Want to fulfil a lifelong business of starting your own business but don’t know where to start?
It might seem scary, but really it doesn’t have to be.
Read our guide on how to start a landscaping business and change your life, forever!
Starting a business is a lifelong ambition for most people. No matter what kind of business you decide to start, there is little doubt that having a profitable business will give you more independence and satisfaction in life.
In short it could change your life.
Unfortunately, running a business also has its drawbacks and not everyone can endure some of the pressures that come with it.
Lets start by looking at some aspects of running a business that you should be aware of before you take the plunge into entrepreneurship:
Being employed by someone means that you have to work on their terms. This can be extremely difficult especially when you have to deal with unreasonable workmates and rigid working hours.
Having your own business will allow you to have flexible working hours and give you the freedom to choose the people you wish to work with.
Unlimited growth potential
As a business owner your future will rest solely in your hands. If you put in lots of effort and make calculated decisions, your business can grow massively within a very short time.
Transforming a simple idea or hobby into a profitable business is a remarkably satisfying experience. This sense of accomplishment can motivate you to pursue even greater goals in your life.
Cons Of Running Your Own Business
There are no guarantees
No matter how good your business idea is and how well you plan for it, there is always a chance of l failure. This can happen due to factors that are beyond your control.
No room for complacency
As an employee you can take paid leave or even spend the whole day in the office doing almost nothing but still get paid (not that I have ever done that of course!)
As a business owner, your income will be directly proportional to your input. Your business will lose considerable income for each day it stays closed.
Having a business means that you might have to do some crucial tasks by yourself such as marketing your business and filing tax returns.
Even if you have employees in your business you will still have to monitor every aspect of their jobs to ensure that everything is done correctly. If your workers fail to perform their duties correctly or become dishonest your whole business will suffer.
A Landscaping Business – Good Idea Or Bad?
Backyard lawns and home gardens have become increasingly popular among American home owners.
Nevertheless, most of these home owners either lack the required skills or the time to maintain these lawns and gardens by themselves.
You won’t believe this…
According to recent statistics, 67% of Americans relied on professionals to do all their landscaping jobs. The high demand for such services has made landscaping a very lucrative line of business.
It is currently estimated that there are about 12,000 landscaping service providers in America who rake in a total of $76 billion in annual revenue.
That is right $76 billion!
These figures show just how profitable a landscaping business can be considering the fact that most of these landscapers only serve domestic clients.
And that’s not all; analysts predict that this industry is bound to experience steady annual growth at least till the mid-2020s. This means that there is still enough room for new players to join this industry.
Good news huh?
Starting A Landscaping Business
Before you start any business it is important to first do a survey around the area you intend to set up to determine the availability of potential clients.
A landscaping business is likely to thrive in a middle-class residential area where home owners are more likely to have lawns and little time to do the landscaping by themselves.
Once you have confirmed that there is adequate demand for landscaping services, you can proceed to capitalize on this opportunity.
The steps outlined below can guide you through the entire process of starting a landscaping business from start to finish.
Defining Your Business
Landscaping is a broad term that covers several activities which modify the appearance of any land area to make it visibly appealing.
The activities that a landscaper can undertake range from relatively easy tasks such as pruning, mowing gardens and planting ornamental vegetation to more complex tasks such as felling large trees and seeding lawns.
First of all:
When starting your business you will need to clearly define the type of landscaping activities that you will be able to carry out. The services you will offer will depend on your initial investment and your level of expertise.
For someone who is just starting it is advisable to do the less demanding tasks since they require less technical skill and can be done with cheaper tools.
The good news is:
As your business grows you will gain more practical experience and you will also be able to gather enough resources to purchase more advanced hardware. Only then will you be certainly capable of handling the tougher jobs even on a larger scale.
Do I Need Any Qualifications?
You are not required by law to possess any formal qualifications to work as a landscaper in the US. It is however very important for landscapers to have enough hands-on experience with regard to the routines involved in landscaping.
With enough experience you will be able to easily operate most of the machinery and tools and perform demanding jobs.
Such programs normally consist of short courses that can be completed in a few weeks or months. While taking such a course you will be provided with lessons on how to look after different species of garden and lawn plants, weed and pest control tactics and some principles of lawn design.
And to top it all off:
You will also be trained on how to handle the different types of machinery used in landscaping.
Financing Your Business
When starting your landscaping business, you will need some cash to finance the purchase of all the necessary equipment and materials.
In addition to the initial capital, you must also set aside enough funds to cover the running costs of the young business until it starts to generate profits.
It sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
To determine how much cash you will need to start your business, you should create a business plan indicating the prices for everything you intend to purchase and the levies you will have to pay to obtain the necessary licenses.
On top of that you should also factor in running expenses for at least six months during which you will probably be generating no profits.
And boom you are almost ready to go!
You can use the following methods to gather the resources needed to get your landscaping business off the ground:
1. Personal savings
You can use some of your savings to start a business.
It is however not advisable to invest all your life savings into a business venture. This will safeguard you from losing all your money if the business fails to pick up.
Only invest what you can afford to lose. If your business requires more than half your total savings to start then you should consider seeking alternative sources of capital.
2. Family and friends
There is no shame in seeking the assistance of the people close to you when starting a business.
Your close friends and family will be more willing to lend you some cash compared to total strangers since they know you well. They are also more likely to be lenient with you if you fail to pay up on time.
You can even propose to make them your business partners if they make a contribution to your business.
3. Bank loans
Many banks are willing to provide starting capital for business ventures which they perceive to be viable.
Banks are nevertheless very cautious when issuing loans and most banks will only offer loans that are backed by a security guarantee.
You might therefore be asked to attach an asset which will be used by the bank to recover the loan in case you fail to honor the periodic payments.
And let’s be honest that is a risk.
This is the major downside of using bank loans to kick-start a business.
Some banks may occasionally be ready to issue unsecured loans for new business ventures. With unsecured loans, your assets will not be seized if you fail to pay any loan.
The requirements for unsecured loans are however more stringent. To be eligible for an unsecured loan, you will have to present a solid business plan to your bank. This plan will be used to evaluate the viability of the project.
The truth is:
The bank will only issue a loan once they are convinced that you have a workable plan that will bring in enough profits that will enable you to pay up the loan.
On top of that, the bank might also evaluate your credit history to decide on whether you are credit-worthy.
There are several types of business entities which can be registered by law in the United States. For a landscaping business however you should opt for a sole proprietorship, a general partnership or a limited liability company (LLC).
All these entities have their pros and cons and you will need to choose the one that is best suited for your newly formed business.
1. Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity which is owned and operated by one individual (the proprietor). It is the most suitable type of business for anyone who is just starting a new business.
The main advantage of starting your landscaping business as a sole proprietorship is that it is by far the easiest business entity to set up.
There is no paperwork involved and you won’t need to register your business with the state. You will only be required to obtain a few licenses that are required for any practicing landscaper in your state.
In that sense it is pretty simple.
You can use your name to start a sole proprietorship or opt to give your business a different name other than yours. If you decide to use your name e.g James Bradley Landscapers, you won’t have to register your business with the state.
If you however settle for different name other than yours e.g Green Garden Landscapers, you will be required to register this name with the state or local authorities.
The biggest disadvantage of setting up a sole proprietorship is that you (the proprietor) will be liable for all debts and losses that the business incurs in the course of its operations.
2. General Partnership
A general partnership can be formed when two or more individuals agree to form and run a business together.
Each member of a general partnership is required to make a contribution to the business either in form of cash, professional services or by offering a location where the business will be set up.
As in the case of sole proprietorships, there is no formal registration needed when forming a general partnership.
It is advisable to make a written agreement stating the value of each member’s shares in the business and their specific roles. This can help to prevent disputes that may arise when dividing profits or executing administrative duties.
The main advantage of forming a general partnership is that you are able to pool resources from several people to finance the process of setting up a business instead of having to shoulder all the expenses as an individual.
And of course:
Bringing together people with different skills and abilities to form a general partnership can also be beneficial to the business by providing diverse innovative ideas which you might not envision on your own.
The disadvantage of forming a general partnership is that all the members will have unlimited liability which means that they will all be liable for any losses or debts that the business incurs.
Unlike sole proprietorships and general partnerships, members of a limited liability company cannot be held liable for any losses or debts that the company incurs.
On the flip side:
There is a lot of paperwork involved when starting a business as a limited liability company and the specific requirements differ from state to state.
The main advantage of setting up a limited liability company lies in the safety it provides for its members against any form of legal action that may be brought against the company.
It is also easier to land big landscaping contracts if your business is registered as a limited liability company.
But please note:
The disadvantage of starting a limited liability company is the lengthy registration process that involves filling lots of paperwork.
All limited liability companies are also required to pay a minimum annual fee which varies depending on the state where the company is formed.
Tax and Insurance
Every business in the US is required by law to file periodic tax returns. To be able to do this, you will need to obtain a tax identification number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
If you intend to have employees in your business, you will also be required to get an Employer’s Identification Number from the IRS. All documentation with regard to the IRS can be obtained online through their website.
