Small Business Idea – Furniture Repair

Furniture repair business

Start a Small Business in Furniture Repair

Description of Job

• Repair broken pieces of furniture. • Make minor fixes to torn upholstery.

The Need and Demand for this Business

Things break, and upholstery tears, but a major piece of furniture, a valued heir- loom, or merely a favorite couch may be worth repairing to save the cost of buy- ing a new piece.

Challenges Faced by the Furniture Repair Business

The two principal challenges are deciding whether a broken piece of furniture can be repaired and whether the repair makes economic sense. If the total cost of removal of the item, labor, parts, and return of the piece is appreciably less than the price of a new one, you have business to perform.

Be especially careful if you are working on an heirloom or antique; don’t accept a job you are not capable of doing properly, and don’t accept liability for an item of extraordinary value.

What You Should Know Before You Start This Business

You’ll need to have basic repair skills and access to dependable specialists for jobs such as welding broken frames, cutting a custom piece of wood or metal, and reupholstering. In a way, this job could be compared to being a contractor on a house: Much of the work consists of assembling a team of capable subcontractors.

Some jobs can be done in the homes of clients; assemble a mobile workshop for house calls. Otherwise, you will need a truck or require that the client arrange for pickup and delivery.

How to Get Started with a Furniture Repair Business

Advertise your availability at community centers, home and houseware stores, and antique stores.

Up-front Expenses

You’ll need a set of basic tools. You can rent many specialized devices or sub- contract out unusual tasks. Other expenses include promotion and advertising.

How Much to Charge For this Service

Charge an hourly rate plus the cost of materials; give your clients an estimate of the number of hours a job should require and notify them if the price will change markedly.

Legal and Insurance Issues

Special notes: In dealing with your client’s property, seek to limit your liability for damage or loss to the actual replacement value of items in your possession. You should protect yourself against claims for sentimental value or loss of use.

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance ➅ Insurance

Small Business Idea – Speciality Indoor Painting

How to Start a Small Business in Specialty Indoor Painting

speciaity painting service

Description of Job

• Design and specify specialty interior painting.
• Apply special effects.
• Finish and clean up interior work.

The Need and Demand For This Business

There is no law that says interior walls need to be coated with flat, boring eggshell paint.

An interesting alternative for many homeowners is to decorate using techniques such as marbling, stenciling, sponging, strié (dragging), ragging, rag rolling, stippling, distressing, and faux finishing. In most cases, amateurs are not trained or equipped to perform such work.

This sort of job is usually limited to one or two rooms in a house and there- fore may be less attractive to a commercial painter; the skills involved are also different from those required to paint a living room off-white.

Challenges Faced By This Business

You need to understand and master a range of special techniques and tools. Make sure your clients understand exactly what effect they are requesting.

You can practice many of the techniques in your own home; you might want to create a room—perhaps a den, a section of the basement, or even the interior

of your garage—and create examples of the sort of work you are available to perform.

Things You Should Know About the Business

There are many web sites and books that describe various techniques and tools for specialty painting. Many large home supply and craft stores offer classes on specialty painting. Here are some interesting techniques:

Glazing or color washing. Dilute paints or varnishes to thin them so they can be used to apply a transparent or translucent film of color.

Stippling, or pouncing. This process delivers a sandy or lightly pat- terned effect using a specialized stippling brush to modify the surface of a glaze.

Ragging, or rag rolling. A second glaze color, of a different hue, is wiped into place with a rag to create a purposely uneven effect.

Strié, or dragging. A glaze is applied to a base color, then a dry brush is dragged over the glaze in a vertical or horizontal direction to create fine lines.

Sponging. A rough sponge is used to apply an uneven finish to a base coat or to a second coat of paint in a contrasting color.

Stenciling. You may hand-paint stenciled designs to a painted wall.

How to Get Started in this Business

Post flyers and ads at community centers, in home outlet stores, and on bulletin boards. Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.

Offer to conduct a class at a community school to get some publicity and per- haps some clients. Buy a table at home decorating and crafts shows to display samples of some of your work.

Make contact with interior decorators and contractors in your area; do the same with commercial painting companies that do not compete with you for spe- cialty jobs. Offer a bonus or commission for business they refer to you.

Up-front Expenses

You will need specialty brushes, sponges, stencils, and other equipment, as well as basic painting tools such as ladders, trays, rollers, tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, and masking tape.

