How To Start a Painting Business: Your Complete Guide
If you want to go into business for yourself but don't have a lot of working capital or a ton of experience in any one sector, consider starting a painting business. Before you click away, consider the fact that most people are willing to pay good money for quality paint services, a painting company is scalable and, if you stick with painting best practices, it likely won't be long before you outpace the competition.
Now that your interest is piqued, you may wonder how to start a painting business. Following this step-by-step guide will give you everything you may need, from initial set up to garnering painting leads, to get your painting business up and running.
How to Start a Painting Business: Registration, Licensing and More
The first 7 steps outlined below do not require picking up a paintbrush or talking to a single customer. But these are still 7 important steps to starting a painting business, so you should not overlook them.
Step 1: Name and Register Your Business
One of the first steps you'll take when learning how to start a painting business is to pick a name. Some tips for choosing a name for your painting company are as follows:
- Don't name your company after your town unless you live in a well-known area, such as Los Angeles or New York City.
- Don't make your business's name too hard to pronounce or remember, and make sure it's easy to spell.
- Don't include your first name.
- Pick a name that has a corresponding URL available.
Once you decide on a name for your business, it's time to register it. Business registration takes 10 to 15 minutes tops and, depending on where in the country you live, costs between $50 and $100. To register, Google "Register a [City, State], business," and Google should take you to your state secretary's site.
Note: Somewhere between researching how to start a painting business, picking your business's name and registering it, you should purchase your domain name. Though it is unlikely another aspiring business owner will pick up the domain with your chosen designation, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Step 2: File Your LLC Paperwork
Though you can operate as a sole proprietor, it's better to operate as an LLC to avoid any personal liability for taxes or lawsuits. Filing for an LLC is simple and comes with a small filing fee between $50 and $500, depending on the state in which you wish to register. Don't panic if you don't have $500 to spare though, as the average filing fee is $127.
Step 3: File for EIN for Your Painting Company
An EIN, or "Employer Identification Number," is the number you will use to file your taxes and open a bank account. Like an LLC designation, an EIN can also shield you from tax liability. You will need your LLC paperwork to obtain an EIN, so be sure to file for your LLC well in advance of opening day. You may even want to file for your LLC when you're in the learning stages of how to start a painting business.
Step 4: Create Your Website
You will need a website to generate business, especially at first when you don't have any prior customers to spread the word about your services. With all the free and user-friendly website development tools available today, you should have no trouble putting together a domain that will help you start a painting business.
Though you will want to add a gallery, services pages, etc., over time, don't overcomplicate your initial site. Stick to a brief home page with the information prospective customers want to see (your licensing and insurance information, services offered and prices) and conclude with a contact form.
Step 5: Buy Insurance Before Starting a Painting Business
Most people don't expect to have to invest in insurance when researching how to start a painting business. Yet, you may have noticed the mention to include your insurance information on your home page. Check your state's regulations to see if they require painting companies to have liability insurance. Some states do, others don't. If yours does, you shouldn't have to spend much more than $100 a month for a million-dollar policy.
Step 6: Create a Logo and Order Business Cards
You can research how to start a painting business all you like, but without a logo and attractive business cards, you won't get very far. You can make your logo for free with sites like Canva or Wix, or you can pay to have someone do it for you for cheap thanks to gig sites such as Fiverr. As for business cards, you can get a stack of 500 for a relatively low price at vistaprint.com or moo.com.
Step 7: Open a Bank Account
Ideally, you should avoid combining your personal and business funds, as doing so could result in paperwork and tax headaches in the future. When shopping around for a bank to do business with, consider monthly maintenance fees, flexibility of debit cards, ability to integrate the account with accounting software and online bill pay.
You should also check with the bank regarding transaction and withdrawal limits, as some banks cap how much a business owner may spend on any given day. As you grow, this limit could become a hinderance.
How to Stat a Painting Business: Equipment and New Hires
Step 8: Refrain From Buying Equipment Before You Start a Painting Business
When first starting a painting business, you may be tempted to buy all the fancy gadgets and gear, along with all the basics such as drop cloths, paintbrushes, rollers, painter's tape and more. Don't buy anything!
