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How to Start a Landscaping Business

We all want to live in a beautiful environment, and part of
that is ensuring our yards and gardens are properly designed, maintained
and looked after. This provides landscape business entrepreneurs with a
great opportunity — if you can provide excellent yard and garden services,
you can build a thriving local landscaping business.

Whether you want to get involved in wholesale design and yard
makeovers or you want to provide maintenance and beautification services,
there are plenty of opportunities in landscaping. However, because of the
expertise, equipment and staff needed, landscaping design has quite a
high barrier to entry.

Conversely, simple lawn maintenance businesses can be started by
almost anyone. This means that a landscaping business is suitable
for entrepreneurs of varying skills, experience and expertise.

We all want to live in a beautiful environment, and part of that is ensuring our yards and gardens are properly designed, maintained and looked after. This provides landscape business entrepreneurs with a great opportunity — if you can provide excellent yard and garden services, you can build a thriving local landscaping business.

Whether you want to get involved in wholesale design and yard makeovers or you want to provide maintenance and beautification services, there are plenty of opportunities in landscaping. However, because of the expertise, equipment and staff needed, landscaping design has quite a high barrier to entry.

Conversely, simple lawn maintenance businesses can be started by almost anyone. This means that a landscaping business is suitable for entrepreneurs of varying skills, experience and expertise.

In this guide we’ll explore everything you need to do to set up your landscaping business and maximize your chances for success. We’ll cover:

  • Understanding the world of the landscaping
  • Deciding if you’re ready to start a landscaping business
  • Planning out your landscaping business
  • Determining the best legal structure for your new organization
  • Following various rules and regulations
  • Paying taxes and for your landscaping business
  • Hiring employees, managing finances and administering your landscaping business
  • Locating other resources for your landscaping business
  • And much more

Understanding the World of the Landscaping Business

Key Landscaping Business and Background Data and Statistics

The size of the landscaping sector may surprise you:

$800B

Revenue in 2017, which is around $160,000 per business.

4.8%

Revenues growing rate of the industry year on year.

15%

Generated revenues of the industry's top 50 landscaping companies.

$16B

U.S. households spent on lawn care and gardening services in 2015.

Most landscapers...

  • 65% work for single-family residential clients
  • 42% work in landscape maintenance

More specialties include...

  • Commercial/Industrial - 23%
  • Design/Building - 19%
  • Lawn Care - 13%
  • Tree/snow care or Irrigation - 6% each
There are around half a million landscaping businesses in the U.S. that employ around 1 million people
Commercial landscaping services account for about 50% of industry revenue, while residential services account for about 30%
57% of businesses made $300,000 or less per year, while 19% made between $300,000 and $1 million and 24% $1 million or more

This all points to the landscaping industry being ripe with new opportunities for focused entrepreneurs, so now might be the perfect time to dive into starting your landscaping business. Incfile is here to help you form your landscaping business and understand the ins and outs of owning a landscaping company.

What Your Landscaping Customers Are Looking for

What your customers need will depend on the type of services you provide and the types of clients you plan to work for. Here are some examples based on what you decide to specialize in:

Price
Landscape design, installation and makeover

A solid portfolio of work combined with a strong, reliable work ethic and good word-of-mouth recommendations

Quality
Lawn and yard maintenance

Reliable, well-priced services provided on a regular basis by skilled, polite workers

Speed
Residential customers

Competitively-priced services that provide a high value for money

Speed
Commercial and industrial customers

Reliable, trustworthy services provided quickly and efficiently

What Are the Main Skills, Expertise and Experience Needed to be a Successful Landscaping Entrepreneur?

There are a variety of skills you will need as a landscape entrepreneur, depending on where you want to focus your business services. Here are some of the main skills necessary:

Price
Hiring

Finding, interviewing and hiring great landscaping employees who can provide the right design, maintenance, installation and other services

Quality
People management

Dealing with staff, coverage issues and other people management areas

Speed
Marketing

Promoting your landscaping business against a competitive field; local marketing expertise is essential

Reviews
Service pricing

Creating competitive services with reasonable profit margins, factoring in employee and materials costs

Speed
Business creation

Setting up the landscaping business in the first place and finding equipment, staff, vehicles, etc.

Reviews
Operational management

Ensuring customers are treated well and yard services are provided to the standards you expect

Speed
Business administration

Sorting out profits, payroll, financial management, accounting and all the other areas that go into running any successful business

Plan Your Landscaping Business

Before you start your business, there are a few key areas you need to focus on. You will need to establish whether there’s a demand for your landscaping business services, look at potential benefits and pitfalls, understand how your business finances might work and ensure everything is in order.

In short, you need a business plan — here’s how to think about your business idea.

