A teenage business owner explains how he uses technology to keep his landscaping company growing.
Robert Arditi and Prabhdeep Hans: automated teen landscapers
I co-own a lawn service company in Orlando, Fla., called Lawn Boys. I started the business with my partner, Prabhdeep, in early June of 1995. Prabhdeep is 15 and wanted to buy a car -- he'll be getting his permit soon -- and I wanted money for going out and partying. But I'm 14, so I figured that I might want money for a car, too.
In the beginning, we each put $75 into the business, and we borrowed equipment from my father. But once we started making money, we slowly began to purchase our own stuff. We just bought a ride-on tractor lawn mower. Because neither of us can drive, we hitched a trailer to the mower to transport our equipment.
Our company is divided into six divisions: Weeding and Cleanup, Lawn Maintenance, Accounting, Customer Relations, Office Personnel, and Marketing and Sales. Right now we pretty much run them all on our own. But we do have five employees, one of whom is the manager for the Weeding and Cleanup division.
We're very serious about the business. We use Intuit's Quicken to keep track of our checking account, our assets and liabilities, and our income and expenses. At the end of every month, we print out a register listing of everything, including a cash-flow report and a balance sheet. For the year ending this June, we hope to gross $15,000, and we plan to spend about $10,000, including employee wages.
We now have 10 to 15 regular customers. I set up a database in ClarisWorks to keep track of their names, phone numbers, and invoices. We also use Microsoft Access, for employee records and information on our business associates.
We're always trying to get new customers. Two to three times a week the Orlando Sentinel prints a list of the county's latest real estate transactions. We enter the buyers' names and addresses into our database and then send them a brochure we made up using Adobe PageMaker 5.0. We've also started using Microsoft's PowerPoint to create electronic presentations.
When I grow up I want to own a lot of businesses -- kind of like what we're doing now. But I don't want to do the dirty work; I just want to own and manage them.