You will have to bear the cost of experiments and practice sessions you con- duct as well as preparation of a display room or a photo album or web site to show examples of your work.

You’ll need a vehicle large enough to transport your equipment. Other expenses include research books, classes, advertising, and promotion.

How Much to Charge For The Service

Most painters quote a fixed price for a job, based on a careful estimate of the number of hours it will require plus the cost of paint and other materials. Many specialty paint jobs require multiple applications of wall covering. Some jobs are quoted on a cost-plus basis: a charge for hours of work plus the actual cost of paint and other supplies.

Prices for specialty painting are usually higher than those for standard indoor work because of the extra time, materials, and skill required.

Legal and Insurance Issues

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance

Small Business Idea – Upholstery and Slipcover Maker

Start a Small Business as an Upholstery and Slipcover Maker

Slipcover maker

Description of Job

• Reupholster sofas, chairs, ottomans, and pillows.
• Make slipcovers for upholstered furniture.
• Recover pillows.
• Design and create custom draperies.

The Need and Demand for this Business

Furniture is big, bulky, and expensive . . . and sometimes it gets cut, scratched, or stained. Then there are times when we fall in love with an expensive sofa for the living room and fall out of love with its color and fabric long before it’s paid for.

Normal wear and tear take their toll on furniture, accelerated by the presence of children and pets. Tastes change; perhaps you’ve gone through your green period and now you find yourself preferring more neutral colors.

The good news is that good-quality furniture does not have to be thrown away.

A reupholsterer removes the existing fabric and decorations to rebuild the piece from the frame up.

Another option is to create custom slipcovers that fit over the original upholstery.

Pillows can be recovered in new fabric to brighten up the furniture and deal with damage and stains.

Upholsterers can also be called on to create custom draperies, working with the same material used in remaking the furniture or in a contrasting or comple- mentary shade.

Upholstery maker

Challenges Faced By this Small Business

This job requires a sense of design and some specialized expertise, including skills in minor carpentry and working with fabrics. You need to be able to recog- nize a hidden gem and reject a makeover project when you can see that the end result will please no one.

Consider carefully before working on a valuable antique or collectible; be sure you are not taking on a huge liability in the event of damage or loss.

Things to Know Before You Start This Business

You’ll find a tremendous amount of resources in books, magazines, videos, and on the Internet. Read decorating magazines and special-interest publications about furniture repair, restoration, and reupholstering.

Local craft stores may offer seminars or classes; area experts may teach classes at community schools.

Make contact with suppliers of fabric and supplies for upholstering. They will offer samples and consultation, and some may provide training for their clients.

Upholster slipcover business

How to Get Started as an Upholstery and Slipcover Maker

Place flyers and ads at home supply stores, in community centers, at tag sales, in used furniture stores, and on bulletin boards. Place ads in newspapers and shop- ping guides.

Contact area interior decorators and used furniture stores and make them aware of your services; offer them a bonus or commission for business they bring your way.

Consider teaching a class at a community school for publicity and perhaps to gain clients.

Up-front Expenses

You will need woodworking and heavy-duty sewing and fabric-working tools. Some of the specialty tools you will need as an upholsterer include tack hammer, shears, webbing stretcher, ripping chisel, staple lifter, upholstery needle card, and upholstery pins. To make slipcovers, and for some upholstery projects, you will need a heavy-duty sewing machine. Some jobs may require a serging machine to bind the ends of fabrics.

You may be able to farm out some specialty sewing jobs to others as part of the overall project. You can choose to purchase a truck for pickup and delivery of furniture, or you can contract with a local shipping or moving company for such service.

Other expenses include advertising and promotion.

How Much to Charge for this service

Give the client a bottom-line price that includes the purchase of fabric, stuffing, notions, and other expenses as well as compensation for your time; be sure to carefully consider the amount of time involved in a job.

Another pricing scheme is a cost-plus contract, whereby the client pays retail prices for all material and you add a charge for your labor.

You can also add charges for pickup and delivery of the furniture, if necessary.

Legal and Insurance Issues

Special notes: In dealing with your client’s property, seek to limit your liability for damage or loss to the actual replacement value of items in your possession. You should protect yourself against claims for sentimental value or loss of use.

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance ➅ Insurance

Small Business Idea – Interior Decorating

Interior decoration business

How To Start a Business as an Interior Decorator

Description of Job

• Draw plans to decorate a client’s home or office with attention to style, quality, and budget.

