How to Start a Successful Painting Business
If you have a knack for home improvement, you may be looking to turn that skill into a full-fledged business. One opportunity is to offer interior and exterior painting services. With the right business tools, you can learn how to start a painting business as soon as you’re ready.
But what if you’ve never considered the logistics of running a painting business? Do you know how to start making a name for yourself in the home improvement industry?
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn some of the most important steps to establishing a strong painting business from day one. By committing to an informed and practical plan, you can become a full-time painting business owner whenever you’re ready!
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
What Does a Painting Business Do?
A painting business primarily offers interior and exterior painting services to homeowners, individuals, or businesses. Skilled technicians are trained to complete different types of painting projects that range from simple to complex.
Painting businesses also complete specialty and customized projects based on need. More unique painting assignments might require specialized skills, equipment, materials, and additional help to complete. In these scenarios, the painting company would facilitate each aspect of the custom project from start to finish.
In addition to doing the actual work of painting, most businesses provide complementary services related to the job at hand. This includes any necessary prep work (such as priming or sanding), protecting nearby surfaces, performing clean up after a job, and ensuring the proper ventilation throughout the assignment.
Types of Painting Businesses
Painting companies can choose to specialize in a particular area. Specializing in one niche allows both the business owner and hired staff members to fine-tune their skills and spend time on the projects that are most rewarding or profitable. Picking a niche for your painting business often comes down to your personal knowledge and skill set.
Some of the most common types of painting service businesses include:
- House painting services: Residential painting is a common need for homeowners. The work may include interior walls or exterior siding. House painting can include both new and existing construction.
- Commercial paint services: This type of company caters to large commercial properties with higher square footage. Projects are usually less focused on customization and more focused on paint coverage.
- Industrial paint services: Industrial painting is an option for businesses looking to get involved with large, construction-related projects. This can also include civil engineering assignments with roadways, bridges, and public places.
- Speciality design or fine arts painters: These painting companies offer a unique set of artistic services. Go this route if you’re interested in murals, interior design, or highly decorative paint projects.
8 Steps to Starting a Painting Company
As you can see, there are many options for starting a company based on your own unique skills and interests. Additionally, there’s also a considerable need for each specialty painting niche. Now, the next thing you need to do is make a plan to get started as an official business.
In the sections below, we’ll break down the eight simple steps you can follow to learn how to start a painting business quickly and efficiently.
1. Choose a Professional Name for Your Business
As a service provider, you need to begin thinking about potential names for your small business. Brainstorm ideas that are both engaging and professional. Since your business name is the first impression that customers will have of your business, you want to choose something memorable that still communicates your level of skill and knowledge.
Will you name your company something personal involving your own first and last name, or will you try to think outside of the box? Look up competing companies in your area to make sure that a more generic name isn’t already taken. You’ll also need to avoid any situations with a name that’s already in use or legally trademarked.
Once you have an official business name, you can begin to work on other more exciting steps. This includes things like your website, business cards, social media profiles, and any other outlet that a customer might use to find out about you.
2. Get Licensing and Tax Paperwork in Order
No matter where you operate your business, chances are high that your local city, county, or state has regulations for new businesses to follow. The process to become an official local business might involve several important activities, including:
- Paying relevant administrative or legal fees
- Filing for an official business license at the local level
- Submitting what’s required to obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS for tax purposes
- Establishing your company as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC)
In some states, you might also need to file for a contractor’s license. Although this may not apply if you’re choosing to focus on small-scale, DIY-type painting projects, you’ll typically need this special license if you’re involved with any new construction. To secure this license, you may need to register for courses, take an exam, and pay fees in order to be compliant.
3. Open Separate Business Banking Accounts
When you first open for business, it could be tempting to pay for your expenses out of pocket and to transfer earned income directly into your own account. If you want to become a legitimate business, however, you should aim to separate personal and business-related finances as much as possible. Not only can this step protect you in the event of losses and debt, but it can also create more visibility into how your small business is performing.
When you do open a business checking and savings account, ask your banking institution about special incentives or offers. Many times, these options are available to help new entrepreneurs make a strong financial foundation. At the same time, you can inquire about a business credit card or a separate line of credit for expenses and startup costs.