Do Market Research and Validate Your Landscaping Products and Services

Before you launch your landscaping business, you need to understand if there’s a demand for what you’re selling. That means carrying out market research and “validating” your products and services. Here’s how to go about it:

  • See if there are any market research reports for landscaping businesses: Search locally, nationally or internationally.
  • Look at who your competitors are in the space: Having competitors is a good thing as it shows there’s a market. You will want to find out what local competitors offer the same services you do.
  • Talk to clients: Speak with potential customers to understand what they want from your landscaping products and services. Narrow down the types of clientele you want to serve and talk to them about landscaping needs.
  • Identify your business’s unique selling points (USPs): These are the areas that will set you apart from competitors and encourage customers to come to you. You might have better pricing, a higher-quality service, faster delivery or some other special feature. Early on, think about offering work at a better price so you can start to build up a portfolio.
  • Get involved with business communities and discussion groups: Ask questions about landscaping businesses. You can find links to some excellent discussion groups later in the article.
What Are the Main Challenges for an Amazon Seller Entrepreneur?

Understand Your Landscaping Business Model and Financial Projections

All businesses need a business model, which is how you will generate sales, provide services and make money. Think about your business model now, because it’s better to have that in place so you can start acquiring customers and generating revenue from day one.

You will also need to look at financial projections for your landscaping business. What are your expected sales and revenues? What is your profitability? How much money will you keep in the business to grow it? How much will you pay yourself and others? If you can, try to plan your revenue for the next month, three months, year and two years.

One of the best ways to build a successful financial future is to sign clients on for recurring services, so you can bill them on a periodic basis. This is especially useful if you provide regular lawn care and yard maintenance.

What Are the Main Challenges for an Amazon Seller Entrepreneur?

Write a Business Plan for Your Landscaping Business

Finally, you should put your business plan together. Business plans do vary slightly, but they should cover the following areas:

  • 1 An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan
  • 2 Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your landscaping business
  • 3 A description of your business, background information and context
  • 4 A market analysis and likely demand
  • 5 An overview of how your business is structured
  • 6 Your business model
  • 7 How you will market and sell your offerings
  • 8 Financial projections, revenue and profitability
  • 9 Appendices

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Landscaping Business

Now that you have all the background information for your landscaping business, it’s time to make it into a reality. Starts by choosing the right structure or “legal entity” for your business. In the U.S., there are five main business structures. They are:

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Amazon Business

Sole Proprietorship

This is the "default" business
structure and is what your
business will be if you decide
not to create a more formal
structure. We don't
recommend this type of
business as it doesn't give
you the legal protections you need.

Limited Liability

Limited Liability
Company or LLC

The most common type of business entity. An LLC is fast, simple and inexpensive to setup and maintain. It protects your personal finances and assets and is a great way to start your real estate

Series LLC

Series LLC

This is a special type of LLC entity that's only available in certain states. It allows you to create "mini" LLCs, each with their own limited liability and separate assets, under the umbrella of a master LLC.

S Corporation

S Corporation

This is a more complex type of
business and isn't generally
recommended for smaller
organization.

C Corporation

C Corporation

These are the largest and most
complex types of businesses
and are far more than the
average entrepreneur or
business owner will need.

Special Considerations for Setting up a Landscaping Business Entity

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of businesses, please see our in-depth guide on business entities. If you still have questions, we’ve answered them to help you choose the right business structure.

In most cases our recommendation would be to create an LLC. We have a complete guide to everything you need to do, and we can set one up for your landscaping business. LLC formation does vary from state to state, but we’ve got you covered, wherever you are.

Setting up Your Landscaping Business

Once you've legally created your landscaping business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

Location of your business

Where are you going to run your business from? Will you work from home, get an office or something else? At the very least, you will need space to store equipment, consumables and stock.

Equipment

What equipment do you need to manage your landscaping business? Depending on the types of services you offer you will need tools like lawnmowers, weed whackers and trimmers. You may also require construction tools, especially if you are doing design and installation. Make sure you understand exactly what you need to spend so you can write it off against business expenses.

Marketing

You will probably need to build a website, and you will definitely need excellent local marketing expertise.

Software

Special software exists to make it easier to run your landscaping business.

Employees

You will probably need to hire employees for your landscaping business; more on that below.

Finances and taxes

What kind of bank account will you get? Do you need a business credit card? How will you pay your business taxes? These are important questions to consider so your landscaping business stays in the green. Here at Incfile, we can even help you file your taxes.

Business maintenance

Most states require businesses to file an Annual Report once a year. You will also be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Your federal, state, regional and city business licenses and permits may need to be renewed on a regular basis, typically once a year.

Our Start a Business Checklist will get your landscaping business going in the best possible way.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several different types of landscaping service, and with the right approach and expertise you can make a splash in your local marketplace. Look into the types of maintenance and design you want to offer, and you can build a sustainable, thriving business that helps clients keep their grounds looking beautiful.