We earn commissions if you shop through the links below. Read more

How to Start a Stump Grinding Business

Written by:

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.

Edited by:

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.

How to Start a Stump Grinding Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$5,900 - $10,800

Revenue potential

$62,400 - $312,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$56,160 - $93,600 p.a.

Industry trend




Trees are lovely, but sometimes they stand in the way of our plans. In such cases, homeowners usually hire a tree removal service. But did you know that tree removal services rarely deal with the trunk of the tree, and instead partner with stump grinding businesses to clear out that last remaining hunk? 

It’s true, and stump removal firms make up a sizable chunk of the growing $37 billion tree services industry, so with a stump grinding business you’d be getting into a major market.  

But in addition to a stump grinder and a trailer, you’ll need some real business savvy to get started. Lucky for you, this step-by-step guide lays out all you need to know to build a successful stump grinding business. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons


  • Minimally competitive industry
  • Low ongoing costs
  • Opportunities to expand into other tree services


  • Hard work
  • Somewhat seasonal

Stump grinding industry trends

Industry size and growth

Stump grinding is a niche part of the tree trimming services industry.

  • Industry size and past growth – The U.S. tree trimming services industry is worth $37.1 billion in 2023 after expanding an impressive 8.5% annually the last five years.((https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/tree-trimming-services-industry/))
  • Growth forecast – U.S. tree trimming is projected to grow 2.2% in 2023.
  • Number of businesses – In 2023, 149,303 tree trimming businesses are operating in the U.S.
  • Number of people employed – In 2023, the U.S. tree trimming industry employs 311,398 people. 
Stump Grinding industry size and growth

Trends and challenges


  • Growing demand from construction firms clearing land for development
  • Turning stump grindings into mulch, which is then sold to boost revenue  


  • Safety risk presents a potential liability for stump grinding services
  • Finding enough reliable seasonal workers is often a challenge 
Stump Grinding Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

Stump Grinding demand hotspots

What kind of people work in stump grinding?

  • Gender – 5% of tree trimmers are female, while 95% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/tree-trimmer-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average tree trimmer is high school educated.
  • Average age The average tree trimmer in the US is 37.8 years old.
Stump Grinding industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a stump grinding business?

Startup costs for a stump grinding business range from $6,000 to $10,000. The largest expenses are the stump grinder and a trailer to haul it. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your stump grinding business, including: 

  • Stump grinder
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Trailer for transporting equipment
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$200 - $300$250
Website$200 - $1,000$600
Initial Marketing Budget$300 - $500 $400
Stump grinder$3,000 - $4,000$3,500
Trailer$2,000 - $4,000$3,000
Total$5,900 - $10,800$8,350

How much can you earn from a stump grinding business?

Stump grinding and removal jobs generally pay $100 to $500 depending on the size of the stump. The below calculations assume you’ll charge $300 per job and have a profit margin, when working by yourself, of 90%. 

In your first year or two, you could remove four stumps a week and bring in $62,400 in annual revenue. This would mean more than $56,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. 

As you gain traction, you might remove 20 stumps per week.  At this stage, you might have an office and hire staff, reducing your margin to around 30%. With annual revenue of $312,000, you’d make a tidy profit of more than $93,000.

Stump Grinding Business earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for stump grinding. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Funding the startup costs 
  • Marketing your business to attract clients

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.
How to Start a Stump Grinding Business

How to Start a Tree Service

How to Start a Stump Grinding Business

How to Start a Lawn Care Business

How to Start a Stump Grinding Business

How to Start a Gardening Business

Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a stump grinding business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research stump grinding firms in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of stump grinding businesses that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a stump grinding business that also does tree trimming, or a stump grinding business that turns the wood chips into mulch. 

You might consider targeting a niche, such as commercial property stump grinding.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products or services

In addition to stump grinding and stump removal, you could offer tree trimming, tree removal, or other forms of tree care. 

How much should you charge for stump grinding?

Stump grinding prices are based on the size of the stump and range from $100 to $500. Check prices in your area to make sure you’re competitive. Once you hire staff, you’ll also want to consider your costs. 

Once you know your costs, 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 homeowners and construction companies. You can also find tree removal services that don’t offer stump grinding and partner with them. 

To find homeowners, Facebook and Instagram may be your best bets, and you can target businesses on LinkedIn and Google Maps. 

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office or a garage space for your equipment.

