This chapter is going to focus on how to manage your business' income, expenses and scheduling. Yeah, I know this isn't sexy – but if you have the right attitude, learning a bit about money management is actually pretty cool.
It goes back to what I've been talking about all along.
If you take the time to do things right, you're not only setting yourself up for success… you're setting yourself apart from 90% of the "Chuck In A Truck's" who try to start a landscaping company.
I've not only started and run a very successful lawn care company, I've also worked with a lot of guys and even some ladies just like you. I mean… not that you're a lady if you aren't… or not that you're a dude if you're not… what I mean is that many men and women have started lawn care companies and I've worked closely with them!
Basically, the bookkeeping part of your business comes down to 5 essentials:
These 5 items aren't listed in any particular order because they're all equally important and all tie together. Like most things you've read in this blueprint so far, they're all pretty obvious, too, aren't they?
We're going to talk about each of these topics in more detail, but before we do, I want to talk about something that I think is pretty important and also pretty exciting.
Most people don't realize this… but it's easier than ever to create a successful business...
Just about everybody has a smartphone now. And even if you don't, you can get the next to newest version of an iPhone or Galaxy or LG for next to nothing. While most folks use their phones for texting and checking Facebook and Snapchat… believe it or not, these little plastic rectangles actually pack a ton of awesome features that make running AND growing your new lawn care business literally as easy as 1-2-3.
In the old days – you know, the misty and hazy past of the 1990's – most of us mower jocks were running our businesses using pen and paper and maybe a computer. But most guys were out there jotting stuff down in a ledger and writing phone numbers on cocktail napkins and all sorts of half-assed stuff.
and paper and maybe a computer. But most guys were out there jotting stuff down in a ledger and writing phone numbers on cocktail napkins and all sorts of half-assed stuff.
At the end of the year, you'd go to your accountant with a box full of receipts and invoices and all sorts of junk. After he slapped you upside the head a few times, he'd spend hours trying to figure out just how in the hell buying a popcorn machine, kegerator and a new pair of Nike shoes were supposed to be legitimate business expenses.
And you'd have to sit there with him too.
Now doesn't that suck?
Nowadays, though, with a single online system designed for lawn care pros, you can schedule your work, bill customers, collect payments digitally, record all expenses and all your banking in one place and even take care of all of this right on your phone.
So with that being said, there is absolutely no excuse for sloppy bookkeeping.
Tidy book keeping is easier to pull off than ever, and most importantly… It's the life blood of your business and when you keep on top of it, you're going to find that you're more profitable, that you spend a lot less time dealing with paperwork and tedious tasks that keep you from getting out there and earning… and you're life will just be way easier.
There are several online tools that are really great. Like I mentioned earlier my favorite app for all your book keeping is Xero… it's easy to use, and your accountant can tap into each year during tax time to prepare your taxes. Gone are the days of toting a box full of bank statements and cancelled checks to your CPA every March.
Check out this quick intro video on getting that setup at https://youtu.be/H3M_vatGTek
QuickBooks is another popular one that also offers an online service that lets you run all of your financials in one convenient place. Both are safe and at tax time, your accountant simply logs in and sees everything they need right in one place.
Next comes our company . And not just because it's our own system. With GreenPal, you can literally run your entire business on the site and it's absolutely free.
In addition, you can add customers to the site and use our automated billing features. Then all of your revenue, expenses, and banking transactions are recorded in your Zero or QB. The two apps work hand and hand and make operating your lawn business, bookkeeping and tax time is a breeze.
So how's work?
We empower you to bid on and win new local customers in your area and, as I've mentioned earlier in the book, take only a small 5% commission when you get paid. Honestly, for all that you get – without paying a dime unless somebody we send you hires you – I think that GreenPal is a lawn care business owner's best friend.
But hey, far be it from me to push you. Do a little research and find the system you like best. But find one. Don't do this halfway.
I know that this is going to sound crazy… but showing up to actually mow the lawns is pretty important! And with that in mind, coming up with some kind of system to schedule each day that you work is vital.
