7 Home Services Business Ideas for Under $5000 or Less

Are you serious about starting a business, but lack the big bucks? Before you take out a bank loan, consider that you can start a number of businesses for as little as several hundred dollars. We’ve compiled a list of 15 proven businesses that you can start for $5,000 or less in overhead. Some require little outlay, but lots of time; others require more energy; still others don’t require much at all. One of the business ideas below might just be your next big thing. Below are some collection of home services business ideas that you can use as inspiration

Lawn Moving Services

lawn moving services

Description of Job
• Perform basic lawn care, including lawn mowing, trimming around buildings and lawn furniture, and edging.

• Conduct seasonal fertilizing and application of other lawn chemicals, including weed killer.

The Need

Do you have a lawn? You need to keep it trimmed. It’s not just a matter of keeping up with the Joneses; in most communities, laws and regulations require that property owners keep their land reasonably neat. Cutting the grass also helps reduce the incidence of ticks, fleas, and other unwelcome visitors in residential neighborhoods.

That said, not everyone has the time, inclination, or ability to take care of their own lawn. The market for lawn mowing services includes older homeowners, persons with disabilities, and people who just don’t have the time to do it themselves.

Challenges

In most parts of the country, lawn mowing is a seasonal job. (In northern climes, lawns generally hibernate at least half the year,from about October through May.) You’ll need to pay off the cost of equipment during the growing season . . . and watch it gather dust over the winter.

You will also likely have to pay for 12 months of insurance and licenses even if your business runs only 6 months of the year. Rain helps the grass grow,which is good news,but a particularly dismal summer could result in long periods when lawns cannot be mowed. Similarly, a drought could cause lawns to grow unusually slowly.

How to Get Started

Market your services before they are needed. In the best of all possible worlds, you will be able to sign up enough clients ahead of the season to justify purchase of equipment. Place ads on bulletin boards, at gardening supply stores, and in community newspapers. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals. Offer a discount or a free service for any clients they bring to you.

Draw up a simple but complete agreement with clients listing exactly which services you will be providing and the cost. Include in the agreement whether lawn mowing services will be provided on a regular schedule (weekly, biweekly, on a particular day of the month) or whether the client must call to schedule a visit each time. Get specific written instructions about any special conditions—a flower bed to be avoided or a section that needs to be hand-trimmed.

Snow Removal

snow removal business ideas

Description of Job

• Remove snow from sidewalks and driveways of private homes.

• Clear snow from parking lots and entranceways of commercial locations, including retail stores and office complexes.

• Subcontract with local governments to plow public roads and parking lots.

The Need

Snow happens,more so in some parts of the country than others. Many people do not have the time to clear snow, or they may not be physically able to do so. In some parts of the country, including many rural areas, local governments may hire subcontractors to clear snow on an as-needed basis. Owners of commercial real estate also need to arrange for snow removal at stores and office complexes.

Challenges

In most parts of the country, snow removal is a seasonal job. In the Midwest and Northeast, the snow season generally runs from late November to early April, although storms can come earlier and later; in high mountain areas and certain other locations, including regions in the lee of the Great Lakes, snow can occur almost daily in an extended season.

In any case, you will need to pay off the cost of equipment during the winter season…and watch it gather dust over the summer. You will also likely have to pay for 12 months of insurance and licenses even if your business runs only 6 months of the year.

Snowfall, like rainfall, generally follows annual patterns that could result in exceptionally large amounts of snow in one year and a virtual drought the next. Don’t base your investment on last winter’s storms, which could be unusually heavy or light. You can research typical snowfall amounts and number of storms at area libraries and government agencies.

How to Get Started

Market your services before they are needed. Your goal should be to sign up enough clients ahead of the season to justify purchase of equipment. Place ads on bulletin boards,at hardware and home center stores,and in community newspapers. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals. Offer a discount or a free service for any clients they bring to you.

Draw up a simple but complete agreement with clients listing exactly which services you will be providing and the cost. Include in the agreement whether snow removal services will automatically be provided after a certain amount of snow falls, or whether the client must call to schedule a visit each time.

