How To Start A Painting Business, The Right Way.
How To Start A Painting Business, The Right Way.
Preparing For Launch…
So you want to start your own painting business?
If you’ve been considering a painting business, or a cabinet painting business and want to knowhow to start a painting business successfully… you’re in the right place.
Painting businesses are awesome for so many reasons… its in demand, the painting industry has a major labor supply (great for your painting company). The reality is every local economy can support a painter who’s smart about managing their business… if you’re committed to putting in the work, you can make it happen.
This article is designed to provide you with an in depth guide that outlines all the major components you’ll need to successfully launch your business. Some of these topics will be a simple step, others will require dedication and commitment to master and learn.
You don’t have to do this on your own, if you’d like help visit our website at www.cabinetstartup.com.
Developing the Skill
Many painters have years of experience under their belt, but that shouldn’t be something that stops you. Nobody began their journey as an experienced painter.
If you’re not experienced, with the right mentor and coaching it’s absolutely a skill you can pick up… but keep THIS in mind. Being a professional painter doesn’t automatically guarantee a thriving painting business. You have to set up your painting business the right way. It’s easier to learn how to paint, than it is to learn how to run a thriving house painting business.
Both can, and should be learned. And that’s what this article is about.
I’m going to teach you the exact steps you need to launch your small business, become your own boss, and outline the steps you need to take to create a successful painting business.
Determining Your Why
Before you start a business, you need to get clarity on what’s motivating you to take the necessary steps. Seriously, starting a painting business can be hard… and there is a ton to consider. One common trait we see amongst highly successful businesses is that the owners had a clear drive and passion that kept them focused when they faces challenges.
Most businesses fail. You need a reason to keep going when things get tough.
There are a lot of reasons people consider starting their own business…
- You’ve always wanted to be your own boss.
- You’d like for your income to only be determined by your effort. You’re tired of only getting paid what someone else says you’re worth.
- You want to control over your schedule, and the people you work with.
- You enjoy hard work, and are willing to bet on yourself.
Regardless of what’s driving you, starting your own business is the American Dream. And there are a ton of reasons why starting a Painting Business, or even better, a Cabinet Painting Business can help you achieve your goals.
For most people, there are a few goals that come up. You need to get some serious clarity around what is true for you.
- Personal control. You’re tired of a boss telling you where to be and what to do.
- Financial Freedom – You’re tired of making other business owners wealthy, and would like to keep more income from your own profitable business.
- Family – You want to provide a better life, and be able to spend more time with
We’ve put together a great tool to help you really get clarity on YOUR WHY so that when you start this business, you know exactly what’s going to keep you motivated when things get tough.
Why Should You Listen to Me?
I’m Wilson Smith, one of the founders of Cabinet Startup. My partner Steven and I have spent the last several years launching local trades businesses… we’ve helped over 50 cabinet shops… and along that journey, we’ve learned very clearly what works and what doesn’t.
(Here is us with some of our graduates)
I got my start in the trades in 2014 when I started a solar company. We ended up scaling the company to over 40 sales reps and produced more than 7 figures monthly. Every single project in solar involves cutting holes in roofs… which, can lead to serious problems. I’ve had to pleasure of working with great contractors and horrible contractors. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the highs and the lows.
Stevens journey into contracting began in 2015 when he started his own cabinet painting business. When he first began, who knew that there were painting businesses everywhere… and didn’t want to have to worry about competing with unprofessional contractors who offered painting services (low quality) for super cheap to undercut his business. This is one of the biggest complaints of the painting industry… so Steven to decided to start his painting company in a specific niche… painting cabinets.
In his first year, Steven did over $500,000 in sales… it was far beyond what he expected. Knowing that he was on to something, he know his first step was to hire. If he was going to grow, he’d need his own employees. He made his first hire, and learned a ton of lessons along the way.
Between the two of us, we’ve produced several very successful companies and through trial and error, we’ve learned a lot.
I’m going to share those lessons… so you can learn how to create your own painting business and hopefully skip the more painful errors we experienced.
Creating Your Business Plan & Business Structure
One of the first steps in creating your painting business is getting clarity around your business plan. There is a lot to consider.
