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How to Start a Handyman Business

August 23, 2023 14 min. read
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Great at doing odd jobs and want to make money off your skills? Looking to strike out on your own, be your own boss, and set your own schedule? You’re ready to take the next step and start your own handyman business.

From getting a small business license to finding your first customers, we have the expert answers you need to start your own profitable handyman business.

Ex-Apple Employee Starts a $13k/Month Handyman Business

Before reading on, watch our video of an ex-Apple employee who started his own $13k/month handyman business in Texas.

He walks through everything from how he started, to how much he charges, and what tools he uses to be successful.

1. Write a handyman business plan

The first step in starting a handyman business is to write a business plan. This is a great way to outline your vision for your business. Business planning also helps you identify strengths, weaknesses, and competitors.

If you’re getting startup capital from an outside lender, keep in mind that most potential investors want to see business plans before they can provide any funding.

Make sure your handyman business plan includes:

  • Cover page with your business name and document title
  • Table of contents to help with easy reading
  • Executive summary that covers the plan’s big details on a single page
  • Business overview introducing and describing your business
  • Handyman services list that you plan to offer customers
  • Pricing strategy for your handyman services
  • Market analysis to evaluate your service area
  • Competitive analysis of other local handyman businesses
  • Marketing plan for advertising your business and winning new customers
  • Employee planning, including hiring timeline and needed roles
  • Financial projections and cash flow strategy for your first year of business

Get a more complete guide to writing a business plan from the Small Business Administration.

2. Get the required handyman license for your state

It’s easy enough to become a handyman and join the home services industry, but you need to do it legally. Different states have different handyman licensing requirements. For example:

Check with your state licensing board to see what’s required in your area, like whether you need a handyman or general contractor license. There may also be local rules in addition to state-level requirements.

Make sure you stick to the requirements of your federal or state license. If you’re found performing unlicensed work as a home improvement contractor, you could be looking at a hefty fine, business closure, and even jail time.

Even if you don’t need a license, getting one is still a good idea. It makes your business look more professional, helps new clients trust you, and can make it easier to expand your business in the future.

Pro Tip: Most states require licenses for handymen who provide trade work like electrical or plumbing. Check with your local government before adding these services to your list.

3. Secure funding for your handyman business

The best way to start a handyman business is with good financial planning. Make a list of everything your business needs and how much it costs, then figure out how you’ll pay for it.

If you don’t already have the startup capital you need, get small business funding through avenues like:

  • Business loan: Apply for a small business loan or a business line of credit that you can pay back later to help deal with costs.
  • Personal loan: Tell your friends and family members that you’re starting a handyman business and ask if they could provide a small startup loan. They may be willing to support you in exchange for a stake in your business.
  • Credit cards: Consider getting a business credit card while you’re getting your finances in order. Make sure your card has a low interest rate and a rewards program for every dollar spent—and pay it off every month to avoid further debt.
  • Government funding: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers national funding programs to help you become a small business owner, like loans and investment capital. The Government of Canada also offers business grants and financing.
  • Jobber Grants: The Jobber Grants program offers $150,000 in available funding to recognize excellence in small home services businesses.
  • Business financing: Bypass the bank and get access to flexible business financing through Jobber’s partnership with Stripe Capital. Eligibility is based on your history of sales paid through Jobber Payments, so you’ll need to be up and running for a little while before you can apply for financing.

Pro Tip: While you’re getting funding, set up a business bank account for tracking expenses and payments. It’s important to keep your personal funds separate from business funds!

4. Decide which handyman services to offer

This is one of the most important parts of your handyman business startup checklist—figure out which services you’re able and willing to provide to customers.

These are some of the most common service ideas to add to your handyman services list:

  • Furniture building, assembly, and wall anchoring
  • Painting/staining walls, cabinets, and furniture
  • Hanging wall art and shelves
  • Drywall repair
  • Bathroom and kitchen leak fixes
  • Fixture and hardware replacement
  • Blind and curtain installation
  • Tile installation, repair, and maintenance
  • Minor appliance repair or replacement
  • Childproofing and accessibility improvements
  • Furnace filter and window screen replacement
  • Gutter and window cleaning
  • Siding, gate, and fencing repair and painting

The handyman repair and installation services you offer will depend on how much experience you have and which clients you decide to work with.

Residential clients will want occasional help with home repair or remodeling projects, while commercial clients may want property management services like move-out repairs more often.