Get specific written instructions about any special conditions a flower bed to be avoided or a section that needs to be hand-shoveled. Although it will be extremely difficult to promise exact times for snow removal—you can’t schedule the storms—find out from clients whether they have particular needs to meet the demands of their jobs or medical necessities.

If you want to run the business on a more casual basis, you can merely load up a truck with a snowblower or plow and cruise the neighborhood looking for desperate homeowners who need help. Be sure to get a firm agreement on the price before you begin work.

Garden Tilling

Garden Tilling business ideas

Description of Job

• Using a power rototiller or similar equipment, turn over a garden patch at the start of a season to prepare it for planting.

• Mix fertilizer, lime, or other garden chemicals into the soil. • Cut down plants at the end of the season and compost the greens or haul them away.

• Turn over the earth at the end of the growing season to prepare it for the winter.

The Need

Have rototiller, will travel. Many homeowners love to grow their own little patch of tomatoes, green beans, onions, and flowers. They look great and taste better than anything they’ll find in the supermarket.

(So what if the tomatoes end up costing them several dollars apiece or if the massive zucchini squash quickly outpace their ability to eat them, give them away, or use them as doorstops?)

For many gardeners, the most difficult part of the process is tilling the earth: breaking it up to a depth of six inches to a foot to allow easy planting and faster growth. Doing it by hand is a major chore,and purchasing a power tiller does not make sense for the casual gardener. Your appeal is that you will bring a heavy, commercial rototiller or small tractor to their property and make quick work of a job that is beyond their abilities, interest, or equipment.

Challenges

This is a seasonal job,with most of the work coming in the spring; jobs in the fall will be less common. You’ll need to amortize the cost of the machine and trailer over a fairly short period of time.

How to Get Started

Post flyers and ads at garden centers and community centers. Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides. Ask satisfied customers to recommend your services to others; offer a bonus or discount for new business they refer your way.

Window Cleaning

Window Cleaning for business ideas

Description of Job

• Clean windows for business and residential clients.

• Power-wash ground floor and hard-to-reach upper-floor windows.

• Squeegee and hand-finish windows.

• Remove screens, wash them, and replace them.

The Need

Windows get dirty. Retail businesses and offices need to present a clean and neat appearance to customers, but window washing is probably not in the CEO’s job description. Homeowners also want their houses to appear attractive from the outside and to be able to see the world without having to peer through a glass darkly. They may not have ladders, or the inclination to climb one, and otherwise lack the equipment to do a good job, especially on second-story windows.

Challenges

It can be difficult to gain access to some windows; challenges include narrow alleys, uneven ground, and landscaping. One solution is to use power washers and rotary brushes on lightweight aluminum or plastic poles. In many situations it will be necessary to enter a house to remove screens from the inside; some homeowners prefer to do that part of the job themselves.

You’ll have to guard against causing damage to windows,siding,gutters,and shingles on the house. You’ll also have to protect against harming landscaping, pets, and people below. Don’t accept a job where the windows or the structure of the house itself are obviously damaged, and skip any job you don’t feel you can perform safely.

Watch out for unpleasant surprises, including hornet nests, unfriendly birds, and uneven ground beneath your ladder. Your insurance carrier—an important component of your business plan— may not want to cover you for any work performed more than 10 feet off the ground.

State and federal occupational safety agencies may also have rules and regulations. We recommend you begin your business by limiting your services to ground-floor and second-story windows; once you are off and flying (metaphorically speaking) you can consider expansion to upper levels.

One way to avoid the complications of tall ladders and insurance concerns is to perform second-story cleaning from the ground using a rotary brush on an extendible pole.

How to Get Started

Ask satisfied customers to recommend your services to friends, acquaintances, and businesses; offer them a bonus or a discount for any jobs they refer to you.

Deck Cleaning

Deck Cleaning for business ideas

Description of Job

• Clean dirt, stains, and mold from wooden decks and balconies.

• Make minor repairs to wood surfaces.

• Apply water sealer and tints.

The Need

Wooden decks, raised patios, and balconies are gracious extensions of the interior of our homes. Yet as part of the outside, they are constantly exposed to rain, snow, and extremes of temperature. They can accumulate dirt and grime and mold. Cleaning a deck is relatively simple with the proper tools and chemicals, but it’s not a job that many homeowners relish.