Stump Grinding Business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Stump Grinding 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 “stump grinding” or “stump removal”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “TerrainTransform Solutions” and “GroundClear Pros” over “StumpSolve Services” and “RootRaze Grinding”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

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 and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Stump Grinding 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: Summarize the core aspects of your stump grinding business, including its purpose, target market, and competitive advantage.
  • Business Overview: Provide an introduction to your business, explaining what stump grinding involves, your location, and the equipment you use.
  • Product and Services: Detail the stump grinding services you offer, such as tree stump removal, grinding depth, and any additional services like cleanup.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the demand for stump grinding in your area, considering factors like tree density, competition, and potential growth.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify other stump grinding businesses in your region, highlighting your unique equipment, pricing, and customer service.
  • Sales and Marketing: Describe your marketing strategies, including online presence, local advertising, and networking with landscapers and tree removal companies.
  • Management Team: If applicable, introduce key team members with expertise in tree care, equipment maintenance, or business management.
  • Operations Plan: Explain how your stump grinding business operates on a daily basis, from scheduling jobs to maintaining equipment.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including startup costs, pricing strategies, and revenue expectations based on the number of jobs.
  • Appendix: Include photos of completed jobs, customer testimonials, and any certifications or licenses that demonstrate your expertise and reliability.
what to include in a business plan

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 stump grinding businesses. 

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

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your stump grinding business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

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. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • 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. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • 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 need 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.
types of business structures

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. 

Form Your LLC

Choose Your State

We recommend ZenBusiness as the Best LLC Service for 2024

starts at $0, plus state fees


starts at $0, plus state fees
Visit ZenBusiness

Step 6: Register for Taxes

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.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

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 financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • 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.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a stump grinding business. 

types of business funding

Step 8: Apply for Stump Grinding Business Licenses

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a stump grinding business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

Check with your state to see if you need a contractor’s license, but most states do not require one. You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your stump grinding business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects 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 the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Single Ops, Monday, or Octopuspro, to manage your scheduling, dispatching, workers, invoices, and payments.   


  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • 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.

Create a 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.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. 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 purchases. 


Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Targeted Local SEO: Optimize your online presence with localized SEO techniques, ensuring your business appears in local search results, Google Maps, and online directories when potential customers search for stump grinding services in your area.
  2. Customer Referral Program: Encourage satisfied customers to refer your services by implementing a referral program that rewards them for each successful referral, such as discounts on future stump grinding or other related services.
  3. Strategic Partnerships: Build partnerships with local tree removal services, landscapers, or garden centers, offering them a commission for every customer they refer to your stump grinding business, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
  4. Community Engagement: Participate in community events, sponsor local sports teams, or host workshops on tree care. This not only raises awareness about your business but also establishes you as a reputable and community-oriented service provider.
  5. Branded Vehicle Advertising: Invest in well-branded vehicles with clear signage that advertises your stump grinding services. This turns your work vehicles into moving billboards, increasing visibility as you travel from one job to the next.
  6. Social Media Campaigns: Leverage social media platforms to showcase before-and-after photos of your stump grinding projects, engage with the local community, and run targeted advertising campaigns to reach homeowners and businesses in need of your services.
  7. Seasonal Promotions: Create seasonal promotions or discounts during peak times for stump removal, such as spring and fall, to incentivize customers to schedule your services when demand is high.
  8. Online Reviews and Testimonials: Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on popular review sites. Display these testimonials prominently on your marketing materials and website to build trust with potential customers.
  9. Uniformed Branding: Ensure your team wears branded uniforms while working. This not only presents a professional image but also serves as free advertising as your team works on various jobs throughout the community.
  10. Educational Content: Share informative content on your website and social media platforms about the importance of stump grinding, potential hazards of untreated stumps, and other relevant topics to position yourself as an expert in your field and educate potential customers.

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 stump grinding business meets 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 stump grinding business could be:

  • Same day stump removal, guaranteed
  • Get rid of those pesky stumps, fast and clean
  • Fast stump removal for your commercial developments  
unique selling proposition


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 stump grinding business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in stump grinding 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 stump grinding. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a stump grinding business include:

  • Laborers – assist with stump grinding and removal
  • Dispatcher – dispatch workers to jobs
  • General Manager – scheduling, accounting

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 Stump Grinding Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Starting a stump grinding business requires little more than an equipment investment and a willingness to work hard. Best of all, you’ll be working outdoors, helping out homeowners and developers, and capturing part of a growing $37 billion industry. What’s not to love? 

You’ve now got some entrepreneurial know-how, so it’s time to launch your business and start grinding your way to serious success!

Stump Grinding Business FAQs

Is a stump grinding business profitable?

A stump grinding business can be very profitable if you can capture a decent share of your local market. You’ll have to invest in some marketing to get the word out about your services.

What happens during a typical day at a stump grinding business?

Typically, customers will call in to have stumps removed. You’ll schedule appointments, and dispatch workers to each job.

What is the growth potential of a stump grinding business?

A stump grinding business is somewhat limited in terms of growth. You’re only able to serve your local market, but you can expand your service offerings to include full tree removal services.

Can you start a stump grinding business on the side?

A stump grinding business can be a great side hustle. You can schedule appointments in your free time and build a client base.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to Start a Stump Grinding Business