• Meet with designers, contractors, and suppliers to draw up specifications. • Oversee purchases, renovations, and installation.

The Need and Demand For an Interior Decorator

Somewhere in the mind’s eye of most of us is a vision of the house beautiful and the office spectacular. Yet relatively few of us have the background, the training, or the time to create a handsome environment all at once.

An interior decorator can redo an entire house or a single room. A new baby may be on the way, or a spare bedroom may be due to make the transition to a home office.

Companies need to have attractive spaces for conferences, meetings with customers, and showrooms for products.

Challenges Faced By This Business

There is no license required to hang out a shingle as an interior decorator. Instead, you’ll have to demonstrate your abilities through examples of plans you have drawn or work you have accomplished.

In addition to a good sense of design and color, you’ll need to be knowl- edgeable about construction, fabrics, styles of furniture, lighting systems, and flooring.

In most cases you will be called on to interpret your client’s needs and wants; you’ll rarely be given a blank sheet of paper and an unlimited budget. You’ll have to be able to work in a variety of styles, from antiques and reproductions to com- mercial and industrial to ultramodern.

Things to Know Before You Start This Business

You can take courses on interior design at community colleges and major uni- versities. There is also a tremendous amount of information about design and decorating in books and on web sites. Consult the sites for furniture makers to learn about their products; many manufacturers offer impressive catalogs to dec- orators, and some have sales conferences and demonstrations of products.

Become an expert, or attach yourself to a knowledgeable associate who knows about upholstery, carpeting and other flooring, wallpaper and paneling, and other furnishings. Make contact with manufacturers of lighting systems, audiovisual and computer furniture and fixtures, and office presentation equipment.

Plan on attending national or regional interior decorating shows and conven- tions where manufacturers display their products and conduct seminars.

How to Get Started In This Business

Post flyers and ads at community centers and retail stores. Furniture and home supply centers may allow you to advertise your services in their stores if you promise to direct some of your customers to them.

Contact area contractors. They may want to have a model home decorated and in return would allow you to promote your service there, and they may be willing to give your name to any client who asks for a designer. Offer a commis- sion or bonus for work they send your way.

Ask friends and acquaintances to recommend your services; offer a bonus or discount on future jobs for any business they direct to you. Do the same with sat- isfied customers.

Create a portfolio of jobs you have completed; obtain permission from clients to take photos for the portfolio or for a web site. (You don’t have to identify the names and addresses of clients if they prefer anonymity.)

Up-front Expenses

You may have some expenses in educating yourself about furniture and equip- ment. Other costs include advertising and promotion.

How Much to Charge As an Interior Decorator

Most interior decorators make their income in the form of commissions from wholesale or retail outlets. Depending on the complexity and size of the job, you might also charge the client an hourly or fixed fee for consultation and drawing up a plan.

Legal and Insurance Issues

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance.

Small Business Idea – Rug Cleaning Service

How to Start a Small Business As A Rug Cleaner

Rug cleaning business

Description of Job

• Clean carpets using professional equipment.

• Use specialized tools and chemicals for expert attention to problematic stains.

The Need and Demand for A Rug Cleaning Service

Even with frequent vacuuming, rugs and carpets get dirty. If you have children and pets, they get even dirtier.

Although some home centers rent out portable rug cleaners, they are gener- ally the equivalent of a snow shovel in a world of high-powered plows and snow- blowers. The best way to get a seriously dirty carpet clean is with professional cleaning equipment and solutions.

Challenges Faced By A Rug Cleaning Business

You must learn to master the use of professional extraction systems and gain a realistic understanding of their capabilities and limitations. Before committing to a job, make sure you carefully inspect the carpet; make note of any existing stains or damage, and make certain your contract agreement with the client does not promise more than you can reasonably expect to deliver.

Take extra care with especially valuable rugs. Oriental, Persian, or antique carpets may need to be hand-cleaned, or they may need to be processed by spe- cialists. You may be able to act as an agent for another company for that sort of job, collecting a commission.

Make sure that your contract agreement limits your liability for damage to valuable rugs.

You will probably have to move furniture as part of the cleaning process; again, take care not to accept liability for expensive antiques and collectibles— ask the client to remove them from the room.

Things to Know Before Your Start This Business

Many professional equipment vendors offer assistance to their customers in rec- ommending tools and techniques for tricky problems. Some of the most common stains, such as coffee, tea, blood, and urine, are also the most difficult to remove.