5. Purchase handyman tools and equipment

Whatever your client’s home improvement project or emergency repair might be, you’ll need the right tools for the job. Pick up these basic handyman tools when you head to the hardware store:

  • Allen wrenches
  • Broom, dustpan, mop, and bucket
  • Duct tape, masking tape, and painter’s tape
  • Extension cord
  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • LED flashlight
  • Level
  • Nail and screw sets
  • Paintbrush
  • Picture hanging nails and wire
  • Pliers set
  • Power drill
  • Putty and caulk
  • Putty knife
  • Roller brush and handle
  • Rubber mallet
  • Safety glasses, gloves, and earplugs
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver set
  • Shop vacuum
  • Socket set
  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife with extra blades
  • Wrench set

Only buy what you need for the first job or two—a basic toolkit should have lots of these items. As you start to take on more jobs, get the tools you need when you need them.

You don’t need to buy the best or newest equipment, either. Low- to mid- range items are fine when you’re getting started, or you can get used items through a local buy-and-sell group.

6. Define your business’s ideal customers

Who do you want your customers to be? It’s easy to say “everyone,” but not everyone is the right fit for your business—you might run into difficult customers or the wrong type of work.

You need to determine who your target audience is and who would be most likely to work well with you. Put together an ideal customer profile (also known as a buyer persona) that includes factors like:

  • Demographic (e.g., age, income, family status)
  • Geographic location
  • Needs and wants that you can help with
  • Required qualities in a service provider (e.g., speed, price)

Make sure your service offering aligns with what customers expect from you. For example, they might be looking for someone affordable, or someone who provides great quality at any cost.

Targeting your services to your ideal client profile will help you satisfy your clientele, get positive reviews, and win more repeat customers.

FREE TOOL: Impress your customers with our handyman receipt template

7. Set prices for your handyman services

It’s important to have handyman prices in place before you start to reach out to potential customers. This will make it easier for you to provide consistent and accurate estimates.

Here’s how to price handyman jobs:

1. Estimate labor costs

Start with your labor costs. The average hourly rate for handyman labor is $24.30 USD. This amount can be higher or lower, depending on where you live and how much experience you have.

Estimate the number of hours the job will take. For example, say it’ll take three hours to assemble an entertainment unit for a customer.

Calculate your total labor cost by multiplying the labor hourly rate by the number of job hours. If the job takes three hours and your hourly rate is $24.30, that gives you $72.90 in total labor costs.

2. Calculate hourly overhead

Before calculating hourly overhead, you need to know what you’re spending each month on expenses like your marketing costs, phone bill, and handyman software.

Then divide your total monthly expenses by the number of hours you work each month. If you have $1,000 in monthly expenses and work 160 hours a month, your hourly overhead rate is $6.25. So for a three-hour job, overhead is $18.75.

3. Account for profit margin

Your profit margin is the amount of job income your business gets to keep after all expenses have been deducted. This is represented as a percentage.

You should typically aim for 10–20% of the overall project value, including labor costs and overhead. Assuming a 15% profit margin, you’re looking at a job profit of $13.75.

4. Factor in taxes

Figure out what your income tax percentage will be (plus sales tax, if applicable) and multiply your labor, overhead, and profit margin by that percentage. With a 25% tax rate, that’s an additional $26.35.

Add it all up, and your handyman rate is $131.75 for this particular job.

FREE TOOL: Use our free service price calculator to set the right prices

If you’re bringing your own materials to any handyman job, you’ll need to include those, too. Add a markup to compensate you for the time and effort it took to buy those materials.

Pro Tip: Find out what competitors are charging for handyman service. Don’t try to undercut or match their prices—it’s just a reference point to make sure your prices are competitive and you aren’t selling yourself short.

8. Register your handyman business

When you’re ready to start providing services, it’s time to look into business registration and licensing.

Here’s how to register a handyman business:

  1. Choose a name: Pick a handyman business name that describes who you are and what you offer. Make sure it’s memorable and unique in your geographic area. Once you’re done that, create a logo using an online tool like Looka.
  2. Register the business: Go to your local registry to register your handyman business. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll need to pay the business registration fee, trademark your business name, and register your domain name. (Here’s how to register your name in Canadathe UK, or Australia.)
  3. Choose a business structure: In the U.S., you can register your business as a sole proprietor, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). There are more business entity options in other countries. You can also decide if you’d like to incorporate your business.
  4. Get a business license: A business license allows you to legally work in your area. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see what type of license you need and apply for it.
  5. Get an EIN: If you plan to have employees or work with a partner, apply for an employer identification number (EIN) so you can accurately file taxes with the Internal Revenue Service.

READ MORE: 30 small business tax deductions to save money when filing

The business registration process and available business structures will vary depending on where you live. Check with the business registration division of your local, regional, or federal government to see what’s required.

