Starting your own handyman business can be an excellent career path if you are skilled in a range of home repair and maintenance jobs. Many homeowners rely on professional handymen to help them do everything from cleaning gutters to installing a new sink. Chances are that your talents are needed in your area.
There are many steps you’ll need to take to start a handyman business. Though these take time and effort, now is not the time to cut corners. A strong foundation can help you build a handyman startup business—and a profitable one at that!
Below are seven steps to guide you as you start a handyman business:
1. Do market research
Local homeowners could likely use your skills and expertise. However, you should still research the need for services in your area before jumping into the market. Understanding who is hiring handymen in your area and your competition could help your business stand out in the crowd.
Market research is a key part of writing a handyman business plan. This document will help guide your business. Business plans typically include your goals, budgets, and advertising strategy in addition to market research.
A Google search of handymen in your area is a good place to begin your research. Are they selling themselves as a “jack of all trades” or focusing on specific skills? Consider shaping your approach to what the market demands and your unique talents.
For example, if your local market is full of generalized handymen, you might focus on a single specialty that you are highly skilled at and turns a good profit. However, if there is a shortage of general handymen in your area, being able to handle a variety of jobs could work to your advantage.
2. Set your prices
While researching the competition, pay attention to how much they are charging. Your rates will partly depend on your training and experience level, but you also want to avoid pricing yourself out of the market by overcharging.
Another thing to consider when setting your hourly rate is how much competition is out there. You may need to lower your rates or offer new customer discounts if many handymen are working in your area. However, if you are the only handyman for miles around, customers may be willing to pay more for your services.
Setting your rates is a balancing act. To turn a profit, you need to factor in the costs of doing business. These can be anything from the tools required to do a job and gas to drive you there to licensing fees and insurance premiums. It may help to have an accountant review your budget and proposed rates to ensure you’re charging enough.
3. Get a handyman license
Many states, counties, and cities require a license to work as a handyman. This is often tied to the types of projects you accept, the amount charged per job, or how much you earn in a year. Other states only require you to register as a handyman with a government department.
Depending on the rules in your area, you may need either a handyman license or a general contractor’s license to work legally. Licensing requirements vary, but you will generally need to pay a fee, show proof of General Liability and/or Workers’ Compensation insurance, complete pre-licensing training, and pass an exam.
4. Collect your tools
If you hope to be a successful handyman, you will need a set of sturdy and reliable tools. Take stock of what you already have and ensure that the basics are covered. This would include a hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches, awls, and other tools you are likely to need for most jobs.
It may be tempting to use your handyman startup as an excuse to buy new specialty tools. But an expensive spending spree could make it harder to turn a profit. Only invest in high-priced specialty tools if you’ll use them frequently. Renting or borrowing them may be cheaper if they’ll only be used once or twice.
5. Make your business official
Registering your business name and getting a business license are important steps for any small business owner. These make you official in the eyes of the law and may provide you with some trademark protections.
When you apply for a business license, you will need to decide on your business structure. Most handymen are considered sole proprietors, which is the simplest structure to register and manage. If you are going into business with someone else, you will need to register as a partnership, limited liability, or corporation. A lawyer or accountant can help you choose the proper structure for your business and explain the tax benefits and obligations that come with each.
6. Protect your business
Once you’ve put in the effort to start a handyman business, you’ll probably want to protect it. Business insurance is one way to do this. Many policies are available to help safeguard what you are building from expensive claims and lawsuits. Certain types of insurance may be required to become licensed, work in your state, or accept contracts from specific clients.
Along with insurance, you may also put steps in place to help prevent complaints, accidents, and injuries. A risk management plan can help you avoid mishaps that could derail your business. This might include a handyman checklist for safely working in a client’s home or a backup plan for if you are too sick or injured to work.
7. Market your business
People can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist! Getting the word out about your new business is the final step in becoming a successful handyman.
There are many ways to market your business. You may have already put some thought into this when drafting your handyman business plan. Using a variety of advertising methods could help you reach the most potential customers. Early efforts might focus on getting listed with Google Maps and in online directories, so you show up in searches. You should also build a website to list your services and create social media profiles to increase your online presence.
Advertising your services on apps, such as Nextdoor, or bidding on jobs through TaskRabbit and similar apps can also get your foot in the door. Once you’re more established, word-of-mouth referrals and reviews could become a great pipeline for new business.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Handyman Business
Starting your own handyman business can be a great step in your career. However, like any business, there are challenges that come with it. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the common pros and cons of starting a handyman business.
There are many benefits to starting your own handyman business. These can be attractive to aspiring business owners looking for more control over their day-to-day schedule and long-term career goals.
- Start-up costs are typically low if you already own the tools and equipment necessary for the most common handyman jobs.
- You get to set your own schedule and choose the projects you work on.
- You can partner with others, such as real estate agents or commercial landlords, to create a steady flow of jobs throughout the year.
- There’s a high earning potential, even for part-time handymen using their business as a side gig.
- If you build a successful enough brand, you could create a franchise that generates passive income.
There are also many handyman business challenges you may face as a business owner. Understanding these could help you tackle them head-on and set yourself up for success.
- You may need to navigate a lot of red tape. Depending on where you work, you may need multiple contractor licenses and/or permits to perform certain projects legally.
- If something goes wrong, you may be liable and might need to compensate your customer to fix the problem.
- Work can be seasonal, especially if you focus on a speciality. For example, if you repair air conditioners, you probably won’t be getting much work in winter.
- Handyman services can be a competitive field, and you could have trouble standing out from the pack.
- Trade work is often physically demanding, and your health can be impacted by long hours of physical labor.
Though there are many potential handyman business challenges, the pros outweigh the cons for many tradespeople. Despite the roadblocks you may face, starting your own handyman business can be incredibly rewarding and create a great sense of accomplishment.
Starting a successful handyman business
If you decide to start a handyman business, be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort. Building a successful handyman startup isn’t always easy. But it can be a worthwhile experience for those with the skill and dedication to see it through.
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** This information is a general guide only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Always check with your local licensing board when getting or renewing your handyman license to ensure you are meeting their current licensing requirements.