As startups go, a painting business is a smart move.
There’s very little up-front investment, you don’t need extensive training or a specialized degree, and it’s always in demand.
Plus, it’s not a service that people can buy online, so there’s no chance of being undercut by Amazon.
However, many people drop the ball when marketing their services due to the high competition and low prices. Having a solid plan and online presence is essential, but not everyone knows how to set that up.
Once you learn how to find clients, though, painting is an easy, relatively low-stress way to make consistent money and become financially independent.
One of the easiest things about starting a painting business is that anyone can do it with a bit of organization. There’s no need to have a degree or get a license–you don’t even have to be particularly artistic or creative.
And even setting up the legal aspects of the business is easy, thanks to automation and business formation services. Formation services can help you navigate the state requirements for taxes, registering your business, and even creating a business plan.
One of the most popular business formation services is LegalZoom, which offers packages and services covering almost every legal aspect of launching a business. They can help you get the correct state licenses, register your business for an EIN, and even trademark your brand.
The Difficult Parts of Starting a Painting Business
One of the hardest parts of starting a painting business is finding your first few clients.
It takes patience to start a business, and it can take a while before you start making a stable income. And because you don’t need a degree or an office space, others also take this route. Standing out from the competition is tough.
Learning how to market yourself isn’t easy, and if you overstretch your budget, you’ll bankrupt your business before it has a chance to grow.
That’s why it’s so important to have a solid plan when you first start your business and prepare yourself for the possibility that you might not be rich in the first week.
If you choose to do it yourself, legally forming your business can be a challenge. And another difficult piece can be administrative tasks like accounting, hiring, and staying in compliance. Luckily, there are tons of tools and assistance out there.
Step 1: Get Organized
Although painting businesses aren’t the most complicated to start, it doesn’t mean you should jump in without any planning.
If you want your painting business to be successful, you’ll want to make sure that you get your finances in order and that you have an idea of how you’ll run your business and market yourself.
And because painting is an in-demand industry, there’s still a lot of competition, so you need to make sure you have a plan that will help you stand out and get people’s attention.
You also need to be clear on the details before registering your business, as many states will ask for them during the application process.
Here are the things you’ll need to get organized right from the start:
Make a Business Plan
The first step to any business, including a painting one, is having a strong business plan before you get started.
Your business plan will include things like your budget, your services and strategy, and your business structure. It also includes financial details like cost estimates, revenue forecasts, and funding plans. Having a clear plan can help you when it comes to registering your business or applying for a loan–and it will also help you stay on track once you’ve launched.
If you’re planning to apply for a loan, you might want to ask a professional for help with your plan. With LegalZoom, you get access to registered agents and licensed attorneys who can guide you through starting your business.
If you’re working as a sole proprietor and want to create your business plan without help from an attorney, we have a guide to help you draft one.
Create a Budget
The next thing you’ll need to do is set out a budget.
A painting business shouldn’t cost you too much upfront investment–but you still need to get your finances down on paper.
If you want to keep it as simple as brushes, paint, and a ladder, you can. But if you plan to invest in staff, transportation, or scaffolding, your budget will be a lot higher.
When setting out a budget for yourself, you need to look at the cost of equipment, cost of labor if you’re hiring contractors, and whether you’ll need a loan to achieve that. You’ll also need to decide how much you need to charge to make a profit and whether you’ll charge by the hour or the project.
Create a Business Name
Before you can set up or register your business, you need to choose a name.
It’s a good idea to make this something related to painting and easy to remember. If you can make it something connected to your local area, even better.
Take this New York painter, for example:
From the name, you know where they work and what they do. This kind of name also makes you a lot more likely to show up in Google searches.
Something else you should consider when choosing a name is whether or not it’s available on social media or as a website domain. An online presence is vital to business success these days, and you want your name to be available everywhere so you can build a consistent brand.
Decide if You’ll Hire Employees
When you start your business, you’ll probably just want to work alone and start small.
But you have the option to hire contractors, giving you more hands to do jobs and therefore more opportunity to make a profit.
If you want to work with a team, you’ll have to jump through a few more hoops when registering your business. This includes getting the correct licensing and tax number and having to go through the hiring process.
The great thing about hiring for a painting business is that you won’t have to invest a lot into training. Unlike plumbing or catering, it’s pretty easy to find cheap labor for a painting business, and you don’t need workers with years of training or extensive qualifications.
Step 2: Register Your Business
Once you’ve put together a plan and know how you’ll run your business, you’re ready to get officially set up.
This includes registering your business, applying for a tax number, and making sure that you’re ticking all the correct legal boxes. How you’ll do this will depend on your state, as some do require you to get a license as a painter while others don’t.
And while no one likes paperwork, it doesn’t have to be hard. Business formation services can help walk you through all the legal aspects of starting a business with the help of a licensed attorney.
With LegalZoom, you can get legal advice for less than $40 per month, and you can get templates for contracts and agreements. They can also help you register for taxes, stay compliant in your state, and create contracts for any employees you hire.
Here’re some of the things you’ll have to do to legally register your business before you launch.
Form an LLC
Forming an LLC will help you register your business and apply for your tax account and any loans.
It’s crucial for you to form an LLC if you’re thinking about hiring employees because you need to protect yourself against liability–especially working around ladders.
The easiest way to form an LLC is to go through a business formation service, like LegalZoom.
One of their attorneys can help you fill in the correct paperwork for your state and can help you decide whether you should form an LLC or a sole proprietorship.
Register for an EIN and Business Tax Number
Once you’ve formed your LLC, you can apply for an employer identification number (EIN) and a business tax number.
Your EIN will help you expand in the future and work with contractors, and it’s important to keep your business and personal taxes separate.
You can apply for an EIN on the IRS website to find out what you need to do or use a formation service, like LegalZoom.
Get a License
As previously mentioned, not all states will require you to have a license for a painting business.
However, some states do, and many others have specific rules for working in residential spaces.
Most states also require a business license. Again, you can check the specific requirements of your state when getting set up or work with a formation service.
LegalZoom even has information about the different requirements in each state.
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