Dave Ramsey

Dear Dave,

My husband is a landscaper who works for the state. He has his technical license and wants to start a business doing private work as well. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this field?


Dear Amy,

First, I’d check to see if there are any additional licenses required for doing that kind of work in your state and the cities in which you’ll be operating. You want to make sure you’re starting off on the right foot with any authorities or governing boards.

The next thing I’d advise is to keep it simple. There’s no reason to run out and incorporate or anything like that. It’s a service business, so print up some cards and start thinking about a basic one- or two-page website. Then, once you land some jobs, post tons of pictures of his work. Before and after shots are great sales tools in his industry, so you’ll need to really show off his talents.

Of course, no one will know you’re out there or online unless you really talk up the business with people. And I’m not just talking about homeowners and businesses. You guys need to approach anyone who may be a potential lead—real estate agents, builders, bankers, architects and anyone else who touches a piece of real estate.

When we built our house, the architect recommended the landscaper. So, try to figure out all the connectivity points you can. Then, stay in touch, and buy them lots of coffee and doughnuts!


Dear Dave,

I’m starting a photography business on the side to help generate extra income. I have friends who’ve told me they’d like to use my services. However, I feel weird about charging them, because they’re friends. How do I get past that?


Dear Daniel,

I understand how you might feel weird taking money from friends, yet you’re providing a service, and you’ve opened this business to make money. They’re going to pay another photographer if you don’t do the job, so why shouldn’t they have the fun of working with someone they already know and like?

There’s a psychology at work here.  If you comp or discount them now, they may never see you as a true professional. But if you charge them a fair price, you’ll be establishing yourself as a pro.

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert, popular national radio personality and the author of three New York Times bestsellers.
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