There are lots of ways to go here, and thankfully, as I mentioned above, technology offers us plenty of options. Gone are the days where you have to sit down and come up with a plan each day. Thanks to free applications like Google Calendar, for instance, you can not only schedule your entire day stop by stop – you can have that available on your smart phone at a moment's notice.
What's great about doing this is that you can also tie in each address to your phone's GPS. That way you never have to wonder where you're going next. A huge time saver.
Now, I want to go back to the special applications created for helping manage and even grow your landscaping businesses.
We've talked about Xero, and there's also Service AutoPilot… and of course GreenPal. Now I'm okay with being fair, but hey – why am I going to spend a lot of time talking up other people's stuff when I think that our product delivers the best results.
So it's up to you, but from now on, I'm just going to talk about what GreenPal does. One of the reasons for this is that when you join GreenPal, you're treated as an independent business owner. Some of these other similar services tend to treat you like a sub-contractor. That's not us. We're here to serve you and not the other way around. Of course, we also take care of our lawn care user base – so we make sure that there are no shenanigans on either side.
Okay, with all that said, I think that GreenPal gives you a truly awesome scheduling function. Once you've loaded in your customers as well as the ones we send you, the system dynamically creates a daily route for you. You'll always know where you're going and on what days. Even better, the system does its best to create the densest route to cut down on your drive time.
You're free to do your scheduling anyway that you want – but isn't it nice to know that this critical operation is handled and that you've always got a reminder of where you need to be and when?
I don't know about you, but anything that reduces time-wasting work is perfect for me. After all – you're only making money while you're cutting grass or doing your marketing. Every hour you're spending jotting down addresses on a piece of paper is wasting time, and in this business… time is money.
I'm going to be honest with you. I always liked it when people gave me the money. Still do.
Seriously, though, you'd be surprised at how many lawn care providers I've talked to who drop the ball on this part of their business. In fact, you'd be surprised at how many lawn care customers signup to hire a lawn company through GreenPal that say that their landscaper did a great job cutting their lawn but then never sent them a bill!
Isn't that crazy?
Who would go out and get all sweaty busting their but to take care of their client… and then forget to get paid? Well, it happens... A LOT. It's one of those things that is actually easy to do if you're not careful.
Does that sound impossible? Think about it – you've got 60 customers who you bill all through the month. If you're doing it by hand, it would be easy to forget one or two of them. That's why thankfully you don't have to do that anymore.
Online bookkeeping systems like QuickBooks, Xero and of course GreenPal let you handle all of your billing from one system. For instance, GreenPal not only keeps track of the billing cycles for you, it'll actually send out email invoices and get them PAID automatically in 48 hours.
That being said… if you use a system like Xero or Quickbooks for your invoicing... YOU HAVE to get into a rhythm of entering the work you did EVERY DAY into your customers' accounts and then send them a bill at the end of the month. IF YOU DON'T get into a rhythm on this, you'll end up doing work for free. I promise you because I've made this mistake myself.
Now we come to an interesting situation. Some people, both customers and service providers alike still want to deal with a check. There's just something about receiving a check in the mail, or a dozen at a time that some folks like.
But the fact of the matter is this: It's 2018, or was when I wrote this. There are faster, safer and easier ways to bill and collect money. If I were starting out, I'd insist on sending email invoices via GreenPal that the client can pay with a credit or debit card. No paper, no waiting for checks and no rubber checks either.
It's unfortunate, but sometimes collecting the money on the invoice that's due will take you longer, requiring more effort and aggravation than doing the initial work to start with!
Securing a card number ( does this for you) is the single best way to save you time chasing your money that's owed to you all over town from slow paying clients (yes there will be some) and what's worse even getting stiffed on a outstanding balance together.
Then on top of al that… Think about it – You mail an invoice on Monday. Maybe they get it Tuesday. Then they write a check and mail that on the following Wednesday. You get it on Thursday and take it to the bank maybe on Friday morning. It takes a few days for the check to clear, although not as slow as the old days, and maybe the money is available on Monday.
Then what? You have to take your time to contact the customer, go get a new check or a money order, blah, blah, blah. What a pain in the ass!
