Starting your own lawn care business might seem like a daunting task at first. But, if you approach the process in an orderly manner and work through everything step-by-step, you’ll find that it’s not as intimidating as you expected.
In this article, we discuss the specific steps for how to start a lawn care business and introduce you to a tool that can make opening, operating, and organizing your own business much easier.
How To Start A Lawn Care Business: Prepare
1) Research The Lawn Care Industry
The first step in starting a lawn care business is to research the industry in your area.
Read articles online. Talk to other lawn care business owners. Visit a Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce near you. As you do, ask plenty of questions so you can get as full a picture as possible.
For example, you might ask:
- Is there a need for this type of business in the area?
- Are there enough customers to support a new business?
- What standards are necessary?
- How long does it take to mow and trim the average property?
- What type of equipment will you need?
It’s also a good idea to research the rates that other lawn care businesses charge for similar services. That way, you’ll know how to set a competitive rate (more on this later).
2) Decide What Services You’ll Offer
As you investigate your lawn care business idea, decide what services you’ll offer to your customers.
For example, you might choose to offer:
- Mowing and trimming only
- Light landscaping
Each of these services requires specialized equipment, so it might not be economically feasible to offer everything all at once.
You may choose to offer mowing and trimming only, which is a good way to start. Then, once your lawn care business gets going, you can always offer other, more specialized services.
3) Create A Name For Your Business
Start brainstorming a name for your business right away so you have plenty of time to come up with something you like.
The reason we suggest doing this early on in the process is because once you start filling out paperwork (e.g., registering your business, buying insurance, and opening a bank account), it becomes much more of a chore to change.
4) Choose A Business Structure
As you research, take some time to dig a bit deeper into the legal/tax structure that your new company will take. In the United States, a small business just starting out has several options.
Your lawn care business can be a:
- Sole proprietor/self-employed — working by yourself under your own name (e.g., Joe Public)
- Doing Business As (DBA) — a sole proprietor doing business under another name (e.g., Joe Public working as Average Joe’s Lawn Care Business)
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) — a legal arrangement that serves to keep personal assets and business assets separate
- S-Corp — an independent corporation that allows profits and losses to pass through to the owner’s personal income
- C-Corp — an independent corporation that is taxed separately from the owner’s income
The further down the list you go, the more complicated the paperwork, governance, and tax filing will be, but you’ll also receive benefits — e.g., personal liability protection — that you can’t get anywhere else.
How To Start A Lawn Care Business: Organize
1) Open A Business Checking Account
Regardless of the type of business structure you settle on (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, or S-Corp), opening a separate bank account for your lawn care business funds will make recordkeeping and payroll (if you hire employees) much easier.
Similarly, keeping your personal account and your business account separate makes paying taxes less of a logistical and numerical nightmare.
With a business checking account, you won’t have to spend hours at the end of the year separating personal expenses and income from business expenses and income.
2) Register Your Lawn Care Business
Regardless of the business structure you decide on for your business, an important step in the process is registering with the proper local, state, and federal agencies.
An easy way to start is to visit your secretary of state’s website to find out what you need to do first. You may have to fill out some paperwork and pay a small fee, but it’s better to go through this now than to pay a fine for improper registration later.
Depending on the type of business you choose and whether you’re going to hire employees, you’ll also need to register with the federal government in order to get a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).
3) Get Lawn Care Business Insurance
You may not consider business insurance a necessary part of starting a lawn care business. But what if, in the process of mowing a residential property, your mower kicks a rock through a window or into a car sitting in the driveway?
If that — or any number of other accidents — happens you’ll be responsible for reimbursing the homeowner for the damage. That could take a big bite out of your working capital.
With business insurance, you pay a yearly rate that will cover any damages up to a certain dollar amount.
Coverage like that can protect your new business from having to empty its bank account — and possibly close its doors — because of an accident on the job.
4) Investigate Technology That Streamlines Workflow
Before you get too busy running your new business, investigate technology that will streamline your workflow.
Inch, for example, is a task management app that streamlines repetitive tasks and makes them easier to complete — for you and your team.
Tools in the Inch suite include:
- Employee time clock
- Team communication
- Time-on-task tracking
- Labor cost management
- Powerful schedule creator and employee organizer
Technologies like Inch that streamline workflow and keep everyone headed in the right direction will allow you and your team to get as much done in a day as possible.
How To Start A Lawn Care Business: Get To Work
1) Set Your Rate
When considering the rate you’ll charge in your lawn care business, don’t just settle on an hourly rate that you — the one doing the mowing, for example — would like to be paid.
Factor in other variables such as time, taxes, supplies, overhead, and profit/markup.
Every job is going to be different, but here’s a simple way to figure out a rate that pays you what you need but also covers the other expenses of the business:
- Establish an hourly rate ($20)
- Figure out how long the mowing and trimming will take (2 hours) — $40 total
- Factor in taxes (30%) — $52 total
- Budget for mower repairs (5%) — $54.60 total
- Add in insurance costs (25%) — $68.25 total
- Include markup for profit (33%) — $85.31 total
Customize the dollar amount and percentages in parentheses to fit your business, and use this method as a way to set the rate for your lawn care business.
2) Obtain The Right Tools
A lawn care business is heavily dependent on the right tools for getting the job done. Depending on the services you offer, you may need the following equipment:
- Push mower
- Riding mower
- String trimmer
Even if you just offer mowing and trimming, you’ll need a truck and trailer to haul your tools around.
Start out small — perhaps with used items — and add or purchase new equipment as your business grows.
3) Market Your Lawn Care Business
You may have to spend a bit up front to market your business, but there are also many free and inexpensive ways to get your business name out there.
Ask your friends and family to spread the word. Post flyers on local bulletin boards. Start a Facebook page. Build a website. Get creative with your marketing to reach as many potential customers as possible.
4) Hire Employees
When you first start your lawn care business, you have two choices:
- Do all the work yourself
- Hire employees
Doing all the work yourself is a great way to build your business from the ground up and save money for the future.
At some point, though, as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire employees so you can get more done in a day.
Get Organized With Inch
Staying organized is essential for the success of your lawn care business. But keeping track of appointment times, locations, specific tasks for each job, necessary supplies, and everything else can be a full-time job in itself.
You don’t have to do it all yourself. Inch can help.
Inch is a suite of task and workforce management tools that can simplify every aspect of the way your lawn care business operates.
With Inch, you (and your team) can perform a wide variety of tasks from any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, including:
- Working from a shared task list
- Getting clarity on work that needs to be done
- Receiving voice-assisted reminder notifications
- Clocking in and out of tasks at different locations
- Tracking time-on-task, as well as total time, worked
- Accessing task checklists
- Communicating with each other
Our app makes it easier than ever to coordinate and optimize your team and your entire lawn care business.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit TryInch.com today.