You know you’re ready to start a handyman business - but are you ready ready?
There’s a key difference between identifying that you’ve got a money-making skill (“Hey, I’m really good at installing cabinets!”) and mapping out each step of starting your handyman business. That’s why this article is dedicated to walking you through the exact steps you need to set yourself up for success.
Let’s get started!
Before you launch your handyman business, consider this: one of the most common mistakes that handymen make is that they don’t determine if there’s a market for their services.
Think about it: if you live in a city where there’s a handyman on every block, chances are you’re going to be facing stiff competition for clients. If, on the other hand, there’s not a handyman for dozens of miles, you could quickly establish yourself as the go-to expert for handyman services.
So how can you tell if there’s a good market for your handyman services? Take a look at this article, which lists the states where handymen are in highest demand: http://job-flex.com/jobflex-blog/where-the-handyman-is-in-the-most-demand/. Keep in mind that this isn’t an exact science, and should definitely be coupled with more online research.
So what’s the bottom line here? Simple: Make sure you understand if there’s an appetite for your handyman services. Otherwise, your business could end up going under within your first few years.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - and if there’s a handyman business you particularly admire, try to figure out what it is about that business that works so well. Think of it as competitor research!
Successful handyman businesses have already ironed out the learning curves of starting a business, so don’t hesitate to follow in their footsteps. Take a look at a few examples of how you can use your competitors to cut down on your own learning curve:
Take a look at their websites to see what services they list and the prices they charge
Go online to check out what their marketing looks like
Grab a beer or coffee with a local handyman who’s willing to share advice with you
Again, keep an eye out for how many handyman businesses there are in your area. If you’re coming across a lot of businesses, you might want to return to the first tip in this article and take another look.
You’ve definitely got the handyman side of the business down pat - but are you ready for all the hidden tasks that might eat up the rest of your day?
Running a successful handyman business means you’re going to fill a lot of roles. You’ll be an accountant, a bookkeeper, a lawyer, an office manager, and a marketer - and that’s just what you should expect on a day-to-day basis. Many handymen run into the danger of not anticipating all this extra work, which is just as important - if not more so! - than actually doing handyman work.
If you want a handyman business that will stick around, you’ll need to account for all of this extra work. During your first few months of business, you’ll rarely spend an eight hour day doing strictly handyman work. For example, just consider all the tasks you’ll need to complete in order to tackle your first job:
This information isn’t meant to dissuade you from becoming a handyman; on the contrary, it’s designed to help you prepare for the most successful start possible. Expect and plan to put in a lot of admin work now, rather than fitting it in after a long day of working. That’s when you could potentially run into trouble!
Business insurance is essential for all handyman services, no matter where you operate. Not only does handyman insurance help protect you from claims involving accidents and property damage, but it can also pay for any work-related illnesses or injuries your employees may experience while on the job. Add to the fact that handyman insurance is required by most states, and it becomes clear that having a policy is essential for your success.
You can find and compare quotes for both types of policies at Simply Business. We specialize in small business insurance for handyman services, so you’ll get personalized coverage at affordable prices. All you need to do is provide a few details about yourself and your handyman business - we’ll take care of the rest.
We’re not talking crazy business loans here. Handymen are pretty fortunate in that they can keep their startup costs pretty cheap, especially if they already have their own tools. Plus, it’s easy to add more items to your business as you start getting projects.
So let’s get straight to the point here - What’s the absolute minimum amount of money you need to start your handyman business?
Answer: Expect to spend about $2,000-$4,000 in startup costs.
Want to know how we got this figure - including a breakdown of where you’ll be spending your money? Download our guide to starting your own handyman business, which you’ll find on this page. You’ll discover a ton of information on everything you need to know about getting up and running with your business!
Don’t worry - you don’t have to create a super-official business plan. Just think of this section as the opportunity to reflect on what it is that you actually want to achieve with your handyman business.
See, a lot of your fellow handymen start their businesses because they know in their hearts that they can do better. They’ve worked with terrible bosses who prioritize the paycheck over the client work, or who get off on yelling at their employees for the smallest infractions. These guys start their businesses because they’re sick and tired of watching that fat project paycheck go straight into the boss’s hands, and only end up with a small slice of payment.
You probably have similar reasons for wanting to start your own handyman business. And those reasons can be enough to get you up in the morning for the first few months.
But eventually, that initial fuel is going to burn out. You need something more than emotions to sustain the act of starting, running, and growing your company.
That’s where your business plan comes into play.
Think of your business plan as a written checklist as to where you’ll be when you’re at three key milestones from Day 1 of starting your business:
Break down what your successful handyman business will look like at each of these stages. Really get specific here, as these milestones can help measure if your handyman business is on the right track, or if you should do some course corrections.
Here are a few questions that can get you started:
Make sure you keep your answers pretty reasonable; after all, it’s pretty rare to have 50 clients within the first six months of starting your business (unless you inherited a lot of clients from your previous job). Feel free to adjust the milestones as you learn more about running a business, but pay attention! If you’re constantly adjusting your milestones, it shows that your business outlook might not be realistic.
A handyman license is a special type of documentation that shows you’ve been cleared by your state to perform specific types of work. While each state has its own special requirements, in general, you’ll need this license to be cleared to do larger projects for your clients. Keep in mind that if you do any type of handyman job that’s above $1000, you may need to apply for a contractor’s license.
If you’ve already done your research, you know that there’s a pretty good demand for your services (and if you haven’t, go back to the beginning of this article right now!!). What you need to do now is reach out to those potential customers…
Without wading your way through tons of competition.
For this reason, forget advertising your services on sites like Craigslist and Facebook. Every other handyman you’re competing with is on these sites - and that means you’ll be fighting more established businesses for their scraps.
Instead, focus your time and effort on online sites like NextDoor and Home Advisor. These sites make it possible for you to target your efforts to your local neighborhood, so you’re more likely to be seen by potential customers. Additionally, NextDoor is free to use, so you’ll be able to post information about your services without having to pay through the nose for it.
You can find more techniques for getting handyman customers in our free guide on how to start a handyman business!
One of the biggest mistakes that handymen make is that they charge an arbitrary project rate and wait to see if it works for them. The problem here is that if you end up choosing the wrong hourly rate, you could end up losing money - and fast.
Instead, you need to lay the groundwork for determining your best hourly rate - and that involves figuring out how long it takes you to perform various tasks and services. While each handyman is different, start by figuring out how long it would take you to complete the most common handyman tasks:
If you have a hard time figuring out how long it would take you to complete these projects, don’t hesitate to ask another handyman or contractor for their feedback. Ultimately, you want to make sure you’re not underestimating how long it takes you to complete a project, as that can lead to inaccurate project estimates and unhappy customers!
Still not sure how much to charge? Here’s an easy shortcut - charge somewhere around the national average, which is $60-$65 per hour. Remember, your hourly rate isn’t set in stone. Test out what hourly rate gets you the most projects, or try raising your hourly rate every year to reflect your growing experience.
Once setup, don't forget to run a contractors insurance quote to ensure you're covered.
Want a few more tips on starting your handyman business? Download our guide here!
*Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - March 2023 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!
Mariah writes on a number of topics such as small business planning, contractor insurance, and business licenses.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.