You can also offer special services such as carpet protector and carpet deodorizer for an extra charge.

How to Get Started With Rug Cleaning Business

Place flyers and business cards at home centers, hardware stores, and community centers. Make your services known to area interior decorators and housecleaning services. Contact real estate agents who might be in a position to recommend your services to someone who is selling or buying a house and to clients who rent their house to others.

You should also place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.

Up-front Expenses For This Business

Professional carpet cleaning machines start at about $2,000 and go up from there. A typical package includes a power-cleaning wand or head, a powered extractor, at least 25 feet of hose, and various manual wands, rakes, and detailing tools.

The most powerful units are usually mounted in a truck or van, with hoses that run from the truck into the home or apartment; these machines have their own gas-powered engines, run off the vehicle’s motor, or attach to an electrical outlet. Expect to pay about $4,000 to $5,000 for truck-mounted equipment. (That sort of device is quicker to set up and more powerful, but may not be appropriate for jobs on upper floors of homes or apartment houses.)

You’ll need a supply of detergents and other solutions, including pretreating sprays, spotting kits, rinses, defoamers, deodorizers, and disinfectants.

You’ll require a van or small truck to transport your equipment and supplies; if you use a truck-mounted system, you’ll need special equipment and hoses plus a power source or connection to the vehicle’s engine.

How Much to Charge For Rug Cleaning Services

You can charge by the hour or by the square footage of the carpet to be cleaned. Be sure to take into account any especially difficult stains or unusual circum- stances when giving a price or estimate.

Legal and Insurance Issues

Special notes: In dealing with your client’s property, seek to limit your liability for damage or loss to the actual replacement value of items in your possession. You should protect yourself against claims for sentimental value or loss of use.

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance ➅ Insurance.

Small Business Idea – House Cleaning Business

start a house cleaning business

How to Start a Housecleaning Cleaning Small Business

Description of Job

• Clean, vacuum, and neaten homes or apartments. • Carry out other services as requested by the client. • Perform turnover cleaning of rental properties.

The Need and Demand For Housecleaning Services

Most of us, unless we live in a hotel (or in a dorm room and don’t care), are responsible for cleaning our house or apartment. At one time, the idea of hiring household staff was something reserved for the wealthiest among us; today, it may be much less of a luxury and much more of a necessity.

In a two-job family, who has the time to clean the house? For a stay-at-home mother or father with young kids, who has time for anything but the most basic cleanup tasks?

Scheduled or on-demand housecleaning services are very popular in residen- tial areas where one or more family members have jobs outside the home. Addi- tional opportunities exist in tourist areas, where houses and apartments must be cleaned after each rental.

House cleaning tools

Challenges Faced By a Housecleaning Business

Not all houses are the same; not everyone’s idea of minimal orderliness is iden- tical; and few people have exactly the same definition of cleanliness.

The biggest challenge is to have a written agreement that specifies exactly what services you will perform, as well as your expectations from the client. Standard services include vacuuming all carpeted areas, washing kitchen and bathroom floors, dusting, cleaning of kitchen cooking surfaces, sanitizing of bathrooms, and general neatening.

The sort of work that is ordinarily beyond basic services includes jobs such as polishing silver, washing window exteriors, and cleanup after parties.

In most cases, you will be working within an occupied home or apartment and trusted not to steal or damage valuable items. You may be given a set of keys or the code for a burglar alarm and must safeguard them. You will need legalprotection against liability and may want to seek bonding. You may be asked to provide references.

You may have to work while your client is in the home or apartment; think carefully before accepting a job where you do not feel personally safe.

If you build your company to include additional employees, you should seek references from them and check for criminal records; any problems they cause will become your problems. Your attorney or insurance agent may recommend that you have your employees bonded as a reassurance to your clients.

House cleaning lady

Thing to Know Before Starting This Business

Some people have the “clean gene” and some seem constitutionally unable to keep their homes in shape. You know which type you are; be sure you are willing to become a cleaning genie for a stranger.

There are many web sites and books that give special tips and tricks for cleaning.

House cleaning stuff

How to Get Started With the Housecleaning Business

Advertise in the local newspaper and in shopping guides. Put a business card at the supermarket, and, if you have access to the bulletin boards at any companies, leave your card there as well.

In tourist areas leave your business card and references with real estate or rental agencies.

