How To Start A Small Landscaping Business – Do you like being outside and working with your hands? How about the idea of being your own boss?
Your answer to these questions is “Yes!” Starting a landscaping business could be the perfect career for you. It certainly was for Brian Linson, founder of BL Landscapes.
How To Start A Small Landscaping Business
Brian started BL Landscapes in 2014 with one truck and a crew of 2 people. Six years later, the company has become one of the top professional landscape services not only on Whidbey Island, but in the Pacific Northwest.
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You don’t need a ton of money or resources to start a lawn care company. As you will see from Brian’s journey, if you are willing to put in the work and are committed to quality and customer satisfaction, you can start a successful and profitable professional landscaping business.
As an alternative to starting a new company, you can always buy an established lawn care business.
Landscape businesses design, build and maintain outdoor spaces for homes and businesses. They can range from basic gardening and lawn mowing services to full-service landscape installation of elaborate gardens complete with water features, patios and lighting.
A landscaping company can be as small as one person with a lawnmower and a few shovels, or it can be a large multi-team business capable of providing a variety of landscaper services.
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A lawn care professional is not just a handyman. They are also experts in which plants are best suited to their climate and how to make them thrive. There is a creative aspect to the work, as well, working with clients to design their ideal outdoor environment.
Basically, anything involving the land around a home or business is the domain of a landscaper. While large landscaping companies offer all of these services, others specialize in one area, such as lawn care or flower bed design.
Brian didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start BL Landscapes. Her love of landscape design (and expertise in the field) developed through years of working in the industry.
My first two jobs were working in nurseries and public gardens, and [enjoying nature] has always been a passion of mine. It got to a point where I had to go out on my own to achieve anything above average and take it to the next level.
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For context, BL Landscapes was founded 6 years ago, but Brian has over 25 years experience designing, installing and maintaining outdoor spaces. The knowledge and skills gained during that time were critical to opening and growing his business.
That’s not to say you need decades of experience to succeed in the lawn care business. If you’ve only maintained your own lawn or garden as a hobby, you should spend at least a few months as a landscaper before starting your own business.
Remember that there are aspects of running a lawn care business that have nothing to do with how well you build paths and maintain plants. A good landscaper knows how to estimate the cost of materials and how long a given project will take to complete.
Without this knowledge, you’ll be navigating your first few customer evaluations on your own through trial and error—and those mistakes can be costly, both financially and in terms of your reputation.
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For Mike Andes, owner and founder of August Lawn Care, podcasts and YouTube videos have been his biggest help. This gave him the knowledge and tips he needed to start his own landscaping business. Our interview with him can be found here.
If you start working for an established landscape service, you can also decide if you are a better fit for the lifestyle. Brian’s workday usually starts between 6 and 7 a.m., which is not unusual for the industry.
Many people like the idea of working outdoors, but the reality is often less than pleasant. You don’t know if you’re suited for the landscaping business until you’ve spent 4 hours on a hot summer day moving rocks.
As you can see above, there are many different types of services included under the umbrella term “Enjoying Nature”. For a small start-up company, it is better to focus on a specialty such as lawn care or landscape design rather than trying to launch as a full-service landscape company.
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Choosing a specialty can help you save money on your initial budget. You can buy only the specific equipment you need for one thing. If you don’t need people with a wide range of skills and expertise, you can also use a small team.
In addition to deciding which specific services you will offer, it is also a good idea to consider the types of clients you will be working with. BL Landscaping focuses on residential landscaping for two main reasons:
Commercial landscaping has its advantages. Because commercial projects are often larger in both area and client budget, you may have fewer clients. It can provide a very steady income, especially in maintenance and lawn care niches.
One of the hardest things for new landscaping businesses is knowing how much to charge for services. Brian’s advice:
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Different regions have standard price ranges for landscaping services, so that’s the first thing to look at when you’re deciding on your prices. Each project is unique, however, and there is definitely a learning curve when bidding on projects.
Many new landscaping businesses have a tendency to underbid projects. They want all the work they can get and don’t want to be rejected by a client. Against this, Brian says,
Go out and crunch your numbers when you bid on projects. Don’t be afraid to walk around and measure everything. Take your time when you bid because the last thing you want to do is go back to the client and tell them you need more money to complete their project. Something no one wants to hear.
Once you’ve decided what kind of services you’re going to offer, the logistics of setting up a company can be better handled. This includes:
Landscaping Business. Gardener Mowing Backyard Lawn. Green Gasoline Lawn Mower Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 41103713
Choosing your company name requires some thought. It’s the first impression customers get when they’re first introduced to your business, so it should accurately convey the services you offer.
Once you’ve chosen a business name, changing it can be a pain, so it’s all the more motivating to get it right the first time. If you’re having trouble coming up with a business name, a business name generator can help you get started.
The best business name is short, simple and tells people what your business does. It should be easy to remember, but also unique enough to stand out from the competition.
Remember that most of the business in modern times is online. Before choosing your name, check the available domain names so you can get one that matches, at least your customers won’t get confused. You can use WhoIs LookUp to see if a domain is available.
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A business plan is a living document that plans the future of your company. If you plan to apply for small business loans or other financing, you’ll definitely need one, as both bankers and investors will ask to see it.
Even if you are starting a business with your own savings, a business plan is a useful document. In addition to detailing your initial and current costs, you’ll outline your company’s mission statement and long-term goals.
If you’ve never written a business plan before, see a sample business plan for more guidance on what to include and how to write one. Your business plan should include:
Not all business plans have these sections, but the more you include, the better the document will serve as a blueprint for your company’s future.
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Every new business must be registered before it can legally operate. It starts with registering your DBA or “doing business” name with the state and federal governments. Business names must be unique, so check this database before starting the registration process.
You must also obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It’s your business’s federal tax ID, which you need to open a bank account, hire employees, or apply for local permits. You can apply for an EIN through the IRS website.
The specific licenses and permits required for a landscaping business vary by state. Check with your state’s business licensing association to find out what is required in your area.
The types of landscaping services you will be providing will determine which specific equipment you need. After you decide on a niche, you can list all the tools you need.
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If your starting budget isn’t enough to cover everything on your list, don’t worry. Start by renting more expensive equipment, then buy them. This was Brian’s approach when BL Landscapes first started. Even now he says,
We buy tools for work,
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