Starting a handyman business can be highly profitable for anyone with repair skills. But knowing how to fix things around the house or office can feel like a far leap from running a sustainable business.
Fortunately, starting a handyman business is easier than you might think. Whether you’re looking to make some extra cash as a side hustle or run a full-scale business with over 20 trucks on the road, this guide will walk you through the step-by-step process to get started.
Step 1 – Narrow Your Services Based on Your Skills
The very first thing you need to do is determine what types of services you’re going to offer. Even if you consider yourself a Jack or Jill of all trades, it doesn’t mean you should take on every potential job that comes your way.
You’ll have a better chance of being successful if you can narrow your focus to a handful of specialty services, especially when you’re first starting out. Here’s why.
Keeping your overhead costs as low as possible is crucial for profitability. But if you’re doing everything from electrical work to plumbing, HVAC, washing machines, and deck repairs, you’re likely going to need extra equipment. This not only adds to your upfront costs but could be an ongoing cost as well if you need to pay for storage space.
Working on the same types of jobs will also help sharpen your skills—allowing you to work faster and complete more jobs per day. This won’t always be the case if you’re constantly bouncing around to different job types.
So, when you’re first starting, it’s in your best interest to narrow your focus to about five main specialty areas. You should base those around your current skill sets and think about ways to save money when you eventually need to purchase materials and equipment. You can always add new services and expand your skills down the road once you get a steady cash flow and new opportunities present themselves.
Step 2 – Set Up an LLC For Your Handyman Business
Creating a legal business entity for your handyman operation is very important. You might be able to get away without this step if you’re just doing a couple of odd jobs per month for some extra cash. But if you’re serious about starting a handy business, officially forming an LLC is an absolute must.
There are two main reasons why you need to do this. First, LLCs give you an extra layer of liability protection. So if something goes wrong on a job, which can definitely happen in this industry, your personal assets will be protected if a client sues you.
Second, forming an LLC helps legitimize your business. It tells your future customers that you’re not just some guy with a truck. People will be more likely to let you into their homes or offices if you’re operating as a real business.
Using a business formation service is the fastest and easiest way to complete this step. ZenBusiness is an excellent solution to consider. Just follow the prompts on their website, and they’ll legally register your Handyman business in your state.
Here’s an ultra-brief overview of what this step will look like:
- Choose a name for your LLC
- Select a registered agent for your handyman business
- File your articles of organization
- Create an operating agreement
- Obtain an EIN
This might sound like a lot of work, but you do all of this in under ten minutes by simply going through the guided formation service from ZenBusiness. Just answer the questions on the screen, and they’ll handle everything else for you.
Step 3 – Get Your Finances Organized
Now it’s time to open a business bank account. Make an initial deposit into the account as a starting investment. You don’t need a ton of money to get started here, and around $5,000 should be sufficient for most of you.
If you don’t have $5,000 to put into a business checking account right now, that’s ok too. You should still open an account and put something in there as a way to separate your personal finances from business expenses. All business-related transactions should go through this account moving forward.
Ideally, look for a bank that can provide you with multiple business services under one roof. In addition to a checking account, you may want to obtain a loan or line of credit to fund your purchases. You’ll also need a way to accept payments.
Get yourself a reliable accounting tool as well. It’s important to establish good bookkeeping habits from day one. Platforms like QuickBooks make it easier for you to scale down the road and also help ensure your records are organized for tax purposes and potential audits.
Aside from basic recordkeeping, QuickBooks can seamlessly integrate with your bank account and credit card to track income and expenses automatically.
You can also use it to manage receipts, track miles, pay bills, and send invoices to your customers. This is another tool that will really help add some professionalism to your operation, even in these early stages.
Step 4 – Obtain Business Insurance and Secure Required Licenses
Take some time to research the handyman laws in your state. Depending on the types of services you plan to offer, you may need to obtain different state-required licenses or permits.
For example, some states require a contractor’s license for jobs related to HVAC, electrical, or plumbing. Other states may require a license for any job over a certain amount of money, such as $1,000. So if you want to follow the law without limiting yourself, it’s important to secure the proper licenses.
These licenses will be much easier to get and much less expensive than dealing with fines and penalties for non-compliance. If you’re not sure which permits you need, you can use ZenBusiness to find them.
In addition to getting permitted, you should also look into an insurance policy. While having an LLC does add some liability protections, it doesn’t pay out claims if something goes wrong.
For a handyman, proper insurance can be the difference between bankrupting your company or just paying a deductible. It’s better to be safe than sorry and protect yourself.