House cleaning

Up-front Expenses for the Business

You’ll need to purchase an arsenal of cleaners, sanitizers, deodorizers, polishes, and other products. Then there are mops, dusters, and the biggest investment: an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner.

You’ll also need a traveling case for your products and equipment and a vehi- cle to transport the whole kit and caboodle.

As a commercial cleaning contractor, you should be able to purchase sup- plies at a discount or from a wholesaler. Warehouse stores also offer good deals on extra-large containers.

Other costs include advertising and promotion.

How Much to Charge for the Housecleaning Services

Housecleaners generally charge by the hour, with the rate including the cost of the supplies you use and a portion of the cost of the vacuum cleaner and other capital expenditures.

For regular clients, you could work out an arrangement whereby they provide all of the cleaning supplies to meet your needs; in that case, you would charge a lower hourly rate.

You can expect to be asked to give an estimate of how long it will take you to complete the job. Make sure you take into consideration unusually large homes or apartments and unusually messy abodes. The frequency of cleaning will also make a difference; dust and dirt accumulate over time and make for more work. You could offer a discounted rate to clients who agree to schedule frequent visits.

Legal and Insurance Issues

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance.

Small Business Idea – Stonemason and Decorative Brick Worker

small business idea

How to start a small business as a Stonemason and doing Decorative Brick Work

Description of Job

• Design and install decorative stone and brick walkways, patios, walls, and garden features.

• Build brick and stone custom barbecues. • Repair and maintain existing exterior stonework.

The Need and Demand For this Business

Outdoor stonework in the form of walkways, patios, walls, and barbecues can beautify a property and increase its value. Stonemasonry is one of the oldest con- struction skills, little changed in thousands of years; in modern days it is a craft not often practiced.

Challenges Faced By the Business

This is outdoor work, with heavy lifting. You’ll need to lift and place heavy stones, bricks, and tiles and use tools to

shape them. You’ll also be working with heavy mortar and cement. In some parts of the country, this is a seasonal job that is available from late

spring through late fall. You may be called upon to design a decorative element or wall or to follow the plans drawn by an architect or contractor.

Important Things to Know About the Business

Stonework is in demand nearly everywhere, but with different purposes or styles in various settings. In a big city, jobs might include walkways, steps, and small patios. In rural and suburban settings, jobs might include larger patios, outdoor fireplaces and barbecues, and stone walls.

The traditional method of training for stonemasonry is to work as a helper or apprentice to a skilled craftsperson. In some areas, unions offer training and for- mal apprenticeship programs. You can also learn many of the skills from books, web sites, and educational programs. The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers has programs around the country and a national training and education center in Maryland to teach basic job skills for brick, stone, tile, terrazzo, and restoration work.

How to Get Started In the Business

If you are already trained as a stonemason, advertise your services with flyers at home and garden centers, retail outlets, and community centers. Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.

Make yourself known to architects, contractors, and landscapers who might recommend your services to their clients; offer a commission or bonus for work they send to you. Ask satisfied customers to recommend you to others; in return, offer them a bonus or discount on further work.

Up-front Expenses for the Business Startup

You’ll need stoneworking tools, cement and mortar mixing equipment, and land- scaping equipment.

You will need a truck or van to transport your tools and equipment. You may be able to have stone, brick, and other materials delivered directly to the site by your suppliers; if not, you’ll need a heavy truck with a lift gate or ramp.

Other expenses include advertising and promotion.

How Much to Charge For This Service

For a simple job like a barbecue or a brick patio, you can charge an all-inclusive set fee that covers the cost of materials and your time. Another option is to charge an hourly rate plus the cost of materials and supplies.

Skilled stonemasons typically charge $25 to $40 per hour for their labor; unionized workers generally receive a higher rate.

Legal and Insurance Issues

Special notes: Some municipalities and local homeowners’ associations may have regulations about the type and size of ornamentation, walls, and fences.

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance.

Small Business Idea – Making Storage Shelves, Playhouses and Doghouses

small business idea

Start a Small Business Making Storage Sheds, Playhouses, Doghouses

Description of Job

• Specify, deliver, and install predesigned and prefabricated storage sheds, children’s playhouses, doghouses, and other structures.

• Custom-build structures to client’s specifications, complementing the home design.

The Need and Demand For This Business

Some stuff just doesn’t fit or belong inside your house: lawn mowers, bicycles, outdoor toys, tools, hoses, lawn food, and fertilizer among them. No one wants to go up and down the stairs to the basement (if you have one) carrying the lawn furniture.

