I probably won’t be diving too much into my husband’s income here on the blog (I’ll say what he makes but I’m not going to break it down by job or anything…), but I did have a hand in getting his business up and running here in North Carolina so I wanted to share what we did.
Starting a successful handyman business isn’t hard in itself, but running it is. My husband is only one month in and currently has SEVEN jobs booked (and he’s completed about six already). When he worked for himself in Arizona about three years ago, he would have maybe two jobs booked in advance…maybe.
Take a look at what we’ve been doing differently…
Steps to starting a successful handyman business
STEP 1: Get your business license
Pick out a name for your business and make sure it’s not already taken. We chose Brookstone Painting and Residential Services. Get your business name registered in your state, then obtain a license in the city you’re going to be working. While this can seem confusing at first, it’s really pretty easy. The forms are all printed online and we had to make two trips to downtown Charlotte and one trip to the city municipal building. It took about 2 days total for everything to be taken care of.
Tip #1: Just do a Google search on “How to get a business license in [your state here]” and you’ll find exactly what you need.
Tip #2: Build a website for your business. You can use Bluehost which costs just $3.49 per month and they give your domain name for FREE! Nowadays, you have to have a presence online. Even if your page is basic, people need to be able to find your business on the internet.
STEP 2: Get business insurance
We got a basic insurance policy for $850 for the year. This protects my husband and his business in case of an emergency. It’s always best to get insurance – plus you can advertise that you’re “licensed and insured in the state of North Carolina.”
STEP 3: Get a business truck
This was the most time-consuming step for us and hopefully you can skip it if you already have a working vehicle. We sold my husband’s truck in AZ because we only wanted to drive one car across the country. We found a truck here that he liked, but in order to purchase a vehicle you have to have your driver’s license in that state. Makes sense – so off we went to get our new licenses. In Arizona, they print them for you the day that you’re there. No waiting on the mail; no temporary licenses. Here in NC, they give you a temporary license and mail you the actual one. We couldn’t buy the truck until we got the license and unfortunately it took almost two weeks for them to get here. Major bummer, but the extra free time allowed us to build him a website and get working on advertising.
STEP 4: Advertise!
Confession: So far we have only advertised on Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist, and that alone has generated SO MUCH business for my husband! In fact, I stopped posting ads a few days ago because he’s just gotten so busy (and what can I say, I miss having him around!). We set goals regularly and decided we’re not going to branch out on advertising until January 2015. And honestly…if Craigslist is still generating good, quality customers, there’s no point in paying to advertise when we can do it for free.
STEP 5: Purchase tools AS NEEDED
We’ve spent close to $1500 on tools, but instead of buying them all at once, we decided to buy them as he needed them. A paint sprayer was one of the first things he needed. The one he liked was close to $1,000, but what do you know – we found one on Craigslist for $175! This past weekend, he needed a pressure washer which also costs $1,000. Unfortunately, Craigslist didn’t have anything available, so we knew we were going to have to buy one new. We went to Home Depot and they didn’t have the $1000 one he wanted, but they did have one for $800 available. Me, being the cheapskate that I am, asked for a discount on the $800 one since they didn’t have the one we came for. Just like that – we got 10% off and our total, including taxes, was $779!
STEP 6: Report all your income, expenses and mileage
One disadvantage (that’s also an advantage) of owning your own business is you have to keep track of EVERY expenditure. Gas and tools can be written off, which is great. You can also write off part of your home if you have an office, your work truck and every other expense that comes with owning the business. We keep a few different excel spreadsheets to track everything. Hopefully, come April (we’re not filing quarterly as of now since we just started) we won’t owe too too much.
Tip: Every time John gets paid, we put 25% of that money into a separate savings account. That’s our tax money, and as a bonus – if we don’t owe all of it to the government – John can either reinvest that money into his business by buying new tools, we can add more to our personal savings account or maybe we will even take a fun family vacation!
And that’s it! Owning your own business is a lot of work (John’s worked two 12-hour days this week so far and has a few more long days to come), but to us and our family it’s worth it. He’s taking the entire week of Thanksgiving and Christmas off, and if I need his help with a doctor’s appointment or anything else, he can come.
I also recommend setting goals along the way. Where do you want your business to be in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? For us, we know we don’t want John doing all of the labor himself for every single job. In 2015, we’re going to hire a few people so John can more focus on advertising, bidding and doing final walk-thrus of the jobs. Plus, he can realistically only do so much labor himself – which means his income has a cap. If we contract the work out or hire employees, his business will complete more jobs and therefore be able to make even more money. You have to spend money to make money, right?!
And just as a little sneak peak into how we’re doing with our October goals – John is blowing his goal out of the water this month!! Big things are in store for him, I just know it.
Do you run a small business?? Any tips for us?!