5 low-cost ways to start a lawn care business

So you want to start a lawn care business, but don’t have a stack of green to buy a new truck, trailer, and a big mower. Hell, maybe you don’t have the funds to buy a wore out truck and a junky used walk-behind mower.

You’re in luck. You can still start a lawn care business with your limited budget. And maybe even no budget at all….. if you are creative.

Think outside the box

Can you afford any option below?

  • A tarp and set of hedge trimmers
  • A granular spreader and a bag of fire ant control
  • 20 bales of pine straw or let the homeowner buy it and you spread it
  • 5 soil testing kits
  • $10 a week to run a classified ad for mowing services that you sub out for a percentage of the job cost

Start a lawn care business in bite-sized steps

The services above could be part of a large lawn care operation. It’s true. But that fact shows that doing just one of the services is a viable option for you if you are just starting out.

These services are in demand, but some homeowners don’t want all of them performed. Many homeowners have a mower, but don’t know how to do a soil test properly. Or maybe they don’t have a decent spreader for pest control.

So start off small and work your way up to a full service lawn business. Or don’t. Be creative and you might actually profit more than a guy with ten employees, 15 mowers, and a constant headache!

Let’s look at each option below.

Hedge Trimming

Even if a senior citizen is still mowing his lawn at 72 years old, it’s unlikely he can handle the hedge trimming. This is hard work and painful if you are not used to it. Holding a heavy piece of equipment in outstretched arms for an hour or two is tough enough on a twenty-year old!

This little service can be composed of the trimmers along with a rake and tarp to rake up the clippings. If you can’t buy the $300 trimmers, then line up 5-6 jobs for the same day, and rent the trimmers. Take the profit from those jobs and buy a decent set of trimmers the very next morning before you waste that money!

Start a lawn care business at your own pace, and save your money!

Fire Ant Control

People hate fire ants. You love money. It’s a match made in heaven. Research the best products to get rid of the little devils and post some ads for your ant eradication service.

You can buy a spreader for $50-$100 and purchase the pest control product as you get the work.

There are organic ways to get rid of fire ants too. So you can try to target that market of people afraid of toxins on their lawn.

Spread Pine Straw

Is this glamorous work? No

Is it fun? No.

Do people pay good money to have it done? Yes!

And the best thing about pine straw is you need no equipment to get going. That means low overhead and no worry about repairs.

Also you won’t have a big mower sitting in the garage for four months of winter like the genius who bought a $12,000 mower for ten lawns.

Soil Tests

How many homeowners do you know that actually test their soil before adding fertilizers and weed control? Few if any I bet.

You can do this simple task for them. The key is to become an expert on turf. That way they will turn to you instead of a general lawn care guy who is the jack of all lawn trades and master of none.

Sub it Out

It might sound ridiculous to say you can run a lawn care operation with no mowers, no trimmers, no truck, and no desire to work outdoors. But stranger things happen.

I personally know a guy who opened a lawn care company and owned no equipment for the first couple years. He bid on jobs, got some, then subbed it out to other companies (with actual machines to mow lawns).

If you are good at marketing, why could you not find 50 grass cutting clients in two months? Take 10-20 percent of the pay for each cut and you will make decent money and never have to get dirty.

Wrap up

I’m not the boss of you. Start a lawn business any way you choose.

Just know you don’t have to be like every Mow Joe on the road. Most of those guys are in debt up to their mower seats and will be out of business once their mowers start breaking down.

Start off small and level up in the green industry. Leveling up doesn’t necessarily mean following the crowd though.

Perhaps you can scale your bite-sized service to the point where you are making plenty of money without the debt or headaches.





How to make business yard signs quickly and cheaply

One of the best ways to advertise your small business is with yard signs. And the good news is you can buy these on eBay for as low as $40 for 5 signs.

But what if you don’t need that many? Maybe you want your signs today, not in seven days. Or perhaps you don’t even have $40 to spare at the moment!

Good news. You can make your own yard signs on the cheap and have them staked in the ground two hours after you read this. Take a look at the three how-to videos to see how it’s done.

Remember to make them waterproof though. The first video shows how to do that.

You can make the sign lettering more professional by using stencils. Just keep in mind that handwritten signs get more attention than the mass-produced printed signs you see everywhere. The homemade signs stand out.

Easy homemade yard signs

If you’re looking to get attention for your landscaping, cleaning, or painting business, a homemade sign is fine. This guy shows an easy way to waterproof your sign.

