Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Updated on October 3, 2023
$2,300 - $5,900
$39,000 - $135,000 p.a.
Time to build
0 - 3 months
$35,000 - $122,000 p.a.
How to Start a Handyman Business
Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Business Name
Create a Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Licenses/Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Run a Handyman Business - Start Making Money!
Handyman Business FAQs
Homeowners and businesses are using handyman services more and more these days. If you are skilled at making repairs, and doing other work like painting, drywall, carpentry, and more, starting a handyman business could be a great opportunity for you to build a profitable company.
Starting any kind of business, however, takes a lot of work. The key is to have the knowledge that you need before you start so that you avoid common mistakes. This step-by-step guide provides all the information and insight you need to start and build a profitable business.
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
Market growth has been driven by more spending on home improvements and is expected to continue as the pandemic recedes. Overall, the industry is sensitive to economic fluctuations because when consumers have less disposable income, they delay non-critical home repairs.
How much does it cost to start a handyman business?
Start-up costs for a handyman business range from $2,300 to $5,900. Tools and a website are the largest investments. Buying second-hand tools can help cut costs, as can building your own website.
Setting up a business name and corporation
$100 - $300
Business licenses and permits
$200 - $300
$100 - $500
Business cards and brochures
$200 - $300
$1,000 - $3,000
Initial marketing budget
$200 - $500
$500 - $1,000
$2,300 - $5,900
How much can you earn from a handyman business?
Your profits will vary depending on:
How many customers you can acquire
Ongoing expenses, particularly if you hire staff
The cost to provide services is minimal if you pass on the cost of any materials to the customer. You should average about $50 per hour, and with minimal costs have a profit margin of around 90%.
In your first year or two, you might work 15 hours per week, which would give you $39,000 in annual revenue and a profit of about $35,000.
As your brand gains recognition and you begin to get referrals and repeat customers, you could get to 40 hours per week and start charging $65 per hour. You would make $135,000 in annual revenue and about $122,000 in profit.
If you eventually grow your business enough that you can hire other handymen to work for you, you could increase your income considerably.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are very few barriers to entry for a handyman business. Your biggest challenges will be:
Standing out from the competition. You will need to market your expertise.
You need to have excellent handyman skills.
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Now that you know what is involved in starting a handyman business, you need to hone your idea in order to be able to enter a new market with tough competition.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research handyman businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a handyman who can also do electrical work or plumbing.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as being a handyman for a large residential compound.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
Make a list of all the skills that you have and turn that into a comprehensive list of all the services you can provide. If you are a licensed electrician or plumber, you can use that in your marketing and charge higher prices for those services. Be sure to list all of your services on your website. If there are any gaps in your skills, start to fill those gaps by learning new skills. The more you can do, the more business you can get.
How much should you charge for handyman services?
When you are just starting out, you may have to charge a lower-than-average price until you have a track record. You should probably start out charging $50 an hour and increase that as you build a reputation. Research other handyman services in your area to determine prices in your local market.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be mainly homeowners, but you can market to businesses as well. One way to reach homeowners is to market to real estate agents so that they can refer you to their home buyers and sellers. You can also search sites like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
After you get started, word-of-mouth referrals will be your biggest source of business.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages of your business development, you can operate your business from home to help you keep your overhead expenses in check.
However, as your business grows and operations intensify, you may hire workers for various job roles and rent out an office. Find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
Central location accessible via public transport
Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
Including keywords, such as “handyman”, boosts SEO
Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Ace Handyman Services” over “Plumbing Handyman Services”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to handyman work.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
There are different ways to structure a business, and each has some pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your handyman business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability.
Here are the main options:
Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)– Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing your funds is your next step and there are plenty of ways you can raise the capital.
Bank loans: This is the most common means entrepreneurs fund their businesses. However, getting approved will require you to have a very compelling business plan and credit history.
SBA-guaranteed loans: If you get rejected by the bank, you can try to have the SBA as a guarantor. An SBA-guaranteed loan can help get that elusive bank approval.
Government grants: There are plenty of government financial assistance programs that you can explore and apply for. Just head on to Grants.gov to see which one you’re eligible for.
Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a handyman business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting a handyman business include doing business as (DBA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties (IPs), as well as industry-specific licenses and permits if required.
You may need licenses to do various types of work such as electrical and plumbing. Check with your state and local government for requirements. Getting a contractor’s license, even if it is not required, would give you credibility with customers.
