The landscaping industry is a lucrative one, with a market size of $102 billion in the U.S. and a 3.8% growth rate between 2015 and 2020. Since no large companies monopolize the sector, it’s the perfect space for small business owners to succeed.
Entrepreneurs wanting to jump into this industry and start their own landscaping businesses can follow the steps below to begin the journey:
Step 1: Create a Business Plan
Before anything else, business owners should sit down at their computers — or get a notepad and pen — and write up a business plan. The goal of this document is to outline how they plan to structure, run and grow their company. If they want to apply for any funding, whether from a bank or investors, they’ll need to have this write-up.
Here are some sections they’ll need to include:
- Executive summary: A brief overview of the company’s mission, intended service, leadership team and growth plans.
- Company description: A detailed description of the company, including target customers and competitive advantages.
- Market analysis: A snapshot of the industry outlook and target market, including who their competitors are and how they can outshine them.
- Management plan: An outline of the company’s leadership hierarchy and the legal structure of their operation.
- Service line: A look at what services they plan to offer and how they will benefit customers.
- Marketing and sales: An account of how owners plan to attract and retain customers.
- Funding request: An overview of funding requirements and what they’ll use the money for.
- Financial projections: A glance at what the business will look like financially for the next five years.
Business owners can also include an appendix with their plan — a place where they can add supporting documents such as credit histories, resumes, letters of reference and licenses.
Step 2: Apply for Funding
With a business plan, business owners can take that document and look around for funding. Sometimes, nonprofits or state governments offer development grants to small businesses. They should search for grants that their business may be eligible for before moving onto loans or other types of financing.
Other options include going to a bank, looking for angel investors or reaching out to venture capital firms. With a bank, they’ll have to make regular loan payments that include a predetermined amount of interest. With an investor, on the other hand, they may get money in exchange for a percentage of their company. Prospective entrepreneurs should research all the options available before deciding which is best for their goals.
Step 3: Get the Proper Licensing
Next is looking up state and local guidelines to determine if they’ll need to get any type of licensing. Some states, for instance, require business owners to get a landscape contractor license before they perform any work. Other states, like North Carolina, only require a license for companies planning to accept projects of $30,000 or more. To get the right paperwork, it may be necessary to pass an exam.
While an applicant won’t necessarily need a post-secondary degree to meet the license requirements, they may need a certain number of hours of hands-on professional experience. They may also need to supply proof that they have skills in planning, irrigation, planting, safety measures and landscape design.
Step 4: Purchase Necessary Equipment
To meet clients’ requests, it’s necessary to amass certain pieces of equipment. Landscaping business owners will want machines that can move earth, handle materials and help them finish jobs quicker.
Some common tools in a landscaper’s arsenal include:
- Water trucks
- Dump trucks
- Wheel loaders
- Backhoe loaders
- Hydraulic excavators
Most of this equipment is pricey for startup businesses, meaning it’s best to account for it when developing a budget and requesting funding from lenders with policies friendly to small business owners. It’s also possible to save money by looking for used pieces from local dealers and online.
Step 5: Get the Word Out
Once the business is up and running and all the necessary equipment has been obtained, it’s time to spread the word. Business owners should advertise the benefits of their work to potential customers, such as the fact that a proper landscape can improve property values by 10% to 12% — ideal for those who plan to sell. They should also showcase what makes their brand stand apart from competitors.
It can be lucrative to take out ads in the local newspaper, use radio spots and try out digital campaigns. Entrepreneurs should also develop content for their blogs, which will drive more traffic to their websites. It’s also possible to set up social media pages and make posts about the offered services, the team members and tips for lawn care enthusiasts.
Launch a Successful Landscaping Business Today
Landscaping is an industry where small businesses can excel. Anyone with a plan for success can follow the steps above to turn their dream into a reality.
Holly Welles is a real estate writer who covers the latest market trends in everything from residential to commercial spaces. She is the editor behind her own blog, The Estate Update, and curates more advice on Twitter.