While you are not trying to protest anything, this method is a really cheap way to get a sign ready today. You don’t even need a print shop near you. You can print the paper yourself or have it done at the local library for nearly no cost.

Now this lady is fast! Her signs are smaller, but the method is sound. Just make your sign larger if you want. A small sign will work if people are at a stoplight and have time to focus on the smaller advertisement.

So now you know how to make your own yard sign. What’s stopping you from getting one created right now?

I promise you it’s worth the effort.

Many of you can afford to buy your signs from a sign shop or online. But this how-to post is for the kid just hustling as a part-time landscaper or the single mom just starting a cleaning business with zero income at the moment.

If you know a better way to make a sign that stands out then please leave a comment on how to make it happen.

PS: Maybe you can experiment with different materials to make your sign stand out. Be creative. The point of your sign is to stand out from the competition, not fit in with them.

  • Wood
  • Outdoor carpet with printed contact info on it
  • Antique metal

Get lucky in business like Jerry Murrell who owns 5 Guys Burgers

Is small business success all grit and hard work? Not according to 5 Guys Burgers founder Jerry Murrell.

Luck played a big role in him and his family hitting the burger big time!

This episode also talks about his motivation for starting a business in the first place. This is one my favorite episodes I have recorded!

Simple marketing ideas that work like 1800GotJunk

I recently did a podcast episode on super simple marketing, using 1800GotJunk as an example. I wanted to follow-up with a blog post that would help you do what the founder of 1800GotJunk, Brian Scudamore, did.

Namely, come up with one or two simple marketing or advertising methods that do one thing…. work!

There’s no need to rack your brain for 55 ways to tell the world about your business. If you do the right things to get the word out, you can focus on a few tactics like a laser. And eventually, those methods will be on autopilot.

That means you don’t spend a ton of time or money on marketing. You get to actually work in your business instead of always scrambling for customers.

1800GotJunk’s Simple Marketing Story

1800gotjunk number simple marketing

I heard Brian’s story on NPR’s How I Built This. He was motivated by the need for money. The guy wasn’t a brilliant student, but he was a good listener and learned by taking advice from smart people.

He mentioned multiple times that he wasn’t the smartest guy in the room most of the time. But he kept things simple.

He needed money and working a regular job wasn’t paying him enough.

So he looked around for a business idea. He found it when he saw a truck with a sign advertising junk removal.

So stupidly simple! You load people’s rubbish into a truck and head to the dump after they hand you cash or a check. Anyone on the planet could run this type business.

He even called competitors to see what they charged. This helped him price his services. Though he did price things too low, as he was a known low-baller from his childhood car washing days!

1800GotJunk’s Biggest Action Step

Once Brian bought his $700 truck, he made a sign to go in the truck. It was something like “783-Rubbish” at the time. This rolling billboard was seen wherever he was working.

But better than that, when he just started out, Brian would park the truck at a busy intersection. The dude probably took three-hour breakfasts and lunches at places like McDonald’s! Think of all that traffic seeing his giant sign in the back of a truck.

McDonald's busy traffic simple marketing ideas

See how simple that marketing was? The service was even included in the phone number.

  • It got attention
  • It cost him nothing after initially making the sign
  • He didn’t need permission from the city to place his sign in any one location

Steps you can take

This simple marketing success story is easy to copy.

You can take action right away. Even do exactly what Brian did. If you run a big truck of any kind, you can make a sign yourself. You can also have it professionally made of course if you have the money.

Just don’t try to be perfect. I talked to a gentleman last night that was holding off on getting some magnetic signs made because he thought his logo was a little off with the green tone.

Tone! Get the damn sign out to the world. Someone in need of junk hauling or lawn mowing won’t care about your colorization. They want their basement cleaned out or weeds killed. Like today, not when you get your sign just perfect.

Other ways to get a sign in front of a large group:

Take action road sign green simple marketing that works

  1. Ask permission to put a sign in a yard at a busy intersection
  2. Place one across from a busy store like a Home Depot or Walmart (be creative, not shady)
  3. Get magnetic signs made for Uber drivers in busy cities near your service area

Too complicated

Do you know what’s not simple when it comes to marketing? Most of the digital methods.

If you have ever tried to start a Google AdWords campaign, you know what I mean. If you haven’t tried that, just think back to high school calculus class!

Not easy even for a geek like me who lives on his computer.

OK, Facebook Ads must be easier than AdWords, right? A bit. But that’s no cakewalk either. Sure, you can target people by zip code, age, income, and even magazines they like. But if you can’t set up the advertising campaign without pulling your hair out, what good is all that micro-targeting?

