A masonry business can prove to be a profitable venture because of the demand. Small masonry companies find a significant amount of work because large construction companies often don’t want to do the small jobs that both residential and commercial customers need. Let the market know you are available and prepare adequately to land the scores of jobs out there.
Get Trained and Qualified
You can learn the necessary skills to start your business by working for a mason or taking classes at a community college or trade school. Many of the formal training courses are part of a local apprenticeship program. You can earn journeyman status after spending three to four years working as an apprentice. The journeyman mason credentials will help you find work, look good on your marketing materials and may be required to work on commercial projects.
Target Your Marketing Efforts
At the time of publication, about 20 percent of the more than 85,000 masons working in the United States were self-employed. Most survived working on small residential projects such as fixing driveways, creating patios and working on fireplaces. You’ll land these jobs by targeting contractors and home builders and by gearing advertising to homeowners in your area. Local big box store employees also make residential referrals for masons. The work in commercial masonry is expected to grow, because most buildings now are made with a combination of stone, granite, glass, tile, brick and brick veneer. Project managers for commercial building companies usually subcontract this work. Property managers of commercial properties also will call you for touch-ups and small repairs.
Build an Inventory of Tools
When you apprentice for a large company or work for a contracted mason, you used their tools. To start your own business, you’ll need to invest in the tools of the trade yourself. The start-up costs for a small masonry business can be anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the number and size of the equipment you use. Trowels, levelers and other hand tools won’t set you back too much -- but more expensive equipment like diamond-blade saws, cement and mortar mixers, stone cutters and polishing tools can add up. You won’t need to rent office space, at least initially, so you can save start-up costs by working out of your home.
Invest in Computer Software
While you’ll want to set up typical small business accounting software and customer management programs, you can land bigger jobs when you have the computer capabilities to do things like accept blueprints electronically. With CAD programs, or computer-aided design software, you can work more effectively with large companies working on commercial projects. Additionally, run software platforms that can help you estimate, evaluate, design and construct a wide range of projects more effectively.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."