How to Start a Handyman Business

Are you good with your hands, in good physical shape, and dream of being your own boss?

A handyman business may be your ticket to freedom and financial security.

This business has relatively low overhead expenses and the potential for high profits.

But like with any other enterprise, it has its set of challenges.

The good news is that it is possible to create a handyman business from scratch with minimal investment.

I have put together this comprehensive guide to take you through everything you need to know to start a successful handyman business.

The Easy Parts of Starting a Handyman Business

Generally, a handyman business has low startup costs. The typical homeowner has a long list of home repair and general maintenance tasks that don’t require specialized equipment. You can start with relatively simple tasks like moving furniture around, assembling furniture, painting, minor repairs, defrosting freezers, organizing garages, and cleaning ovens. Then, you can expand your list of services as you build a reputation and invest in equipment for more complex and specialized jobs.

The capital required to start your business will still be relatively low even if you decide to purchase tools. Marketplaces such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist are great places to buy cheaper, second-hand equipment. The startup cost is even lower if you already have a vehicle to go to job sites and transport tools. Depending on your point of entry, you may be able to start your business with as little as $1000.

Additionally, many jobs don’t require you to be licensed by the state. There’s a massive list of jobs that you’d still be able to take without a license. These jobs include minor dry rot repairs, building gates, repairing fences, touching up paint, installing trim, and power-washing decks. Many contractors don’t like taking these jobs. Their overheads are too high to justify taking “small jobs.” So there’s still plenty of room to build a successful handyman business without a license.

Finally, software tools like Jobber make handling the administrative aspects of your business much more manageable. Some essential Jobber features include client relationship management (CRM), invoicing and follow-ups, quoting and follow-ups, scheduling and dispatching, and online appointment booking. Jobber prices are as low as $29 per month with the core plan.

The Difficult Parts of Starting a Handyman Business

Not everything about starting a handyman business is smooth sailing. Some parts of the journey may make it harder to get your business off the ground. But it is still possible to overcome these obstacles and build the business of your dreams.

While not all handyman jobs require it, those that pay more typically need you to be licensed. For example, most states require a general contractor’s license for specialized jobs like plumbing and electrical work. Additionally, most states set a dollar amount limit for the jobs you can take without a permit. For example, you’ll need a contractor’s license to perform work over $1000 in Arizona.

The laws and regulations governing handypersons can also be confusing. These laws vary from state to state. Furthermore, each city may have its unique ordinances that you need to observe. As a result, it is often difficult to wrap your head around the services you can and cannot legally offer.

For example, you may offer services that require a specific trade license in some cities and not others. But you aren’t allowed to advertise these services in those cities until you acquire the license. Your local contractor’s board website can offer more information about the legal restrictions in your city or state.

Lastly, being a handyman requires you to have a vast set of trade skills if you hope to make a good living. Conversely, you’ll need on-the-job experience to gain these skills. This classic catch-22 can make it challenging to get clients and build a reputation, especially in the beginning. 

For example, you may need to fix a leaky faucet, caulk a shower, fix a loose tile, and unclog a drain in the course of a single job. Therefore, having an extensive repertoire of trade skills will help improve customer satisfaction.

Here’s how to start your handyman business, step-by-step. 

Step 1 – Plan Your Business

Many new businesses fail due to a lack of adequate planning. Creating a roadmap for your business will help you identify the critical action steps to a successful enterprise.

Determine the Services You’ll Offer

The good news is that there is always a demand for handyman services. With economic growth, a less handy population, and increasingly complex homes and offices, you’ll likely be spoiled for choice in terms of services. You’ll still need to carefully consider the services you’ll offer.

The first step is to evaluate your skills. Next, make a list of all the things that you know how to do. This list should include all your skills, regardless of how trivial or obvious. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to pay for simple tasks like assembling IKEA furniture or hanging pictures.

Next, refer to your state’s contractor’s board. Specifically, check whether there are any special licensing requirements for any services on your list. Finally, create a list of the kinds of services you will offer based on your skills and your state’s licensing requirements.

Identify Your Target Market

Identifying a target market will help you determine how to market your business. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to specialize and establish yourself within a niche. Most of the highly paid handymen are well established in their fields.

Potential target markets may include the elderly, single women, apartments and complexes, new constructions, or property owners. Come up with a list of groups of people that may require your services.

