Most handymen have two career choices. They can work for a larger organization or they can work for themselves. The entrepreneurial route is popular, especially in the United States where small businesses continue to thrive by the tens of millions. It gives you professional freedom to practice your craft however you see fit — within the bounds of things like federal, state, and regional license requirements, of course.
If you want to create your own handyman business, here are a few tips to help you get started. They apply to multiple contracting scenarios and serve as a good launching point for any handyman operation.
One of the first things that you want to do is ensure that you’re qualified. Handymen can establish their authority within their niche in two ways:
- Experience: The more hours you can spend on jobs, the more experience you’ll have. This can help you practice your skills and learn new tricks of the trade.
- Training: Formal training, such as attending a trade school, can provide you with a solid, certified knowledge base. It can also ensure that you’re up-to-date on local codes and regulations for things like electric and plumbing work.
Experience and training are invaluable pieces to build a business on. They don’t just help you do quality work — they also enable you to market yourself as a professional that knows how to expertly execute the work that you’re paid to do.
Determine Your Service List
The concept of a handyman often implies that you can do anything that a contractor can do. Consider all of your top skills and then determine your service list. What items are you willing to show potential clients as official contracting services that your company offers?
Set Your Prices
If you don’t set good prices, you won’t be able to stay in business for long. While there is no single universal law when it comes to setting your prices, there are a few considerations that can help you set an initial figure:
- Do market research in your local area: What are other companies charging for similar work?
- Consider basic material costs: Add up an estimate of the base costs that each kind of project could incur.
- Remember your overhead: Separately add up things like employee salaries, travel costs, insurance, and other operational costs that exist regardless of the work that you are (or are not) doing.
As you do your research, you should be able to come up with a rate that will cover all of these costs and still leave you with a profit.
If your initial rate feels low, don’t be disheartened. As you gain a reputation and build a client base, you’ll be able to naturally increase your rates in proportion to your experience and expertise.
Check-in With Your State Laws
Even when doing a one-off project on your own home, it’s always wise to make sure you have any permits you might need. As a full-blown construction company, it’s even more important to have all of your paperwork in order.
That’s why one of the critical steps is checking in with your state and local laws. Be thorough as you do so. Look for any licensing and insurance that you’re required to carry as a company. In addition, familiarize yourself with building codes, permits, and any other specifications that could impact the kind of work you have on your service list.
Identify Your Customer Base
Along with tending to the internal aspects of your new company, you also have to consider how you’ll market yourself, build brand awareness, and consistently generate leads. The first step in the process revolves around identifying your customer base.
Who are the customers that you’re going to cater to? What are the handyman-related pain points that residents in your local area struggle with the most? Understanding your customer base is key to establishing a respected brand. It enables you to relate to prospective clients — particularly in a line of business with a lot of face-to-face engagement. It also helps you identify the kind of people that you want to work with and how you can help them, even when they don’t understand their own construction problems.
Register Your Business
Along with licenses and insurance, you’re also going to need to register your business, both on a federal level with the IRS as well as with local entities, such as your state or county. This will give your company its own distinct legal identity and enable you to navigate tax season properly each year.
This process will vary from state to state and region to region. However, it usually requires things like filling out forms, getting an EIN number, and choosing a business structure.
LLC vs Sole Proprietorship
There are two main structures for most handyman companies. An LLC (limited liability company) separates the liability of your company from your personal assets. It also helps with things like obtaining financing and improving your market credibility.
If you’re a smaller operation, you can simply opt to remain a sole proprietorship. This removes the liability protection. However, it requires minimal paperwork or cost.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide which structure makes the most sense in your particular situation.
Finally, if you’re successful, you may need to hire employees. This could include both additional handymen as well as a lawyer, accountant, or even a marketer.
If you hire employees, you’re going to need to figure out how to attract, retain, and develop the right talent. In addition, you’ll need to set up additional things, such as workers’ comp, payroll, and unemployment insurance.
Note that all of these are normal hurdles that many businesses already navigate. They shouldn’t deter you from expanding your business. However, hiring employees is a stage of growth that should be taken seriously if you want your company to survive over the long-term.