How to Start a Sustainable Construction Materials Business

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.

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

Learn how to start your own Sustainable Construction Materials Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Start a sustainable construction materials business by following these 10 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 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.

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

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 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.

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

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.

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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 sustainable construction materials 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 start 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!

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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?.

Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.

Small Business Taxes

Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).

You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:

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.

Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.

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.
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Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.

Open net-30 accounts

When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.

Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.

Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.

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Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!

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 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.

In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:

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.

Learn more about General Liability Insurance.

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

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.

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Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.

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.

Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.

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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 2021 to find the best phone service for your small business.

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Recommended Business Phone Service: Nextiva

Nextiva is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Start A Sustainable Construction Materials Business In Your State

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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?

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. 

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

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

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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.

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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 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.

Next Steps

Get more ideas with our Business Ideas Generator.

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

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