9. Get small business insurance

Small business insurance for a handyman costs anywhere from $360–1,000+ USD. This is because handyman work comes with a higher risk of liability.

At minimum, you’ll need a business owner’s policy to cover you in case of accidents or issues. This includes:

  • General liability insurance in case of property damage or bodily harm
  • Commercial property insurance for damage to your equipment or place of business
  • Business income insurance to keep cash flowing after an incident or disaster

You can also get business insurance coverage for additional situations that might threaten your business, including:

  • Commercial auto insurance if you drive a company vehicle
  • Workers’ compensation insurance in case of employee injury on the job
  • Professional liability insurance for claims and lawsuits over professional mistakes
  • Employment practices liability insurance for worker-related claims
  • Crime insurance in case of criminal activity (e.g., theft, vandalism)
  • Cyber liability insurance in case of a data leak or security breach
  • Key person insurance to keep the business going if you physically can’t work anymore
  • Commercial umbrella insurance to add extra coverage on top of your other policies

Shop around to make sure you pick the right insurance providers and get the right policy. You may also want flood insurance or other area-specific coverage, depending on where you live.

10. Create a service contract

A service contract is a legally binding agreement between your handyman business and your customer. It sets customer’s expectations for the services you’re providing, prevents disagreements or disputes, and protects you from lawsuits or damages.

At minimum, your service contract should cover the handyman services you’ll be providing, how long the job is expected to take, the total service cost, and payment terms.

You can make one yourself or use a handyman contract template—just make sure to consult a legal or financial advisor to review your contract before sending it to a customer.

READ MORE: Is an estimate a contract? 6 things to know about protecting your business

11. Start marketing your handyman business

Marketing your handyman business will help you attract potential customers to your business and find more jobs.

Get started with these handyman marketing strategies:

  • Word of mouth is the number-one marketing channel for any handyman business. Set up a customer referral program and ask customers to leave you online reviews.
  • Build a network of business owners and new customers by joining your local business association, attending and sponsoring local events, and promoting your business to other community members.
  • Create social media profiles like a Facebook business page, Twitter profile, or Instagram account. Your ideal customers spend time on these platforms, making them key marketing spaces for handymen.
  • Build a handyman website where a potential customer can learn about your services, see photos of completed jobs, and book services online.
  • List your business on online directories like Google Business, Yelp for Business, and Bing Places. You can also set up a listing on lead generation sites for contractors.
  • Print business cards, get branded uniforms, and buy a vehicle wrap. This will reinforce your business branding wherever you go and make your business look more professional.

READ MORE: Try these 15 brilliant customer referral program ideas

The cost of handyman business advertising depends on what you do. You can build a website and print business cards for $150 USD, or you can spend $6,000 on a bus ad.

The best way to use your budget (especially when you’re just getting started) is to reach potential customers where they spend time, whether that’s mostly online or out in the community.

Once you start to bring in new customers, you can start to add digital marketing tactics like Google Local Services ads, Facebook ads, and more.

12. Plan to offer amazing customer service

Good customer service is essential in creating brand loyalty and ensuring customer satisfaction. The happier a client is, the more likely they’ll book your services again and refer you to friends and family.

An excellent customer service experience is memorable, helpful, and personalized to the customer’s needs.

Try these customer service ideas to impress your clientele and boost customer retention:

You should also provide customer service training for your employees, if you have any. This will ensure everyone is following the same process and providing the same great customer service.

READ MORE: 5 ways to stay competitive on customer service

13. Hire other handymen as employees

As your handyman business grows, you won’t just be your own boss—you might need to become the boss to others, too.

Here’s how to hire your first employee:

  • Decide whether you need part-time or permanent employees. You can also consider if you want to hire a subcontractor or employee.
  • Create a handyman job description for your new hire that includes their role, responsibilities, qualifications, and personality traits that would make them successful.
  • Share your job posting on online job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed, where an interested job seeker can apply.
  • Make a top candidate list and schedule interviews. Ask interview questions that will help you find the right person for your business.
  • Choose your top candidate, make an offer, and onboard and train your new employee.

The hiring process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months. It’s okay to hold off on hiring an employee until you find the right person—a hard worker who’s driven to succeed, just like you.

READ MORE: Stan Genadek’s top 7 small business hiring tips

Now that you know how to start a handyman service, let’s get started.

And there’s no better way to start than with the right tools for the job—like handyman business software that streamlines your operations and impresses your customers.

Originally published in August 2022. Last updated on August 23rd, 2023

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