  • My experience with AdWords….. there weren’t even enough searches to run a campaign for my service.
  • With Facebook Ads, I saw no sales and only two requests for estimates.

If you want to become a digital marketing expert, be my guest. But do you have time to learn about:

  • Keywords
  • Landing pages
  • Drip marketing
  • Funnels
  • Cost per click
  • Cost per impression
  • Boosting posts versus the power editor

sign with confused words

That’s just too much to learn for most blue-collar business owners. You’re already working way more than 40 hours a week. Can I get a witness!?

Take the Simple marketing route like 1800GotJunk

I promised more action steps for you and your small business. So here it goes.

Here are 5 things I want you to do in order to simplify your marketing. This applies whether you have plenty of customers or need a bunch because you are just now starting out.

  1. Get some form of a sign made this week to place on your automobile. Focus on big lettering for the phone number and website.
  2. Drive around your service area and find 3 of the busiest intersections. Plan times when you can have your vehicle there for an hour or more. Lunch and breakfast hours are good bets.
  3. Ask 10 homeowners if you can leave a sign in their yard for 30 days. Most will say no. That’s why you ask 10. Ask 20 if need be.
  4. Put your “mini sign” inside a building. That means a flyer. Find 5 places that have two things – a steady flow of people – and a bulletin board.
  5. Tell a story about your business. Just write an outline about something that would make a good news story. It’s not as hard as it sounds. At some point, you have helped someone in need, had some crazy interaction with a customer, or maybe been able to put yourself through college with a mop and a broom. Small newspapers need content. Not just newspapers either. What about telling your story to a local blogger or YouTube personality? They might have a bigger following than your town newspaper!

Hit it big with your simple marketing plan

We plan too much. Especially when it comes to marketing. We want the stars to align and all the colors on our ads to be perfect.

But what if Brian Scudamore had not jumped right in the junk hauling business with his big sign and clear marketing message?

Maybe someone else would have gotten the jump on 1800GotJunk. And Brian would not have ended up a millionaire.

The moral of this story is to keep it simple when it comes to marketing and advertising your small business. Put your message where tons of potential customers can see it on a regular basis.

That’s what Brian did. And there’s no reason you can’t do the same.

Keep it simple!

keep it simple sticky note simple marketing


Make your marketing super simple like 1800GotJunk

Make your marketing super simple….. yet super smart.

See how in this episode. I point to how 1800GotJunk blew up into an enormous success.

Using the 4-Hour Workweek tactics in a landscaping business

The 4-Hour Work Week book is an awesome tool to help you save time in your business.

Tim Ferriss wrote this book years ago. It’s not just for corporate folks. The tactics apply to blue collar business owners too.

Learn how this book can help you get help in your business without hiring an extra employee.

How to manage money for business so you don’t fail

Learning how to manage money for business is the biggest hurdle for blue collar business owners.

You can be the best remodeler in your city with tons of clients and still fail. How?

By mismanaging the income and overspending.

This episode of the podcast deals with money management in your small business. I’m not an expert on this topic. I can however point you in the right direction to folks who are experts.

Saving Time in your Small Business with Systems

Happy Labor Day!

Hope y’all are relaxing today or having fun at the lake.

I recorded this episode of the Box Crusher Podcast so you can learn to save time in your business. That will help you have more time for chillaxing and recreation!

Take a listen and enjoy your day off.

Using Youtube to Promote your Blue Collar Business

Using YouTube to promote your blue collar business makes too much sense to ignore.

The video site is a great place to gain traction through content:

  • You could do how-to vids on flowers if you are a landscaper.
  • You could show off your food if you are a mom and pop diner.
  • Or you could show the best way to clean a tub without breaking your back if you run a cleaning service.

You need to make great videos of course, so your audience will come back for more content. But how can you get them to click on your film in the first place?

We talk about how to get those video clicks in this episode of the Box Crusher Podcast. Take a listen below and please subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.

10 Things you can buy on Fiverr to Promote your Blue Collar Business

There are lots of uses for Fiverr if you need to promote your small business.

In this podcast episode I will name 10 gigs you can buy for as little as $5 that will help you promote your small business.

Fiverr is a great place to save some money on marketing design and creation. So why not give it a shot today?

You are pretty busy in your day to day tasks. Let someone help you for a mere 5 bucks on Fiverr. I think you will be happy with the results.