Thinking about starting your own business as a handyman? If you already have the skills then it’s really not that difficult. You’ll need to dedicate a reasonable amount of time into starting up the business, but once everything’s in place you’ll be able to focus on the jobs. Follow these simple tips and you shouldn’t need to spend too much time finding the work, the work should find you.
Business name & branding
First things first you’ll need a name, eye catching logo and maybe a catchy slogan. The first rule is to keep things simple. A simple name and logo are memorable and easily referenced. When thinking of a business name you should also consider how this will fit with a website name. I’ll go into more detail about the website a bit later but these two will be closely linked.
Pick a colour for your brand and stick with it. All of the big companies out there have super simple logos with a colour that is themed throughout their website and any other branding. That colour then becomes associated with everything relating to the brand. The same applies for your small handyman business and will help your customers recognise you both in person, via advertising media and with any online presence. Don’t overcomplicate things by sticking with one or two colours and a basic graphic.
Designing your logo can be done in a number of ways. I created mine using Adobe Illustrator but there are many websites or mobile applications offering simple design solutions. You’ll want to try a few different designs and run them by friends and family before making a final decision. After all, it’s going to be with you for some time if things work out.
Shorter is better and stick to the key information about your business. I would strongly recommend getting the name ‘handyman’ in there. You could also follow my example by adding your name or maybe even your location. Just bear in mind that you might not always live in that area so taking the name with you if you relocate might be difficult.
Do you have all the tools you need? Most likely not but don’t worry about this. Tools are expensive and you might not need them until you’re asked to do a job. With this in mind you can always factor in the cost of a new tool into a job.
You will however need a reasonable tool set to get things started. Here is a basic tool list I’d expect a startup to own:
You’ll find that as you go on more and more tools will be added to your arsenal so don’t worry if you don’t have everything. In time you will.
It’s also worth investing well in your tools. Try avoid budget and low end tools as they just won’t last and will likely hinder your work output and quality. Mid range tools should be fine but go high end where budget will allow.
These are essential for most jobs but again you’ll find that as you progress this list will grow with you and your skillset.
- Pencils and pens
- Tape measure
- Spirt level
- spanner set & adjustable spanner
- Hand saw(s)
Materials & consumables
Here’s a quick list of some basics that you’ll likely use on a day-to-day basis.
- Masking tape
- Electrical tape
- Duck tape
- Adhesive (No More Nails)
- Screws (multi packs)
- Rawl plugs (different sizes)
- Wall filler
Learning new skills
You might not be the master of all trades and might only have skills in a few key areas but don’t worry because you’ll find that many new skills will be learnt on the job. Always be honest with the customer if you’re a little unsure about a job and give them the option to hire you or not. I found that most of the time the customer would be happy to hire you even if you weren’t highly skilled in that area. If they’ve seen your previous work and liked it then they’ll probably hire you.
Youtube and the internet is a great resource for learning a new skill. I probably learnt half of my skills from the internet and by practicing either at home or for a customer. Have confidence in yourself and try your hardest to do the best possible job and you will succeed.
Finding the work
If you’re starting up from scratch then it’s going to take a little time to get up and running. You’re not going to make a full time wage in the first few months so bear this in mind. Maybe you’re able to transition into the job or you already have someone that can give you loads of work.
If however you need to find the work, then here’s a few good places to start.
A website. I set up my own website which was really quite easy and inexpensive. I could showcase all my latest projects, have an all important contact page and list all the services I was able to provide. My logo sat proudly at the top of each page and my brand colours stood out clearly to reinforce the Handyman Ben look and feel. People really liked this repetition and could identify with me and my work easily whether they saw my website, my flyer or my Google add. I created my website on WordPress but there are other great platforms that will help you create a fantastic looking site. You might think setting up a website is expensive but it’s not. You can create one like mine for only £2.50 per month on the WordPress Personal Plan.
Google Business Listing. This was one of my main sources of leads and a super simple one at that. It’ll take you an hour at the most to set this up and will give any Google user a quick and easy way to find you in your local area. You can also post pictures of your work and get customer reviews which are really helpful for future prospect customers. This should be one of the first things you set up.
