If you’re one of the many people who enjoy working outdoors, then you may be interested in starting your own business as a landscaper. For new entrepreneurs who want to strike out on their own, starting a landscaping business is one of the straightforward options you can find. You can get in with low starting costs and it doesn’t require much equipment. If you’re considering taking this step, this is what you need to do to get started in the field.
Decide On Your Services
Before you get into the specifics of your business, you may want to consider what types of services you plan to offer. Many businesses start off small and then expand to offer more services as they add clients. Mowing and maintenance are the two fastest growing areas of this industry and may be a good way to get started. You’ll have a low cost of entry and can expand your services as needed in the future. Decide on what you plan to offer your customers.
Learn the Necessary Skills
Many people who decide to go into this business will have a degree in landscape architecture. While you don’t need this degree to get started with the basic skills, you should at least be able to mow, trim, and prune well. Consider taking courses to learn irrigation, gardening, and other basic techniques as needed. Some areas may also offer a landscape training certificate that can be earned online or at a local college.
In addition to these skills, you’ll also need to know some business management skills. Bookkeeping and marketing skills are all essential. You can learn these from taking classes as needed or attending training courses after opening a business. If you’re going into business with a partner, consider having one person oversee the work sites while the other is in charge of office work.
Not all states require a landscaping license, but there are a few that do. Make sure that you check the requirements in your area before moving forward with the business. Some states such as New Jersey may even require that landscapers have a home improvement contractor’s license. Know that if you’re going to be spraying pesticides, doing irrigation work, or dumping in your daily job, you’ll probably need a license.
Set Up the Business
Once you’ve gotten the basics down, start developing the legal aspects of the company. The primary area to consider is paying taxes. You may need to work with an accountant to determine what type of structure will benefit your business. Smaller businesses often start as a Limited Liability Company or S Corporation.
You’ll also need to have financing determined before starting. It won’t cost much to get your business off the ground, but budget up to $50,000 to get started while you’re building the company and waiting for initial payments. Additional costs such as equipment and supplies will vary depending on the services you offer. Purchase good quality materials if you can and factor your equipment into the costs.
Meet with Insurance Company
Decide on an insurance company before you go into business. Not only will the insurance protect you, it will also give your customers peace of mind. State laws may also require that you have adequate insurance. If you’re not sure what type to get, consider looking into landscaping insurance by Next Insurance. They offer insurance specifically tailored to the needs of landscaping companies and can develop a plan that works for your business model and budget.
When you get started taking on clients, make sure that you have contracts available to protect yourself and the business. As your business grows over time, you’re going to open yourself up to liability. The best way to protect yourself is by having a solid contract to protect the business.
After meeting with a potential customer and doing an estimate of the work, incorporate that work into a contract. This contract should include the details of the work being done and an agreed-upon payment plan.
Develop Marketing Materials
Hire someone to create some basic marketing materials such as cards, forms, flyers, brochures, and stationery for your business. You can also contact a local sign maker to produce site signs that can be placed at work sites. You can then distribute these materials around the area you work. Consider doing a mailing to attract clients as well and share your business information in local neighborhood’s.
Social media could also be a great way to promote your business. You could add your social media info on your printed marketing material and prompt people to visit your social media page to take a look at your previous work. This technique alone could bring you tons of visibility, provided your work is up to par.
Starting a landscaping business from scratch can’t be done in a day but it’s a fairly easy business model to get started. If you have a passion for the outdoors and want to pursue your career on your own terms, then these steps should be more than enough to get you started.