- Business Structure
- Painting Equipment & Tools
- Marketing & Potential Clients
- Revenue & Profit Margin
- Residential Painting vs Commercial Painting
- Your business Entity
- Appropriate Business License
- Workers Comp
- Payroll Taxes
These are just a few of the topics that you’ll need to decide upon to start your business. For many people starting painting companies, they decide to start the business and jump straight into it. This is one of the biggest mistakes we see.
Now, that doesn’t mean you need to overcomplicate things. It just means you need to sit down and think through these key components. This article will help you outline the major concerns… and at what points you should be considering them.
The process of starting a successful painting business doesn’t have to be difficult… in fact, it’s can be pretty simple. By following the steps laid out in our free toolkit you’ll get clarity around what your goals are, and how to create a business plan that will successfully guide you through this process.
You can find the One Page Business Guide Here: [Click Here]
You can use this accompanying video to guide you through it [Click Here]
This business plan is incredibly helpful because it’s short enough to keep you from getting too distracted, but in depth enough to make sure that your bases are covered.
For example it starts with your WHY STATEMENT, YOUR GOALS, AND YOUR OBJECTIVES. As I mentioned earlier, you need clarity to keep you motivated when you face challenges.
Next you’ll move into the SWOT analysis. This is incredibly helpful for new business owners. It’s going to give you some clarity around the best talking points for new potential clients, an overview of your competition and help you plan for challenges that your small business may face.
It will then help you determine your target customer – who is it that you want to work with, and how can you actually help them.
Next you’ll work out your marketing, your startup costs and your revenue.
Choosing Your Business Model
You need to decide when you launch where you want to focus within the painting. Are you creating a commercial painting business, or a house painting business?
There are some differences both in the size of projects, but also in terms of the cash flow. Typically payment terms for commercial jobs are much longer than for residential painting, and many people find that residential painting is easier to start in.
Do you want to do exterior painting or interior painting. Do you focus on houses in general, or niche down to something specific like Cabinet Refinishing?
Having a specific niche typically means more money, but it also may be harder to find customers than a traditional house painting business where you accept both interior and exterior painting jobs.
Also, keep in mind – exterior painting tends to be more seasonal, so if you go with that route… you may only be able to work on a paint job during very specific conditions.
Long Term Vision
What do you want to achieve long term? Would you like to be a self employed painter? Or are you looking to create a house painting business that is capable of hiring employees or sub contractors?
Take Time to Think Through This
These are some of the challenges that painting companies face, and its important to consider these options so you can really understand your target market and structure your business properly. A successful house painting business will have some important differences than a business focusing on commercial paint jobs. We recommend beginning with the end in mind to maximize your painting business profits.
Through out the rest of the article, I’m going to help break these down in significantly more detail. The business practices we’re talking about for this section are a great starting point – but remember, these rules do vary from place to place.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to confirm the regulations and restrictions that apply to you. This list is not exhaustive, but it does give you some deep insights into what you should be considering as necessary steps to start a painting business.
Understanding the Key Components
Most successful businesses can be broken down into 3 key components.
When we teach our students how to launch a successful business (many of our students reach 6 figures in less than 6 months), we focus on these core areas. In this guide, we’ll cover these considerations and we’ll do it in the order we find to be the most valuable.
But first, let’s get the business set up the RIGHT way.
Business Entity and Legal Considerations
Step 1 – Choosing Your Name
Choosing a business name is one of the simplest parts of the process, but it’s something that many painting contractor and trades people don’t take time to think through. It’s important to pick a name that actually conveys a meaning and that people can remember.
For example, when someone see’s Elite Cabinet Coatings – they know exactly what painting services we offer and the level of quality we stand for. Our business name is designed to provide whoever is reading it with the exact information they need.
Many people are tempted to name their business after themselves, however… that really doesn’t tell your customers much. This is a very common thing among painting businesses and the trades in general. We recommend choosing a name for your new business that conveys a trait or a quality.
Step 2 – Getting Your Domain
Your name in many ways will depend on the domains that are available, you don’t want people to be looking for you online… but unable to find you because of a mismatch.
For example, you can check what domains are available at Bluehost. We like purchasing domains through our hosting, so its’ all in one place. [Click Here].