A storage shed can hold the stuff of summer and winter in a way that com- plements your house and adds to the value of your property.

What child wouldn’t treasure a private playhouse? What dog wouldn’t like a place to call his or her own?

Challenges Faced By this Business

Designing and building a stand-alone shed or outbuilding involves most of the same skills involved in constructing a house, albeit on a much smaller scale. You’ll need carpentry skills and knowledge of building and engineering practices.

A much simpler solution is to become an assembler and installer of pre- designed and cut wooden structures or high-quality metal buildings.

In most localities you need a building permit to erect a structure. In some areas you also have to deal with zoning laws and regulations on design, materi- als, and colors.

Depending on the soil and type of structure, you may need a concrete slab or other type of foundation.

The contract should state that the client agrees to pay for any changes to the project beyond what is included in the contract.

What You Should Know About This Business

Consult town and city authorities to learn about local regulations and practices. Study the homes in your area to determine common architectural styles.

Make contact with suppliers of predesigned and cut wooden structures and with makers of unassembled metal buildings. Establish a wholesale or commer- cial account.

Find a source for off-the-shelf plans. Many companies offer blueprints and plans that can be customized with trim, color, and other touches.

Make contact with local architects who would be available to draw custom plans for small projects.

How to Get Started

Post flyers and ads at community centers. Some home supply outlets and lum- beryards may permit you to post your flyer if you are a commercial customer there.

Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.

Let other builders and contractors know of your new business; they may refer jobs to you that are too small for their business. Offer a commission or bonus for work they send your way.

Up-front Expenses

You’ll need woodworking and assembly tools and a vehicle large enough to transport them. Wood and metal parts and kits can usually be delivered to the construction site by suppliers.

Books and plans are available in bookstores, over the Internet, and through catalogs. Other expenses include advertising and promotion.

How Much to Charge For The Service

Based on the specifications agreed to by the client, your contract will specify a bottom-line price for design, delivery, assembly, and finishing of the job. Add any extra charges for building permits, zoning clearance, and inspections.

An alternative way to price a job like this is to perform it on a cost-plus basis, whereby the client agrees to pay the actual cost of all materials and other expenses plus a fixed amount or percentage representing your profit. You’ll have to build into the profit payment for your time in ordering and assembling the structure.

Legal and Insurance Issues

Special notes: Some municipalities and local homeowners’ associations may have regulations about the type and size of outbuildings, and they may also have zoning limits on the percentage of a lot that can be covered by a structure and its proximity to property lines.

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance

Small Business Idea – Deck Construction

small business idea

How to Start a Deck Construction Business

Description of Job

• Consult with clients about design and materials for decks, and prepare detailed plans and a price quote.

• Obtain all necessary permits for construction.

• Purchase materials and build decks.

• Arrange for any necessary inspections after completion and confirm recording of approvals.

The Need and Demand for this Business

In days gone by, nearly every house had a large front porch where families would sit after dinner and exchange small talk with neighbors and passersby. With the advent of suburbs, the front porch moved to the backyard and became a comfort- able wooden deck.

In many parts of the country there is a strong market for new or expandedDECK CONSTRUCTION 47

decks. Construction of a ground-level or slightly raised deck is a relatively sim- ple construction project.

Challenges faced by Deck Construction Business

Stay close to the ground, at least at the start of this business. Building a second- story or higher deck requires advanced design and the use of lengthy load-bearing girders, beams, or supports, which will greatly increase your exposure to liability claims.

In many localities you will need to obtain a building permit before construc- tion and seek approval from an inspector afterward. You may also have to con- form to local regulations about size and design of structures.

The most difficult jobs involve work on soft or sloping ground. You’ll also have to deal with extremes of temperature and environment in some parts of the country.

What You Need To Know About This Business

Learn the basics of deck construction from available books, web sites, and plans. Among important concepts: proper installation of concrete footings or founda- tions; specification and use of pressure-treated lumber; and proper protection against rot, splitting, and insect infestation.

You’ll need to prepare a plan for construction so you can show the design to your customers, seek building permits, and order materials. Pressure-treated and manufactured deck boards come in standard lengths and widths that should be adaptable to most jobs; the simplest and least expensive jobs are built using read- ily available dimensions.

