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Can You Make a Profit in a Handyman-Style Business?

 

If you’ve spent your life tinkering around with the mechanical gizmos in your life, or if you have a ton of experience taking care of homes, you might consider starting your own handyman/handyperson business. It seems fairly straightforward, but before you get a loan to secure the assets you need or start practicing, you need to understand the full scope of the business.

The Advantages

Let’s start by acknowledging the strengths of this business type:

  • Experience. If you already have significant experience repairing homes or fixing things, the transition to running a business may be straightforward. You may not need to attend any special classes or spend years learning the ropes. 
  • Flexibility. Being a handyman gives you lots of flexibility in your work. You can set your own hours, determine what type of work you want to practice, and pick and choose which projects you want to take on.
  • Demand. For the most part, handyman services are always in demand. People will always have homes, devices, and appliances that need to be taken care of, and they’re often more willing to pay for a pro to fix it than to do it themselves. 
  • Costs. Realistically, it doesn’t cost much to start a handyman business—as long as you have most of the tools you need to practice. For a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, you can easily get up and running.

The Challenges

However, before you get too excited, you should be familiar with these major challenges to being successful in this field:

  • Safety and knowledge. If you aren’t especially skilled in a specific area, attempting a repair could put you in danger; for example, if you try to fix a garage door without experience, the spring could injure you, or you could make things worse.
  • Liability. Adding even more complexity, if you botch a job or do something incorrectly, you could be held personally liable for any damage done. One bad repair could cost you thousands of dollars, and ruin your reputation.
  • Competition and pricing. You won’t be the only handyman in your area; chances are, there are already several competing businesses and individuals fighting for territory and authority in your backyard. Your prices and approach could negatively interfere with your ability to land clients by comparison.
  • Marketing and advertising. People won’t flock to your business just because it exists. If you want to get clients consistently and have a chance for growth, you’ll need to have a good marketing and advertising strategy in place.
  • Seasonal work. Depending on your area of specialty, your services may only be in demand during certain seasons. For example, if you specialize in furnace repair, you may only get clients around the fall and winter. Even during peak periods, you may suffer from inconsistent demand, which can make it hard to make a reliable, predictable stream of income.
  • Licensing and permits. Depending on your area, you may also need a special license or specific permits to commit certain repairs. Though most licenses and permits are relatively easy to get, it can still be an obstacle to getting a fast start.

Keys to Success

So what can you do to maximize your chances of success?

  • Do your research. The best measure you can take is to do your research in advance. Spend some time analyzing your potential profitability, determining what’s needed to get started, and understanding which licenses and permits are required.
  • Talk to others in the industry. For a better perspective, track down and talk to some entrepreneurs already in the industry. They’ll be able to give you tips, and help you learn which pitfalls to watch for.
  • Get a good insurance policy. Regardless of whether you’re required to or not, make sure you have a good liability insurance policy to protect yourself and anyone else you have working for you. Otherwise, one bad job could ruin you.
  • Practice an area of specialty. Instead of being a “general” handyman, focus on one area of specialty. It will help you distinguish your services from those of your competitors, and give you more experience in a single area.
  • Create a plan for growth. Even though it may seem like an intuitive business to run, it’s as important to write a business plan for this as any other business. Most notably, you’ll want to have a plan for how to attract new clients and grow. Make sure to have alternatives for each stage of growth, from landing your first client to creating a sustainable stream of revenue.
  • Have a backup plan. It’s good to be hopeful that your business will succeed, but it’s practical to have a plan in place in case your main idea falters.

There are no guarantees in the world of entrepreneurship, but it is possible to run a successful handyman business—as long as you’re adequately prepared for the core challenges that await you. Do your research, be patient, and only move forward when you have a viable path charted to success.

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