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Starting a Company

Cost of Starting a Lawn Care Business

7 min read

Starting a lawn care business can be one of the easiest ways to own a business if you do it right, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take hard work to succeed. The cost of starting a lawn care business can be as low as $500, but a successful business requires some investing for equipment, marketing and hiring staff. You can start your business as a solo endeavor where you do all the work yourself, or you can hire part-time, full-time or on-demand labor if you’re more ambitious.

You’ll find the following topics of use in your planning:

Chapter 1: What are the startup costs for a lawn care business?

The cost of starting a lawn care business can be as little as the combined cost of buying a mower and printing some flyers and marketing your business in your neighborhood. However, the work of doing everything manually is stressful, so most people want to automate some processes, delegate the more strenuous tasks to hired labor and market in multiple ways to build a client base. The key costs of running a legitimate lawn care business include:

Structural and legal expenses

You don’t need any type of permit specifically for a lawn care business, but you do need to get a business license for your company and a name. Some states have a fictitious name fee and require you to advertise it. Most states don’t require collecting sales tax on services, but some do. Check with your state’s department of taxation for the requirements of your state. You also have to register with the federal government and IRS to get a number for withholding taxes.

Other expenses might include legal fees for setting up a corporation. You also have to get insurance if you plan to hire staff. Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory. Your state might also require you to pay an unemployment insurance premium, which is based on your annual payroll. It sounds complex, but it is possible to complete these procedures in as little as one day.

Equipment and Materials

The equipment that you need depends on what services you plan to offer. You can expand your services as the business grows. You’ll need some kind of mowing equipment, edgers and weed-eating equipment. Most services require a truck, equipment trailer, push mower, riding mower, trimmer, hedge trimmer, leaf blower and hedge trimmer. Getting all these items can run anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.

Marketing

You need a way for people to find your business, and it’s important to get a legitimate company website. You’ll have to learn how to market digitally - unless you want to begin by passing out flyers, using signage locally and on your truck and relying on word-of-mouth referrals.

Marketing online can be relatively inexpensive with Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, local internet advertising and Search engine optimization (SEO). These are all techniques that promote your website to people browsing online.

Management

Management costs vary, but at the very least they include setting up an office and phone / answering service. Apps can be helpful for managing your business at a minimal cost.

You also have to pay any company or employee insurance premiums, which are usually based on estimated income. You’ll also have to open a business bank account for your company to process checks and make cash deposits so that you can pay your bills with business checks. The alternative is accepting cash only, which will severely limit your customers and make it impossible to offer expensive services.

Operational expenses

Operational expenses include the cost of hiring staff, making payroll and transporting workers and crews to job sites. You might have to rent an office and pay utilities. More and more startup companies use on-demand labor from a pool of workers who are willing to work part-time as needed. You can control and manage mobile workers through a lawn care app to minimize operating expenses.

Chapter 2: Business Structure for a Lawn Care Business

You have to choose a business structure for your lawn care business. The options include sole proprietorship, a partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation (LLC), or more complex structures. Most small startup businesses choose sole proprietorships because they’re the most simple. In this type of business, the owner’s personal and business assets are considered the same, and any debts can be charged against them.

Partnerships work the same way, but the debts are allocated based on the partnership percentage. If one partner owns 10%, he or she is only responsible for 10% of any debts or liabilities. Corporate structure can protect your personal assets as separate from corporate assets. You should consult an attorney for help in choosing the best legal structure for you in addition to helping set up your business, but you can do this yourself if you’re good with paperwork.

Chapter 3: Marketing Your Business

Marketing your lawn care business can be very inexpensive when you begin operations - especially if you’re a one-person company. You can build a lucrative business by distributing flyers, getting word-of-mouth referrals and advertising your company on your car, truck or trailer.

However, if you want to expand and grow, you’ll need to get the word out over the internet. Frankly, some consumers don’t trust a company that doesn’t have an internet presence or advertise locally. You can get listed free in local directories, magazines and newspapers.

As your company grows, you can begin advertising online with a website, social media pages, paid advertising and local SEO.

Chapter 4: How to Impress Potential Clients Without a Lot of Cash

Getting a lawn care management app is one of the best ways to impress potential clients. Apps help you schedule work crews, generate professional contracts and invoices and even take online payments. Otherwise, you have to apply for a credit card processing account from a vendor, and many startup businesses don’t get approved because they’re considered to be at high-risk for chargebacks.

Chapter 5: Tips for Getting Started in a Lawn Care Business

Some aspiring entrepreneurs prefer to work alone, and you may want to spend some time considering whether you want a one-person show or a larger business with multiple crews.

Obviously, you need a vehicle for your equipment, and this can be a major expense, but also an important marketing tool. You can put your company name and contact information on the vehicle to market your service. Neighbors and passersby can learn about your business, which can help supply a steady stream of business.

The most important tip for starting your business is determining what kind of business you want. Do you plan to do all the work, or would you prefer to hire people to perform the heavy labor? What kind of clients do you want to target - high-end or those with small-to-average-sized yards? Do you want to handle all lawn and landscape needs, or will you limit your services to mowing lawns and trimming shrubbery?

Tips for starting your lawn care business include:

The tips for starting a lawn care business can be summarized simply - provide the service that customers want in a professional and courteous way, use well-maintained equipment and conduct business in a way that the big, successful companies operate.

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