Is your happy place in your yard, with an edge trimmer or lawn mower in hand? Starting a landscaping business is an excellent way to turn your passion into a career, but it requires some prep work. You’ll need to create a plan and budget, get the necessary equipment, register your business and much more. Still, this field is relatively easy to enter, especially if you already have some of the equipment.
While there’s a lot to do to bring your landscaping business ideas to life, it’s much more manageable when broken down into steps.
Landscaping can take many forms, so start by making a rough outline for your business. Will you work on residential or commercial properties? What services will you offer? Research what other local landscapers provide and what your customers might want. Identify any gaps that could give you an edge, such as a convenience residents want, but your competitors don’t have.
Some services to consider include:
Figure out what sets you apart and lean into it. Maybe you worked at a plant nursery and have a comprehensive knowledge of the area’s local flora, or perhaps you have certifications from organizations like the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the Irrigation Association, the International Society of Arborists or the Snow and Ice Management Association.
During the planning stage, you’ll also want to get a rough idea of what equipment you’ll need and how much time you can spend on the job. Consider whether you’ll work during the winter and how administration tasks, like accounting and marketing, will affect your billable time.
Once you know what you want to offer, give yourself a budget. Starting a landscaping business can be as simple as heading out with a lawn mower and trimmer or as complicated as investing tens of thousands of dollars in heavy equipment and employees. Most people fall somewhere in the middle.
Find how much you want to invest in the business. As we dive into each topic, jot down how much you think you’ll spend.
When setting up a business, you typically have three options that will affect your liability and taxes.
LLCs are usually the best choice for minimizing risk. You’ll need to file with your state, but most charge less than $200. LLCs also have some different tax structures and reporting fees to consider.
With your business name established, you can register for state and federal tax numbers, licenses and permits. Getting your tax number is simple, and you can head to the websites for your state and the Internal Revenue Service to get started.
From the IRS, you’ll get an employer identification number, also called a federal tax identification number. It works like a Social Security number for your business. You’ll use this number to file taxes and open a business bank account.
Figuring out what licenses you need to start a landscaping business can be challenging. Different entities, including local, state and federal governments, can determine these requirements.
On the local level, you will likely need a local business operating license and possibly zoning or land use permits. If you maintain an office open to the public, you may need licenses and permits related to the building, fire safety, health requirements, signage and environmental activities. Your state could also require an operating license and a professional license. You may need additional certifications if you apply pesticides or transport plants across state lines. Check with your state’s department of agriculture for more information.
One more number you’ll need to check off is a phone number. Your business should have a dedicated number, and it’s wise to get a second phone to separate personal and business communications.
Landscaping businesses will need many types of insurance to cover everything from equipment to legal fees. Here are some insurance policies you may need for a landscaping business.
If you’re hiring employees, spend some time developing a human resources plan. You may need to learn more about keeping team members happy and safe while complying with the law. Some areas to consider include the following.
With your EIN and business registration ready, you can set up business financial accounts, including a checking account, credit card and payment gateway.
A dedicated business account can help separate your business and personal finances. Many don’t have monthly maintenance fees, and banks may waive them if you keep your account above a specific threshold. Having a business account can help you avoid confusion and keep all your transactions in one place for easier tax filing at the end of the year. If you plan to accept a lot of cash, consider going with a brick-and-mortar bank or making sure you have convenient deposit options.
Business credit cards provide similar benefits to personal credit cards, like allowing you to earn rewards and access more money when needed. Unlike personal cards, business cards tend to offer higher credit limits, better rewards for specific purchases, longer interest-free periods and special business perks. They can be nice to have when buying what you need to start a landscaping business. You can also create employee cards so they can make purchases on the account.
Lastly, you must set up a payment gateway if you want to accept credit cards. These include card readers that attach to a smartphone or tablet, like Square, and payment apps like Venmo and PayPal. These programs typically charge transaction fees, but some charge you while others charge the customer. Look into the options and find one that works for you.
Once you have a shiny new debit or credit card, you can start buying equipment and supplies. Here are some tools for starting a landscaping business you may need.
Some of your most significant startup costs for a landscaping business will come from heavy equipment and vehicles like these.
You may buy your equipment in full, rent it or use a rent-to-own program, any of which can be a good option depending on your business and plans for the future. When you’re a new business owner, rent-to-own and affordable used equipment can help you save on initial costs.
Hand tools are the smaller items, like push mowers, tillers, shovels, trimmers, leaf blowers, edgers and wheelbarrows. Consider whether you’ll need to buy multiples for your employees.
Supplies include consumable items you’ll use on work sites, such as sod, fertilizer and plants. Develop an inventory management plan to ensure you have these supplies on hand.
You’ll also need to get PPE, such as:
A small operation might do well out of a shed in your yard, but a larger business will likely require more storage space. Consider renting or buying a garage or other storage space to house your equipment.
Lastly, you will need modern software to help you keep track of finances and staffing, if you have employees. Today’s software solutions offer low-cost apps and programs to help with basic accounting tasks. More professional-grade platforms may also help with tasks like inventory management and timesheets.
Deciding on your rates can be one of the most confusing parts of starting a business. It includes many variables, like hourly labor, material and overhead costs. If your work is more involved, such as design rather than maintenance, you may even need to generate estimates for each job.
Do some digging into the going rates in your area and come up with a price that pays you fairly for all your work and costs.
With everything in place, you can start working on a marketing plan. Fortunately, plenty of free online tools make marketing a small business easier than ever. Here are some avenues you’ll want to consider.
With these steps complete, you should be well-prepared to hit the ground running with your landscaping business!
At Brechbill Trailers, we have the inventory and purchase options to support landscaping entrepreneurs. Whether you need to carry equipment or transport grass clippings and shrubs, we can find you the ideal solution from our vast selection of new and used trailers. Our financing and rent-to-own options make it easy to acquire the tools you need, even with the budget of a new business.
Reach out today to find the best trailer for your future landscaping business.