According to reports from IBIS World industry market research, the home painting industry should see an annualized growth of 7.1 percent in 2019. With healthy household disposable income levels and a competitive house buying and selling market, homeowners are both updating their homes to get top dollar and refreshing interiors when they don’t plan to sell.
If you’ve been considering entering the home painting industry, now’s a great time to consider this booming business with low barriers to entry. Here’s a closer look at if this kind of work is right for you, what considerations to keep in mind, and exactly how to start a painting business.
Is Starting a Painting Business Right for You?
Some of the benefits of starting a painting business are clear. First, the costs and barriers to entry associated with a painting business are relatively low compared to other industries. Because of this, you also have flexibility in how you want to structure your business and what size of operation you want to launch.
However, there are a few aspects that some new or aspiring business owners find more challenging when taking on this kind of work. For starters, becoming a painter means manual labor. It’s possible to structure your business to hire employees or contractors to do the actual labor while you run operations, but if that’s likely dependent on your initial budget. Some people love the perks of manual labor, but it’s not for everyone.
Something else to keep in mind is if your service offerings include exterior painting, demand will ebb and flow seasonally, depending on which part of the country you live in. And finally, executing a great paint job isn’t as easy as some may assume — otherwise more people would do it themselves. This means that if you’re new to the trade, you’ll need to invest significant time educating yourself on both paint science and how to use the equipment properly. Even if you don’t plan on performing the labor, you should know the ins and outs of the trade.
How to Structure a House Painting Business
Deciding early how you want to structure your house painting business will help you determine your costs, equipment needs, and other important considerations. When it comes to structuring your business, there are a few decisions that should be made early:
Interior vs. Exterior Painting. Offering both interior and exterior paint services requires different equipment and materials, which means additional startup costs. However, offering both services also makes it more likely that commercial builders will want to work with you, and you’ll get more bang for your buck for each job. Also, having the flexibility to offer interior and exterior paint services makes your business less dependent on inclement weather.
Hiring Contractors vs. Employees. As the demand for house painting services can ebb and flow with market demand and the weather, some companies exclusively hire independent contractors to complete the work. This can also be an advantage for business people who are savvy at marketing, sales, and operations but aren’t skilled in the painting trade. However, if your business is in high demand, directly hiring employees may make more sense to ensure you have a reliable labor force. You don’t want to pay a premium for contractors when demand is high if they can find work elsewhere.
The Costs of Starting a Painting Business
While how you decide to operate your business and how many employees or contractors you hire will greatly impact your company’s costs, as you build your budget, also keep these specifics in mind:
- Equipment. Equipment is typically the number one biggest upfront cost when starting a house painting business. The basics for home painting include: ladders, multipurpose tools (for edging and pulling nails), drop cloths, sanders, caulk gun(s), buckets and cans, roller screens and trays, rollers, paint brushes, paint sprayer(s), protective gear (masks, jumpsuits), and paint.
- Insurance. Painting insurance will likely cost your business less than $1,000 a year but can keep your business from going under. Commercial painting insurance protects your business from falls, spills, and broken glass — really anything that could cause damage to personal property or harm to anyone on the job site.
- Licenses. Business licenses rarely cause too big of a financial burden, but the fees and fines associated with operating without a license are not worth the risk. Check with your city, state, and any area you are operating your business to ensure you’re properly licensed to do business.
- Software. If you’re paying yourself or your employees, purchasing payroll software is a wise investment to make early on. Whether or not you’re hiring an accountant, you will likely also want to purchase robust bookkeeping software. Many new business owners see these early purchases as too costly, but they actually save you money in the long run and give you hours back in your day.
How to Stay Competitive as a House Painter
Even though the industry for home painting is hot, it’s still extremely important to be strategic in how you position and market your business, and how you manage client relationships. Here are some ways to stay on top of your game as the owner of a painting business.
- Pricing and bids. Pricing your goods and services as a business owner is often a big challenge, but finding the right price is essential for attracting and retaining your ideal customer. As a painting company, this involves two elements — competitively pricing your services and constructing accurate bids. You can begin pricing research by checking out competitors in your area as well as listings on sites like Task Rabbit. You may be able to offer more specialized services, but it’s wise to know what others are charging.
- Identify your ideal customer. Whether your business is going to focus on working with individual homeowners, larger commercial bids, or both, it’s a good idea to have this decided before you create any sales or marketing material. This way, you can craft your messaging for the customers you specifically want to work with and position yourself as a niche, expert painter.
- Create an online presence. If someone is looking for a painter to work on their home, they need a way to ensure the quality of your work and the credibility of your company. At a minimum, you should set up Google My Business, so that your business name, hours, location, and any Google reviews come up when a potential customer performs a search. Also, it’s very affordable today to create a beautiful looking website through platforms like Squarespace and WordPress, and they’re user-friendly for non-tech savvy business owners.
- Utilize support services. Even though starting a painting business has relatively low barriers to entry, starting any kind of business can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, there is free help for entrepreneurs, widely available through Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). These physical offices are located across the country and offer advising on financing, management, software training, business plans, marketing — really any area you may need help with your business.
Whether the entrepreneurial aspect of starting a painting business or the physical activity and craft of painting — or both — is what’s getting you excited about taking the next step, it’s a great time to enter this booming industry. Though there’s sure to be challenges along the way, building a painting business is a fun, fast way to become a small business owner.