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How to Start a Yard Sign 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 Yard Sign Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$4,050 - $9,100

Revenue potential

$50,000 - $130,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$40,000 - $100,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

Yard signs, sometimes called yard cards, for birthdays, graduations, and other occasions are becoming more and more popular. The sign and banner franchise industry in the US is valued at $18 million. The pandemic spurred the popularity of yard signs, emerging as a way for people to express themselves while staying at home. Starting a yard sign business is relatively inexpensive to start and could be a profitable opportunity for you.

Starting a yard sign business has challenges and will require preparation and knowledge to have a successful launch. This step-by-step guide has all the information and insight you need to begin your entrepreneurial journey and start brightening up yards everywhere!

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

A yard sign business has pros and cons that you should carefully consider before deciding if it’s right for you.

Pros

  • Low Startup Costs – You can get a sign making starter kit for about $2,000!
  • Get Creative! – Have fun creating designs
  • Sales Options – Renting signs is an option as well as selling

Cons

  • Competition – The market is saturated with online sign printing companies
  • Marketing Costs – Marketing dollars will be required to get customers

Yard sign industry trends

Industry size and growth

yard sign industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

yard sign industry Trends and Challenges

Some interesting trends in the industry include:

  • Yard signs gained more popularity during the pandemic as people sought a way to express themselves while isolated. Signs to thank front-line workers became a trend.
  • Sign rental presents an opportunity for businesses and offers a higher profit margin than creating custom signs.

A few challenges also exist in the industry which include:

  • The growing popularity has spurred new businesses in the industry, which makes the business very competitive.
  • The business requires travel to set up and remove the signs, so rising fuel costs cut into profitability.

How much does it cost to start a yard sign business?

Startup costs for a yard sign business range from about $4,000 to $9,000. The largest costs are your sign making starter kit and a website setup. 

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corportation$150 - $200$175
Licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100 - $300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Starter kit to make signs$2,000 - $4,000$3,000
Initial marketing budget$500 - $1,000$750
Total$4,050 - $9,100$6,575

How much can you earn from a yard sign business?

Yard Sign business earnings forecast

The average price to rent a yard sign for a single day is about $100, and then $40 to $50 per additional day. Most people prefer to rent signs rather than purchase them since they are often for one-time events. Your profit margin for rentals should be about 80%.

In your first year or two, you could rent 10 signs per week, bringing in over $50,000 in annual revenue. This would mean over $40,000 in profit, assuming that 80% margin. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 25 signs per week. With expected annual revenue of $130,000, you would make over $100,000.

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a yard sign business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • You’ll face massive competition, so you’ll need to spend marketing dollars to get customers
  • You’ll need to make creative signs to make yours stand out

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

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

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 yard sign businesses in your area to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a company that offers social message signs.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry such as holiday signs.

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

What? Determine your offerings

You need to decide what types of signs to make and how many you want to have available, and you also need to decide if you want to rent or sell signs, or both. You may decide to specialize in certain kinds of signs, or you may want to offer a variety including:

  • Birthday signs
  • Graduation signs
  • Anniversary signs
  • Social message signs
  • Holiday signs
  • Thank you signs
  • Custom signs

How much should you charge for yard signs?

Prices for yard sign rentals are about $100 for one day and $40 to $50 per additional day. You should aim for a profit margin of at least 80%.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. Remember, the price you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will depend on the kind of signs you decide to make, but generally, it will be broad. Homeowners will be your best bet, who tend to be more established people so you can find them on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But if you grow your business and do a large volume of signs, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office with a sign production space. 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
yard sign business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Yard Sign Business Name

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 “yard signs” or “yard cards”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Yard Signs” over “Jim’s Birthday Yard Signs”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but 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 sets 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

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: Summarize your yard sign business’s focus on designing, producing, and selling custom yard signs for various occasions and purposes, like events, advertisements, or celebrations.
  • Business Overview: Describe your business’s specialization in creating custom yard signs, including options for design, materials, and messaging for personal or business use.
  • Product and Services: Detail the types of yard signs offered, such as for birthdays, real estate, political campaigns, or business advertising, including design and installation services.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the demand for custom yard signs, identifying target markets like homeowners, local businesses, political candidates, or event planners.
  • Competitive Analysis: Compare your offerings with other sign makers, focusing on your advantages in terms of design quality, material durability, or turnaround time.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategy for attracting customers, including online marketing, partnerships with event planners, or direct sales to businesses.
  • Management Team: Highlight the experience and qualifications of your team, particularly in graphic design, production, and business management.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the operational process from customer order to design, production, and delivery or installation of yard signs.
  • Financial Plan: Provide an overview of financial aspects, including start-up costs, pricing strategy, and revenue projections.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary documents such as design portfolios, customer testimonials, or detailed market research to support your business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan yourself before, it can be an intimidating task. Consider hiring an experienced business plan writer to create a professional 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’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to yard sign 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 yard sign business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

types of business structures
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

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. 