Challenges

Deck cleaning is typically limited to the warm weather months,and demand may be highest in late spring and early summer. Some detergents are extremely caustic and may be dangerous to pets and some plants; you may need to protect against overspray and take care in your cleanup after the job is completed.

There may be local regulations on the storage and use of these chemicals. Some decks may already have rot or other damage that should be repaired before cleaning and coating is performed. You may want to have a relationship with a carpenter who can perform such work.

Power washers do a good job of blasting out debris between the cracks and cleaning the surface of the deck, but an overly strong spray can also damage the wood. Water-repellent coating chemicals need to be applied when temperatures lie within a specific range, and the deck will need to be protected from humans and pets while it is drying.

How to Get Started

Post flyers and ads about your services at home supply stores,in community centers, and on neighborhood bulletin boards. You can also place ads in newspapers and shopping guides. Ask satisfied customers to refer others to you, and offer a bonus when they bring in new business.

Landscape Designer

Landscape Designer

Description of Job

• Change a landscape’s appearance using trees, shrubbery, and/or flowering plants.

• Maintain a client’s garden and plantings.

The Need

Beautifully planted and maintained properties with flourishing shrubs, artfully placed flowers in vibrant bloom, and handsome rolling lawns do not happen by chance. A great deal of work goes into designing, planting, and maintaining a standalone garden or plantings around a house. Unless you were born with a green thumb or have developed one through years of practice,it may make sense to hire a professional landscape designer.

Challenges

You’ll need an artist’s eye and a gardener’s knowledge of plants, trees, and conditions. What kind of plants grow best in your area?

How long is the growing season, and what are the extremes of heat and cold, drought and rain? Is the soil in your area too sandy, or does it have a significant amount of clay or loam?

How much mulch do you need to use?

How much sunlight does a particular area receive, and what is the exposure of the plot of land you will be working on?

Take the time to meet with your clients and make sure they understand your proposal and its costs. Make certain you are aware of the boundaries of your client’s property; if you put a tree on a neighbor’s property you may be opening yourself to liability or a financial loss.

How to Get Started

You can gain hands-on experience by working as a helper for a gardener or landscaping company. Some large home supply stores and garden centers offer classes on planting and landscaping. Post flyers and ads at community centers, in retail stores, and on bulletin boards.

Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides. Make contact with area greenhouses and nurseries, contractors, and real estate agents; ask them to refer business to you and offer them a bonus or commission for doing so. Ask friends, acquaintances, and satisfied customers to recommend your services, offering them a bonus or discount on future work.

This job can be operated in conjunction with a lawn mowing service (covered earlier in this chapter) or separately. If you will not be offering lawn care, make contact with a company that provides this service and seek a reciprocal agreement whereby they will refer landscaping jobs to you and you will recommend them for their services.

Low-Voltage Outdoor Electrical Wiring

Low-Voltage Outdoor Electrical Wiring

Description of Job

• Install low-voltage landscaping and driveway lighting.

• Install specialized low-voltage illuminated street numbers, poolside lighting, and deck lighting.

The Need

Nighttime lighting can serve security, safety, and decorative interests. Many homeowners like to show off their landscaping by night with subtle lighting. In other areas, a bit of light helps demarcate driveway edges or winding pathways.

Challenges

The biggest challenge to installers of outdoor lighting is avoiding excess. Poor design wastes energy and creates “lighting trespass” that bothers neighbors, dangerous glare that can affect pedestrians and drivers, and “lighting pollution” that washes out the view of the dark night sky.

As an installer, you need to work closely with your client and tour the property to design the best system. You may need to work with a licensed electrician in some localities, especially if you are asked to include high-voltage outdoor area lighting and motion detectors for security.

How to Get Started

Advertise in community centers and garden centers. Some hardware stores or home centers may permit you to advertise your installation services in return for an agreement to purchase lights and supplies there. Send brochures and letters to landscapers, pool installers, and contractors asking them to recommend your services to their clients; you may want to offer a bonus or commission for business they refer your way. Ask satisfied customers to advise their friends, offering them a bonus or discount.

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