Step 5 – Purchase Tools and Equipment
You need the right tools before you can start working on new jobs. While part of being a handyman will require constant trips to the hardware store, you should still be prepared with the basics.
- Tape measure
- Drill and drill bits
- Flashlight and headlamp
- Charging kit
- Utility knives
- Goggles and safety equipment
Again, these are just the basics. You’ll also need a vehicle to transport your equipment and a place to store everything. Your personal pickup truck and garage might be fine for now, but you can consider renting a small space if you need extra room.
Don’t go overboard with this step, as it’s important to keep your startup costs low. You can always make a trip to the hardware store as needed for specific jobs. But you don’t want to be called to a house for a quote without a level or flashlight.
Step 6 – Identify Your Ideal Customer
This is a step that many people overlook. But it’s very important to both the short and long-term success of your handyman business.
Take some time to think about the types of jobs you want to do and who your target customers are. For example, doing residential jobs like hanging TVs and assembling furniture will differ greatly from commercial plumbing repairs.
Do you want to establish relationships with landlords so you can do repairs for their properties? Or would you rather build decks and patios for home improvement projects?
Maybe you want to focus on a niche-specific category. For example, if you have intimate knowledge of certain types of machines, you could work exclusively with dry cleaners and laundromats to repair washers, dryers, boilers, and pants-pressing machines.
You can always pivot down the road. But figuring this out now will help you market yourself to the right clientele in the subsequent steps.
Step 7 – Establish an Online Presence
Going door to door and asking people if they need repairs is an unrealistic way to get new customers. Hanging flyers on electrical posts around town isn’t very efficient either.
When people need a handyman service, they search for options online. So that’s where you need to be.
Start by creating a simple website. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Just have something out there so people can look through your services, see what you’re offering, and find out how to contact you.
Even as a handyman, you don’t need to have any computer skills to create a professionally-designed website. You can use a website builder like Wix to get started in minutes. Wix has over 800 templates and plenty of options to consider that fit handyman services.
Alternatively, you can use the Wix ADI and use artificial intelligence to create a website for you. This sounds more complicated than it actually is. You’re just answering questions about yourself and your services, and Wix will put together a complete website for you in minutes.
The cool part about using a tool like Wix to establish your online presence is that you can make it as simple or as advanced as you want.
If you just want a simple homepage that describes what you do, that’s totally fine. But you can always take things to the next level with features for appointment scheduling—allowing prospects to book an appointment online without having to call you first.
Using a website builder also means you won’t have to go through different services to buy a domain name or get web hosting either. Everything is handled for you through the platform.
Step 8 – Determine Your Pricing
Figuring out how much you’re going to charge is an important part of running a profitable handyman business.
Most handymen charge anywhere from $50 to $80 per hour. But you could potentially charge more depending on the services you’re offering and the types of clients you’re working with.
For example, you probably can’t charge $150 per hour with a two-hour minimum to hang a 40-inch TV in someone’s one-bedroom apartment. But gutting and retiling a shower in Beverly Hills can probably get you more than $25 per hour.
Rather than having an hourly rate, you could also charge custom prices per job. This would require a little more work at the beginning, as you’d need to come up with accurate quotes before you get started. But this can be a way to secure higher-paying jobs, as charging by the hour can often penalize you for working quickly.
Step 9 – Create a Service Contract
Unfortunately, many handymen end up getting burned on handshake deals. Clients don’t pay what they’ve promised or might not pay altogether.
To protect yourself, you should have a boilerplate service contract that outlines your responsibilities and the client’s responsibilities. You can also have some wording in here that protects you from lawsuits or damages.
While it’s always in your best interest to have a lawyer review your contracts, you can get started with a free handyman contract template from Rocket Lawyer.
All you need to do is answer some questions about yourself and your business, and Rocket Lawyer will automatically populate the contract as needed. Then you can download the contract or print it at any time.
Another cool part about using this service is that Rocket Lawyer can facilitate electronic signatures for your contracts as well. So you won’t have to actually have a client sign them in person—just send it to them electronically to make it official.
Rocket Lawyer also has legal services where you can talk to a lawyer and have them review contacts or help you with other legal questions.
Step 10 – Start Small Before You Scale
Now you’re ready to start actually taking on jobs for your handyman business. While this is an exciting new venture, it’s important that you stay within a reasonable scope before you scale too quickly.
Don’t hire any employees until you actually need them. Don’t buy a second truck until your first truck can’t be in two places at once.
So many new handyman businesses try and grow too quickly, and it ends up backfiring on them. You can make six figures or more on your own without having a storefront, multiple employees, and multiple trucks on the road.
Lay the foundation and good habits now. You can always grow your handyman business as new opportunities present themselves down the road.