Creating a business from nothing will always be a hard thing to do and the same goes in the landscaping industry.
To know your trade is one thing, but to be able to attract customers to take action is another. As with any business, branding is your number one priority if you're going to be on the public radar. By this i mean a sign written van with all of your contact details, a link to your website and preferably with some tools inside!
Whether you borrow or buy tools most clients would expect you to have your own, other than on large estates where there is usually tools supplied for the upkeep of the grounds. I have always used Stihl products as i know when i'm out on site, this will just keep going.
For small gardens say a third of an acre and less, hand tools and a mower will be sufficient, but a small blower is always great for getting in those awkward spots!
For medium to large gardens you'll need a petrol backpack blower especially if the gardens are designed to be immaculate and most of all, in autumn!
In these recent times paper advertising doesn't quite cut the mustard as much as learning how to read the markets with skills online such as SEO and with so much competition you'll need to keep this going, whether it's done by you or some else. I look at it as though, in order to be seen, you have to be seen to be doing something so this is crucial.
Google is where you want to be if you exist in most people's eyes. As this is where a large majority of the world's searches for information and businesses, this is where you want to be seen.
The one that worked for me over all else in a very short space of time were the local online community websites. These were very effective and enabled me to get to know the local people and build a solid reputation. When i started my business i was looking after twenty gardens within a two mile radius, think of the fuel!
Lastly, work your hardest! If you know in yourself that you've done the very best you can do there is no reason to take on anything more. Believe me, although most clients are friendly and welcoming, there are some, like in every industry that enjoy the power trip or have nothing to do with there time but abuse your knid nature. Kindly tell them what they can do with their job! You should enjoy your passion for work and people that constantly knock your confidence should be taken out of the picture, preferably with no hard feelings if possible to keep your rep in tactt!