How to Start a Landscaping Business

by Greg DePersio

4 min read

A landscaping business in Canada can be a lucrative venture during all seasons. Spring and summer bring high demand for mowing, trimming, pruning, and gardening. During the fall, homeowners and businesses need their lawns winterized and leaves raked. And then the winter months, though often viewed as a slow period for landscapers, offer the chance to earn additional cash plowing snow and clearing driveways. Best of all, landscaping is a low-barrier-to-entry business. If you have a good business plan, a little money for basic equipment, and no aversion to physical labour, landscaping might be your ticket to a successful career. The following sections provide the basics on how to start a landscaping business.

Create a Business Plan

Before starting your business, you need a plan. A successful business plan accomplishes a few things. Perhaps most important, it defines your niche. This means deciding what services to offer customers, and also what clientele to target with your marketing. Maybe you want to go after homeowners in local neighbourhoods, or perhaps you’d rather focus on apartment communities and businesses. Your business plan also lays out your marketing strategy. You could be the best landscaper in the world, but you’ll still go broke if you don’t have customers. The final component of a good business plan is projecting initial and ongoing expenses, and mapping out a plan to meet, and hopefully exceed, those costs with revenues.

Acquire Funding

The good news about a landscaping business is it can be started on a shoestring budget. With a quality lawnmower, pruning shears, a weed eater, and gardening tools, you can be in business providing basic landscaping services. As your business grows, you can purchase more equipment and expand your offerings. Besides paying for work equipment, you also have marketing and administrative costs, and chances are, you’ll want to pay yourself a salary. It is therefore important to develop a budget as part of your business plan and determine how you’ll meet expenses until you have regular revenue. Most new business owners rely on loans or investors, or a combination of both. Lending options include credit cards, small business loans, and personal loans. Investors fund some or all of your startup costs in exchange for an ownership share in your business. A good business plan helps you appeal to both lenders and investors.

Licencing and Registration

Licencing requirements for your landscaping business in Canada depend on the specific services you’ll be offering. If, for example, you’re importing plants or handling chemicals, then, depending on your province, you may have to acquire special licences to perform these tasks. Certain localities require a licence for snow plowing, while others mandate a permit for access to sidewalks and roadways. Because business licencing requires you to navigate through several layers of federal, provincial, and local rules, you want to do your due diligence and determine the exact licences and permits you need to stay in compliance with the law.

Buying Equipment

The equipment-buying process starts with developing your budget. A big part of budgeting involves determining the funds available for buying equipment, and how you want to allocate this money. The next step is to actually purchase the equipment. Particularly if you’re on a shoestring budget, you don’t have to buy new equipment, and you certainly don’t need the latest and greatest technology. There’s nothing wrong with starting small, and then scaling up as your customer base grows. Many successful landscaping companies have started this way. Look for dealers that specialize in used equipment, and try searching online marketplaces such as eBay and even Craigslist. As long as your equipment is capable of performing the jobs you’re hired to do, your customers won’t know or care where you bought it, or whether it’s new or used.

Hiring Staff

If you’re starting small, you might be the only staff your business needs. Plenty of landscapers make a great living as one-person shops working from their home office and vehicle. Starting your business this way removes the need for staff and office space, and makes it easier to meet expenses. But as your business grows, the work may eventually become too much for one person to handle. Hiring help can take a load off your shoulders. It can also produce headaches if you make a bad hire, so take your time and conduct the interview process thoroughly. Run background checks on prospective employees, particularly those who’ll be handling money or working in clients’ homes or businesses. You want to determine an appropriate level of pay by conducting market research based on the position. Pay too much, and you’ll probably wreck your budget; pay too little, and you’ll miss out on the best applicants. A landscaping business can lead to a rewarding career. Success starts with choosing the right niche, developing a winning business plan, and then executing it.

References & Resources

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