Friday, May. 6th, 2016
How to Start a Landscaping Business: Volume 1 – Getting Started
At the core of TaskEasy is our nationwide network of more than 5,000 contractors. Our network is comprised of new and veteran lawn care professionals who have started their own business and are simply working with TaskEasy to save time, generate more customers, and grow their business.
If you’re working in the lawn care industry already or if you’ve had an overnight epiphany about being your own boss, you may be wondering whether it would be beneficial for you to start your own landscaping company. Before you get started, it’s important to do some research to find out if starting your own business is the right choice for you.
To help you get going, we’ve put together this guide on how to start your own landscaping business. We’ve also chatted with some of our own contractors to bring you valuable advice and tips to help make your decision easier. So if you’re planning on running your own lawn care business, or are simply interested in what it takes to get started, keep reading for some helpful information.
Why Start a Landscaping Business?
Starting your own company is an attractive option to those who want to be their own boss, set their own schedule, and work according to their own terms. Essentially, you get to be the master of your own destiny. Investing in your dreams can be daunting at first but if you do it right, the payout will be more than worth it.
The lawn care industry is a great choice for starting a business because there is no shortage of lawns in the United States. The lawn care industry is booming and has annual revenue of $76 billion and annual growth of 3.4%. Lawns aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
Check out the steps below to get started and learn what you’ll need to build a successful foundation for your business.
Step 1: Pick a Name For Your Business
We put this step first because your business name will be the first thing that people see or hear when being introduced to your business. For this reason, we think it’s important to put some thought into it. Also, going through the hoops of changing your business name once established can be a pain, so getting it right from the start is smart.
Here are some tips to help you brainstorm a name for your landscaping business:
- Because so much of a business presence is online now, it’s important to pick a name that allows you to also get a relevant matching domain name. You can check domain availability here.
- Go for something unique that will stand out from the crowd. Having a generic, unforgettable name makes it easy for people to pass over your business.
- Keep simple with something short and to the point. If your business name is too long and complicated, people will struggle to remember it.
- Tell people what your business does in the name. If you can include the word “lawn” or “landscape” so potential customers don’t have to guess.
- Don’t box yourself in. For example: Don’t name your business “Bob’s Sprinkler Repairs” if you plan on expanding beyond sprinkler repair in the future.
If you still need inspiration, check out this site for a list of names to get your creative wheels spinning.
Step 2: Identify Your Goals
Before you get started, you’ll need to identify your goals so you know exactly what you want to accomplish with your new business. Why are you starting a lawn maintenance business? How many hours do you want to work? Who will your first customer be? Where do you want to find your first customer? These are all important questions to ask yourself.
Step 3: Develop a Mission Statement
It might sound corny but developing an internal mission statement is the perfect way to help clearly define who you are and what your priorities are. A mission statement gives you a goal and something to constantly strive to. If you’re feeling stuck, you can always stop and ask yourself “Am I living up to my mission statement?” And if your goals change, so can your statement. Your mission statement should answer the following questions:
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- Whom do we do it for?
- What value are we bringing?
For example: TaskEasy’s mission statement is to make buying home exterior services as easy for customers as buying any other product online, while helping reliable contractors generate more business. In this statement, we clearly lay out our goals, the benefits of TaskEasy, and who we are striving to help.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
One of the first things you’ll need (in addition to passion and self-motivation) is a business plan. Creating a business plan involves finding a good name for your business, making a list of starting expenses, and setting long and short-term goals. Once you have this foundation, you’ll be able to set steps to help you reach your goals. If you need a bit more guidance, this website provides a sample lawn landscaping business plan you can follow or get ideas from.
Step 5: List Your Startup Expenses
It’s best to have some money set aside before getting started so that you aren’t starting out in the negative. Some common startup expenses for a lawn care business include:
- A smartphone and a tablet with internet access
- Insurance – Occupational Accidental and General Liability
- If you don’t have insurance TaskEasy can provide you with both Occupational Accidental and General Liability policies on a per-job basis.
