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If you’re one of those people with extreme DIY skills, you’ve probably helped friends enough times to start thinking, “you know, I really should get paid for this.” Starting a handyman business isn’t quite as simple as throwing your tools in a van and waiting for the phone to ring. Think about what to know before starting your own handyman business.
Your business will need a structure. Research your state’s requirements for licensure and the costs for formally establishing your business. Decide what you want to call your business and find out if the name is already taken—your Secretary of State’s website will probably have a search tool for businesses to check for names as part of the business registration process.
You will need liability insurance and your state or locality may require you to be bonded as well. If you expect to hire additional employees, you’ll need worker’s compensation insurance. As part of your business setup, you’ll need to get an Employer Identification Number and a business bank account. Determine how you will do your accounting and how your accounting software interacts with your business bank account.
Research standard contract language you could use for any jobs you accept. A contract defines expectations for you and your client regarding the scope of the work, the timeline, what happens in case of unanticipated delays, who bears the cost of materials, and the payment arrangements and schedule. Check whether the proposed work will require a permit, as well.
Take an inventory of the tools you already own and be conservative about buying anything new until you really need it. You’re ahead of the game if you already own a truck or van, a ladder, and a robust toolbox. You may already own a nail gun for carpentry and drywall. Be careful about taking on jobs involving professional trades, like plumbing and electrical work—your state may require additional training and licensure before you can promote yourself as someone who can make those kinds of repairs.
Handyman work requires physical fitness, including strength and endurance. Set aside time daily for a run or a workout to recharge your body and mind and help you approach your business with a positive outlook.
Word of mouth and referrals go a long way for service businesses, but it’s unlikely you’ll get enough work without a marketing plan that includes a website, a dedicated work phone number, and local advertising. It doesn’t cost much to purchase a domain for a website and many web hosting services offer easy-to-use templates to help you create a quality website. In addition, list your business on web directories.
Track your interactions with clients, including when and how you communicate with them. Consider permission-based communications, like email newsletters, to keep clients up to date on new services or seasonal special deals you offer.
Knowing the basics of starting a handyman business will help you determine whether you have the means and the personality to make a successful transition from a helpful friend to professional repair and maintenance person.
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