For simplicity, here are the few things you’re going to need. A Domain Name, a Hosting Service, and the actual website that is built there. For now, we just want to get the domain name… we can worry about building the site later.
Step 3 – Incorporating your business (how to start painting business, legally)
Once you’ve got your business plan set up and your name selected, you’re ready to actually incorporate your business. The Small Business Administration has tons of resources to help here… this is a step that you can do yourself with some research.
The important take away for a soon to be painting business owner is that you need to create a Business Entity. A business entity (also called a business structure or legal entity) is how a company is legally structured to operate. The sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company are the four primary business entities (LLC).
You’ll want to decide on the actual corporate structure that makes the most sense for you as a painting business owner.
For most people in the home services or trades, they’re deciding between an S-Corp or an LLC. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ll need to head over to the Secretary of State’s website for the State you live in and follow the appropriate steps.
Because of the liability protections and tax benefits that each type of business entity provides, it’s critical to register your firm—and choose the best kind—in order to avoid legal issues and save money. You may be able to start a sole proprietorship without having to file any paperwork if you live in some areas.
Each entity has its own set of regulations… but is intended to afford protection against accidents, legal difficulties, and any other unforeseen events with the your business.
Finally, registering your painting company is one of the most important milestones in its existence. This is is the “START” when you start a painting business. It marks the point at which you officially own your own painting company.
For me personally, the first few times I did this I found the process to be a bit tedious. If you’d like help, and want someone to handle the legwork for you…You can use LegalZoom for that, although I recommend using this company, CorpNet. They’re less expensive than Legal Zoom with all of the same features. [Click Here]. I’ve used them, and about 5 of their competitors in the past and I found them to be the best value by a good bit.
Step 4 – Apply for Local Licenses
One of the challenges with the painting industry, and honestly the trades in general… is that there are a ton of unlicensed, unprofessional painters out there. You often hear people complaining that there are “so many painters” — in some sense, this may be true. But many of them aren’t running a professional company.
Getting your license to operate is an important step in showing customers that your’e a serious business owner, a professional painter, and that you deserve their painting projects.
The requirements for local licenses will vary from state to state, and county to county. If you’re going to invest the time to start your own painting business, it’s important to do it the right way. This commitment will bleed over to other areas of your business, and will lead to more repeat business in the future.
Step 5 – Set Up Your Business Bank Account
Keeping your business and personal finances separate makes it simpler to understand how much money your company is making and how much money it is spending. This is incredibly important, especially in the long term. A big part of your ability to grow your business will come from being able to reliably and comfortably, reinvest back into yourself.
It can be incredibly challenging to purchase new painting equipment if you have no idea how much profit you make. When your business finances aren’t in good order, it can make marketing costs seem overwhelming.
Lastly, you want to keep your personal assets separate for the same reason you incorporated your business. It adds to your level of protection in the case of something bad happening. Remember, all businesses have risks… taking these steps enables you to mitigate some of those risks. The bottom line is this, if you’re going to be a legitimate business owner and start a painting business, you need a business bank account.
Step 6 – Get Business Insurance
Mistakes happen. Accidents happen. Bad luck happens. The reality is, it doesn’t matter if you’re careful… eventually, you’re going to have something happen that can pose a major risk to your business.
Business insurance is a requirement in almost every state for painting businesses. General Liability Insurance will protect you from these risks. There are a number of types of insurance, levels of insurance, and requirements that exist from state to state.
We recommend calling a local agent (actually, call a few), tell them you started a house painting business and get clarity the specifics of a general liability insurance policy that you would need for your area.
Step 8 – Your Business Phone
You will want to have a business phone number that is separate from your personal number. This creates a better sense of professionalism as well as keeping things more organized.
Your Business Phone Number
When you’re just starting, we recommend using Justcall.io. Just call is an inexpensive service that allows you to use you to have a second number on your phone. It allows for calls, texts, and integrates with several CRM’s to help you with tracking and keeping up with clients.
Justcall also allows for unique automations as your business develops, to really stay on top of communications and also help engagement with customers. Initially you’ll want to start with either the standard or premium plan. If you’d like to start with more advanced marketing automations, choose the premium plan. Otherwise, the starter is a low cost option for everything you need.
