A sustainable construction materials business specializes in offering alternatives to traditional building materials. Whether recycled or reclaimed, such as steel or hardwoods, or harvested biomass, such as bamboo, straw or hemp, sustainable building materials companies are creating eco-safe options for our changing world.
Learn how to start your own Sustainable Construction Materials Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start a sustainable construction materials business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Sustainable Construction Materials Business
- Form your Sustainable Construction Materials Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Sustainable Construction Materials Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Sustainable Construction Materials Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Sustainable Construction Materials Business
- Get Sustainable Construction Materials Business Insurance
- Define your Sustainable Construction Materials Business Brand
- Create your Sustainable Construction Materials Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your sustainable construction materials 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:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
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 Business Name Generator
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.
What are the costs involved in opening a sustainable construction materials business?
Although you will house some materials, you can start out as more of a distributor for sustainable materials. You’ll need a warehouse to stage orders and store some materials. You’ll also need some delivery trucks and flatbed semi or two, if you deliver large items, such as fully-built trusses or steel beams. You will also need to set up an office for logistics involving deliveries and receipts. As you grow in size, you may need more warehouse space and an expanded fleet of delivery vehicles.
What are the ongoing expenses for a sustainable construction materials business?
Most ongoing expenses are maintaining delivery vehicles and rent/mortgage on warehouses. Employee salaries and licensing and insurance will also regularly factor into annual expenses.
Who is the target market?
Your target market will be building and construction managers who are looking for new and improved methods for construction. Sustainable options are comparable in price, sometimes better. Look for construction companies which mirror your own eco-friendly ideals.
How does a sustainable construction materials business make money?
Sustainable construction materials businesses sell to contractors and clients in and associated with the building and construction industry.
How much can you charge customers?
Material prices will fluctuate between type and market value. Most sustainable materials are very comparably priced to traditional materials.
How much profit can a sustainable construction materials business make?
Sustainable construction materials companies can make a decent earning, once established. A successful company selling to residential and commercial crews can earn six figures annually.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Some sustainable building supply houses get in the business of reclaiming items from buildings set for demolition. Pulling seasoned lumber, stone and metal materials out for resale can offer another form of revenue and continues to close the waste circuit.
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
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your sustainable construction materials business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
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!
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 Sustainable Construction Materials 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.
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.
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.
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 sustainable construction materials business
Sustainable building materials are often featured in traditional trade magazines and online forums. Your business should seek out similar avenues for advertising. Construction industries, both commercial and residential, still pay attention to magazines and papers about their business, so print ads can be effective, if you have the budget.
Online forums like websites and social media are also helpful, although not as likely to reach your target audience. Just the same, flood your pages with pictures and testimonials, regarding the products you offer.
The real advertising will occur between the builders in your area. Your products and your reputation will not go unknown and it’s important to manage that reputation, both of business and owner, carefully.
How to keep customers coming back
Your customers will come back because the products are good and you treat them right. Sell your integrity along with your products.
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.
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: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
Owning and operating a sustainable building materials business is, in many ways, no different than a traditional building materials business. You have to know about building methods and materials, must be dedicated to servicing your clients, and should also understand and closely follow the ever-changing landscape of building materials. Ideally, a person who has owned or operated building supply houses, run a construction company, has experience starting up and running a business, or any combination would be well-suited for this business.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a sustainable construction materials business?
Most days will involve receiving, processing, and shipping orders for customers. The logistics department of your business will be critical. Additionally, you may be servicing some customers who visit your brick and mortar, if you operate a storefront. Finally, there will be a constant conversation with your vendors and suppliers to make sure products are in stock and available for shipping.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful sustainable construction materials business?
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful sustainable construction materials business?
Building materials are always evolving and becoming better in quality and price. But, many current standards took a while to gain traction. Having strong communicative abilities will be necessary to promote your materials to new and existing customers. Part of that ability will lie in your knowledge of existing building materials. It is necessary to have extensive background knowledge of building materials and techniques to most effectively explain comparisons and critiques of sustainable building materials.
What is the growth potential for a sustainable construction materials business?
Currently, quite a few industries are experiencing a shift towards Green and renewable resources or practices. Awareness of natural resources is heightened and many future economists and prognosticators understand that traditional building methods aren’t nearly sustainable or energy efficient enough to continue past the near future.
The issue becomes selling new products to traditional-minded consumers. Lumber, cement, and brick have been building standards for so long, that the thought of using straw or hay seems unrealistic. This is where your growth potential exists, as the public has to be educated to the new possibilities, strengths, and applications of sustainable building materials.
With this in mind, growth predictions are positive, as long as the industry can sell itself.
Not sure if a sustainable construction materials business is right for you? Try our free Business Idea Generator and find your perfect idea.
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:
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 sustainable construction materials business?
Conduct solid market research before launching this business! Although building materials are needed everywhere, some regions are going to be more resistant to these materials. Make sure you size your business, accordingly. If demand is specialized, offer half sustainable and half traditional.
- Find what is missing in your market and target those areas.
- Some cities have areas of town which specialize in renovations and historic preservations. You may want to consider more reclaimed wood options to meet the demands.
- Become an expert in the building materials you offer.
- Create a website and social media presence to show off all of the things these new products can do, how similar they are to traditional, and how much superior they are to traditional materials.
How and when to build a team
Initially, you may be able to operate with a small staff, especially if you’re going to perform some of the deliveries and manage the office. Let your business exist successfully for three months before revisiting the idea of hiring more crew.
Real World Examples
- Sustainable Building Materials for a Greener Future
- Reasons You Should Use Sustainable Building Materials
- Green Building Materials