Christy Webber started off with a mower, weed whip, leaf blower and a truck. Now, as the president of Christy Webber Landscapes, one of the biggest landscaping operations in Chicago, she has $6 million worth of equipment, $20 million in payroll and employs over 400 people.
Webber first started mowing lawns, she tells CNBC Make It, shortly after she moved to the Windy City in 1983, while trying to figure out what to do with her life. She was working in retail at the time with a degree in physical education from the University of Denver and wanted to make a couple extra bucks on the side.
So she took a loan from her mother and invested in the few pieces of equipment she needed and started doing small landscaping jobs at people's homes. Slowly, she built up her client base and began hiring people to work for her.
As Webber's business grew, she knew it was way more than a summer gig. So she began to think of ways to beat the competition.
"When businesses focus on one thing, they go under," she says on CNBC's "Blue Collar Millionaires." It was a common weakness of her competitors, so she made it a point to not just mow lawns, but also to weed and mulch, and then she began doing more specialized tasks, such as installing gardens and green roofs and irrigation systems.
"I feel like the more diverse we are, the bigger and stronger we are," she says.