Use this link to sign up: Click HERE
Step 9 – Your Location
This is one of the easier pieces of the puzzle… and a lot of painting business owners overthink this. Ultimately you’ll want your own space… having a shop does open some doors. However, it should not stop you from starting your business.
You can get creative… borrow space from someone who’s got a shed, use your garage, only take jobs that require work on the job site.
Once your house painting business has some more consistent revenue, then consider moving into a more permanent location and taking on bigger jobs.
Client Acquisition: Get Your First Painting Customers
When you’ve got your painting business set up legally, your next step is finding people willing to pay for your painting services.
Success in your house painting business will require more than a paint brush and some drop cloths. You need someone to pay you. A mentor of mine once said, a business without customers is an expensive hobby.
Painting businesses historically have tried to focus on word of mouth, and whereas that can still be a big part of your business –> it’s important to focus on other channels like online marketing.
The truth is most house painters, and really trades people in general, are not as tech savvy, so this is an easy way to stand out. Being a painting contractor is incredibly rewarding… but being a painting contractor with a ton of customers is much better.
If you’d like help with this, visit our website at www.cabinetstartup.com where we’ve got courses to help.
Setting Up Your Web Presence: Organic Marketing
Step 8 – Your Website
You want to choose a website that is visually appealing, but most importantly can convert. Most people make this too complicated, or pick something that is visually overwhelming and doesn’t actually perform its intended function. The goal of your website is to help you get more business.
They should know immediately upon landing that you have a house painting business. That you provide amazing quality work. And that your house painting business sticks out from the rest…
Remember, in the beginning you’ll likely be managing this.
This means it should be:
Easy for you to update and maintain (so you don’t waste time) and easy for your visitors to understand. It should reflect your brand, and it should convert visitors into leads. Whether that’s a phone call, an email signup form, or a scheduling tool.
Step 9 -Setting Up Social Media
You want people to know that you have a house painting business. So you need to be where people are. Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms, so we recommend that you set up a FB page and instagram page to start.
When setting up a Facebook page for your business, there are a few key ingredients to include. First, make sure you have a good profile picture and cover photo. Next, add some information about your company or organization, including website and contact information. It’s important that you invite your friends to this page, and ask them to like and share it. This is a very easy way to get your name out.
Most people make the mistake of not announcing their business to the world… trust me, people can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist.
Step 10 – Local Registries
Once you’ve set up your facebook page and instagram, it’s time to focus on local registries.
You need to set your business up on the different regiestris that customers may use to find you. Yelp, facebook, google maps, etc. Most of these are free (they may have a paid option, but in the begging – just being there will help. If a new painting company and you’re working with a small initial investment, this can bring a good bang for your buck.
Step 11 – Paid Lead Services
Next you may want to consider signing up for a paid lead service.
Business is easier with customers… you need a way of getting leads. Whether its a local marketer, or a large system like HomeAdvisor… it’s important to have a system for bringing in new business (even if its just a small budget to start).
What we’ve seen in our industry is that we can acquire clients for usually somewhere between $300-$400 per customer. That means for every $400 we spend on marketing, someone writes us a check. Not all lead services are created equally, and some of it will depend on your ability to contact, follow up with and close the leads.
There are a ton of lead providers that service the painting industry and this can be a really effective way of getting your business off the ground.
One of the biggest advantages with these services is that the leads typically have faster time lines than what you would see with organic marketing. This means you can land a paint job significantly faster, and usually for a relatively small initial investment.
Since when you start the business, its often just you… whatever helps you get painting jobs fastest is best. Letting them handle some of the more complicated parts of marketing allows you to focus on the paint job, and getting some cash flow.
Once your business is up and running, and you’ve built up some cash flow – you may want to consider some targeted advertising with paid ads.
Platforms like facebook advertising, google ads, taboola, and others make it so you can go after and target specific potential customers. These tools are incredibly powerful, especially for established businesses. When done correctly, they allow you reach your target market with customized offers… which can really help you scale your business.
These platforms are typically more expensive to get started… so we recommend waiting until your house painting business has already maxed out the lead services available to you.
Step 12 – Offline Marketing:
One of the best advantages of a business in a local market is that in the beginning you can take advantage of offline, guerilla marketing tactics.
