The total market capitalization of landscaping services in the United States is massive. In 2020, the industry had a market size of $105.35 billion. It’s easy to see why. Most people who own a home have a yard. And many of them don’t want to have to look after every aspect of that yard on their own.
Given this, you might have sensed a business opportunity. Maybe you’re considering starting your own landscaping business but you’re short on funds. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t build your business now.
If you want to start a landscaping business with no money, you will need to rely on word-of-mouth advertising, free networking events, and referrals from friends and family. Additionally, you can print business cards for cheap at Staples or Vistaprint and look for used equipment on Craigslist. Finally, try to go after simple jobs (i.e leaf collection) that don’t require a lot of tools until you save up enough money to invest in the business.
Alternatively, you could seek to secure financing or bring in investors. If you decide to go that route, the second part of the article (steps 5 & on) will guide you on the next steps to take.
1.Print Business Cards on Vistaprint.com
Business cards will be a great way for you to get the word out about your company. But they can be expensive when you buy them through traditional retailers. To save money, you can print your own business cards using Vistaprint. The site is really cheap to use and regularly offers up to 25% off marketing materials and business cards.
2.Sign up for Free Local Networking Events
The success of your landscaping company will depend on the number of clients you can get. You can use your family and friends for referrals to get yourself started. But after those runout, you’ll need to look elsewhere for new business.
One option that you have is to look into local networking events. You can find these through mobile apps like MeetUp and through local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. Local networking events give you the chance to meet new locals who need their lawn taken care of.
Some events will also be great for finding commercial clients. For example, attending the Chamber of Commerce’s networking events will likely put you in front of a ton of local businesses with lawn care needs.
3.Purchase Cheap Landscaping Equipment on Craigslist
One of the biggest upfront costs that new landscaping companies have is equipment. But you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on new equipment to satisfy your clients. Instead, check out Craigslist to find cheap used equipment that will get the job done.
You may have to replace your equipment sooner than you would otherwise. But you’ll at least be able to start seeing clients in the meantime. Then, as you build up your business, it won’t be as hard for you to buy new equipment if you decide you want it.
4.Rent a Pickup Truck from Home Depot Until You Can Buy Your Own
You’ll need a truck to carry around all of your landscaping equipment. But if you don’t have one, that doesn’t mean you need to delay starting your business until you can afford one.
One option that you have is to rent a pickup truck from a store like Home Depot. Doing this will let you begin seeing clients without having to pay upfront for a truck.
Renting a truck will eat into your profits some. But you’ll be able to get your business off the ground faster than would otherwise be possible. And that will enable you to build a reliable base of clients in less time so that you can buy your own pickup truck sooner.
5.Write a Business Plan (Budget-Friendly)
Writing a business plan is the first step towards reaching your goals for your landscaping company. It will help you formulate your ideas and zero in on how you’re going to set your business apart. There are a few key components that should go into your business plan. Take a look:
- Your financial projections
- A funding request outline
- An executive summary and description of your company
- Your analysis of the landscaping market in your area and where you fit in
- A description of the services that you’ll provide
- Your management structure
Writing a business plan is also important because it will help you figure out exactly how much money you need to get started. You can add cost-saving strategies like buying used equipment or relying on family and friends for referrals to your plan as well.
Determine Your Target Audience
In order to create an effective business plan, you need to understand your target audience very well. This will require some research on your end but nothing too intensive.
Essentially, you want to figure out who’s going to be using your service. This will depend on your geographic area and your preferred clientele. For example, some landscaping businesses focus on commercial properties. Others focus on residential areas. And some focus on both.
You should also think about what your average customer is like. How old are they? What do they care about? Why would they hire you? Answering questions like these can help you determine the best way to market your company and help it grow.
Research the Competition
It’s also important to understand the competitive landscape for your industry before starting a business. You should know who the major competition is and what makes them different.
This information matters because you can use it to help your company stand out. For example, you might find that a major landscaping company in your area only offers service during the week. You could use that information to establish a niche for yourself as a landscaping business that also operates on the weekend.
The key point here is to try and make your business stand out as much as possible. Doing this will help you establish your business and start building up a clientele that appreciates your unique offerings.
6. Apply for Licenses
The exact licenses that you need to start a landscaping business vary from state to state. But if your state requires any licenses, it’s essential that you get them. Otherwise, you put your business at risk of getting shut down just as you’re trying to grow it.
How to Figure Out Which Licenses You Need
The easiest way to figure out which licenses you need is to do some online research. A simple Google search for something like “landscaping business license requirements in [Your State]” should do the job.
Or you can just check out this resource. It provides a state-by-state look at licensing requirements for landscaping companies.
Let’s look at some examples to see how all of this works in practice. Landscaping service providers in Georgia only need a license if they intend to use pesticides as part of their work.
These companies need to apply for a commercial applicator license, which requires the business owner to pass a certification exam. Lots of states, such as Illinois and Indiana, have similar rules.
Other states, like Louisiana, have more intensive licensing requirements. If you work here, you may need a landscape horticulturist license and an arborist license to start your business.
7.Purchase Business Insurance
Landscapers also need to have insurance to start their business. Purchasing these plans will keep you protected in the event of an accident. Here’s a look at what you need and how much it’ll cost per year:
- Generally liability insurance – $400 – $800 per year
- Commercial auto insurance – $1,000 – $3,000 per year
- Workers’ compensation insurance – $1,000 – $4,500 per year
The exact amount that you pay for each of these will depend on your unique risk factors and the size of your company. If your business is small, expect to pay on the lower end of these ranges. The good news is that you won’t have to pay the total costs of insurance upfront. You can pay monthly to reduce your initial out-of-pocket expenses.