On the other side of the coin, an invoice is sent on Monday, the customer pays it that afternoon and then the money is transferred into your bank and is probably available on Wednesday. No waiting, no bouncing, no nothing.
You may find that some customers, particularly older people, might insist on sending you a check or even paying in cash. If you can't talk them out of it, then that's fine. Just make sure to record those transactions in Xero to QB.
What's more you don't have to worry about any of this when using GreenPal. You'll get paid 48 hours after you complete each job for each of your clients automatically.
Cash Flow is king in running a successful lawn business, so keep this in mind when deciding how you want to bill your clientele.
There's one important thing that needs saying and even repeating – you must always keep your personal finances and your business finances 100% separate! I cannot stress this enough.
A lot of guys and girls who start a lawn care company tend to make this mistake, especially in the beginning. They deposit checks into their personal bank because they didn't open a company account. They use a personal credit card to buy supplies, etc. This is bad news for a couple of reasons.
First, it's an example of crapping where you eat – and you know that you should never do that. Using a single bank account and / or credit card for personal stuff and business stuff can easily get confusing and get you into trouble.
Second, when you mix these two things, you leave yourself open to lawsuits. God forbid somebody gets hurt on the job or a customer injures themselves and wants to sue you.
If you're using personal accounts for business, a good lawyer can get past the protection of your LLC. It's called "piercing the corporate veil." Basically, they make a case that you aren't running your LLC as a separate entity. Therefore, your personal assets are up for grabs.
So, as I mentioned back in chapter 1 – get a company bank account and do all transactions through that. If you get a credit card for Mean Green Landscaping, LLC, then it should be under the business.
Now, some would recommend that you open up a company credit card to help with supplies and emergencies. That's really up to you and will depend on how much cash you start with. To be honest, though, while you may be in debt in the beginning to get started, the less debt you can incur the better.
It's one thing to borrow $25,000 from the bank at 8% for 5 years. It's another to run up $5,000 on a Visa card at 22.5%. That interest piles up fast and you'll find that a good chunk of your earnings goes to paying it off.
The best thing to do is if you do borrow money to get going, borrow a little bit extra, say $1,000 and leave that in the bank for supplies and emergencies. You can borrow that from yourself interest free. And once you start getting your first few dozen customers, you really won't need a credit card anyway because your debit card can do anything it does. Part of your earnings will be put away for a rainy day.
Okay, so the point of this section is to keep careful track of everything you buy. From gas to parts to lunches and so on. A lot of what you do is a write-off, so keeping track will not only make your daily life easier, it'll make tax time a breeze. In the next chapter, I'm going to go into this in a bit more detail.
The cool thing is …
Keeping track of expenses is easier than ever… how?
Just link your bank account to your Xero or QB account.
Here,s a video on how to do that with Xero https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AVtc7wNQOE
Then... your transactions will be AUTOMATICALLY entered into your bookkeeping software... Magic Then every night or at least once a week go through and reconcile what the expenses where for and you're all set. Check out how here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi9nNCSuqNA
Later… We'll talk about how much money you'll need to hit that $5K mark and where you can get the funds to get started. For now, though, just keep track of everything, because you'll never get there with sloppy bookkeeping. I know because poor bookkeeping almost sunk my business when I was getting started.
Link your bank account... And (if you decide to use a separate one for your business) your credit card account and keep up with the reconciliations. The good news is that this can be done on the go with the Xero mobile app. It'll make your life a hundred times easier and keep you out of a financial nightmare...
Now I want to be clear that this blueprint isn't going to teach you how to do your taxes from A to Z.
Honestly, that's what an accountant is for. A few hundred dollars a year and you save yourself huge amounts of cash as well as letting the experts handle this important aspect of your business. After all, your CPA knows the tax laws inside and out and will help you maximize your deductions and your income.
What I want to do here is to kind of introduce you to taxes and how they work for a small business owner. To prepare you to understand what's going on so that you and your accountant can work together effectively.
