Starting a new business can feel like one big question mark—and the landscaping industry is no different.
If you’re thinking about starting a landscaping business, you probably have a lot of questions. Where should you start? What services should you offer? What steps should you take to build a sustainable business?
Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of starting your landscaping company—and getting from where you are now (thinking about starting a landscaping business) to where you want to be (the proud owner of a thriving landscaping operation):
Choose your niche
“Landscaping” is an umbrella term that covers a variety of services, ranging from the simple—like mowing or routine lawn maintenance—to the complex—like landscape architecture or landscape design.
And the first step of launching a successful landscaping business? Figuring out where you fall under that umbrella.
Before you launch your small business, it’s important to choose your niche and narrow down both the landscaping/lawn care services you’re going to offer and who you’re going to offer those services to.
Not sure what area of landscaping or lawn care you want to focus on? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help narrow down your niche:
- What is your expertise/know how? Is there an area of landscaping or lawn care that you specialize in?
- Do you want to focus on residential or commercial properties?
- Do you want to focus on maintenance (like lawn mowing) or design?
- Do you want to tackle large-scale or smaller projects?
- What kind of demand for landscaping and lawn care services exists in your area—and how can you best meet that demand?
Draft up a business plan
Once you know the niche and services you want to focus on, it’s time to draw up your business plan.
A solid business plan is a must for any new business; it outlines the information you need to successfully launch your business—and helps you develop a clear strategy for how to get there.
Your business plan should include any relevant information about your industry, the market conditions, and your business goals. This includes:
- Your niche/the landscaping services you plan to offer
- Pricing for your services
- Your target demographic
- Your top competitors
- Projected startup costs and profit margin
- Marketing strategy
- Sales, revenue, and customer goals
- Profitability projections
The more detailed your business plan, the more information you have to guide your business decisions as you launch your landscaping business—and the more those decisions will be in line with your long-term goals and set you up for success.
Take care of the legal side of starting a business...
Once you’ve laid out the plan for your landscaping company, it’s time to take care of the legal side of launching your business.
Before you start working with clients, it’s important to take care of a few legal tasks, including:
- Secure your business licenses. Before you start working, make sure you secure all the business licenses you’ll need to operate legally in your state.
- Get insurance. Landscaping business owners are required to carry certain types of insurance. Depending on where your business operates, this can include liability insurance, which covers you and your business in case of any accidents or damage to a client’s property, and workers' compensation insurance, which covers costs in the event an employee is injured on the job. Research what types of insurance you’ll need to operate legally and safely—and make sure you secure those policies before you start taking on clients.
- Secure your EIN. When you register your business, you should receive an employer identification number. That acts as your landscaping company’s business tax ID number, and you’ll need it come tax time—so make sure you have it prior to starting your business.
…and the financial side
You want to set up your landscape business for financial success—and that means having the right financial tools and systems in place from day one.
There are a few different financial items you’ll want to check off your new business to-do list, including:
- Business bank account. For tax reasons, it’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate—so make sure you open a business bank account and keep your financials separate from the get-go.
- Financial management software. While you could track things in a spreadsheet, having a financial management software to track your business expenses, invoices, and client payments will make managing your business financials a lot easier.
- Payroll software. If you have a team, you’re going to need a payroll software (like Hourly!) to manage the payroll process and make sure your employees get paid accurately, on-time, and with minimal hassle on your end.
Secure your equipment
In order to start a landscaping business, you’re going to need the right equipment.
The exact tools and equipment you’ll need will vary based on the type of landscaping or lawn care services your business offers, but some of the base items you’ll need include:
- Mower (push and/or ride-on)
- Gas containers (for the mowers)
- Leaf blower
- Safety equipment (including gloves, safety goggles, and noise cancelling headphones)
- Tool box
- Watering can
Depending on your budget and long-term goals, you may opt to rent or buy your landscaping tools—but whichever you choose, just make sure you have the tools and equipment you need to run your business effectively.
Hire a team
Depending on your business model, you may need to hire a team of landscapers and/or landscape contractors.
You should consider hiring a team if:
- You plan to handle larger projects.
- You want to handle multiple projects at the same time.
- You want to take more of a leadership or managerial role in your business.
If you do need to hire a team, make sure you’re hiring people with the experience and know how to provide high quality work to your clients. Remember, the people you hire are an extension of your business, and you want to build a team that’s going to cultivate a positive reputation for your landscaping business within your community.
Find your customers
Once you’ve done all the work in setting up your business, it’s time to get out there and market your business.
There are a number of strategies you can use to connect with potential customers and build your customer base, including:
- Social media marketing
- Search engine marketing
- Word of mouth marketing/personal referrals
- Online advertising
- Traditional advertising (for example, buying an ad in the local newspaper)
- Offering first-time discounts for new customers
As you’re starting out, test different marketing strategies to see what’s the most effective; then, use those strategies to connect with new customers, get the word out about your company, and drive business growth.
Get out there and start your own landscaping business
Starting your own business can feel overwhelming. But now that you know how to start a landscaping business, you have everything you need to break into the landscaping industry, differentiate yourself and your services, and connect with your target customers.