If you’re looking into starting your own landscaping business, it’s safe to say you likely have plenty of technical knowledge and a healthy love of the outdoors. Still, there’s more to creating a landscaping business than owning the right tools. You’ll need to figure out how to structure your business, get financing, find customers, and more.
While that might sound intimidating, starting a landscaping business doesn’t have to be difficult. With just a few simple steps and enough planning, you can create the business of your dreams and earn a great income. Read on to learn exactly how you can get started.
8 Steps to Start a Landscaping Business
1. Complete Market Research
Market research allows you to ensure that people actually want to buy what you’re selling. Start by creating a loose plan. Who do you want to serve and where are their properties? What services will you offer and what will you charge? Are there any specializations you’ll provide?
During this step, feel free to shop the competition. What packages do they offer? What do they charge? How can you set your landscaping business apart from the rest?
Next, reach out to your ideal clients – the ones you determined that you want to serve. Ask if they’d be willing to answer a few questions. Then, run your list of services, specialties, and pricing by them. Ask if your offering is in line with what they need. You can even ask if there are any additional services they’d like their landscaper to offer.
With real-life feedback, you can adjust your plan to suit your target market. This validates your service as one that people will actually pay for. Plus, you may now have new insight as to how you can differentiate your business from others and earn more clients.
2. Get Certified
One of the great things about starting a landscaping business is that you don’t necessarily need any credentials. Still, some customers will seek out a professional with certifications, so it’s worth considering.
In general, people just want to know that their lawns are in good hands, so you need to showcase a working knowledge of grass, shrubs, trees, and plants. Plus, you’ll need to know all about technique, from mulching to edging.
To show customers that you are serious, consider getting a certification from the National Association of Landscape Professionals. This organization offers certifications for lawn care technicians, lawn care managers, horticulturists, and more.
3. Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. Though it doesn’t have to be quite as detailed as a traditional business plan, it’s important to have an outline. In your business plan, you’ll share your business structure, so decide whether you’ll form a sole proprietorship, LLC (limited liability company), partnership, or corporation.
This is also a good time to solidify your packages and pricing based on the market research you completed. Write them down in detail in your business plan. If you haven’t already, this is also time to get a rough estimate of how much (if any) funding you need. Any equipment you’ll need is a potential expense, from a lawn mower to work gloves.
Ultimately, your business plan should include:
- Business name
- Executive summary
- Business structure
- Market analysis
- Services and pricing
- Funding needs
- Financial projections
- Marketing strategy
4. Make It Legal
Every state requires that you register your business unless you’re acting as a sole proprietorship under your own name. To register, you’ll need to file paperwork with your Secretary of State. Most states allow you to do this process entirely online, though you can do it in person for additional assistance.
You may also need to get licensing depending on what services you offer and where you’re located. For example, if you plan on transporting plants between multiple states, you may need a federal permit. Likewise, if you plan on using pesticides as part of your services, you may need a pesticide charter depending on your state.
Check with your local county clerk’s office to get the specific license and permit requirements for your location. You may also consider applying for a federal employer identification number (EIN) now, which can be helpful for filing taxes and hiring people later on.
5. Sort Out Finances
You may already have the equipment you need to get started, but if you don’t, it’s time to get funding. There are a few ways to finance your business:
- Self-Funding: Use your own savings or income from your day job to fund your business.
- Family and Friends: Ask family and friends to invest in your business. You can write an agreement and outline your plan to repay the loan to make things more official.
- Loans: You can get a small business loan through your bank or via an online lender. Most lenders will ask to see your business plan before approving you. Be sure to compare options from multiple companies so you get the lowest interest rate.
- Grants: Grants are like loans that you don’t have to pay back. Various government agencies and private organizations offer grants for small businesses. There’s a lot of competition for grants, so you’ll need to meet a set of criteria depending on each grant.
- Credit cards: If you don’t need a ton of funding or are struggling to get approved for a loan, you might consider getting a business credit card. You can get approval fast and easily cover smaller costs. However, credit cards tend to have higher interest rates so aim to pay off this debt quickly if possible.
At this time, you can also set up a business bank account. It’s best to deposit all of your business income into this account, then distribute it to your personal account later. This will help you keep your personal and business finances separate, which makes taxes much easier to complete.
5. Purchase Equipment
With funding in hand, you can purchase any equipment you might need for your landscaping business. This could include:
- Lawn mower
- Gas cans
- Work gloves
- Safety goggles
6. Set Up a Payment System
With your business almost completely set up, it’s time to give your customers a way to pay you by signing up for a payment system. It’s important to choose a system that provides everything you need to get paid – a merchant account, payment processing, and a payment gateway. Pay.com provides all of these elements so you can get started right away.
With Pay.com, you can add a customized checkout page to your website, complete with your logo, brand colors, and more. If you don't have a website, you can use Pay Links. This feature allows you to send a direct payment link to your customers via text or email. When they open the link, they’re taken to a checkout page where they can pay.
You can even take customers’ credit card details over the phone and enter them manually via the Pay Virtual Terminal. No matter how your business is set up, Pay.com makes it easy to get paid every time. If you sign up now, you can get approved fast and set up the system in just a few clicks.
7. Market Your Business
At this point, your landscaping business is up and running! Now, your main job – aside from providing landscaping services –- is to find customers. Though not necessary, it can be helpful to have a website. People tend to look up businesses online before making a purchase, so your website will make you appear more legitimate and increase trust with your customers.
You can make a website by using a simple website builder, like Wix or Squarespace. The process should only take you a few hours. You can include photos of your completed work, share client testimonials, and describe your various services.
Next, advertise your business by handing out flyers or business cards in the areas you’d like to work. You can also encourage repeat business by creating a rewards program. Or, offer discounts in exchange for testimonials as you build up your client list. You may also try advertising your services online, in local Facebook groups or in Reddit communities.
The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Landscaping Business
Like any business venture, there are benefits and drawbacks to starting a landscaping business. It’s important to weigh each before opening up shop.
- Start with no formal education.
- Set your own hours.
- Interact with new people every day.
- Start with a fairly low investment (typically $10,000 or less depending on what you already have).
- Avoid a boring desk job.
- Spend time outside.
- Must plan for off seasons if you live somewhere with varying weather.
- Need to have some sales skills in order to be successful.
- Must hire additional help if you want to scale the business and earn more.
- Compete against lots of competition in a saturated market.
The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Landscaping Business Right for You?
Starting a landscaping business can be an incredibly rewarding venture. You’ll get to help others with your green thumb while also earning money and enjoying the outdoors. Still, there’s plenty of work to do before you can get there. Be sure to take your time doing market research, creating a business plan, and setting up your financial accounts.
By doing things properly the first time around, you can spend more time focusing on growing your business later on.
Luckily, setting up a payment system is one of the easiest steps on this list when you use Pay.com. Choose from a wide selection of payment methods and take payments however it works for you – whether that’s via your website or over the phone.
Don’t wait till the last minute – click here to get started with Pay.com now!