Business Overview

A poison ivy removal business charges clients to remove poison ivy and other poisonous plants from those customers' homes and yards. This service is valuable for keeping the community safe and the business can be run from home, making it attractive to many entrepreneurs.

Who is this business right for?

This business is perfect for those with a lot of poison ivy or poisonous plant removal experience. This may include avid gardeners and even hikers who are familiar with the identification of, removal of, and treatment for various poisonous plants.

What happens during a typical day at a poison ivy removal business?

A typical day at a poison ivy removal business is pretty straightforward. Part of your day is spent communicating with current clients and following up with previous clients. You will also spend part of your day writing and receiving emails and creating advertising in order to get more customers. With any luck, the majority of any given day will be spent driving to homes and businesses, removing poison ivy, and other poisonous plants, and then disposing of them.

What is the target market?

While everyone benefits from removing poison ivy and other poisonous plants, your target market is typically younger (25-39) homeowners. This is a demographic less likely to be familiar with poison ivy and more likely to have the disposable income to hire someone to remove it.

How does a poison ivy removal business make money?

A poison ivy removal business charges money for the removal of poison ivy and other poisonous plants. The exact fee structure is up to you, although many such businesses charge by the hour and count their travel time into the amount of time they bill.

What is the growth potential for a poison ivy removal business?

The growth potential for this job is steady. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs involving the plant industry as a whole grew by the thousands. Given the specificity of a poison ivy removal business, the growth potential may be gauged better by how much poison ivy and other poisonous plants are in your region.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful poison ivy removal business?

Any gardening experience (personal or professional) can be helpful, as can any experience with landscaping, greenhouses, or any other business that increases your knowledge of plants. A formal education in something like botany is not required, but it can be extremely helpful. Beyond this, one of your main assets is knowing your community very well so that you can gauge areas likelier to need poison ivy removal and drive there quickly when called.

What are the costs involved in opening a poison ivy removal business?

The cost involved in opening this business is extremely minimal. You can run the business from your home, so there is no need to lease a separate space. And you can remove poison ivy while wearing gloves, goggles, and using tape and trash bags, so no special equipment is necessary. Therefore, you could start this business for $5,000 or less: $500 of that money would go towards having a professional website designed, and $1,000 would go towards buying the basic equipment you need. The remaining $3,500 should be invested in some traditional advertising via newspaper, radio, business cards, and fliers.

What are the steps to start a poison ivy removal business?

Once you're ready to start your poison ivy removal business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your poison ivy removal business is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your poison ivy removal business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  9. Establish a 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.

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I 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.

Recommended: offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a poison ivy removal business?

Be sure to research the prices of your competition. Some general lawn care companies will charge a premium to also remove poison ivy, so you want to make sure your prices are low enough (and your services thorough enough) to lure in customers. Make sure you have a good-looking website and social media accounts (more on that later) to increase your accessibility, particularly for young homeowners.

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a poison ivy removal business

As mentioned earlier, a professional website is a must so customers can get all of your contact info, research your prices, and see testimonials and examples of your handiwork. And ads on the newspaper and radio are important in spreading your name far and wide, while selectively mailing information about your business to certain businesses and neighborhoods is a must. Be sure to have a social media account on something like Facebook: this lets you build your brand, increase customer engagement, and effectively enjoy the benefits of free advertisement.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

One unfortunate reality of advertising is that you must convince someone there's a problem before you can sell them a solution. Use your website and social media accounts to post images of the painful rashes that people who have been poisoned experience, emphasizing how painful and annoying it is and how it could be avoided. Additionally, your social media account represents a great way to hold contests and advertise referral bonuses intended to get you more customers. In terms of retention, one option you may consider is selling your services as a monthly or quarterly maintenance: that is, customers pay for ongoing service instead of just calling when they need you.

How and when to build a team

Many people start this job on their own as a way of increasing their profits. However, if you are regularly receiving too many requests to easily handle, then you may consider hiring a partner or small team so you can better service your community.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a poison ivy removal business. 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, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

How much you can charge varies, with some experts charging $40 an hour and some charging $75 an hour or more. Be sure to let the client know that the hour counts the time it takes you to travel to their home or business and that they are responsible for paying you back for any tolls you may cross.

What are the ongoing expenses for a poison ivy removal business?

The ongoing expenses for this business are also minimal. You may pay $100 or less for the annual hosting of your website, and you'll need to buy fuel as needed to travel around your community. Otherwise, your primary cost is buying more equipment each month (trash bags, goggles, gloves, and so on), and that typically costs $500 or less.

How much profit can a poison ivy removal business make?

Obviously, the exact amount of profit you make depends on how many clients you have and how much you charge them. If you worked “full time” (forty hours or more per week) at $50 an hour, then you could make over $100,000 in a year. The real profit margin will be determined by how many clients you have and how far you are willing to travel within your region to expand your service area.

How can you make your business more profitable?

One overlooked way to increase profits is to raise your prices. Many professionals start by charging a low price to entice customers. However, after you have established your business, it is fine to raise your prices. As mentioned before, you may consider offering customers a price for ongoing maintenance: this is a particularly lucrative option when it comes to serving schools and corporations with larger campuses. Finally, you may consider expanding your overall services: if you are able and willing to perform landscaping or other forms of lawn care in addition to removing poisonous plants, you'll increase your potential profit.

Next Steps

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