The first thing to note is that your company doesn't pay taxes. Only you do. That's the nice thing about an LLC. Basically, all of your expenses are paid for before you write yourself a paycheck. The only taxes you pay are on the size of that paycheck.
That's why back in chapter 1 I said that you could actually pay yourself less money and yet have more to spend because of the way that the LLC lets you run things. Here's an example:
Let's say there's you and a friend of yours who both make the same money each month. He's got a job and you've got Mean Green… pun intended!
You both have a $500 truck payment to make every month.
Well, your buddy has to make that truck payment after his company takes out payroll taxes, income tax and unemployment.
So if he makes $5K a month, or $60,000 at his job, he has to make that truck payment after approximately $19,000 in taxes.
So your buddy takes home about $3,400 each month. Then he pays for his truck with that money.
Now there's you.
Because your truck is paid for and used in your business, it's a legitimate business expense. You can also use it for personal transportation too.
The point is, that you subtract that $6,000 ($500 × 12 months) from your $60,000 which means you only have to pay taxes on $54,000.
That means you only pay $16,000 in taxes.
Which means your annual net pay comes out to about $38,000.
Your friend's is $41,000 – but remember, he still has to pay for that truck.
So his spendable cash is actually $35,000.
You have more money in your pocket because of the business. This is a pretty generic example, but it's meant to show you how a small business really can make your life easier and more profitable.
Because your truck equipment, half of the social security and Medicare tax you pay, some of your meals, gas, clothing, cell phone, computer, home office and part of your home utilities are all tax deductions also known as write offs.
Additionally, you can pay yourself and any employees a $400 bonus each year tax free. You can also purchase health insurance for yourself and your family through the company, you can also put money into a retirement account before taxes, too. And a lot more because it's through your business.
I recommend sitting down with an accountant when you first get started and talk to him or her about this stuff. Ask questions and get advice on how to set things up and manage expenses and taxes. Even if you have to pay them for an hour of their time, it's so worth it.
For now... You're going to run your business out of your home.
So if you make a bedroom an office or set aside space, you get to write off that space as a business expense. With an LLC, you can do this in two ways. The business can actually pay you for the use of this space or you can take a personal deduction.
So let's say you live in a 1,500 square foot house. You turn one of the 3 bedrooms, about 150 square feet, into an office. Basically, 10% of your rent or mortgage is what this space is worth. That's also true for electricity.
So let's say your rent or mortgage is $1,200 per month and your average electric bill is $120 per month.
That means that $132 a month is being used by Mean Green.
That's almost $1,600 each year that you can write off.
See what I mean?
It really adds up if you do it right and follow the rules.
It's possible to have a salary of like $40,000 per year and yet have as much or more spending cash as your buddy who makes $60,000 per year. In the next chapter, I'll give you a hypothetical example when we talk about what you need to do to make $5K a month.
But here's the crazy part...You're building a business... not just a job. Keep in mind you're laying the groundwork to be taking home over six figures in years 2 and 3 (Check out our Intermediate book)
The biggest lesson to take away from all of this stuff is to be diligent about keeping track of everything in your business.
Every cent that comes in and every penny that goes out. To keep track and manage every hour of your time. And also to make sure that when it comes to money that you keep your personal finances and your business finances 100% separate.
The long and short of it is that from day 1, you must think of Mean Green or the real name you will create, as a business. Treat it like one and take it seriously.
Take pride in what you're doing. Yeah, you're mowing lawns for a living on the surface, but what you're really doing is creating a successful business whose product is lawn care. Doesn't sound that much different, but it really is.
I want to explore some other things to consider. In the next few chapters, we'll talk about finding start up cash, how much work you'll need to hit the $60,000 annual salary, tips and tricks to really sharpen the blade of your business, how to add additional services to make sure that your company is making money 12 months out of the year and a special bonus section as well.
I'm going to show you how, by using only what we've talked about so far, to actually hit the coveted $100,000 a year mark still working by yourself and without working any more than a regular work week! That's the power of mowing lawns, my friend.
I don't care if you never went to college or even if you never graduated high school and have never made more than $15 per hour in your whole life.