You may be thinking, How can you start a painting business if you don't have the proper equipment? You'll have it, but only after you land your first job. Smart contractors always require a small deposit up front. This deposit should be enough to cover the materials necessary to start the job, such as the rollers, brushes, pans, scrapers, tape, paint, etc.
If you're lucky, you may not have to purchase equipment at all. If you subcontract out the work, there's a good chance the subcontractor will have all the equipment necessary to do the job. Most subcontractors are willing to do the job for between 50% to 60% of what you bid the job at, leaving you with at least a 30% profit.
Step 9: Find Employees You Trust to Help With Starting a Painting Business
If you don’t want to subcontract out the work, you'll need to hire painters. Though anyone can yield a paintbrush and roller, that doesn't always mean he or she should. Be selective in whom you hire, as the wrong workers can end up costing you more money than they save you.
Because you can train anyone to paint well, you should focus less on prior experience and more on desirable attributes. For instance, focus on hiring someone with a strong work ethic, attention to detail, reliability and pride in his or her work than someone with experience who cares more about his or her paycheck than customer service and satisfaction.
How to Start a Painting Business: Getting and Bidding Work for Your Painting Company
Step 10: Find Customers
When researching how to start a painting business, pay particular attention to customer acquisition. There are multiple ways in which you can look for customers, each of which comes with its pros and cons. For instance, the cheapest and easiest way to gain new clients is to go from door to door. By doing this for a couple of hours, you can generate an average of three to five leads. The pros: It's effective and you get your exercise in for the day. The cons: You'll get a lot of doors slammed in your face and, depending on the weather, the trek may be an uncomfortable one.
If you don't want to go from door to door, try these other lead-generation techniques:
- Contact local carpenters to see if they're in need of any subcontractors. Busier contractors are always looking for reliable subs. The only problem with this is you only get a percentage of the profit.
- Sign up for HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, Angie's List and other referral sites. For a small fee, these sites send leads your way and let you decide what you want to do with them. Many of these sites also offer tips for how to start a painting business. Just note that the sooner you respond to a lead request, the more likely you are to get the job. Be forewarned, however, that many people input their information with no real intention of ever getting the work done. Unfortunately, you still have to pay for those leads.
- Advertise online. Use social media, your website, email and other outlets to generate brand awareness.
Quality painters are in high demand, so by putting forth a bit of effort, you should have your first customer in no time.
Step 11: Bid the Work
Once you get that first phone call, things become real. Now you have to act like the professional business owner you are. You must schedule a bid, show up to the bid and act like you know what you're talking about, despite the fact that you had to ask Google how to start a painting business. Some tips for a successful bid include the following:
- Dress nicely. Khaki pants and a white polo are the staples of a professional contractor, so dress accordingly.
- Show up. You would be surprised by how often contractors fail to show up to bids they themselves set up.
- Be on time. The people you meet with have lives, plans and schedules to stick to. Do not be that inconsiderate guy or gal who shows up two hours after the agreed upon time.
Beyond those three rules, it's up to you to woo the customer and act like you know how to start a painting business. Be personable, be polite and be honest about what you expect the job to entail. If you think it will take you four days to complete your first job, let the customer know. If you think a room will require three coats of paint on top of primer to achieve the desired color, include this information in the bid. The more thorough you are in your estimate, the more trustworthy you'll appear to the client.
Step 12: Do the Job
Finally, either hire subcontractors to do the job or take your employees over to the home and work with them. Either way, paint the rooms as quickly and cleanly as you can. If you make an error, fix it—don't leave it for the customer to discover at a later date, as that would not be good for your word-of-mouth referrals. Once you complete your first job, pat yourself on the back. Congratulations! You're officially in business.
Finding and bidding work are the two biggest challenges you'll face when starting a paint business. Billy.com can help you overcome those hurdles by sending qualified leads right to your door. Learn about how to start a painting business and our monthly subscriptions today.