New build estates. These are gold mines for work. There’s going to be hundreds of new home owners moving into new build estates and not all of them are going to be handy enough to do the basics. Hanging curtains, fitting blinds, building flat pack furniture and fixing their TV’s to the wall. There’s a mountain of work available in these areas so I’d recommend asking the sales office if you can leave a pile of business cards in the waiting area. I’d also strongly suggest flyering the houses that look newly occupied.
Estate Agents. Pop into the local estate agents and have a chat with their lettings department. They will most likely manage a number of properties that constantly need work doing and finding someone local and reliable can be hard to come by. You never know you might end up on their books as their go to person which could generate a lot of business.
Advertise in your local magazine. This didn’t generate loads of work for me but the older generations prefer using this method to find local handymen. Less tech savvy and more likely to call you for help the elderly need help with jobs they are no longer able to do. I really enjoyed meeting some of the older generation in my local area as they were so friendly and happy to talk about about the good old days! 🙂
I found that most of my work, after a year or so, was coming from word of mouth. People were recommending me to neighbours, friends and family. This must have meant I was doing something right, right? Here are a few work ethics I take with me to every job:
- Be honest with the customer. If you’ve made a small mistake or something hasn’t quite gone to plan it’s best to talk to the customer about this. Most of the time they won’t mind and it’s much better you’ve told them rather than them finding out themselves later. Provide an honest quote of price for the job but don’t cut yourself short. It can be difficult providing a quote for a job when you’re not sure how long it’s going to take which is where I prefer to charge by the hour. Most customers won’t mind this as long as you give them a worst case scenario and don’t go over that. As the saying goes, it’s best to ‘under promise and over delivery’, rather than ‘over promise and under deliver’.
- Doing the best possible job will leave a lasting impression on your customer and they are 10 times more likely to recommend you to someone else if they like what you have done.
- Arrive on time. If you say you will be there at 2pm, make sure you get there 5 minutes either side of this. Google maps sat nav makes it almost impossible to be late for something so there really is no excuse. If you’re going to be late because another job has overrun or you quickly need to pick something up from the shop then let the customer know. It’s really simple, polite and will keep your customer happy.
- Happy, friendly and polite. Customers are going to remember you and recommend you if they think you are a nice person. It’s easy to say please and thank you and make a little small talk that will keep your relationship friendly but professional. If you’re not a big people person, that’s ok, just put on the smiles and politely dodge any big conversations and crack on with the work.
- Do what you say you’re going to do. If you have a number of jobs for a customer then make a list and double check before you leave. I hate it when people say they are going to do something and either forget or just can’t be bothered. Deliver on your tasks and you will leave a good impression.
Getting paid and managing money
The final step in this set up journey will be to make sure all your income is tracked and recorded as you’re going to need to document all your incomings and expenses for your self-assessment to pay tax to HMRC. I set up a PayPal business account which allowed me to manage and create invoices for free. They have a great platform and templates for invoices. Your customers can pay using this method too which makes things easier (for some), but you will be charged transaction fees if you take payment via PayPal. It’s a great way for customers to pay if they want to pay on credit card, as they can opt to pay via card instead of using their PayPal balance. Just be aware that you will get a PayPal fee if you let customers pay using this method. What I usually did was create invoices with my bank details, then I saved it as a PDF and sent it via email to my customer or printed it out for the older customers who didn’t use email.
I also had a spreadsheet to record all my income and outgoings, manage tax allowance, National Insurance and any other pension savings required. You’ll need this by law so make sure everything is accurate and kept up to date daily or weekly. There are loads of templates online that you can download if you are unsure. You’ll likely be registered as a Sole Trader so make sure you’re set up through HMRC correctly and ask them if you get stuck filling in a tax return or any other tax related questions.
That’s it for now but hopefully this has given you some ideas to move forward with your business. Follow these guides and you’re sure to be successful and remember the most important thing that is to stay positive, try your best and work hard. Who knows, in a few years time you might be taking on staff and running a handyman outreach business of your own.