How to Start a Lawn Care or Landscaping Business If you're ready to start a business and have a passion for landscaping, the lawn care business could be for you. Keep reading to learn how to dive in.
While lawn care might be something you associate with earning a few bucks here and there as a teenager, a serious lawn care business for commercial and residential properties can earn you an actual cash flow. Starting up any new business is challenging, but if you know the right steps to take, your very own lawn care business is well within reach.
In this guide, you will find:
- A rundown of the lawn care or landscaping industry
- Pros and cons of the lawn care industry
- 10 steps to create your own landscaping company
- The takeaway and how to stay motivated along the way
What are the basics of the lawn and landscape industry?
Lawn care and landscaping is more than it sounds like — lawn care does not stop at just mowing lawns. In reality, it's a much more all-encompassing service.
Related: Landscaping and Urban Gardening
Lawn care services include:
- Landscape design
- Lawn maintenance (cutting, trimming, shaping, etc.)
- Edge trimming (trees, hedges, bushes, etc.)
- Removal of debris
- Turf installation and maintenance
- Weed pulling and weed control
- Pest control, especially for gardens
If you're open to providing a service that people will always need, then landscaping service is a great option.
What are the pros and cons of the lawn care and landscaping industry?
Like any other industry, there are pros and cons to lawn care and landscaping. Before entering into any new business venture, it's important that you have a full picture of what's in front of you, so you can make the most informed decision possible. Take a look at some pros and cons of the lawn care industry:
Pros of the lawn care industry
- Growth opportunity: Your services are a reflection of your business, and they are visible to the public. Use your services as a marketing tool to grow your business.
- Real estate industry growth: New homes and apartment complexes are popping up everywhere. And what do those homes have? Lawns, trees and other things that need tending. Lawn care is in demand right now.
- Recurring customers: One of the biggest advantages to the lawn care business is that it is a part of the maintenance industry. A lawn job is not a one-and-done situation. Customers will need your landscape professionals for landscape maintenance services regularly.
Cons of the lawn care industry
- Labor shortages: Even though there is always a demand for lawn care maintenance, labor shortages can occur. Manual labor can be a hard sell, as it can be hard on the body. It may not be glamorous, but it is necessary. Keep this in mind if you ever experience trouble finding employees.
- Saturated industry: There are many lawn care businesses out there. If you take a drive through a few neighborhoods, chances are you'll see lawns being tended to. Getting new clients for your business might be challenging, as you will have to compete with existing businesses and landscape contractors.
Related: How to Plan Your Lawn Care Routin
10 steps to create your own lawn care and landscaping business
1. Complete market research
Before you jump into the process, you'll need to collect some information so you have a better idea of what your risks and focus areas will be. When you are completing your market research, there are some key questions you should ask yourself in order to set your business up for success.
Those key questions include:
- What are the demographics of the population in the area? (age, income, property layout, etc.)
- Is there a demand for lawn care in the area?
- What is the market size like? Is there an interest in lawn care?
- What is the area like? Is there room for growth with new construction?
- Is the market oversaturated, or is there a need to fill?
- What could potential pricing be in the area?
You should focus equally on the potential customers and competition in the area. There needs to be a healthy balance of both in order for your business to make its mark and continue to grow.
Related: The Best Ways to Do Market Research for Your Business Plan
2. Create a business plan
Once you've completed the necessary research, it's time to start planning things out. As a startup, you'll want to take the time to construct a traditional business plan to promote a thorough, thought-out process.
Your business plan should include:
- Executive summary
- Business description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing plan and sales
- Funding request
- Financial projections
If you know that you are going to need funding, a well-structured business plan is the first step toward securing funding. Investors value businesses that have clearly put time and effort into creating their plans.
3. Secure funding
When it comes time to secure funding, you will need to have a number in mind. This will show investors that you have done your research and allow you to match with the proper investor. In the landscaping industry, one of your largest expenses will likely be the equipment you need to purchase to start up your business.
Related: Tools of the Trade: Must-Have Equipment for Your Lawn Care or Landscaping Business
Research landscaping work equipment like:
- Safety equipment
- Lawn mowers
Once you have estimated how much your startup expenses will cost, you will need to add up everything together for a full picture of the financing you need. After you've completed that task, it's time to look into financing options.
Financing options include:
- Venture capital
- Small business loan
Related: The Importance of Recognizing the Right Investor
4. Choose a location
Because of the nature of the lawn care and landscaping business, it will be your choice whether or not you'd like to have a brick-and-mortar office for your lawn care company. You will likely need some type of facility where you store the equipment and where employees come to gather their tools for the job. The location of your facility might not be quite as important as other industries. However, it is important to pick the location where you want to do business.
When choosing where to conduct business, consider:
- Taxes and costs
- Government incentives
5. Choose a business structure
You will choose the right business structure based on how financially connected you want to be to your business and how you want to file taxes. Types of business structures include:
Limited Liability Company:
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure that is a combination of a sole proprietorship, corporation and partnership. With this flexible structure, the business owner is a separate legal entity from the business, which dictates how to file taxes, conduct operations and run management. LLCs are generally a safe and manageable choice.
An S corp is a structure filed for federal corporate income tax exemption. This entity is a bit riskier than an LLC because the shareholders of the business are responsible for all income, as well as losses and tax return credits.
A sole proprietorship is a common business structure, but it is another somewhat risky choice. The business owner is not legally separated from their business, which means they assume all financial risk of their business as part of their personal finances.
A partnership is two or more people who decide to share ownership, profits and losses of their business. Like a sole proprietorship, in a partnership, the business and the person are one and the same. The financial wins and losses are on the shoulders of the business partners.
Related: Choose Your Business Structure
6. Choose a name
The name of your business should reflect who or what your business serves, as well as something that aligns with your brand. Whether it's something simple like your last name or something creative and punny, put some thought into it, as it will be part of your business' identity.
Related: How to Choose a Strong Business Name and Amplify Your Brand
7. Register your business
For tax and legal purposes, you must register your business. You can do so as an entity for state-level protection, as a trademark for federal-level protection, as a DBA if your state requires it or as a domain name to secure your online presence.
8. Obtain IDs, licenses and permits
Federal and state governments all have unique requirements for how to complete this process. However, in order to legally run your business, you need to obtain an employer identification number and business license. Stay up-to-date, and research requirements for your state through information from the SBA.
Additionally, you'll need to get business insurance as a landscape business owner.
9. Open a bank account
To provide more protection and create separation between your personal finances and professional finances, you should create a business bank account. Having an official business account will also provide you with some buying power, as credit card companies will often raise the credit limits that you will need to purchase pricey equipment.
Related: 5 Items You Must Have to Open a Business Bank Account
10. Start mowing and landscaping!
Now that you've completed all of the paperwork and legal necessities, it's time to hire employees and get the word out about your business. Raising awareness does not have to be expensive, as you can create flyers to post in neighborhoods, create and maintain social media for free and spread word-of-mouth via new clients and local businesses. The lawn care and landscaping business can be a steady and in-demand business. While the startup costs might be daunting, they will be worth it in the long run.
Entrepreneurs face many challenges like financials, burnout and slow build-up of new customers. However, if you want to find success in your own landscaping business, push through the challenges by remembering why you started, having a support system to lean on and having faith in your research and business plan.
If you need more guidance on starting a new business, check out Entrepreneur for advice on starting your own business and more.