Home Maintenance and Repair
Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No
If you're the type who can (and likes to) do just about anything around the house--mend a leaky faucet, nail down those sagging shingles, paint a wall, unstick a sticking door, repair a broken cabinet or build a garbage can enclosure, then this might be just the business for you. You'll be on-call in your neighborhood for all those jobs that aren't quite big enough to hire an expensive contractor but are beyond the homeowner's expertise or time constraints. This is a business with room for growth: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spent nearly $43 million on home maintenance and repairs in a single recent year. The advantages to this business are that you can work from home, you can start on a shoestring, you're always doing something different, and it's gratifying. People are delighted when you can save them money by doing the job yourself and appreciative of skills that they don't possess. You'll need a variety of home-repairs skills--everything from minor plumbing to minor electrical to painting and carpentry. You'll want people skills because you'll be dealing with a variety of personalities on their home turf, and a good sense of logistics to help you determine which jobs to schedule in what order.
Your customers will be mostly homeowners, but you can also target owners or managers of small apartment buildings or condominium complexes who don't have a maintenance person on staff, and small shopkeepers and real estate agents who may need help with a vacant property. Deliver fliers detailing your services to potential customers by tucking them under doormats or making them into door hangers. (Don't place them in mailboxes--the U.S. Postal Service gets very upset about this.) Place ads in your local newspaper and in your neighborhood Yellow Pages. For small-business commercial customers, hand-deliver fliers or brochures and explain your services. You may not get any takers the first time you visit, but don't get discouraged. A repeat visit or two can often seal a deal.
In some states, you'll need a contractor's license, so be sure to check with your local contractor's board or commerce department before you start. You'll want to be bonded. And you'll need the handyperson's stock-in-trade: hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, grip vises, flashlights, a cordless saw, a stepstool and ladder, and paint brushes and rollers. You should also have a pager so customers can reach you during the day and a pickup truck for making house calls.