The occupation of handyman is sometimes
mischaracterized as a jack of all trades. Starting a successful handyman
business involves more than the considerable technical skills and expertise
required for repair and maintenance projects. Operating such an enterprise
also depends on your ability to formulate a business plan, estimate your
startup costs, determine the price for your services and attract a constant
flow of new clients.
In his new book, "How to Start a Home-Based Handyman Business,"
contractor and author Terry Meany writes that "homeowners come in all shapes
and sizes, and differing degrees of Mr. & Mrs. Fit-It abilities. ... It is
less economical for them to tie up their time tending to a thousand other
The book's 13 chapters cover everything that you should consider when
starting a handyman business, including envisioning the business, business
plans, financial planning and management, getting started, your home work
space, taxes and recordkeeping, legal and ethical issues, marketing,
Internet and e-commerce, training, and certification. Let's look at two of
the book's most important chapters.
"Envisioning Your Business"
When you're thinking about opening a handyman business, it's best to
start with a hard reality check. Ask yourself these questions: Is there a
local need for another handyman? Who is my competition? Where do I want to
set up my operation? What are the startup costs?
The current economic outlook for this business is good provided you don't
open in a severely depressed locale or areas suffering from high
unemployment. A versatile handyman has the advantage of offering multiple
skills and talents, notably painting, paperhanging, carpentry, plumbing and
According to Meany, ideal scenarios find a business located (a) within a
high concentration of white collar workers and wealthy households, (b) aging
home structures with elderly owners or retirees with disposable income, or
(c) professional couples or clients who have no time or desire to perform
the repairs themselves.
One initial advantage to the handyman business is the startup cost. Since
you likely already own your tools and vehicle, insurance and bond coverage
will be your other financial concern. These costs can vary widely with
different carriers, so it's best to contact the appropriate state agency to
determine your contractor classification.
[to top of second column]
The thought of starting a new business can be overwhelming; Meany
has included a checklist of the typical considerations. For example:
How much money will I need to earn? How many hours or days per week
can I work? How far am I willing to commute? What jobs am I willing
or unwilling to do? Will I need any employees? Honest answers to
these questions will tell you if you are ready to open your own
Undoubtedly there will be some anxious moments during your
decision-making process. Many of these decisions will be related to
money. Insurance and bond coverage can be especially tricky because
a handyman will need numerous policies. The business usually
maintains coverage for the vehicle, medical, disability, general
liability, workers' compensation and the business itself. Every
state requires a legally operated handyman business to be bonded.
These surety bonds are not insurance policies; they are protection
for your customers should you fail to complete the job. State and
local governments also require the purchase of a business license to
conduct business in their jurisdiction. Whether you want to incur
the expense of an accountant-bookkeeper or an attorney is an open
decision. How confident are you in your ability to keep accurate
financial records? How confident are you in your skills and
abilities to keep you out of legal difficulties?
Business expenses are not the only concern; income is the other
half of the equation. When bidding a job you must decide if you will
charge an hourly rate or a flat rate. Flat-rate jobs are beneficial
when you can complete the job sooner than expected. Hourly rates are
useful for jobs of differing scale or size (cleaning gutters,
painting, carpentry, etc.) that don't lend themselves to a flat-rate
fee. According to Meany, "your rates should be competitive for where
you live and for your level of competence."
"How to Start a Home-Based Handyman Business" is a complete
A-to-Z guide on starting a new business. The book is a wealth of
practical knowledge and contains success strategies that help turn
your skills into cash, build your business through word of mouth
referrals, handle the myriad of paperwork issues, and work safe and
smart. As the author points out, "there is plenty of handyman
business to go around. ... The better you perform and the more
superior customer service you offer, the better your chance of
success." This book is recommended to anyone who is thinking about
starting his or her own handyman business.
[Text from file received
from Richard Sumrall,
Lincoln Public Library District]