Advanced designs add railings, benches, and other wooden features. You may also be called on to integrate lighting and electrical outlets into the deck; in most localities you’ll need to work with a licensed electrician for such features.

If the plans call for creation of a new exit from the home to the deck, you may want to partner with an experienced contractor or carpenter for that part of the job.

How to Get Started with Deck Construction Business

Place flyers and ads in community centers and home supply stores. Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.

Make your services known to existing contractors who may refer small jobs to you; you can offer them a commission. Ask satisfied customers to recommend you to friends and acquaintances; offer a bonus or discount for business they bring to you.

Offer to teach a class about small construction projects at a community school; this may yield some publicity and clients.

Up-front Expenses

You’ll need commercial-grade tools, including a circular saw, power drill, ham- mer, levels, safety goggles, and mask. For construction of concrete footings or foundations, you’ll need a wheelbarrow and hoses for making concrete.

Building supply companies should be able to deliver lumber to your con- struction site; you will need a station wagon or small truck to haul your equip- ment to and from jobs.

How Much to Charge For This Service

You should quote a price for the job that includes your time plus the cost of lum- ber and hardware, including connectors, nails, and screws. Base your price on your cost—if the customer asks for special lumber or other features you need to take that into account.

Your price should include amortization of tools and your vehicle, plus a por- tion of the cost of insurance.

Legal and Insurance Issues

➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance

Small Business Ideas – Landscape Designing Service


How to Start with a Landscape Designing Business

Description of Job

• Change a landscape’s appearance using trees, shrubbery, and/or flowering plants.

• Maintain a client’s garden and plantings.

Need and Demand for A Landscape Designer

Beautifully planted and maintained properties with flourishing shrubs, artfully placed flowers in vibrant bloom, and handsome rolling lawns do not happen by chance.

A great deal of work goes into designing, planting, and maintaining a stand- alone garden or plantings around a house. Unless you were born with a green thumb or have developed one through years of practice, it may make sense to hire a professional landscape designer.

Challenges for this Business

You’ll need an artist’s eye and a gardener’s knowledge of plants, trees, and con- ditions. What kind of plants grow best in your area? How long is the growing sea- son, and what are the extremes of heat and cold, drought and rain? Is the soil in your area too sandy, or does it have a significant amount of clay or loam? How much mulch do you need to use?

How much sunlight does a particular area receive, and what is the exposure of the plot of land you will be working on?

Take the time to meet with your clients and make sure they understand your proposal and its costs. Make certain you are aware of the boundaries of your client’s property; if you put a tree on a neighbor’s property you may be opening yourself to liability or a financial loss.

What You Need To Know

You need unimproved or underimproved land and clients who are willing to pay to have their property professionally landscaped. The best area for this sort of work is likely to be suburbs.

Look for areas with new subdivisions and other recent construction.

Make use of books, magazines, and the Internet to research landscaping schemes and learn as much as you can about plants that thrive in your area.

You will be selling your services to plan and implement changes to the land- scape; you can also sell your time to maintain the health and attractiveness of plants you have put in place.

How to get Started with A Landscape Designing Business

You can gain hands-on experience by working as a helper for a gardener or land- scaping company. Some large home supply stores and garden centers offer classes on planting and landscaping.

Post flyers and ads at community centers, in retail stores, and on bulletin boards. Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.

Make contact with area greenhouses and nurseries, contractors, and real estate agents; ask them to refer business to you and offer them a bonus or com- mission for doing so. Ask friends, acquaintances, and satisfied customers to rec- ommend your services, offering them a bonus or discount on future work.

This job can be operated in conjunction with a lawn mowing service (covered earlier in this chapter) or separately. If you will not be offering lawn care, make contact with a company that provides this service and seek a reciprocal agree- ment whereby they will refer landscaping jobs to you and you will recommend them for their services.

Upfront Expenses for This Business

You will need your own tools for planting and maintenance, including shovels, trowels, shears, pruners, and weeders. You will be able to rent major pieces of equipment such as earth movers and power shovels, or hire a subcontractor for such work.

You will need a vehicle large enough to carry your equipment. Most nurseries and plant suppliers will deliver trees and shrubs to your work site.

Some landscapers use computer programs to draw plans that show how plants and shrubs will be placed on the property.

How Much to Charge For This Service

Most of this sort of work is billed on an hourly basis, plus the cost of any plants and other expenses. You can offer some fixed prices for simple jobs such as creating a flower bed or planting a bush.