Home improvement is one of those industries that will never go out of style. As long as people own property, they’ll need handypersons and repair technicians to fix various issues around those properties. Overall, the industry looks to exceed $600 billion by 2025, with the trend moving upward year after year.
So, if you’re looking to start a home improvement business, you should be able to find customers and build an audience relatively quickly. You may run a cleaning firm as a lone proprietor or in partnership with another person, or you can form a limited liability corporation if you want to keep your business and personal funds separate. Work with a Corp formation services agency like GovDocFiling to register your cleaning business as a corporation to enjoy liability protection. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your personal assets are protected in the event that your business is sued.
However, there are some factors to consider before pulling the trigger. Here are the steps necessary to start a home improvement business today.
Step One: Determine Your Area of Focus
The umbrella of “home improvement” covers many different topics and niches. So, before you worry about anything like a brand name or base of operations, you need to determine how you’ll improve people’s homes. Also, you should consider whether you’ll work with individual homeowners or commercial properties. As your brand grows, you may be able to do both, but it’s best to pick one or the other at the beginning.
Some examples of niches within the home improvement industry include:
- Wallpaper – Wallpaper offers a relatively quick and easy way to improve the look of any room. However, the process of installing wallpaper is complex and time-consuming, which is why so many homeowners opt to call professionals. You can offer installation services and sell raw materials and advise customers on which paper works best for their needs.
- Home Remodeling – Remodeling can involve small jobs like adding tile to a floor or big jobs like adding an entire room to a house. For this niche, you need experience and certifications as a contractor. However, you can also make more money by focusing on high-profit projects.
- Painting and Siding – A home’s exterior is the first thing people see, so it always needs fresh paint or siding. Both options present unique challenges, which is why so many homeowners choose not to do it themselves.
- Lawn Care – Mowing, edging, trimming, and plant management are all part of the lawn care niche, and you can also offer exterior projects like retaining walls or landscaping features. This niche is most active during the summer, so you may be able to get winters off.
- HVAC Repair – Heating and cooling units need regular maintenance and upkeep, and call a repair technician when they break downhomeowners must call a repair technician when they break downschedule annual or twice-yearly inspections.
Overall, there are many ways to make money from home improvement projects, so pick the niche you’re best at and start there. You can also brand yourself as a generic handyperson, capable of fixing minor problems like leaky faucets or broken wall outlets. Knowing your niche will help the rest of your business fall into place.
Step Two: Come Up With a Business Name
Naming your business can be tricky because you have to consider your current situation and where you plan to go in the future. For example, maybe you’re focused on lawn maintenance right now but hope to get into masonry and deck building later on. So, if your company name is like “Joe’s Lawn Care,” it’ll be harder to get customers for non-lawn-related jobs.
On the other hand, you don’t want your business name to be too vague. For example, something like “Joe’s Home Improvement Services” doesn’t tell customers what you do exactly and makes it sound like you can complete any project.
One way to compromise is to create a DBA (doing business as) name for your current niche and then adjust it later. For example, perhaps your company is called “Joe’s Lawn Care,” but then you’ll add “and Masonry” once you break into that sector.
If you need help coming up with a name, you can try online business name generators to get ideas. While these programs may not create a perfect name for your new enterprise, they can at least spur some creativity and help you discover new options.
Step Three: Register Your Business Entity
A crucial step in building any business is determining the proper entity structure. There are four primary options, so let’s break them down:
- Sole Proprietorship – This option works if you’re trying to be a generic handyman and don’t plan on expanding or hiring employees. However, you’re responsible for any business debts since you and the business are the same.
- Partnership – This entity structure might work if you’re going into business with a spouse or longtime work partner. A partnership only exists as long as each member is part of the company. So, if your relationship falls apart, you have to dissolve the partnership and create a new entity.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – This option works best for most small businesses because it’s relatively affordable and has a lot of flexibility. You can organize your business however you like, and you’re free from any debts or liabilities attached to the company. Plus, you can start an LLC as an individual or with other partners.
- Corporation – We recommend starting a corporation only if you plan to expand your home improvement business quickly. For example, if you want to venture into new niches or open offices in new locations, a corporation setup can work well. However, your income will get taxed twice – once at the corporate level and again as an individual.
Regardless of your entity type, you’ll also have to file for various business licenses and certifications within your state or county. For example, if you want to be a contractor, that involves more paperwork than becoming a generic handyman.
Step Four: Start Finding Clients
It may seem counterintuitive to look for clients before you officially launch your business, but it makes sense for home improvement ventures. Since demand is always there, you can likely find friends or family members who can use your services. Working on a few projects at first can help you figure out logistics and challenges, such as invoicing and managing expenses. Plus, if you’re working with friends or family, there’s not as much pressure with each project, so you can refine your techniques before working with strangers.
This step is unnecessary if you already have lots of home improvement experience working at another company and want to go into business for yourself. In that case, you should already have the knowledge and equipment necessary to work with different clientele immediately.
Step Five: Develop Your Business Brand
Branding is essential to any business, but it matters even more for home improvement. Because most people don’t seek a handyman or repair tech unless something goes wrong, you need to capture their attention immediately. In many cases, homeowners don’t have the luxury of researching and comparing different companies, especially if the problem is severe (i.e., a leaky basement).
When developing your home improvement brand, consider these elements:
- Logo – You don’t have to be a graphic designer to get a fleshed-out logo. You can use an online logo maker to create a logo, and you can refine it later on as necessary. You can also find many tutorials on how to make your logo stand out, so it’s more captivating and helps get more customers, especially those from online visits.
AI logo maker software is an excellent place to start because you can have a polished piece in minutes. Even if you don’t wind up using it as the final iteration, it can serve as a foundation for the final image. Also, you can pay for the basic version and then upgrade the design yourself or hire a designer to refine and customize it as much as you want.
- Color Scheme – Many people associate blue with reliability when talking about home improvement (i.e., a plumber’s blue overalls). While you can use that to your advantage, you also have to consider how you’ll stand out from the competition if everyone uses blue branding materials.
Alternatively, you can opt for a different color scheme, potentially to reflect other aspects of your business. For example, maybe you use recycled materials and sustainable repair methods. So, using a green and brown color palette can allude to the fact that your business is eco-friendly.
- Brand Persona – Should people hire you because you have tons of experience or because you’re more affordable than the competition? A big part of branding is delivering the right message before a customer calls you. You can use a relevant tool to create a persona that fits your aesthetic and lean into it. For example, your branding could focus on your reliability and authority within the industry or highlight your commitment to customer service.
Step Six: Build a Website
Although home improvement businesses can get many jobs from reviews and positive word-of-mouth, a website is crucial for strengthening your bottom line. Fortunately, free site builders like Wix can help you get online without investing much money. While there are many features to include on your site, some essential elements are:
- Testimonials – Feature past customers who loved your work and showcase what they love about your business. This way, new customers can see social proof of your abilities.
- Area of Focus – If you’re only available for specific jobs, you must make that clear and upfront. For example, maybe you can replace light fixtures and do some electrical work, but not big jobs like replacing an electrical panel. Make sure to avoid any potential confusion or dissatisfaction later on.
- Contact Info – Ideally, customers should be able to reach you via phone, especially if they have an emergency. You should also have an email address or an instant message feature. Chatbots can help you sort new customers and handle basic queries without hiring more employees.
Starting a new home improvement business can be exciting, but it’s not without challenges. Yes, you can likely find customers quickly, but you also need the resources and knowledge to address their needs and adapt to various problems on the fly. By following these steps, you should have a solid foundation upon which to succeed.