Although it could seem cumbersome to manage and watch over another set of accounts, there are many benefits to having this structure.
For instance, you can usually connect an account to your accounting or payroll software. This will make it easy to avoid manual uploading, and it also drastically reduces the time you’ll have to dedicate to maintaining the books.
4. Set up a Professional Website
In today’s culture, future customers are turning to online outlets to do research on local businesses before they reach out. This means that you need to be prepared to handle that online traffic and to provide a strong first impression for potential clients.
When it comes time to establish the online presence for your business, consider the following outlets as a way to get your venture seen:
- A professional and user-friendly website that’s cohesive and straightforward
- Social media profiles on the most popular channels, such as Facebook or Instagram
- Company profiles on local review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List
- A LinkedIn business page for employees to leverage as your small business grows
- An optimized Google listing with important contact information
Research shows that 88% of local customers perform online searches before they decide to contact a local business for their needs. This staggering statistic underscores the importance of having an optimized presence online.
Since potential clients can also use online searches and platforms to get in touch directly for a job, it’s crucial that your company’s contact information is accurate and readily accessible online.
5. Secure Funding for Business Purchases
One of the most important questions you’ll need to answer when starting your business is, “How do I plan to fund my startup costs and initial purchases?” If you can’t or don’t need to bootstrap everything from your own personal assets, don’t worry. There are many other options available to help you get started.
One of those options involves securing a small business loan. There are both federal and private options for doing so, and you can usually start your painting company with a small loan amount at first. Financing only what you need for equipment and other startup costs will make paying down the loan in a timely manner much simpler as your business starts to earn money.
Keep in mind that to get a loan from a local institution or federal program, you may need to have an official business plan available to share. A business plan document usually highlights your intentions for running the business and plans for profitability. In addition to knowing your baseline loan amount, you can create an advantage by having your official plan ready.
6. Make Staffing Decisions and Hire Help
Although many small businesses, including painting companies, begin as one-person operations, that’s not always the case. The number of people you decide to have on your team can influence how much new work you’re able to accept at a given time. It’s therefore important that you decide how many people you’d like to hire when you open for business.
If you do plan to have a team of employees, you must make important decisions regarding how you’ll accept applications, conduct interviews, and eventually hire new staff members. What qualifications do you want to see on individual resumes? Will you set aside time to check personal references or run background checks?
Hiring the right people can certainly expand your potential business opportunities, but it also adds to your responsibilities as a painting contractor.
Consider important tasks that will be associated with managing human resources, payroll, taxes, and benefits. Your employees will also rely on you to consistently generate new business opportunities so that they can continue to complete work hours and receive regular pay.
7. Run Marketing Campaigns to Attract Clients
Marketing and advertising always begins with an understanding of the type of customer you want to reach. In your painting business, are you more focused on helping individuals or other businesses? How does this change your marketing and advertising strategy?
Your marketing and advertising campaigns should always serve two purposes: To increase awareness about your brand and to get a steady stream of incoming job leads. If you’re unsure about whether your efforts are accomplishing these things, it may be a good idea to speak with a business advisor or consultant to create a plan of attack.
With a painting business, future clients may want to see the following ideas come through in your marketing tactics:
- Trustworthiness (can they rely on you to complete the job?)
- Affordability (how do you compare to other similar companies?)
- Skill and precision (what is the quality of your work?)
- Availability (how quickly do you follow-up on questions and complete the job?)
As a painting contractor, you don’t need to invest tons of money in marketing in order to get more clients. Sometimes word-of-mouth is enough to get some new clients through your door. Whether you offer house painting, commercial painting, or some other painting service, grassroots marketing can be a good way to grow your business from the ground up.
8. Gather Client Testimonials
Once you have several completed projects under your belt, it’s always a good idea to ask for testimonials, reviews, and feedback surveys. As long as your customers are happy with the finished product, you can ask them to review and rate their experiences.
Additionally, you should ask permission to snap pictures of completed projects, particularly if you’re working in a private residence. You can add these images to your website or social media profiles to show off the quality of your work to potential clients or website visitors. Gradually, this builds an online portfolio that highlights the best examples of your work.
