Landscaping is a rewarding job that allows for a flexible schedule, seasonal variations in workflow, and fruitful salary growth. While a green thumb is a prerequisite, landscapers also need specialized skills and business know-how to create a thriving business structure. In this short guide, we’ll go over the necessary steps to growing a successful landscaping business.
Plant the seeds for success
As a plant lover, you know that there’s a sequence to growth: planting seeds in the right soil, giving them appropriate sunlight and water, and nurturing seedlings until they reach full maturity. How do you start a landscaping business? Follow nature’s rhythm. Here are the five essential steps towards becoming a successful small business owner:
- Research the landscaping industry market
- Train and meet local licensing requirements
- Create a business plan
- Market your services
- Protect your business
Next, we’ll dig deeper into each of these steps, from Aster to Zinnia.
Step 1: Research the landscaping landscape
You would never plant roses in full shade. Similarly, it’s important to nurture your budding business in the right place. First, scope out the demand for landscaping services in your local area, as location can affect your landscaping income. Before undergoing any additional training, choose a niche for your business by researching the following:
- Potential clients – Are most of the landscaping jobs in your area for residences or commercial landscaping spaces? Are there plenty of large jobs, or is there a need for niche landscaping on small roofs and patios?
- Available services – Which areas of the market are already saturated? To better compete with existing services, consider specialties including native landscaping, energy-efficient landscaping, and water-smart landscaping (also called “xeriscaping”).
- Price – What are the current rates for landscaping? Can you break into the market by providing innovative, low-cost services? Or perhaps there’s a need for someone with an eye for rare plants and luxury design.
Once you’ve surveyed the scene, you’ll have a better understanding of how you can build on your existing skillset to meet market demand.
Step 2: Develop credentials & know-how
Even if you’ve done a gorgeous job in your own yard, you may need some additional training to book landscaping jobs. Necessary skills include:
- Knowledge of plants and their ideal growing conditions
- Ability to create design plans and draft mockups to show clients
- Accurately estimating costs (plants, supplies, and labor)
- Overseeing a crew to complete all planting and construction (e.g., sidewalks, fences)
- Any specialized knowledge for your niche (e.g., native plants, xeriscaping)
There are numerous educational options for landscapers, ranging from degree-granting programs to continuing education courses.1 And a little extra education can pay off in the long run:
- A degree or certificate can convey professionality to potential clients
- Courses may help you prepare for licensing requirements
Do you need a landscaping business license in order to work? The answer depends on where you conduct business. Some states and municipalities require you to apply for a landscaping license if you build larger structures or work with certain chemical pesticides.
Step 3: Make a plan for your first year
Once you have adequate training and credentials, it’s time to secure startup capital. That means you’ll need a solid business plan to get a business loan or show to potential investors. A business plan should include the following:
- A business name – Choose something catchy to entice potential customers
- A plan for managing finances – Will you report your income on your individual tax return, or form an Limited Liability Corporation so that you can open a business bank account?
- A list of startup expenses – Careful inventory everything you’ll need to succeed, including:
- Website design and hosting costs
- Essential landscaping tools
- Business and vehicle insurance
- Marketing costs
- Cost of hiring a crew
- Pricing plan – How will you price your services? How many jobs will you need to complete before reaching your breakeven point?
Step 4: Market your landscaping company
Your landscaping business plan should also include a strategy for connecting with clients. Promoting your business is so essential to your success, it deserves its own section! All aspiring landscapers should:
- Hire a professional photographer to document past jobs (even if it’s just your mom’s backyard)
- Create a website with a list of your professional services and a portfolio of past work
- Use social media to showcase your work and engage potential clients with educational posts and videos; this can be part of your marketing plan
- Use in-person advertising methods like pasting flyers or placing them in mailboxes in your target neighborhoods
- Buy a set of sturdy, easy-to-read business cards to have at the ready when someone mentions their lawn care woes
Once you get your first job, it’s only a matter of time before your lucky clients’ neighbors start admiring your work and asking for your contact information!
Step 5: Protect your business with landscaper insurance
Before you step foot on a job site, it’s important that you take out Landscaper Insurance. But what could go wrong on a landscaping job? Let’s not beat around the bush about potential risks:
- You work with dangerous tools like chainsaws and weed whackers. Should a stray tool injure a third party, they could sue you for bodily injury.
- Should you damage a bird fountain or a piece of patio furniture while working in a client’s yard, they could sue you for the cost of replacement or repair.
The solution? Take out a business insurance policy to cover your risk. Your state might require it for your landscaper’s license. Your clients could even ask you for proof of insurance before they hire you. Thimble’s Landscaper’s Insurance is designed to provide landscapers with coverage, legal defense, and settlements for client and third-party claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury. Purchase insurance by the hour, day, or month so that you’re only paying for liability insurance when you actually need it. Need to cover your tools? Our monthly policies come bundled with an optional Business Equipment Protection add-on. This means you can protect the property you need to do your job properly.
Gather your flowers
You know that it takes time and patience to see seedlings grow into full bloom. The same goes for your landscaping business. But as in nature, the first step is sowing seeds. Take the following actions:
- Choose a niche and target potential clients
- Complete any necessary training or licensure requirements
- Draft a business plan
- Market your services online and in-person
- Take out insurance to cover your liability
Then, wait for your business to grow. It’s only a matter of time before you start harvesting the fruits of your efforts!