How to Start a Handyman Business: A Complete Guide

As Australians become increasingly time poor, we also become less handy. That might not be great news for homeowners, but it’s fantastic news for anyone interested in starting a handyman business.

If you enjoy helping people and fixing things, have general home maintenance skills and knowledge, and if you’re eager to trade the nine to five for a chance to set your own schedule, you might consider becoming a handyman (or handywoman.)

But the question of how to start a handyman business can be a complicated one – it’s not a simple matter of buying your tools and finding customers. What are the rules and requirements? How do you create a business, market yourself, and get paid? Where do you even begin?

Let’s take a step-by-step look at exactly how to start a handyman business, from the initial idea through to getting paid by your first customer.

Pros and cons of starting a handyman business

Before you go too far down the rabbit hole, ask yourself: is it a good idea to start my own handyman business? To help you work that out, let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons:

1. Pros

  • Greater autonomy: you can set your own schedule and control your income.

  • Variety in your day: you can travel, meeting new people and visiting new places.

  • No limits: It’s up to you how large (or small) your business is.

  • A sense of accomplishment: There’s an intangible sense of pride that a business owner feels as they watch their business grow.

2. Cons

  • Less security and stability: You’ll only get paid if you can find the work.

  • Greater responsibility (and liability): If something goes wrong, it’s on you to fix it.

  • A competitive space: You’ll be competing against quite a few other handymen.

  • More admin: Owning a business means you might spend as much time on paperwork as you will on the tools.

The skills and certifications a handyman business needs

You’ve weighed up your options, and decided that starting a handyman business is what you want to do. The next question: what are the rules, regulations and requirements?

1. Skills and knowledge

The first requirement is a basic knowledge of home maintenance, such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical systems. ‘Basic’ is the operative word, as anything too complex must legally be undertaken by a qualified tradesperson. For example, a Queensland based handyman can change a showerhead, replace a water filter and install a watering system, but a qualified plumber must be called if the work extends beyond these basic tasks.

2. Licenses

Most Australian handymen won’t require a licence unless they undertake a particularly large job:

It’s wise to contact the relevant authorities and research laws in your state before setting up your business.

3. Business registration

You’ll need to register your handyman business, which is as easy as applying for an ABN. Most handyman businesses run as sole traders, but if you have grander visions and choose to create a company or trust, there are a few more steps in the process.

If your annual revenue exceeds $75,000, you’ll also need to register for GST. It’s wise to employ a professional accountant at this point (if you haven’t already) to help you navigate the quarterly business activity statements (BAS).

The importance of insurance for a handyman business

Insurance is critical for a handyman business. As a physical job undertaken on someone else’s property, the liability you face for mistakes, accidents and injuries can be significant. It might sound dramatic, but without insurance, you’re always just a moment away from financial ruin.

The greatest threat is injuring someone else or damaging their property. These accidents are covered by public liability insurance, and most basic policies cover between $5- $20 million in damages. If you complete work for a business, like a real estate agent or property manager, they may require you to meet a coverage minimum.

Other forms of insurance that a handyman should have include:

  • Vehicle insurance

  • Tool and equipment insurance

  • Income protection insurance

The necessary equipment for a handyman business

How much does it cost to start a handyman business? One of the biggest expenses can be the initial outlay for tools. Charged with a wide variety of tasks, you’ll require an extensive toolkit. Although the specific tools you choose will depend on the skills you have. Some of the more common handyman items include:

  • Hand tools: Hammers, mallets, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, files, chisels, clamps, tin snips, scrapers and fixings.

  • Power tools: Drills, saws, grinders, sanders.

  • Painting supplies: Brushes, rollers, trays, cleaners.

  • Plumbing tools: Pipe cutters, crimpers, flaring tools, threading set, tapping tool, plunger, tape.

  • Landscaping tools: Lawnmower, hedge trimmer, whipper snipper, posthole digger, shovel, rake, pruning tools.

  • Safety/miscellaneous: Ladder, extension cords, tool belt, dust masks, gloves, eye/ear/head protection, knee pads.

How to market a handyman business

Once you’re registered, insured and equipped, it’s time to find work. The home improvement industry is a competitive space, so you’ll need to work hard to stand out.

We go into more detail about marketing a small business in this guide, but the most effective strategies include:

  • Creating a website: As a handyman you probably won’t have a physical storefront, so it’s wise to create a digital version. Not only does this offer a potential client a place to shop your services, it also makes you Googleable – a search engine optimised website can see you constantly attracting new work without even trying, by coming up as a result for people who type “handyman [your location]” into Google.
Square Online

Sell in more ways with a free online store.

  • Social media: Like your website, social media is simply a place where your potential customers can get a sense of you and your work. Have fun with it by posting about your latest job or customer reviews.

  • Word of mouth: Go analogue by telling your family, friends and professional network about your new hustle. Personal recommendations are incredibly powerful, so you might be surprised at how effective this tactic is!

  • Job marketplaces: Consider posting about your services on general marketplaces like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, or job-specific marketplaces like hipages and Airtasker.

How to get paid as a handyman

Congratulations - you’ve secured your first job! The next step: getting paid. Where cash was once king for the handyman, few people keep much – if any – on them these days, so if you want to succeed, you’ll need to go digital:

  • Portable credit card reader: A portable credit card reader offers your clients the most convenient way to pay, and by taking care of the transaction there and then, you won’t need to chase payments. The Square credit card reader is a simple and low-cost way to take payments anywhere, anytime.

  • Phone payments: What if you aren’t physically present to take payment? Whether you’re asking for a deposit prior to the work or requesting payment after, the ability to do phone transactions, like those offered by Square Virtual Terminal, can be super handy on-the-go.

  • Invoicing software: As you grow, you might find that sending professional quotes and invoices is a more efficient way to operate. If you prefer this method, Square Invoices has you covered.

As the general population becomes less handy, the skill sets of handymen and handywomen will only become more valuable. If you hope to capitalise on this growing industry, you can trust Square to deliver the knowledge, tools and support that you need to succeed.