Starting a stone mason business is a good way to capitalize on your experience as a craftsman. For many contractors it is hard to find a subcontractor who is talented, reliable, and able to complete projects on time. If you are able to provide these qualities and can manage the day-to-day tasks required of a business owner, you will soon benefit from a profitable business.
Become a skilled mason through an apprenticeship program, technical college classes, or working alongside mason craftsmen. The International Masonry Institute web site lists educational opportunities, at imiweb.org. This may take as long as three years, but it is an investment in the success of your business.
Secure your local business license, state sales tax license, and unemployment tax account, as needed in your local community. Research the need for a contractor’s license in your state. This may be under the department of labor or the department of professional licensing in your state or province. For instance, in the state of Florida, contractors' licenses are regulated by the Division of Business and Professional Regulation.
Determine the best market for your services. Homeowners, general contractors, pool contractors, and landscape architects all need skilled masons.
List the benefits of hiring your company -- skilled craft, high-end product, reasonable cost, available financing. Use these messages in your marketing efforts by tailoring the specific messages to the target market. For instance, if you are marketing to pool contractors, create fliers for the contractors in your area and place an ad in the newsletter of your local chapter of a related industry association, such as the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals.
Hire employees who will improve your business. For masonry assistants, ask to see their work, even if it was a project completed for trade school. Use masonry assistants only under your supervision.
Consider hiring office help to handle customer inquiries, scheduling, and financial matters so you can spend your time in the field. If you will be in the field and your office assistant will be working independently, seek someone who has successfully worked on their own in other office environments. Again, check references to ensure this person is a self-starter and will complete tasks even if you are not in the office.
Manage the financial side of the business by keeping accurate and up-to-date records. Seek help from an accountant if this is challenging for you. Learn to read financial statements -- profit-and-loss statements and your balance sheet. This information will keep you informed of the financial health of your business.
Search for outside business expertise at critical stages of development for your business -- prior to opening, after one year, and before any major decision, such as whether to implement new marketing tactics, hire additional employees, or expand into new markets. Free advice is available from volunteers for SCORE, a group of retired business executives who advise business owners.
Take photos of all of your projects. Use these pictures in brochures and on your website to attract new customers.
Secure liability insurance to protect your personal and business assets in the event of a lawsuit.