- Vehicle and business insurance (this is also a requirement to get a license in most states)
- Powerful pickup truck or truck with flatbed trailer
- Two commercial mowers (it’s always smart to have two just in case something happens to one)
- Gas cans (1-2 gallon)
- 1 for regular fuel for your mower and 1 for mixed-fuel for your blower, edger, etc. (always refer to user manual to find out which type of fuel to use)
- Trimmer – for reaching grass around trees and other hard-to-reach areas
- Edger -for cutting overgrown grass on the borders of lawns and driveways
- Blower – for blasting away stray clippings that litter sidewalks and driveways
- Smaller tools for various tasks
- Gardening Shovel
- Standard tool box for simple repairs
- Fertilizers and pesticides
- Safety Equipment
- Noise Canceling Headphones
- Safety Goggles
- Steel toed boots
- Sturdy gloves
Total cost for everything you need will vary but typical startup costs for a landscaping business range from $15,000 to $20,000 if you’re starting completely empty-handed.
How to Save on Lawn Care Equipment
If you can, we recommend finding equipment that is used but in like-new condition. This could save you hundreds of dollars over time. You can look for equipment at yard sales, auctions, or online. If you’re thinking about renting your tools, maybe reconsider. Renting tools is costly overtime and it’s always a good idea to own your own tools in case of an emergency.
Step 6: Get a Business License
Most states will require you to obtain a state business license if you meet certain criteria but it’s a relatively simple process. The fee for a business license varies but can be anywhere from $15 to $200 annually. You’ll also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to be able to set up business commerce accounts so that you can receive tax breaks for business expenses. For individual details, contact your state business licensing service for more information on what type of license and permits you will need.
Step 7: Organize Your Finances
If you’ve never experienced operating a business before, we highly recommend consulting a professional tax advisor to help you get started, most of them offer a free first consultation to help you out. For day-to-day operations, TaskEasy contractor, Richard L suggests looking into QuickBooks software for an easy-to-use accounting program to input everyday revenue and expenses starting at only $9.99 a month.
You’ll need to keep track of every penny that comes in and make sure to keep business finances completely separate from your personal finances. Here’s a step by step guide on how to open a business account if you are stuck in this phase.
Step 8: Plan a Scope of Services
Next you’ll need to decide what services to offer and what your price point will be. Landscaping companies typically offer tree and shrub trimming, sod/seed installation, and weeding (among many additional services) to supplement basic lawn mowing services.
For pricing, do some research on other landscaping companies in your area to get an idea of what to charge for your services. You can also check out this step-by-step guide on pricing a landscaping job. If you sign up to receive work from TaskEasy, you won’t need to worry about the hassle of price setting because we provide customers who’ve already ordered services using standardized pricing based on their yards square footage and fair market pricing.
Helpful tip: Some contractors even use the TaskEasy price for mowing on jobs they land themselves because you can easily plug in an address at www.taskeasy.com and get an instant quote on lawn mowing jobs.
Step 9: Hire a Crew
Do you want to start out on your own and see how things go or start out with a small crew to handle more customers? Starting out on your own is a respectable decision but if you do decide to hire some employees, you’ll need to keep the following in mind:
- Be careful when hiring friends or family members because it can often lead to tense situations should conflict arise. If you do decide to go that route, make sure to always leave emotion and personal issues out of the picture and to keep things professional.
- The cheapest hire isn’t always the best hire. Sometimes it’s better to hire someone who requires a higher salary because expertise is important. That’s not to say a lower salary is always reflective of quality, just be careful.
- Look for friendly people. Customer service is one of the most important aspects to running a business and hiring someone who isn’t great with people could potentially give your business a bad name. Hire friendly, well-spoken individuals who you can trust.
- Work your existing contacts by reaching out to vendors, clients, and other peers in your community. Make use of other resources as well, such as online job boards, help wanted signs, and flyers.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to hire employees right off the bat. If you want to get a feel for the business first, by all means go for it! Once you’re ready to expand, you’ll have the knowledge and expertise to pass on to your crew members.
These are just a few things to consider when starting a new lawn care business. Like with any other entrepreneurial goals, growing will take time and practicing patience will come in handy. Running a small business can be stressful but if you work hard and utilize the resources available to you, you can find freedom and success in no time.
Good luck with your business pursuits! If you would like to learn more about marketing your landscaping business once it’s established, go to the next volume to learn some helpful marketing tips to help you grow your customer base.