Create a Business Plan

You don’t need a complicated, multi-page business plan for it to be effective. Instead, you can think of your business plan as a way of articulating your vision for your business. The idea is to have a clear vision for what you would like to achieve with your business.

Start by writing down what a successful handyman business looks like six months, one year, and five years from now. Include as many details as possible such as:

  • Your desired number of clients
  • Your business location
  • Your desired profit
  • The number of employees

The idea is to create milestones for your business. While it’s good to be optimistic, it is equally essential to be realistic with your expectations. For example, it will be challenging to get 100 clients in the first six months of your business. Having realistic milestones will help to guide the direction of your business.

Other details to consider adding to your business plan include:

  • Your business’s name
  • Your target market
  • The types of services you offer
  • Your main competitors
  • A SWOT analysis
  • A marketing plan

Step 2 – Get Handyman Software

Often, people are surprised at how much administrative work goes into running a business. The same can be said for starting a handyman business. These tasks are also often tedious, repetitive, and even dull. Good handyman software can help ease things when starting and running your business.

Sign Up For Jobber

Jobber is exceptional software packed with valuable features that you’ll need when setting up your business. For one, you’ll be able to organize all of your client’s history neatly. This includes every invoice, job, quote, or visit for every client. You’ll also be able to track time and expenses, invoice clients and follow up on payments, and even send on my way text messages to clients.

Choose Your Plan

Jobber offers three pricing plans depending on the number of users and the features you want. Jobber pricing options include:

Core Plan – Costs $29 per month if you pay annually or $49 per month billed monthly. This plan is only suitable for one user.

Connect Plan – Costs $99 per month with the annual plan or $139 if you pay monthly. You can have up to seven users with this plan.

Grow Plan – Costs $199 per month with the annual plan or $279 per month if you pay monthly. You can connect up to 30 employees to your account with this plan. You can add more users at $19 per month for every extra user.

Step 3 – Create Your Business

You don’t necessarily need to register your handyman business in most states. This is especially true if you do not plan to hire employees or open a business bank account. But this route comes with many restrictions that may limit your prospects and expose you to risk. For example, you won’t have any personal protection in case your business is sued.

The best strategy is to form a legal entity. This way, you can scale your business by hiring employees, qualify for insurance, and get access to credit and financing.

Register Your Business

Most handypersons choose to form a limited liability company (LLC). This way, you won’t be personally responsible for your business’ debts and liabilities. Additionally, there are no restrictions on the number of members if you intend to bring on partners.

Some of the things you’ll need to form your LLC include:

  • Business name
  • Registered agent
  • Articles of Organization
  • Operating Agreement
  • Tax forms

You can set up your own LLC or use an online business formation company to take care of it for you. 

Open a Business Bank Account

It is crucial to separate your business finances from your personal assets. This process makes it more difficult for lawyers to pierce your corporate veil if your business is sued. A separate bank account will also help you build your credit score, become eligible for financing, get higher lines of credit, and enjoy better interest rates.

Learn About Your State’s Handyman Laws

Getting familiar with handyman laws protects you and your clients. These laws will also inform you about the services that you can offer. Additionally, you can decide whether or not it’s worth getting a contractor license depending on the services you plan to offer. Your state’s contractor board website is an excellent resource for this step.

Step 4 – File the Necessary Paperwork

You’ll need to file certain documents depending on your business structure, the services you plan to offer, and your state or city requirements. Getting all the necessary documents in order ensures that you don’t get into legal trouble. Some of these documents can also help to boost your credibility and make you more attractive to customers.

Register For Taxes

Find out about your state’s handyman taxes and register for the relevant taxes. Additionally, how you are taxed depends on your business structure.  At the very least, you may need to pay self-employment taxes on your net profits. Fortunately, you will be eligible for several deductions. A few standard allowable deductions for handymen include:

  • Equipment, supplies, and furniture you use for your business
  • Licensing fees
  • Training costs
  • Insurance
  • Bank fees
  • Business use of your vehicle
  • Telephone and internet
  • Home office expenses

You’ll also need to acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS if you plan on hiring people. Jobber makes handling taxes easier with its robust tax reporting tool. You’ll also be able to include a tax rate when quoting or invoicing clients.