To take this one step further, you can also develop a referral program for past and future clients. You can do this by offering a discounted rate on any future contract when customers refer another customer to your services. These programs tend to generate customer loyalty and can encourage word-of-mouth marketing that helps your business grow.
Why Should You Start a Painting Business?
There are many good reasons why you should consider starting a paint company, particularly if this is an area that interests you or if you have in-demand skills.
In general, painting businesses have lower startup costs than other business opportunities, and it’s a service that alleviates physical work and maintenance for other people. As a result, this is an in-demand skill that people will pay for in order to save their own resources, and effort.
Additionally, starting a business allows you to:
- Use your creativity and self-expression to produce high-quality paint projects
- Earn a full-time income while working a flexible, and perhaps even reduced, schedule
- Learn more about basic business operations and management
- Provide employment for other skilled laborers with tangible services to offer
Starting a business also allows you to think big and to consider opportunities for future growth. For instance, you could start to offer more customizable services, like wallpapering or interior design. If you establish your business and wish to expand, there are also opportunities to secure an outside investment or participate in franchising.
Are There Any Downsides to Starting a Painting Business?
As a business owner, it’s important not to let the potential challenges discourage your growth or hinder your goals. After all, everyone faces learning opportunities at some point. There are, however, a few considerations you should keep in mind with your new painting venture.
Some of the potential challenges for new painting business owners include:
- The physically demanding nature of the labor and work
- The amount of local competition from previously established business
- The seasonal nature of some of the projects you get
- The upkeep of tools and equipment, which may need frequent replacing
- The need to make adjustments and updates based on your clients’ opinions
By understanding these challenges before you start, you can make a practical plan for tackling these issues before you notice them.
Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Painting Company
Preparation is essential if you want to avoid making some common mistakes in the early days of your painting business. Now that you have some clear and easy rules to follow, it’s also helpful to know where some business owners get stuck.
Here are a few mistakes to avoid when starting your new painting business:
- Hiring inexperienced team members: Painting is a trade that relies on precision, attention to detail, and even speed. When you hire new team members, make sure you know what kind of work they perform. Trained staff members reflect your entire business, so make sure to guarantee that work is up to par.
- Failing to plan for contingencies: Working directly with customers can involve many nuances and surprises. How will you handle the times when a customer is not satisfied with a painting project? Develop clear policies so that you can respond with understanding and professionalism.
- Having an inaccurate method for expense tracking: In this type of business, you’ll need to keep stock of lots of small pieces of equipment and materials. These are items that can end up costing you a significant amount, especially if you lose track of them or go through supplies quickly. Carefully monitor all expenses so that you can calculate your overhead and even write off eligible business costs on your tax statements.
Accounting Tips for Painting Service Businesses
In your new painting business, it’s never too early to get a jump start on establishing healthy accounting practices. Making this a priority from day one can help you avoid costly mistakes and issues down the line. Digital accounting software can also provide an easy-to-learn solution for common accounting frustrations.
When handling the accounting procedures of your new painting business, here are three primary areas that you should focus on:
- Estimating: Knowing how to estimate a painting contract is crucial to get new business deals and sign clients. This process includes everything from scheduling an onsite visit, to calculating the price of materials, to factoring in extra costs like labor, liability insurance, paint, job materials, etc. Proper estimating keeps you on track with your financial goals.
- Invoicing: Invoicing is the primary method that you’ll use to bill your clients. Since maintaining your business expenses and payroll might depend on how quickly you receive payment, choosing the right business invoicing software can be critical. Platforms like FreshBooks allow you to create easy templates that get quick results.
- Tax paperwork: Maintaining detailed lists of expenses, revenue, overhead, and financial records is essential. When it’s time to file taxes, you’ll be thankful to have some of the hard work behind you. You can store many of these files in your accounting system so that they are easily accessible and shareable.
Start Your Profitable Painting Business Today
Are you eager to turn your knowledge and abilities into a new career? With a blueprint to follow, taking the first steps should be simple. By crossing off some of the most necessary to-dos, you can focus on what really matters.
As you hire your first team members and sign your first clients, remember that success comes in stages. Every completed business goal is a milestone on the way to bigger ambitions. By sticking to your business values—even in the more challenging times—you can build longevity and profitability.