According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008 approximately 21 percent of landscapers were self-employed. Projected demand for landscapers from 2008-2018 is a 20 percent increase – more than the national average for most other occupations. Landscapers provide landscaping designs for home owners and businesses and then put the plan in motion, with the results of beautiful curb appeal for a home or business. Many also provide lawn maintenance services. Starting a landscape business in Texas can be a successful venture for someone skilled and ready to do the work.
Determine what type of business entity you wish to assign to your landscape business. Doing business of any type in Texas requires you, by law, to register that business and you must pick an entity for registration purposes. Possible entities include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies.
Obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service website (IRS.gov). You will need this number for registering for Texas tax accounts.
Access the Texas Secretary of State SOSDirect website and register for an account. This will allow you to file your registration documents online, saving time.
Log in to your new SOSDirect account and choose the appropriate forms to file, based upon the business entity you chose. If you prefer to register your business by mail, download the appropriate forms from the Secretary of State website.
Visit the U.S. Census Bureau website and obtain the North American Industry Classification System code number for a landscaping business. The 2007 NAICS code numbers for landscape services were 541320 or 561730, depending on the services provided.
Register for a Texas Sales Tax account number. You must have this account if you charge clients for plants, rocks and other landscaping items. The state will charge you sales tax on these items and having an account is the only way you can charge that sales tax to the client. To register you will need your NAICS number, Social Security numbers for all of the business’ owners/officers, an EIN number and the registration number assigned to the business by the Texas Secretary of State.
Apply for a Texas Landscape Architect License through the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners. You will also need to register your business with the board. Both registrations are a requirement under Texas law.
Know your environment. Be familiar with plants that grow best in Texas. The hardiness zones for Texas are zones six through nine.
Decide whether you will work exclusively with residential or commercial clients, or provide services for both markets.
Determine how you will charge clients for your services. Options include an hourly rate, monthly fees for regular maintenance, by the scale and scope of each particular job or by square footage of the area you work on. You will also need to include charges for the supplies you need to complete a job, such as plants, rocks and dirt.
Obtain the equipment and tools you will need for your Texas landscaping business. Large scale businesses need everything from shovels to dump trucks and backhoes. Smaller landscaping businesses may consider contracting out larger portions of the job (such as hauling away dirt) and just purchase the basic items, including shovels and other typical lawncare items and a regular pick-up truck. Smaller businesses can purchase or rent other items as the need arises for each job.
Acquire Texas Worker’s Compensation insurance if you plan to have any employees. What you need for your business depends on a lot of factors, so it’s best to visit the Texas Department of Insurance website for thorough information.
Put together a portfolio of previous work to show potential clients what you’re capable of, even if it’s your own front yard. You will need something to show them, so offer your services to friends and relatives to have something to show off.
Start a website for your business and advertise online and through local publications such as the phone book. Visit potential clients door-to-door. Start an e-mail marketing campaign. All of these are great ways to get the word out about your business.
You will also need to insure your business since there is potential for accidental harm to come to someone’s property, such as hitting a water pipe while digging. Shop around with local and national insurance companies to find the best policy for your business needs.