Things like flyers, door hangers, door knocking, and local events are all great options. We personally have found flyers and door hangers to be an incredibly effective, low cost option for new self-employed painters. You can get these made locally, you can visit a website like VistaPrint.
Friends and Family:
Tell everyone you know. People want to see you succeed and will help share the mission. You can also use your first few customers to help with referrals.
Offering a rewards or gift cards on referrals is one way of keeping your marketing costs low and predictable. A customer in exchange for a 100$ gift card will be one of the best returns on marketing you may ever experience.
Step 13 – Business Systems/Managing Your Business
Starting your business and getting all of the necessities (LLC, liability insurance) are important. Getting customers are important. Withouth these tow things, there is no business.
However, you can’t stop here.
.. but once that’s set up our work isn’t.
Standard Operating Procedures: SOPs
If you want to get repeat business from customers, or even more importantly referrals, you have to provide a smooth experience. This means standardizing your business to create consistent quality.
Many trades people skip this process… the think “it’s just me, and I know I’ll do it right every time.”
And you may be the exception to the rule, but as we get busier holding certain standards becomes harder. Having engrained SOP’s helps you stay on top if it the whole time.
You’ll want to develop SOPS for all parts of your business.
If you’d like help with this, visit our website at www.cabinetstartup.com where we’ve got courses to help.
Sales and Leads
Develop a systematized process for calling/following up with leads
Getting leads without a system/process for your sales and follow up, is going to cause you to waste a lot of money. The reality is, most people call leads eventually and follow up rarely. You need an effective system for this.
Get a project management tool to track your projects.
There is a lot to keep up with. Did the homeowner sign the agreement? Do you have a copy (you need your own contracts).
Was paint ordered? How soon before a job starts should you place the order at the paint store. Who’s responsible for picking up the supplies from the paint store.
How are you tracking inventory? Especially things that you may need to replace from time to time… brushes, drop cloths, etc. You don’t want to show up to a job site unprepared.
Are there issues with jobs? Was payment collected? Did you get a review?
Having a standard operating procedure planned out for each of these parts of your business will help you not only provide better quality, but to be more effective as a company when you begin to scale and start looking at hiring.
How are you tracking your money? What software are you using, when do you input the data. How Frequently are you reviewing your finances?
Vision and Company Direction
It’s not enough to have a vision for your company, you need to both plot the course and track your progress. This means regularly auditing your house painting business (or commercial if you went that route) to make sure that you’re on track.
Most of these processes require the use of systems and softwares to keep track of it.
Here is a list of the softwares we love and use in our business.
Justcall: [Click Here]
Active Campaign: [Click Here]
Quickbooks: [Click Here]
Zapier: [Click Here]
Maximizing your Business
Knowing the steps is just a part of the business… if you really want to maximize your success, there are some skills you should constantly be working on and improving along the way
Effective Communication: whether its with customers, employees, other business owners… your ability to effectively communicate will directly impact your ability to make money. There are a ton of resources available (books, courses, meet ups) designed to help you improve these skills. This is an ongoing process.
Sales: This is one of the most overlooked skills within the trades. Some of this comes down to negative perceptions of all sales being sleazy… however, that’s neither true nor useful to you as a business owner. We recommend studying and mastering sales, so that you can ensure consistent and steady business. If you’d like help with this, visit our website at www.cabinetstartup.com where we’ve got courses to help.
Conflict Resolution: When working with customers, it is important to understand conflict resolution. If you work with people, and projects that sometimes have issues (welcome to the trades) there will be conflicts. Many are avoidable, and this is the primary purpose of the SOP’s we keep talking about. However, inevitably something out of our control will create an issue.
As the owner, all issues are your responsibility.
This means that you need to be able to identify and handle any conflicts that may arise. By doing so, you can help to maintain a positive relationship with your customers and resolve any issues before they become too serious.
Conflict resolution skills are essential for customer service professionals, and can help to ensure that both you and customers can walk away feeling great when things don’t work out perfectly.
Growing Your Business
We’ve saved this section for last, because in most cases, this isn’t something you should worry about until you’ve fully maximized your capacity and built yourself a solid nest egg.
You want to approach the growth stage of your business with a war chest… and only if your business is already running efficiently.
