One of the hallmarks of a well-kept home or prosperous business is a fresh, professional coat of paint. But most people hate painting--it takes a lot of time and skill to do the job right--plus you have to spread drop cloths over everything, climb around on ladders or scaffolding, and hope you don't get paint in your hair. But if you like painting--you love the transformation as a dingy room or building becomes clean and new--and you've got the talent and experience to deliver a first-class job, then this could be the business for you. The advantages to this business are that you can work from a home base, your startup costs can be relatively low, and if you like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a good day's physical labor, it can be both rewarding and lucrative. You'll need experience in painting interiors and exteriors and in working with different types of paints and primers. You'll also need some people skills in dealing with various personalities and the ability to estimate a job and come out on the winning end.
Your targets will be homeowners, apartment buildings and condominium complexes, businesses large and small, interior designers, and real estate agents who may need help with a vacant property. You may want to specialize in certain types of painting--homeowners and interior designers will go for decorative treatments like sponge-painting, faux aging or stenciling--or, if you live in a historic area, you can specialize in 'painted ladies,' those glorious, gaudy Victorians, Colonial homes, or whatever suits your neighborhood. Using authentic historic colors for antique homes is very popular these days, so you can offer color consultation and expertise as part of your historical service. To sell to this type of client, send brochures to historic home associations or introduce yourself to homeowners and contractors. To target other types of prospects, send brochures; leave fliers on homeowners' doorsteps; and network with interior designers, contractors and real estate agents. You can also place ads in local papers. If you specialize in decorative-painting techniques, get your company written up in local publications, give talks to local groups and volunteer yourself as a guest on a local radio chat show.
You can start off with a couple sizes of ladders, an assortment of brushes, rollers and paint trays and perhaps a sprayer and a breathing mask. As you grow, you can branch out to heavy-duty sprayers and compressors and a set of scaffolding. You'll also need a pickup truck to carry you and your equipment to jobs.