8.Advertise Your Business
Advertising your business is essential to growing it. It’s the only way for you to get your services in front of the eyes of new potential customers. There are a few ways to do this. Here are some of the most popular methods of advertising a landscaping business:
- Social networking
- Yellow Pages ads
- Business cards
- Door Hangers
- Direct mail
If you don’t have a ton of money upfront, prioritize low-cost advertising methods. It’s free to advertise your business on a social media account. Fliers and door hangers can also be very low cost if you get a good deal on printing. You can even save money by printing out business cards at Staples or on Vistaprint.
9.Decide Whether You’ll Franchise
This is one decision you’ll have to make while starting your company. Franchising can save you money on startup costs. But doing so will also remove some of the control that you have over your company.
Franchising may also make it easier for you to get started. That’s because you’ll be part of a brand that people already know and trust instead of having to create your own. However, you will also have to give a percentage of your revenue to the company you franchise with.
If you’re considering franchising, here are some of the biggest lawn care franchises to look into:
- Lawn Doctor
- Weed Man
- U.S. Lawns
- The Grounds Guys
- Spring-Green Lawn Care
- NaturaLawn of America
At this stage of the process, you’re ready to begin buying equipment. Don’t worry if you don’t have a ton of money. You can buy what you absolutely have to have now and wait before purchasing everything else if you need to.
If you’re working with a tight budget, here’s what you should prioritize:
- Riding mower
- Push mower
- Lawn sprayer
- Lawn spreader
- Lawn bags
- Leaf blower
You should be able to get all of that gear for between $3,000 and $5,000. After that, you should look into buying a trailer, a storage facility, safety equipment, and uniforms for your team.
One way to save money here is to purchased used equipment instead of getting it new. Craigslist is an excellent source for used equipment. You could get everything that you need on the platform for much cheaper than what you would pay for new gear.
11.Decide Which Software You Need
You don’t absolutely need to buy software right away if you don’t have the money for it. But you’ll want to invest in some as soon as you can. Software makes it much easier to manage your company. It’ll reduce a huge portion of your workload. Here are some products you should look into:
- Service Autopilot
- HouseCall Pro
If you want to start a landscaping business with no money, this is the most important part of the process. There are several different options that you have.
Before diving into those options, one thing you should keep in mind is that you will likely need a good credit score to be approved for a loan. If you don’t have one, consider checking with family members.
As shown above, you only need between $3,000 and $5,000 to get the bare minimum for your new landscaping business. A family member may be able to provide you with that type of loan. That may be easier than dealing with a bank as well.
If a family loan doesn’t work, look into the following options:
- SBA loans
- Short-term loans
- Business lines of credit
- Business term loan
- Merchant cash advance
13.Build a Website
It’s super useful to have a website that you can direct your clients and leads to. Websites are great for online marketing as well. That’s why building one is so important. Doing so can be a fantastic way to grow your business with minimal effort on your end.
When you’re ready to create your landscaping business website, here’s what you should add to it:
- A clean homepage with strong imagery
- A toolbar for easy navigation
- Mobile compatibility
- Strong branding
- Easy-to-access content forms for your leads to fill out
- SEO-focused blog content
14.Decide Which Forms of Payment You’ll Accept
Generally, the more forms of payment that you accept the better. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you. Doing so will make it easy for them to use your service. This, in turn, makes it more likely that they’ll continue hiring your company in the future.
Most landscaping businesses accept cash, debit, credit, and personal checks. You should strive to do the same. But in order to do that, you’re going to have to partner with a payment processing company.
Picking the Right Payment Processor
The payment processing industry is massive and there are tons of options to choose from. But it’s generally best to stick with a well-known brand. Lesser-known brands often turn out to provide terrible customer service and inaccurate quotes.
To keep yourself safe, we recommend one of these payment processors for your landscaping business:
- QuickBooks Payments
Next, you’re ready to begin filling out your team by hiring employees. There are lots of different places that you can look for candidates for your available positions. Posting ads online might be the easiest way to do this. You should consider using job platforms like:
How to Conduct Your Interviews
Once you’ve found candidates that pique your interest, it’s time to set up an interview. If you’ve never led an interview, it can be a bit scary. But the process isn’t actually that complex.
Your goal should just be to make the interviewee feel comfortable and to get them talking. You can do that by building a rapport with them through small talk before diving into the big questions.
16.Decide on a Payroll Provider
After you hire your team, you need a payroll provider to manage your payments to them. Once again, there are lots of good options to choose from here. For the most part, you can’t go wrong as long as you stick with a well-known, trusted company. Here are some of your best bets:
- ADP TotalSource
- Square Payroll
The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Landscaping Business Worth It?
Companies that operate in the landscaping industry can make between 2% and 10% in profit. But generally, you can expect to make about 10% of your total sales. Let’s take a look at an example of what this means.
If you had an average annual revenue of about $542,000, then you would make roughly 10% of that. This comes out to around $59,265.
Obviously, if your revenue goes up, then your salary likely will as well. So a key aspect of being successful in the landscaping industry is getting more customers and improving your revenue. You may also be able to get creative with your costs to increase the percentage of revenue that you take home as pay each year.
Ultimately, whether it’s worth it to start a landscaping business is up to you. You know that you can make around $60,000 per year on average by doing this. If that’s more than you can make elsewhere, then starting this business would absolutely be worth it.
However, it may not be a good idea to start a landscaping business if you can qualify for jobs that pay above $60,000 already.
Ruben has been doing online marketing for the last 4 years. Prior to that, he spent 15 years managing different brick-and-mortar businesses, in the home improvement and logistics industries. Overall, he has 20 years of business experience under his belt. Recently, he added SEO, affiliate marketing, and link building to his business skills.