The next step requires introducing some new challenges, new complications and new costs.
You’ve got to consider things like labor costs, payroll taxes, workers comp, management, hiring, firing…
Generally speaking, the growth stage is the hardest. Many successful painters get stuck here…
Preparing for the Challenges
Hiring is hard. Whether you’re hiring employees, or you’ve chosen to have sub contractors… there is going to be a learning curve and the reality is, it’s expensive.
Writing a blog post on everything you need to know to hire and manage effectively would require 3x more space than just what we’ve covered here today, but I’d like to give you some key ideas to consider.
You need to know your cost for a bad hire.
If you bring someone on, and the get paid a daily training rate – how long will it take before you know they’re a good fit?
How much will that cost?
We recommend having enough saved up to make 3 bad hires… realistically, it shouldn’t come to that. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Your systems can cause good hires to have a bad experience
We talked earlier about the importance of having great standard operating procedures… and that wasn’t just because they sound fancy. Standard operating procedures are what set the tone and expectation for the employees or contractors who will take over that particular role.
When you hire someone who has unclear expectations, or doesn’t know where/how they’re expected to work… it greatly increases the likelihood of them not doing the job well. And worse, it makes it much harder for you as the business owner to objectively measure the results.
This leads to bad decisions like: firing someone who gets on your nerves, even though they do incredible work… or, even worse, keeping someone who’s terribly ineffective because you like them. Neither of these are great outcomes.
Management is a Skill
You have to learn how to more effectively manage your time, as well as how to manage people. And where as they are both management, they are two entirely different skills. Just like you had to learn how to paint, you have to learn this process as well.
That means you will very likely be making some mistakes along the way. Accept this, and do your best to learn quickly from those mistakes.
Hire to Replace Your Weaknesses & Maximize Your Time
When you’re looking to hire people for your business, you should give yourself an honest assessment of which areas in the business you’re most lacking, or least enjoy.
If you really don’t like sales, you may consider hiring someone to handle that part of the business. If you really can’t stand marketing, then hire someone to handle your lead generation.
Our goal in hiring is to free up our time spent doing things that aren’t our best skill set, or bring the least value to the continued growth of the business.
In this article, we’ve covered a lot. Everything from preparing to launch your business, getting clarity on your motivation, your goals and your vision.
We covered launching the right way – setting up your business, website, domain and licensing.
We covered types of marketing, social media and tools you can use to to go out and get customers. Both paid and for free.
We talked through business systems, the key things you should consider, and how to think through them. At this stage, some people may be feeling overwhelmed… and that is normal.
When you start a business, there is a lot to to consider. And there can sometimes feel like there is too much to keep track of. Remember, it doesn’t have to be all at once.
You don’t need to overcomplicate the process. Focus on following the steps in this guide and taking it one step at a time. If you find yourself feeling discouraged, go back and look at your motivation. Nothing good in life comes easy, and your business will be no different.
Many people try to rush through this, and skip important steps… or get overwhelmed and never take the proper actions. Your business will be a journey, and the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Focus on the very next part of the process, and work on it bit by bit.
As you’re going through this, remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes along the way, and hopefully learn from those mistakes.
The most important thing is consistency and commitment. If you commit to putting in the work, always improving, and pushing forward no matter what… you will figure it out. Many successful business owners will tell you that the succeeded because the kept pushing when they failed.
There is an amazing quote… “losers give up when they fail, winners fail until they succeed.” Your job is to push through the challenges no matter what, and remember that success is waiting for you on the other side.
This is going to be a very exciting time for you – starting a new business is has the potential to be ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Remember this feeling as you go forward, because it’s what’s going to propel you through the challenges that will inevitably arise.
If you have questions about anything you’ve read in this article, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you finally take the step and make progress towards you goal of having your own business.
If you already know that you’d like to start a profitable business, and you don’t want to develop all these systems yourself… reach out to us, or visit our website at www.cabinetstartup.com. We’ve been successfully launching 6 and 7 figure businesses for the last 3 years.
BlueHost: [Click Here].
CorpNet: [Click Here].
Justcall: [Click Here]
Active Campaign: [Click Here]
Quickbooks: [Click Here]
Zapier: [Click Here]
Cabinet Startup: [Click Here]