Not everyone wants to start their own business. If you have the desire, skill set, and drive to pull it off, you are a special breed. Chances are, you aren’t happy with the idea of punching a timecard, doing your work, and going home for the day. Instead, you want make something of your own, build something for yourself, be independent, and are willing to do what it takes to make that happen.
And if you have a passion for nature, a natural talent for making things grow, and a couple of greenthumbs, a lawncare or landscaping business may be just the ticket to get you there. The landscaping services industry has an annual revenue of $76 billion, and the average landscaping company has 15 year-round employees, $1 million in revenues, and a net profit of 10%. If hearing those stats makes you tingle to the bottom of your grass-stained shoes, then here’s what you need to get started.
How to start a Lawn Care or Landscaping Business
A lawn care or lawn maintenance business is often the easiest way to get into the landscaping industry. As a lawn care business owner, you can start with basic mowing services and more services later as you gain more experience and can afford more equipment. You will need to have the know-how and equipment to mow, trim, and edge a lawn, and the transportation to get that equipment to your customers’ homes.
Just because you have a truck and a mower doesn’t mean you are ready to start your business. Take the following steps seriously and you will set yourself up for success.
1. Create a Business Plan
First things first. You need a landscaping business plan. Even a small, one-man operation needs a plan of action. If you’ve never created a business plan before, the SBA has tools to help you with this step. Basically a business plan should include the following information:
- What is your service?
- Who are your customers?
- What will you charge?
- How will you get paid?
- What will you do in off seasons/ slow seasons to make money?
- How will you market or advertise your service?
- How much annual income do you want to make?
- How many customers do you need to reach your income goal?
- What will your monthly expenses be?
Business plans can range from simple, one-page plans to more elaborate documents with various sections. Creating a business plan helps give you the big picture overview of how to run your lawn care company.
If you want to make $50,000 your first year, how many customers will you need to make that happen? And if it snows 4 months out of the year, what will you do to make money during that time? A well thought out business plan will keep you from running into unexpected, and unwelcome, surprises down the road.
2. Start your Paperwork
Got your plan? Great. Now it’s time to get business licenses, permits, and registration. Contact your county clerk, state department of business, and state tax regulation office to find out what business licenses and permits you need to operate a lawn care business in your state, county, and town.
3. Get your Equipment
If you don’t already have the equipment you need for a lawn care business, such as a vehicle, lawn mower, or edger, it’s time to pick them up. If you can’t afford new equipment, you may be able to find used equipment at yard sales or online. Make sure your existing equipment is in good working order, and is ready to take on the demands of your new business.
4. Contact a Contractor Insurance Specialist
A lawn care business will have very specific insurance needs. Every business needs contractor general liability insurance, but you will also need some additional coverage. For example, even if you are using your personal vehicle, you will need commercial auto coverage for any car or truck you use for business purposes. And new or used, your tools and equipment should be covered, too.
Different states have different requirements for insurance and bonding for your lawn care business, and an insurance company that specializes in contractor insurance can help you determine how much coverage you need.
5. Start Marketing Yourself
Now that you are licensed, insured, and have the equipment you need to run a business, it’s time to get the word out. The best way to market and advertise your business is online. Set up a website for your company, and don’t forget to use social media and online directories as a way to get your service out in front of a local audience.
Many lawn care and landscaping professionals report first year earnings ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, and six-figure earnings after a few years in business. The key to earning the top dollars and having success with your business is to treat it seriously. Have a business plan, get the necessary permits, licenses, insurance coverage, and bonds. Learn everything you can about your specific industry, digital marketing, business finance, and business ownership in general, and your lawn care business will be set up for success.