Additional permits may be required by your state to allow your handyman business to function legally, such as a general business permit and basic business license. The license requirements and how to obtain them may vary from state to state. You should check your state’s official site or contact the appropriate person to inquire about licenses and permits that you need to run a handyman business.
Your city, town, or county may also have legal and compliance requirements for a handyman business, such as sign permit, fire department permit, building and home occupation permit, and planning and zoning permit. You should speak to the designated representative of your local government and inquire about the licensing requirement for your business.
Keeping your handyman business’s finances separate from your own personal account makes it easy to track how your company is doing and keeps things simple when it comes to filing taxes and a profit and loss statement when the time comes, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your business as a sole proprietorship.
Opening a business bank account is not very difficult and is similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks will offer business account options, so you can inquire at the local banks to understand the different rates and features.
It’s important to look at a few options since they can vary quite a bit in what they offer, and you will want to get the best rate. Once you decide on the right bank, you just need to bring your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), and your articles of incorporation or other legal documentation showing that your business is registered.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked but is vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from those unexpected events that can have a devastating effect on your life and business.
Here are some of the different types of insurance to think about and consider whether it is right for you and your business:
General liability: This is the most important type of insurance that acts as a catch-all for many things that should be covered. If you’re only going to get one kind of insurance, this is it! It protects you against bodily injury and property damage.
Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies as part of your shaved ice business.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing your equipment that has broken down due to mechanical issues.
Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees who are injured on the worksite.
Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, food truck, or storefront.
Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
Professional liability: Protects you against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As you approach your opening day, there are a few ways to get prepared for the launch! These are some of the last steps to take to ensure you are ready to get started.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur can mean taking on a lot of different roles and functions, from marketing to accounting. It can get overwhelming and difficult to manage so many diverse activities! Luckily there are a lot of excellent software programs and tools to help you with specific business tasks.
You may want to use tools like Jobber, Housecall Pro, and WorkWave to manage your schedule and customers, receive payments and issue invoices, and more.
If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
Some of your business will come from word-of-mouth customers or online visitors, but you should still invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Now”. This can sharply increase job orders.
Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
Post a video – Post a video about your service. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
Do a webinar – Share your expertise online with a video seminar.
Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your service helped them.
Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your handyman services meet their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your handyman business could be:
Electrical, plumbing, and more! Your do-it-all handyman
On-call 24/7 to fix whatever needs fixing
Discounted rates for large residential units
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a handyman business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working as a handyman for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in handyman work. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
You may not need to hire any employees if you are starting out small from a home-based office. However, as your business grows, you may need to recruit full-time employees for various job roles, such as:
Customer Service Rep
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Run a Handyman Business – Start Making Money!
You’ve now got all the knowledge you need to start your handyman business. It’s time to get out there and start fixing your way to a bright entrepreneurial future. You’ll not only have the freedom to work at your own pace, but you’ll also be able to earn a tidy income.
As homeowners become more confident in spending for house repairs and maintenance, you can expect bigger demand for handyman services. So brush up on your networking skills and find your first customer. If you do this right, you’ll soon be able to scale your business and enjoy a profitable career!
Handyman Business FAQs
What type of work can a handyman do legally?
What services you can provide will depend on licenses required in your area. For example, electrical and plumbing work generally require licenses, as does anything that affects the structure of a home. Some types of work require a contractor’s license. Check with your state and local governments for requirements.
Are handyman businesses profitable?
Profit margins for a handyman business are high, particularly when you are doing it on your own. You could make a six-figure profit just working as a solopreneur.
What are the most common handyman repairs?
The most common handyman repairs include fixing leaky faucets, patching holes in walls, unclogging drains, repairing running toilets, and repairing or replacing damaged flooring. Handyman services may also include installing light fixtures or ceiling fans, painting, repairing or replacing screens and gutters, and repairing or replacing doors. These tasks are often simple, yet important, and can help maintain the functionality and appearance of a home.
How do I market myself as a handyman?
Build a professional website that showcases your services, expertise, and contact information. Utilize online platforms and directories specifically designed for handyman services to reach a wider audience. Create a social media presence and regularly share photos of completed projects, tips, and advice to engage with potential clients.
Where is the best state to start a handyman business?
Consider states with growing populations, vibrant housing markets, or areas experiencing construction or renovation booms. Conduct market research to identify areas with a high demand for handyman services and evaluate factors like licensing requirements, business regulations, and cost of living.