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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’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

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

types of business funding
  • 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.

Your best bet will be personal financing since startup costs are low, and your business will stay out of debt.

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a yard sign 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, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level licenses 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. 

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.

For peace of mind and to save time, 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 you to make sure you’re fully compliant.

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 yard sign 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:

types of business insurance
  • 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 any of the above insurance types.

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 can use industry-specific software, such as Rentopian, RentMy, or Sign Rental Systems, to manage your sign inventory, payments, quotes and orders, and accounting. 

Accounting

  • 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.

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.

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses, real estate agents, and event planners for cross-promotions, allowing you to tap into their networks and reach a wider audience.
  • Eye-Catching Designs: Invest in compelling and memorable yard sign designs that stand out, conveying a clear message to capture attention quickly.
  • Targeted Social Media Advertising: Utilize social media advertising platforms to target specific demographics in your local area, ensuring your ads are seen by the right audience.
  • Community Sponsorships: Sponsor local community events, sports teams, or fundraisers to increase brand visibility and build a positive reputation within the community.
  • Referral Programs: Implement a referral program that rewards customers for referring others, encouraging word-of-mouth marketing and expanding your customer base.
  • Seasonal Promotions: Offer seasonal promotions or discounts for events like elections, holidays, or yard sale seasons to capitalize on increased demand for yard signs.
  • Vehicle Branding: Advertise your business by branding your delivery vehicles with your logo and contact information, turning them into mobile billboards.
  • Testimonials and Case Studies: Collect and showcase customer testimonials and case studies to build trust and demonstrate the effectiveness of your yard signs in various contexts.
  • Loyalty Programs: Introduce loyalty programs to reward repeat customers, encouraging them to choose your business for their future yard sign needs.
  • Workshop or DIY Classes: Host workshops or classes on effective yard sign usage, positioning yourself as an expert and creating opportunities for direct interaction with potential customers.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

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 yard sign 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 yard sign business could be:

  • Yard sign rental for all occasions
  • Share your views with our social message signs
  • Custom signs for less

Networking

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 yard sign business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in yard signs 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 yard signs. 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 yard sign business would include:

  • Sign Designers – design and make signs
  • Delivery Driver – deliver, set up, and pick up signs
  • General Manager – scheduling, order taking, 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 Yard Sign Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Yard signs are growing in popularity for all types of occasions and with all sorts of messages. Signs to thank front-line workers are the newest addition to yard sign products. Costs to start a yard sign business are relatively low, so you can capitalize on the trend and start a profitable company. 

You can start small and eventually grow and expand your business into other types of signs as well. People love to share their messages, so why not be the one who provides that service?  You have all the knowledge you need, so you’re now ready to get on your way to starting a successful yard sign business.

Yard Sign Business FAQs

Is a yard sign business profitable?

A yard sign business that rents signs can be very profitable. A one-day sign rental costs about $100, so even if you rent 10 signs a week, you can make a nice profit.

Should my yard sign business rent or sell signs?

Most customers prefer to rent signs since they most often will only be used once. Renting also makes your profit margins higher because you’ll be reusing signs rather than producing new ones.

What materials do I need to make a yard sign?

To make a yard sign, you will need materials such as corrugated plastic (also known as coroplast), stakes or frames for support, vinyl or paint for lettering and graphics, and tools such as a utility knife, scissors, ruler, and adhesive or fasteners to secure the sign to the stakes or frames.

What is the cheapest material for outdoor signs?

The cheapest material for outdoor signs is typically corrugated plastic, also known as coroplast. This material is lightweight, durable, and weather-resistant, making it a popular choice for temporary or disposable signs such as political campaign signs, garage sale signs, or event signs.

What kind of wood is used for yard signs?

The type of wood used for yard signs varies depending on the desired look and durability. Softwoods such as pine or cedar are often used for painted or printed signs, while hardwoods such as oak or maple are more suitable for carved or engraved signs. The wood should be treated or sealed to protect it from weather and decay.

What is the best paint for yard signs?

The best paint for yard signs depends on the type of material used for the sign and the desired durability and finish. Acrylic paint is a popular choice for corrugated plastic signs, as it adheres well and dries quickly. Oil-based paints are more durable and weather-resistant, but they take longer to dry and require more cleanup. Vinyl graphics or lettering can also be applied to the sign for a more professional and long-lasting finish.

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How to Start a Yard Sign Business