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How to Start a Painting Business: 5 Initial Steps

Fresh Coat Painting Business

Starting your own business can feel like an enormous undertaking. There’s a very specific type of person who wants to take on this responsibility and who knows that a painting business is what they want to own, run, manage, and grow.

But not everyone looking to start their own business knows how. Getting a business going from the ground up comes with a large list of tasks and items to consider. Below are our top five initial steps to starting your own painting business.

1. Research the competition and make your business plan.

Do extensive searches on the internet to identify painters near you. How many companies are already out there? Do they have good reviews? What are their service areas? Are there services you could provide that are currently lacking in your area? By evaluating how other businesses describe themselves, you’ll get ideas for your own best practices and amenities that will make you competitive. For instance, will you offer free consultations and estimates? Will you serve residential and commercial customers? Will you do interior and exterior painting? How far will you travel to do a job? Do you want to provide a guarantee or warranty for your work? How will you determine your pricing? Do you plan to work alone, or will you hire employees? No matter how small you start, it’s advisable to prepare a business plan. Even if you don’t need a presentation for investors or lenders, it will help you carefully think through every aspect of how to start a painting business.

2. Get your legal ducks in a row.

Where there’s business, there’s paperwork. Before you start painting, you’ll need to be sure the ink is dry on any required or recommended documentation. Depending on where you live, you may need to get special licenses, registrations, or permits to start a painting business. The U.S. Small Business Administration website can help you navigate these and many other potentially confusing topics, including how to choose a business structure. For example, will you be a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC)? You’ll also want to investigate whether there will be any applicable taxes, such as payroll taxes, sales taxes, or business taxes.

Examine what kinds of risks you might incur in a painting business. When a customer hires you, they will expect you to have all the proper protections in place in case there is an injury to you, your workers, or their property. Some related issues to explore include liability insurance, worker’s compensation, and bonding for your business. A knowledgeable insurance broker should be able to help you through these steps.

3. Obtain your supplies and equipment.

If you already have a truck or van, you’re in a great position to start a painting business with little capital. Reliable transportation with ample storage for supplies is critical. Paint will usually be custom purchased for each job. Before you get started, talk to local vendors about contractor discounts. You’ll need to be ready with all the tools and materials for doing the work — from ladders and drop cloths to brushes and rollers. Here’s a sample list of materials for two people to paint a house. Besides the paint, don’t overlook administrative supplies like receipt books, invoice forms, and estimate sheets. You might consider using accounting and scheduling software to keep everything organized, but, that will come at an additional cost. Also, think about what forms of payment you’ll accept. You may need to be prepared to handle credit card transactions.

4. Plan your marketing, and get busy networking.

Pick a name, but do a little research first to make sure no one else is using it. Next, you’ll want to invest in at least a small amount of traditional marketing material like brochures and business cards. If you can afford it, consider adding signage to your work vehicle. Don’t overlook your online presence. You should be able to find affordable options for a website by doing a simple google search. Be sure to take advantage of free services like social media accounts. And now the part that’s priceless: word-of-mouth. It is one of the surest, most time-honored ways that businesses get and keep customers. Always remember that a happy customer is your ace in the hole when you start a painting business. Customer satisfaction, particularly in the beginning, can make or break your reputation. A professional attitude, quality workmanship, transparency, and honest communication should be part of every single customer interaction.

Networking is another extremely valuable marketing strategy. That means getting acquainted and friendly with other businesses in the community that rely on painters in their business. Get to know real estate agents, property managers, and home improvement service providers like roofers and flooring professionals.

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5. Hire any necessary supplemental help.

Depending on the size of jobs you intend to tackle, you may need help. For example, you might need someone to do prep work like pressure washing and extra hands for the actual painting. Refer to #3 for information about any liability and tax issues you may need to consider. Make sure you have some vendor options lined up before you start scheduling jobs. Thoroughly vet the people you hire. Check references and be sure they are competent and reliable. As far as the customer is concerned, their work represents your work.

All of these steps are key to starting your own painting business, whether you decide to start one on your own or join a franchise system already in existence. Franchising brings with it the advantages of owning your own business while also receiving knowledge, training, direction, national alliances, and support from the franchisor.

Fresh Coat provides training, coaching, marketing support, national advertising, operational support, and tools for providing accurate quotes. Small Business Trends ranked Fresh Coat as #4 on their list of best painting franchise opportunities in 2020, and Fresh Coat continues to grow and look for people interested in running and owning their own painting business. If you’re interested in hearing more, take a minute to fill out our form, and we’ll get in touch with you to answer all of your questions.

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