It is worth noting:
Some states require all registered businesses to pay additional taxes on the state level. You can find out the specific tax requirements from your local state offices.
Having a solid insurance policy will also safeguard your landscaping business from financial trouble due to unforeseen circumstances.
Here’s they key:
Insurance policies can come to your rescue when your equipment breaks down, when losses are incurred due to natural disasters or even when your employees need compensation for workplace mishaps.
To determine the most suitable policy for your business you should consult an insurance broker for professional guidance.
Regardless of whether you start your landscaping business as a sole proprietorship, a general partnership or a limited liability company, you will have to obtain additional licensees from the state authorities before you can start working.
Such licenses may include irrigation licenses, chemical handling licenses, waste disposal licenses and contractor licenses.
Each state has different mandatory licenses for landscapers and you will have to find out which ones you have to obtain in your state.
Pricing Your Services
The amount you charge for your landscaping services can either make or break your business.
If you charge too little you could make big losses and if you set your prices too high you may end up driving away potential clients.
It is probably the part you dread.
Mainly as it is extremely difficult to figure out the optimal pricing on your own. Finding out the rates that other landscaping companies in your area charge for the different services they provide will give you a realistic idea of how to price your services.
Most landscaping projects are priced based on the cost of materials used, the size of the area to be covered, the estimated time taken to complete the job and the cost of labor incurred.
Whenever you are requested to provide a quote for a project, it is advisable to visit the proposed site in person before settling on a price.
Because some clients may fail to accurately describe the complexity of the terrain and the total area to be covered.
Making a trip to the proposed site will give you an accurate impression of the labor and the cost of materials needed for the job. Only then will you be able to come up with a reasonable price estimate.
Marketing Your Business
As a new business your ultimate goal will be to get as many clients as you can within the shortest time possible.
To capture the attention of potential customers you will have to create awareness for your business by engaging in aggressive marketing. Here are some practical ways through which you can promote your new landscaping business:
Setting Up A Website
One of the first things you will want to do is set up a website for your business and that doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds.
First of all purchase your domain name from somewhere like GoDaddy, NameCheap or Wealthy Affiliate. You want your domain name to be the same name as your business.
And just as importantly:
Find somewhere to build and host your website. I use Wealthy Affiliate for both of those.
Incredibly detailed training on how to optimise your website for search engines, so if someone is searching for a landscaper in your area your site appears at the top of Google’s search results.
Access to a keyword tool that will help you target low competition phrases users are searching for on Google that relate to your business so you can target these phrases and draw visitors to your website (and ultimately your business) by using them.
You don’t have to enter your credit card details, there is no sneaky do the free trial and then get automatically signed up to the full membership. If after the free trial you don’t want to continue there is no pressure to.
That for me is a hallmark of a good company.
If you do decide to continue with Wealthy Affiliate the first month costs $19 then after that it costs $49 a month or $359 for a yearly subscription. If you do sign up you will also get my support to help you make the online side of your business a success!
You will also need to choose a theme. I use the Extra Theme from Elegant Themes as it is the most flexible and easy to setup website you could ever wish for – it is however a paid theme. There are numerous free themes you could use though.
Social Media Marketing
Social media networks have become convenient marketing tools for both young and established businesses. Thanks to the popularity of such networks, you can reach a very wide customer base without paying a cent.
It is simple.
You can start by creating a page for your business containing all the services you provide and your contact information. Once you have done this, ask some of your friends to share links to your page on their social media updates.
This will increase visibility for your business and before you know it potential clients will be trooping to your page to make bookings for landscaping services.
Branding Your Business Premises
Placing your company logo and name on the exterior façade of your premises will attract the attention of anyone passing by.
In addition to your business name, you can also advertise the services and your contact information. If you do this well you will soon have clients making calls or walking into your premises to make inquiries.
Place Roadside Adverts And Billboards
You can use roadside billboards and posters around your locality to raise awareness for your new business.
Such advertisements should be vividly designed and conspicuously positioned to ensure maximum visibility.
Before placing any outdoor adverts, you should consult your local authorities to find out if you need to pay any levies.
Landscaping Exhibitions And Events
Each year, thousands of landscaping expos are organized across the US. These events attract home-owners and business people who are in search of reliable landscapers.
You can attend such events and issue flyers or business cards to potential clients.
Steve is a one time gardening hater turned into gardening obsessive. This was all thanks to going to University where a two year stint spent transforming the previously horrific garden of the student house he lived in left him addicted to all things horticultural! Now with a new house in tow and due to some fortunate circumstances he is free to test out a whole host of gardening equipment. Find out more about Steve or drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.