During these hard times, you may want to start your own sideline business. This posting describes a venture that uses your vehicle to help perform handyman type services. You may already have the needed handyman experience. If not, you can learn what you need to know by studying handyman manuals and/or learning while doing the work.
Let’s say you already have most of the required equipment and supplies. Then you can start in business as soon as you satisfy all the governmental and insurance requirements.
You need the following:
- Pickup truck or van, and a home telephone
- Basic handyman equipment and supplies (see business ideas below for items needed)
- Basic office and accounting supplies, including job bid forms
- Basic protective gear, such as long sleeve work shirts, heavy-duty gloves, and boots
- Need to be in good health and enjoy physical activity
- Need to determine and satisfy any governmental and insurance requirements
- Need to determine location of local dump sites, fees charged for dumping, restrictions on materials allowed to be dumped, and rules for hauling trash
After you have started making a cash profit in your small business, you may want to add some of the following:
- Business telephone
- Home office
- Computerized accounting system
- Additional handyman equipment
- Additional workers (contract labor, not employees)
Getting these jobs usually is just a question of becoming known to potential customers, being qualified to do the work, and quoting the right price for the job.
Keep your startup and operating expenses to a bare minimum. You want to start showing a cash profit as soon as possible.
Don’t meet with customers in your home. The increased traffic may upset your neighbors and violate zoning rules.
Solicit customers by placing classified advertising in your local newspaper or the craigslist.org website for the nearest city. Describe the services you are offering in plain language. Include a telephone number or e-mail address where customers can reach you. You may also want to include a tentative hourly rate for your services.
Common job procedures
When discussing a job with a customer, you need the following questions answered:
- Are you willing and able to provide the desired service?
- Will you need to bring a helper?
- Can you and the customer agree on an hourly rate or a fixed fee for the job?
- When and where will the job be performed?
Note: If this is a large or difficult job, you probably want to inspect the job location before quoting an hourly rate or a fixed fee for the job.
If you need to purchase any materials for the job, the customer should pay for this upfront. Any cost of materials will be in addition to your bid for labor, vehicle and equipment expenses, and minor items such as dump fees and job supplies. Note: If you need specialized equipment for a job, it’s better to borrow or rent instead of purchasing it.
You need to agree with the customer on the various details of the service required. For example, are there any extra services that the customer desires or expects? Be very specific when determining and recording the type and amount of work to be performed. Don’t make any assumptions. You don’t want to argue over being paid because the customer is not satisfied with your services. To avoid arguments, write down all important details on a standard job bid form. Then both you and the customer should sign it.
After completing the job, gather up your tools and equipment. Tidy up any areas that need it. Collect your agreed upon fee from the customer. Haul away any trash or discarded items.
Business Idea 1 – Clearing out basements and garages
Homeowners or tenants pay you to remove trash and other unwanted items from their basements and/or garages. (As a related activity, you could make money by refurbishing and selling some of the items you haul away.)
Upon arriving at the job site, you should have the customer indicate which items are to be hauled away. In addition, determine if any retained items should be moved to a different location. You might want to use a pad of sticky notes to write down any instructions. Place each note on the affected item.
Carry the trash out and put in your vehicle. Use a wide shovel to put small items into trash bags for easier handling. Perform any additional services required or that seem appropriate. (An example would be knocking down any cobwebs and sweeping up the floor.)
Business Idea 2 – Doing seasonal jobs
Homeowners or tenants pay you to do various types of seasonal jobs. These jobs could include the following:
- Cleaning out rain gutters
- Clearing ice and snow off doorsteps, sidewalks, and driveways
- Cultivating gardens
- Digging up a plot of ground or lawn for a garden
- Mowing lawns
- Pruning shrubs and small trees
- Raking leaves
- Removing weeds
Upon arriving at the job site, you need the customer to point out the various locations to be worked on, what work needs to be done, and how this work should be done. For example, when clearing snow and ice off sidewalks, where should the snow and ice be placed? When cultivating gardens, what plants are considered to be weeds? When pruning shrubs and small trees, how far back should the limbs be cut off? When raking leaves, should they be placed in leaf bags or just a big pile? When removing weeds, are there any other plants mixed in with the weeds that should be protected?
After performing your work, place any rubbish in your vehicle. Use a wide shovel to put small items into trash bags for easier handling. Perform any additional services required or that seem appropriate. (An example would be smoothing out the ground or sweeping off the sidewalk.)
Business Idea 3 – Washing windows
Washing windows is an easy way to make money. Your main problem is getting customers. You can wash windows for homes or business buildings. You should try to sign up business owners for a long-term contract. You might offer them a free washing job to show how worthwhile (and perhaps inexpensive) your services are.
Upon arriving at the job site, have the customer show you the outside (and any inside) windows to be washed.
If there are any hardened lumps of mud or some other substance on a window surface, you will have to remove them with a plastic scraper before washing the window.
Mix a suitable window cleaning solution in a pail of water. Use a combination cleaning sponge and squeegee (or other professional tools) on a long handle. After washing the window, remove the residual cleaning solution with the squeegee. Wipe the squeegee blade with a lint-free rag after every pass.
Perform any additional services required or that seem appropriate. (An example would be cleaning up any water spills and wiping off the windowsill with a lint-free rag.)
Business Idea 4 – Working as a “slave” for a day
This idea has a clever twist, which is offering to be a “slave” for a day. This means that you offer to do almost any task that the customer desires. For example, you could do any of the tasks shown above. Other tasks might include cleaning up an attic, disposing of outside trash, fixing damaged or sagging doors, moving furniture, and repairing and/or painting damaged walls.
You may be able to get a write up in a local newspaper because of the unusual nature of your services.
Upon arriving at the job site, have the customer describe the various tasks desired. However, you want to avoid any dangerous tasks. You don’t want to accept any job that might result in being injured.
Complete all the tasks that you can perform safely. Perform any additional services required or that seem appropriate. (See above business ideas for examples.)
There are always tasks available that people are willing to pay to have done. You could be the one to make this kind of money. You might want to first inquire around your neighborhood or advertise on Craigslist to see if there are any opportunities available that suit you.
You can review my information sites or Kindle books for ways to acquire the personal ambition and other resources needed.