As Australians become increasingly time-poor, those blessed with entrepreneurial minds have the opportunity to provide a suite of services that people can’t find the time to do. The best opportunities tend to be those with a low barrier to entry and which offer consistent work.
Starting a lawn mowing business, for example.
If you have a lawnmower, you have the equipment you need to mow lawns. What’s more, the grass always grows – sure, it’s faster at some times than it is at others, but there’s always lawn to cut.
While the act of mowing a lawn is simple enough, starting a lawn mowing business is a little more complex. There are plenty of questions to be answered: what laws, permits and requirements apply? How do you create, market and build a business? How do you get paid, and pay yourself?
Here we’ll take a deep dive into how to start a lawn mowing business: why you should do it, the paperwork and equipment you’ll need, and how to ultimately build a successful company.
6 benefits of owning a lawn mowing business
Why should you consider starting a lawn mowing business? This work brings a number of benefits, but here are six of the best.
Low barrier to entry: Compared with most other hands-on businesses, lawn mowing requires minimal equipment, little training, and fewer licences and permits, and you don’t need to find a shopfront or warehouse. The upfront investment is relatively affordable.
Regular work: Grass grows all year round, so most clients will require your services every few weeks. Once you’ve built up a solid customer base you’re guaranteed regular work.
Greater autonomy: Owning a lawn mowing business means you can set your own schedule and make your own money. Take on as much work as you’re comfortable with and take breaks whenever you need to.
Variety in your day: You won’t be stuck in the same office cubicle. You get to travel around, spending time in the sun, meeting new people and making their gardens look beautiful.
No limits: Do you have enough work to bring someone else on board? Then do it! You could grow your venture into a large business or franchise – it’s up to you how large your business becomes.
A sense of accomplishment: As a business owner there’s a real sense of accomplishment in watching your business grow.
Requirements to start a lawn mowing business
If you decide that a lawn mowing business is right for you, what are skills you’ll need to bring to the table, and the rules, regulations and requirements you’ll need to abide by?
Skills and knowledge
First and foremost you’ll need to know how to maintain a lawn! While it doesn’t require any official course or qualification, there’s actually a little more to this than you might first think, as depending on the level of service the customer is after, you’ll need to know:
How regularly to cut different grasses, and the height to cut them.
When and how to dethatch, aerate, weed and fertilise the grass.
How to ensure grasses don’t invade areas of the garden that they’re not supposed to.
There was a time when the owner of a lawnmower business would need to bring some basic knowledge of the machinery they work with in case of a breakdown, but as electric lawnmowers and whipper snippers are beginning to take over the market, there are far fewer ways for your machinery to fail.
In Australia there’s no such thing as a lawn mowing licence. You will need a driver’s licence to get you and your equipment to your customers though.
As a fully-fledged business, you’ll need to register for tax. Thankfully the process of applying for an ABN is a surprisingly simple one. While most lawn mowing businesses start out as ‘sole trader’ operations, those with visions of building an empire might choose to create a company or trust. If that’s you, you’ll need an ACN instead.
If you earn more than $75,000 in a year you’ll need to register for GST, at which point a professional accountant is advised (if you haven’t found one already.)
Insurance needed for a lawn mowing business
Insurance is as critical for a lawn mowing business as it is for any business. You’re undertaking physical work on another person’s property, which brings all sorts of legal ramifications if something goes wrong. Your financial liability for accidents, injuries and mistakes can be huge. It’s scary to think that without insurance you’re only ever a moment away from your business collapsing.
The most significant liability you face is injuring someone or damaging property. Thankfully public liability insurance is built for these exact situations, with reasonably priced policies covering you for millions of dollars in damages. If you do commercial work for another business or a property manager, they may stipulate other types of insurance coverage.
Other forms of insurance that apply to a lawn mowing business include:
Vehicle and trailer insurance
Tool and equipment insurance
Income protection insurance
Essential equipment needed to start a lawn mowing business
What equipment will your lawn mowing business need? The following core items will get you on your way.
Catcher mower: This is the classic mower with the catching bin on the back, available in either petrol or electric.
Mulcher mower: A mulcher mower turns lawn clippings into a fine mulch which it then deposits back onto the lawn, promoting growth. Having a second mower also helps if the first breaks down.
Whipper snipper: Otherwise known as a line trimmer, whipper snippers get into edges, cracks and crevices that lawnmowers can’t.
Blower vac: If you want to keep your customers happy, you’ll clean up after yourself – a job that a blower vac makes easy.
Petrol cans: All of the tools above are available in either petrol or electric. Electric machines are less prone to breakdown and are cheaper to run, though petrol refuels in seconds where batteries take hours. If you choose petrol, be sure to invest in some cans.
Gardening PPE: At minimum invest in gloves, sun protection, hearing protection and overboots.
Lawn dethatcher, fertiliser, aerator: If you want to offer a wider variety of lawn services, consider investing in these tools.
Ute or trailer: You’ll need a way to carry all the above from customer to customer.
Market your lawn mowing business
It’s time to get to work, though you can’t expect that work will just come to you – you’ll need to go out and get it. Marketing a small business is a subject that deserves its own guide, but the most effective strategies include:
Creating a website: Every business, no matter the type or size, needs a website, as this makes you Googleable. Thanks to Square Online, making one has never been easier!
Social media: Facebook, Instagram and other platforms allow potential customers to get a sense of you and your work. Have fun with it!
Word of mouth: Perhaps the most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, word of mouth continues to be how most lawn mowing businesses get their start. Spread the word via family, friends and former colleagues.
Job marketplaces: It’s worth posting your services on all-purpose marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, or on job-specific equivalents like Airtasker and hipages.
How much can you charge customers?
The average hourly rate an Australian lawn mowing business charges is $45-$50, though that can vary greatly – a mowing business in the Sydney CBD will obviously have higher costs than a business in a small country town, so will need to charge far more. Always base your rate off your costs.
How to get paid as a lawnmower
Once you’ve got your first job, how do you get paid? With cash all but dead, the modern business owner needs to go digital:
Portable credit card reader: Perhaps the most convenient way for clients to pay, the Square Reader fits in your pocket and allows you to take payments anywhere!
Invoicing: Your lawn mowing operation should be able to send professional quotes and invoices – tasks which Square Invoices has covered.
Gift/loyalty cards: Return customers are the best customers, and they’re far easier to create when you offer a loyalty program like Square Loyalty, and Gift Cards that loyal customers can buy for friends and family.
While Australians might be increasingly time-poor, their grass continues to grow. A lawn mowing business offers regular, satisfying work, and is easier to establish than a lot of other ventures.
If you’re ready to capitalise on this growing industry, Square is ready to deliver the knowledge, tools and support you need!
Built to save time and get you paid faster.