How to Start a Small Engine Repair Business

A small engine repair business will fix internal combustion engines for a variety of machines. Owners may work with private parties (e.g., neighbors with a broken lawn mower) and/or commercial parties (e.g., a construction company that needs their concrete mixer repaired.)

Learn how to start your own Small Engine Repair Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start a small engine repair business by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Small Engine Repair Business
  2. Form your Small Engine Repair Business into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Small Engine Repair Business for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Small Engine Repair Business
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Small Engine Repair Business
  7. Get Small Engine Repair Business Insurance
  8. Define your Small Engine Repair Business Brand
  9. Create your Small Engine Repair Business Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your small engine repair business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

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:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Small Engine Repair Business Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your small engine repair business?

Business Name Generator

What are the costs involved in opening a small engine repair business?

Costs to start this business can be extremely low. You likely already have the space and tools you need to get started — especially if you don't have a large client base as of yet. Owners should also consider buying additional liability coverage for their business. Anything from human error to natural disasters can destroy a small engine and the owner would be financially responsible for replacing any damaged machinery.

What are the ongoing expenses for a small engine repair business?

Expenses are typically on the low side for small engine repair businesses, but owners should factor in the cost of insurance, employees, and continuing education. They may also need to rent or buy additional space as their business continues to grow.

Who is the target market?

The target market can be anyone in the area with a small engine. From Go-Karts to wood chippers to chainsaws, there are plenty of machines that can fall under this category. Potential clients can include those from industrial, commercial, or personal applications.

How does a small engine repair business make money?

Owners make money by charging for their time and skill level. They’ll need to base their prices on the actual tools they use to repair the engines, plus the demand and the original cost of the item. For example, few people will pay $80 to repair their old lawn mower if a brand-new mower costs $100.

How much can you charge customers?

Customers will typically pay based on the type of machine and the extent of the damage. Most owners will charge for cost-of-labor plus parts. The average cost for a lawn mower repaired is about $60, which will likely be an hour’s worth of work or less.

How much profit can a small engine repair business make?

Small engine repair businesses can be extremely profitable, but they will need a high volume first. An owner would need to repair 6 – 8 lawn mowers a day at a $45 profit to make $90,000 a year.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Small engine repair owners may want to branch out to offer large engine repairs if they’ve noticed a heavy demand for it. They can also offer more general types of repairs to machinery to better serve their client base.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your small engine repair business is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

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 through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

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

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

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.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

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 small engine repair 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, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Certificate of Occupancy

A small engine repair business is generally run out of a garage. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a small engine repair business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your small engine repair business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Labor Safety Requirements

In performing small engine repair, you and your employees will be working with various types of machines and engines. Work of this nature carrys various safety hazards, so it is important to ensure that your business follows all labor safety requirements which can be found here

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

FInd out what types of insurance your Small Engine Repair Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Small Engine Repair Business.

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.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market a small engine repair business

The best way to promote yourself depends on where you’re located. If most people in your town are tech-savvy, then you may want to look at community websites such as Craigslist or Nextdoor to start drumming up support. If not, then concentrate on paper flyers, newspaper ads, and general word-of-mouth.

How to keep customers coming back

Owners need to produce long-lasting repairs to keep customers coming back. Customer service will be important, but it won’t be as crucial to getting repeat business. Most people can put up with a little gruffness to save themselves from having to buy a new machine (or do the repairs themselves.)

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

This business is excellent for someone who enjoys working with their hands and working with a variety of tools. They must be excellent at taking apart machinery to understand how it works and flexible enough to handle new technology they may not have seen before. Owners should enjoy solving problems and experimenting with new ways to repair stubborn or severe breaks.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at a small engine repair business?

Most of the day will be spent working on the actual engines, though owners will need to devote time to marketing their services and working with clients as well. They may need to practice simple project management to ensure that all repairs can be completed on time for their customers.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful small engine repair business?

Those who open this business should either be a professional repair person or a very skilled hobbyist. Ideally, they should have experience working with a wide variety of engines so there’s less of a learning curve when they step into the position.

What is the growth potential for a small engine repair business?

There are plenty of small engines in any given neighborhood, which should give owners a fairly steady stream of work. This is a local skill that would be difficult to outsource, so the growth potential can be substantial. The biggest hurdle is generally dealing with direct competitors located near you.

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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.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

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:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

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 small engine repair business?

Most small engine repair owners will start off fixing engines for other people as a side business to build up a clientele. They will need a substantial, consistent volume of customers to justify jumping to full-time immediately. To save on the cost of parts, consider buying up old machinery at garage or yard sales or cruising around the neighborhood on trash day to collect old lawn mowers, leaf blowers, etc. No matter how broken they may be, owners can still extract parts from them to use for their own repairs.

Owners also need to concentrate on appealing to their target base. There are plenty of small engine repairs that people can complete on their own, but they often don’t have the time to devote to it. Amateurs can actually inadvertently make the issue worse without meaning to. When marketing the business, concentrate on how you can actually save people money and increase the longevity of their expensive machinery.

It’s also important to research the competition to find out more about their reputation. Owners don’t have to disparage other businesses, but they may be able to find an angle that isn’t currently being served. For example, maybe the competition works on vacuum cleaners but not on home generators. Understanding the popular machines in an area will give you a good base of how to distinguish yourself.

Finally, owners should consider taking classes to improve upon and develop new skills both before getting started and as they're building their business. As new machinery debuts, small engine repair owners may be asked to complete ever-more complex requests. Understanding the new additions to the market will give owners a better idea of how their current skills can be adapted to fit the technology changes of tomorrow.

How and when to build a team

Most small engine repair owners will start off alone. If the orders start to reach critical capacity, consider hiring a secretary before hiring another technician. This way, you can free up your own time to concentrate on completing the actual repairs. If you do need to hire a technician, make sure that you have the space and the resources to help them thrive first, and give each candidate several repair tests before deciding to take someone on.

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