Since the start of COVID-19 crisis, people around the world have been spending more time at home—and in some cases, they may be noticing things they’d like to fix or projects they’d like to start. If you’re a skilled handyman, you may be able to help and find a new way to earn a living in the process.
Becoming a business owner certainly comes with some advantages. You are your own boss and you’re able to set your own schedule. You chart your course when it comes to income and the range varies. Rates depend on the amount of work you’re able to obtain, the rates in your area, and the type of clients you target. For instance, while the average independent handyman charges an hourly rate of $60, they can exceed $100 or more if the project is complex, you work for a larger company or have an extreme amount of expertise.
Getting your small business started
Of course before you dive in, there are always considerations. First, as a self-employed person, you may have less stability and benefits than you would with full-time employment. You’ll need to hustle to find work and be comfortable with selling your services. And finally, you’ll need some capital to get your business going, especially if you need to purchase tools or other equipment.
If you see these as less of challenges and more an opportunity—then launching your own business may be for you. Here are a few steps to take to get you started.
Understand the startup costs
Every successful handyman business requires a bit of startup capital to cover everything from your business license to insurance to marketing and more. Some of the costs, such as the required licenses and insurance, are fixed and you need to account for them. Other costs, however, are more discretionary. For example, you may want to add some nice-to-have tools to supplement those you already have or spend some money on marketing to get the word out about your fledgling business.
With these types of expenses, you can meter out your spending so that you’re making strategic investments that quickly pay off. For instance, experiment with a small amount of social media marketing—see if you get results, and then course-correct as necessary. Also consider the costs of time tracking software and other tech tools that can help you be more organized about your business, saving you time and ultimately money in the long run.
Research business licenses and contract licenses
To start your business, google the general business license requirements provided by your state and your county or city. Even if you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll want to establish your business name with the state so that you can report your income and pay the proper amount of taxes. Whether you need a specific contractor’s license, largely depends on where you live and work. In some states if you’re doing only repair work, then there’s no contractor license required.
For instance, in Alabama you only need a contractor license if the cost of the project exceeds $50,000. Other states, such as Arizona or Hawaii, require you to have a license for projects that are $1,000 or more. In California, the threshold for needing a license is as low as $500. In Illinois, you don’t need a license at all. Dive into your local licensing requirements to ensure you’re complying with the law—and that your handyman business doesn’t get into unintended trouble.
Obtain liability insurance
Much like licensing, the requirements for whether a handyman needs business insurance vary by state. Whether it’s a good idea (usually, it is) is another question to consider as well.
Handyman liability insurance can range from $450 to $1,0000 per year, with the area you’re operating in having a big impact on rates. There are different policies and different amounts of insurance you can carry; however, generally speaking, carrying some amount of general liability insurance that covers any damage to property, legal expenses, medical expenses, etc. protects you and your customers from any accidents that happen on the job.
Target potential customers
Once you have the small business basics in place, you can start marketing your business. This is where things get fun. The best first step is to simply leverage word-of-mouth marketing—let your friends and family know that you’re offering handyman services and available for hire. Consider creating a website or at the very least, business cards, so that potential customers can easily find you and reach out.
As you start to build your business, consider placing an ad on Craigslist or purchasing ads in publications that your customers may frequent. You might also network with real estate agents or general contractors who may be able to refer work your way. Explore social media and other online ads, which allow you to target customers by demographics such as their age and where they live.
Time tracking to grow smarter
Establishing a pipeline of work is a huge accomplishment. But it’s just halfway to your ultimate goal—getting paid and making a living with your own business. To move toward the latter, you need to set up a time tracking system that helps you understand the value of the work you’re doing, reveals where you can find efficiencies, and tees you up for further growth.
A time-tracking solution like Hourly makes it easy to track the time you’re spending on each job. With that kind of data, you can begin to understand what type of jobs earn the best return, where you’re losing money, and where you should focus your efforts. Even better, as you begin to grow your company, you may consider hiring employees or independent contractors to meet the customer demand for handyman work.
Hourly provides a great solution for tracking employee time, ensuring that anyone you hire is recording their hours accurately. It also streamlines requirements such as payroll and workers' compensation, allowing you to focus on the big picture of your business, instead of tracking down timecards.
Let’s Wrap it Up
If you have the know-how to fix anything, then starting a handyman business could be a great opportunity. Evaluate the advantages and take the considerations about licensing, insurance, and startup costs into account. Get the word out and then implement the tools that help you track your work time and get paid. Before you know it, you may be making a living doing exactly what you love.