But How Can You Stand Out From the Other Guys?
So let’s talk about this industry you want to get into… If you’re looking to launch a small business, there are few that offer lower barriers to entry than green industry staples like lawncare and landscaping.
Low Barriers to Entry:
For the cost of a basic truck, a trailer, and a few pieces of hand and power equipment, you could realistically launch a lucrative business with no need for specialized training or education. And with some luck and a lot of hard work, that business could gross you as much as $100k in the first year with no employees and minimal support. How many industries offer that?
But even with those low barriers to entry, you’ll see risks arise from some unwelcome competitive pressures. On the upstream side, you’ll be competing against large companies and national corporations that can often beat you on reliability, have greater economies of scale and can offer more comprehensive service.
On the downstream side, you’ll also have to deal with people who are in the business for other reasons. If you can launch this business with a couple grand and a pickup, so can other guys, and they might make things tough. They might not know what they’re doing and under-price jobs, making it harder for you to be profitable. They might also lack commitment and professionalism, leaving customers wary of working with new providers or anyone without a proven brand reputation.
The low barrier to entry means that the market might be flooded with low-quality providers. So if you’re an up and coming entrepreneur, there are a few things you’re going to have to do to make yourself more-agreeable and attractive to customers than every joker out there.
10 Ways To Stand Out From Other Startups:
- Treat your role as the serious and professional endeavor it is– This is a career. Too many people out there see it as a temporary thing or as just a means to get some pocket money. If you present and carry yourself like a professional, you’ll immediately set yourself apart from the bottom half of your competition.
- Look official (Personally) – This could be as simple as a $50 order for custom T-shirts, but taking even the simplest efforts to look more official and professional than the guy in the cutoffs and sleeveless T-Shirt will help you look the part while you act it.
- Look Official (Materials) – Take the opportunity to invest a couple hundred bucks in a few simple things to finish out this image of professionalism. You’ll want letterhead, quote sheets, and invoice forms, which can be either printed or electronic. Simple magnetic signs for your truck doors and business cards you can pass out are the only things that really can’t be electronic. Unless you want to drop more cash on a fancy logo design, you should be able to get this all for about $350. And invest another $350 in an account with Go iLawn or Go iPave, so your proposals look more official and professional than the competition!
- Be ready to work hard, even when it sucks (especially then) – We have seen this simple fact kill more potential successes than just about any other. Some guy starts a company, has some success, and then can’t sustain it because it’s hard work. And it’s especially hard to keep going for long periods of time. Expect to work 6 days a week, weather permitting (or 7). Expect to put in 10 and 12 hour days frequently and expect to do it for 9 months in a row with no letup.
- Expect that you’ll need to find ways to keep working year-round, even if your core business is seasonal. And in the offseason, (if you have one) expect to spend any extra time planning, prepping, selling, and tirelessly working to grow your business.
- Expect no vacations, no sick days and little rest. And commit, from the start, to doing this for at least three years. If you can do this, you can excel. If you can’t do this, or something close to it, stop now, because only through your own hard work, dedication and commitment can you expect to get through the crucial first year and gain some momentum.
- Set simple goals – Decide where you want to be in a year’s time and think about what it will take you to get there. Set goals along the way, so you have a path to get there. Don’t expect to go from 0-60 in no time. Set some realistic goals to get to 20, then 40, then 60 over time.
- Set future dates to evaluate your progress – Every so often, check back and see how you’re doing. Do it on a regular basis, like monthly or quarterly. Evaluate your performance at these times and decide how you can do better next time,
- Budget and Reinvest – Too often, we see guys who don’t plan carefully and end up in a cash crunch. Whether it’s unexpected repairs or unforeseen taxes, a big bill can wreak havoc on your business. A windfall customer is an opportunity to invest in your business or put away a nest egg to cover an emergency, not an opportunity to buy a new snowmobile.
- When in doubt, oversell – It’s a funny thing about work. When you have too much, you tend to get more done. It’s always better to have too much work than to have too little. And if you have an abundance, you can choose which work to do and which to pass on.
With luck, you can bring in employees, launch secondary crews and build a million-dollar business in 10 years, but to get there, you’d better be prepared to sweat and push and drive yourself harder than you can imagine, especially for the first few years.
Good Luck! ~ The Go iLawn /Go iPave team