Start a handyman business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your handyman business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a handyman business?
Assuming you have a reliable vehicle to transport tools, your start-up costs will be fairly minimal. In fact, experienced business owners indicate you can start your business with less than $1,000. The only items you need are standard home repair tools, marketing materials, and insurance. Insurance costs vary, depending upon your experience and scope of projects you plan to take on. Average cost is $361 to $792. To escalate your business’ growth, consider having a simple website built, where customers can find out basic information and locate contact information.
What are the ongoing expenses for a handyman business?
While your ongoing expenses will be higher than initial start-up costs, most handymen report fairly minimal overhead costs. You will need to maintain the necessary licenses and carry proper insurance. Ongoing maintenance, repair, and replacement of all tools, including your vehicle, will be your largest expense. If you employ a crew, you’ll also need to consider Workers’ Compensation costs, as well as costs associated with payroll.
Who is the target market?
In this industry, you have a large pool of potential customers to choose from. Most consumers don’t have the knowledge, time, or desire to perform home maintenance and repair. Identify your target audience by considering the type of jobs you plan to take on and the customer base you feel drawn to work with. For example, single women over the age of fifty who live alone is a standard target market. They often lack the skills to complete most home repair tasks and are willing to pay to employ a honest, hard-working repairman.
How does a handyman business make money?
Fees vary, depending upon the complexity of the job you’re hired for and are collected once the job is complete.
How much can you charge customers?
Your fees will vary, depending upon location and size and scope of each project. Some handymen charge a standard hourly rate, while others set their fees on a per-job basis. Average hourly rates range from $60 to $125. To avoid under and/or overcharging, professionals recommend setting cost-based fees. For more information on this, consider downloading this handyman hourly rate calculator.
How much profit can a handyman business make?
While the standard, one-man operation averages just around $40,000 annually, there are many handyman businesses that report earning as much as $3,000 per week. Your profits are directly tied to the types of jobs you take on and how accurate your fee structure is.
How can you make your business more profitable?
To maximize your profits, it’s recommended that you employ multiple workers with a variety of skills. The more quality workers you employ, the more jobs your business is able to take on. Those reporting the highest profits also indicate that working with property management companies yields the highest profits.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your handyman business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a handyman company. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Handyman companies should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions and service level expectations. Here is an example of one such services agreement.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a handyman business
The first item on your marketing checklist is to get your business listed in all local, online directories such as Yelp and Google My Business. Some handymen have reported success advertising on free job listing sites such as Craigslist. Unfortunately, this often generates leads for consumers on a small budget, so you may want to set some parameters before taking advantage of this free resource. Small ads in community websites and local publications should also help bring business until you’ve established a name for yourself.
Industry leaders indicate they found the most success through reaching out to property management companies in the area. This is an effective way to ensure a steady stream of jobs.
As indicated previously, it’s important to understand the local handyman laws. There are often rules regarding how and what you are allowed to advertise, which varies depending upon the size of jobs you take on. To avoid the headache and costs associated with breaking these rules, conduct thorough research on the front-end.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
If you have ever been in the market for help with a home repair project, you’ll know that price is only one of the factors. When meeting with a prospective client, make sure you maintain an air of professionalism and are able to educate the customer on their needs. Show them how your work is a step above the rest.
Try to set fair prices, comparable to others in the area. Ignoring this unwritten rule undervalues not only your work, but everyone else’s in the industry. Additionally, always strive to be on time and on budget with your projects. Quality customer service will help spread the word and assist in long-term growth.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Handyman Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
If you are in great physical condition and are ready to take on a career that allows you to set your own hours and be your own boss, starting a handyman business might be the perfect fit. In addition to having the knowledge and skills to repair and replace household items, a passion for helping others would help ensure your new career takes off.
What happens during a typical day at a handyman business?
Unless you decide to focus on just one or two services, each day will vary tremendously. One day you might be drywalling, while another day might be spent fixing a washer and tearing down popcorn ceiling for a rental company you service. A portion of each day will be spent traveling from site to site and purchasing the items you need to complete the work. Those who have realized the greatest success indicate at least one day a week should be dedicated to marketing the business and networking within the community.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful handyman business?
In addition to being skilled and knowledgeable in home repair, it is critical that you be organized, patient, and possess strong interpersonal skills. Each day will offer up a new set of challenges. You must be confident enough to make decisions without hesitation or guidance, eager to face the next challenge as it arrives.
No amount of home maintenance knowledge can prepare you for running a business. The primary reason for most businesses’ failure isn’t their lack of hands-on skill, but rather the inability to make sound business decisions. If this isn’t your strong suit, consider taking a business course online or at your local college. The information gained will benefit you for years to come. The United Handyman Association can offer guidance regarding how to properly run and market your business. They can also assist in standard start-up needs, like insurance and legal assistance.
What is the growth potential for a handyman business?
The growth of your new business venture will depend, largely, on your overall vision and drive to meet those goals. Many handymen enjoy working alone and choose to keep their business’ small and local. With the right knowledge, skills, and crew, however, there is significant growth potential in this industry. If you possess a background in business, starting a handyman franchise would be a very lucrative way to grow your business.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a handyman business?
It always helps to have insider knowledge from the industry’s leaders:
- Most individuals just starting out feel as though they have to do it all. This is simply not the case. Stick with what you’re most skilled at. Your business has great potential to be profitable, even if you offer a limited range of services.
- There is no way of knowing exactly what tools you need for every job. Rather than wasting money on something you may never need, purchase tools on an as-needed basis. This will increase your ongoing expenses, but tremendously reduce your start-up costs.
- Prior to offering your services, make sure you understand applicable laws in your region. This is absolutely critical to your business’ success. Consulting with an attorney and an investigator from the contractor’s board in your area is highly recommended.
- While not required, being licensed, bonded, and insured is recommended. It displays an air of professionalism that is sure to gain you a larger customer base.
- Once you qualify, consider becoming a certified handyman professional. The Association of Certified Handyman Professionals offers a great program.
How and when to build a team
No matter how much you charge, there is never enough time or money to do everything yourself. Consider employing a team of hard workers. Hire team members that are skilled in areas you aren’t, as this will make your business eligible for a greater pool of jobs. Once you’ve built a skilled team, your schedule will open up some, allowing you to focus on administrative and marketing tasks.
Due to the complexities regarding local and state laws, many experienced handymen suggest retaining an attorney. This should give you the peace of mind of knowing that research is done thoroughly and help safeguard against issues later on down the road.