision of which bankruptcy related lawyer to finally hire depending on which one you are the most comfortable with. Comfort is a major factor because in the coming days you will be spending a lot of time with this new bankruptcy related lawyer, therefore always ensure that you are fully comfortable with him or her.

Where to Find Asbestos Mesothelioma Legal Information

People today have different reasons for looking up asbestos mesothelioma legal information. Some have suspicions regarding various symptoms that they feel while others do not just have suspicions but already have confirmations. These people are often quite confused and are looking for guidance regarding the things that they should do. They see information and knowledge as the only way they can actually use. If you are one of those people, or just someone doing research, then you should know that getting accurate asbestos mesothelioma legal information is quite essential mainly because the topic is dealing with health related issues.

Here are some tips to help you out:

1) Consult a lawyer – Where else do you get asbestos mesothelioma legal information than from someone who is an expert in all manner of legalities. Of course, finding a good lawyer to get your information from can be quite hard, especially today when a lot of lawyers are looking to get some cash from asbestos litigation. By consulting a lawyer who actually has had experience handling mesothelioma cases, then you will be able to make sure that you are not be wasting your time talking to that person.

There is, however, an issue regarding how fair any sort of asbestos mesothelioma legal information that comes from any lawyer is. This is because of the fact that lawyers are always on the constant lookout for new clients. Even a simple inquiry for asbestos mesothelioma legal information may end up with you retaining that lawyer’s services simply because of the amount of marketing that he or she has placed within the information. When you get asbestos mesothelioma legal information from a lawyer, be sure to try and screen out the propaganda.

2) Go to a library – If you are still just scanning various places for asbestos mesothelioma legal information simply as an initial guide to help you decide whether to litigate or not, then the library should give you all the information that you will need. Any sort of library will surely yield some sort of asbestos mesothelioma legal information that you can use. However, if you are truly looking for in-depth studies of asbestos litigation, then you should try to look at various law libraries. By researching in a law library, you will be able to access the actual materials that some lawyers use when they are preparing for a case. However, this may also mean that you need to actually research like a lawyer and get down and dusty with the different books. Although this may seem like dreary work, the end product is definitely worth it.

3) Go to the internet – Many people today are turning to the internet for the majority of their information needs. This is because the internet may contain pages upon pages of the asbestos mesothelioma legal information that you need. However, as with consulting lawyers, this type of information can be pretty hard to verify if it is fair or not. This is mainly because a lot of people see the internet as a chance to dupe others. Some lawyers place asbestos mesothelioma legal information that helps them convince people that the only solution to their problem is litigation. Some companies under fire also use the internet to scatter false information which could deter people from pursuing any inquiries.

When you have found the asbestos mesothelioma legal information that you want, what are you to do with it? Well, as said before, people use information in different ways. However, on the off-chance that you are one of those people who are looking for asbestos mesothelioma legal information in order to help them find some sort of stability amidst the chaos of both the disease and the legal implications thereof, then you should definitely think of what to do with the information you have gathered.

The first thing that you have to think about is how the information applies to you. Which pieces of the asbestos mesothelioma legal information that you have gathered can you actually use and just how might you be able to utilize them? Knowing this will help you focus the specifics of your case if you ever choose to litigate. The next move that you need to make would be to consult a lawyer and retain his or her services. Remember to pick a good lawyer to help you with your case. Think of all the research you did as preparation. Gathering enough asbestos mesothelioma legal information can help you familiarize yourself with the various tactics that your lawyer may use and thus, make the case much easier for the both of you.

As you can see, asbestos mesothelioma legal information can be extremely helpful if you know how to handle it correctly. The key is in finding the right sort of information and actually knowing how to utilize it well.

The Importance of Enlisting the Help of a Commercial Lawyer When Starting Up a New Business

Starting a new business is a wonderfully exciting time. From lack of sleep and making plans however, you can often get stuck in a bad situation if you don’t have proper legal advisers. Enlisting the help of a firm of commercial lawyers will help ensure you don’t make any errors in the set up of your business and in the years to come. Here, we’ve outlined the main reasons why it is vital for new business owners to make sure they seek legal advice and representation when necessary.

  • Long terms costs- Many people shy away from lawyers often thinking that the money you have to pay in fees is a waste or overpriced. The fact is, there are so many different firms now that make prices more competitive. Employing a commercial lawyer to assist with specific things or anything you are unsure of could save you literally hundreds of thousands in the long run, making it a very worthy investment to ensure peace of mind and the security of your business.
  • A fresh, clean start- You don’t want your business to start off on the wrong foot because you didn’t seek the appropriate legal advice necessary. Keep the running and operations of your business clean and smooth from the get go and you are more likely to have a smooth running business in the long run.
  • Leave it to the experts- By employing a firm of lawyers to liaise with over legal matters as they arise, you are not only ensuring you are making the right decisions for your business, but it also gives you more time to focus on the functions of your business rather than working on things that are not in your field of expertise.
  • Learn from the professionals- The great thing about having a firm of commercial lawyers working for you is that you can make sure that the knowledge you do learn over the years relating to business law, is correct. This will help you to not only understand things better, but you will able to use this knowledge when necessary.
  • Establish relationships that will last for many years- It is good to do your research and engage with a competent firm of corporate lawyers right from the start of your business. You will always been requiring legal advice, so it really is better to have one group of lawyers you are dealing with. They know you and your business and you’ll be able to trust them and rely on their support should you ever need more legal council down the track.

It really is so important for new business owners to enlist the help of a commercial lawyer to ensure their business starts off on the right foot. I hope our list of reasons why it is so important has given you some insight as to why making sure you receive correct legal council when setting up a new business is so important and even vital to the businesses success.