Obtain the Required Licenses

Again, this step may vary depending on your state and city. First, find out if you require a handyman license to operate in your location. You may also need a contractor license to perform bigger and higher-paying jobs. Check your state and city government websites for more details on licensing requirements. Additionally, speak to other contractors in your area for guidance on obtaining licenses if necessary.

Get Insurance

Small business insurance is always a good idea. Consider getting insurance even if it isn’t required at your level. Accidents happen, and insurance will help protect you from claims in case of property damage or injury. Homeowners will also be more comfortable working with you if you are insured.

At the very least, general liability insurance will help you with the coverage you need for your business. You may also need to get workers’ compensation insurance if you plan on hiring employees.

Step 5 – Equip Your Business

You’re almost ready to start offering your services. The main remaining task is to equip your business for success. This step doesn’t need to be too expensive if you start small. There will be plenty of time to scale your business. Don’t overextend yourself. You can get started with surprisingly little in the handyman business.

Purchase Tools and Equipment

You don’t have to purchase every single tool you can think of. Instead, start with only what’s necessary for the jobs at hand. The services you plan to offer will help guide you with the tools you need to buy. Some standard handyman tools to get you started include:

  • Basic tool kit (including vice grips, Philips and flathead screwdrivers, duct tape, stud finder, electrical tape, level, WD-40, socket wrench, tape measure, utility knife, and claw hammer)
  • Spackle and putty knife
  • Sander (hand or powered)
  • Extendable ladder
  • Cordless drill
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Handsaw
  • Angle grinder

Be sure to compare prices when purchasing your tools. Also, look for secondhand tools for pricier items. Online marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay are great places to shop for gently used tools.

Get Reliable Transportation

You may not need to purchase a business vehicle if you already have a truck or van. But make sure you have reliable transportation to get to job sites. Your vehicle can also be a great marketing tool. For example, you can put your company’s logo, list of services, and contact information on your vehicle. You may also consider renting a vehicle in the beginning to keep your startup costs low.

Secure Suppliers

There are certain materials you will need at job sites. These include wood, nails, fixtures, and pipes. Shop around for a reliable and affordable supplier before you start offering your services. Alternatively, identify an affordable commercial home improvement store when you’ll be purchasing your supplies. Some of these stores also provide contractor discounts and bulk discounts.

Draw Up a Service Contract  

A service contract makes you appear more professional and protects all parties. Additionally, this agreement helps to minimize the risk of legal disputes. Many states and cities also legally require you to sign a service contract before performing repairs or maintenance.

The contract should specify client expectations and payment terms. Be sure to include a detailed work description in your service contracts. Also, include the amount of materials you’ll need for the job and the estimated cost. Finally, detail how you will be paid, the amount due, and when payment is due.

Step 6 –Promote and Market Your Business

You should be ready for your first clients by now. It will take some time to build a steady pipeline of work. So you’ll have plenty of time to promote and market your business. Be sure to refer to your city and state handyman laws. There might be restrictions on how and what you are allowed to advertise.

Start Local

The first step to advertising your handyman business is to get on all local listings. These include online directories such as Google My Business and Yelp. You can also create accounts on sites like HomeAdvisor. Where your budget allows, post ads on local publications and community websites. Try reaching out to local property management companies in your area. This is an incredibly effective route when just starting. Property management companies are always looking to hire extra hands for odd jobs.

You can also connect your Jobber account to your local services ads. Then, you’ll be able to book new leads from Google search.

Provide Stellar Customer Service

The customer relationship management software in Jobber can help you create a positive customer experience and separate you from the competition. The software’s client hub lets you send your clients quotes for approval, collect client signatures, and notify your clients when you arrive at the job site. Your customers can also review current and past invoices, pay invoices, and print the invoices right from the client hub. In short,  Jobber is a great tool for building trust with your clients and creating a professional image.

Create a Business Website

With today’s technological advancements, a professional business website is within everyone’s reach. You don’t even need to hire a web developer or designer to create your website. Content management systems like WordPress and Wix let you create a professional website with zero coding experience. These CMSs are also very affordable and have numerous templates to help your website stand out from others in your industry.

A business website will also allow you to accept online bookings. For example, Jobber’s online booking feature collects customer information, including name, address, preferred dates and times, and the services they need. You’ll receive a notification in your Jobber account as soon as clients request your services on your website.

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