Have you ever wanted to start up a lifestyle service business like a gardening business? My husband has run his gardening business on the side for almost 5 years, and in today’s article, we are sharing our experiences as part of our side hustle series.
Please note that we live in Australia so this experience may not be applicable to your situation. I encourage you to seek professional advice when starting a business.
In 2016 my husband was the primary caregiver of our two boys and studying full time at University to become a teacher. He was keen to take on a part-time/casual job to help with our bills however it seemed an impossible task as his availability changed so often due to university, placements, and kids’ activities. This is not an unusual predicament, and I know many parents and students who have struggled to find casual/ part-time work that fits in with other commitments.
To get around the availability issues he and I discussed setting up a gardening business in our local area. We live in an area with large gardens and had noticed that a high percentage of our neighbors outsourced their gardening tasks so the market was already there. The idea also sounded perfect because we didn’t need to spend a lot of money to get started as we already had all the equipment (thanks to maintaining our own large garden).
Setting the Business Up Legally
Setting up the business was straight forward, we decided on a name, double checked the business name registers to ensure it wasn’t already taken, and then booked an appointment with our local accountant. Our accountant did the heavy lifting for us in terms of setting up the business and structure (we rang around for prices before proceeding to get the best rate). For us getting a professional to set up the business was worth it, and it was under $200 for what we needed. Our accountant was also important in providing us with additional information as to record keeping and other important legal requirements from a tax perspective.
Once we had the legalities set up, we organised business insurance. Getting business insurance wasn’t as easy as getting car insurance and is a little more tailored to your individual business requirements (e.g. there are a few more questions to answer). Due to our existing home and car insurance being with a certain insurance company already and our discounts for multi policies we opted to go with them.
Marketing and Sales Funnels
We have kept our marketing very simple from the start with our gardening business.
- Created a logo thanks to my awesome mum and graphic designer.
- Purchased some simple business cards (lowest spec available) from Vista Print using a coupon.
- Canva to create a flyer to place on community notice boards.
We don’t have a social media presence for our business. We would’ve happily created this if we needed it but have found enough work with our current sales funnels.
Getting our first customer
Our first customer came from a flyer we printed from home and placed at our local community board in our shopping centre. The flyer had the details of the gardening services we provided, and the business cards attached to the bottom to be taken by customers. My husband got a call within 2 days of putting up the flyer.
Growing our customer base
Our first customer became a regular customer straight away opting for a weekly gardening service. My husband was upfront from the start with all his customers that he was a student and that there may need to be changes to the scheduled time of a service. Being upfront from the start set up the right expectations for everyone.
Our first customer quickly turned into two and three thanks to the power of referrals. This continues to remain our best sales funnel. Our community is extremely tightknit, and people in our community want to employ locals which is why referrals have been so successful for us.
Over the years our customers have remained pretty stable with a number of regular customers, and a number of repeat once off customers. We still get new customers from our referrals and these have often coincided with our existing customers moving and no longer requiring our services. When we do want more customers, we revert to our usual strategy which is putting up a single flyer on the community board. We find that for every flyer we put up it returns one customer back to us.
How many hours do we spend on this side hustle?
My husband sets aside one day a week for gardening work which equates to approximately 6-8 hours. There is very little time spent on admin related tasks as we use an app for invoicing customers (Joist – we use the free version), and have outsourced our tax requirements.
How much does this side hustle make?
It generates approximately 15k per year in income prior to any tax and expenses. Due to the tax deductions, we are legally able to claim (again make sure you talk to a certified tax agent) this side hustle has been more financially beneficial for us than getting an additional part-time/casual job as an employee.
Will you continue to do this side hustle in the future?
The short answer to this is yes so long as my husband still enjoys doing it. He enjoys doing it as a back up to his regular job, and it’s a side hustle that can be scaled up very quickly if needed (by upping our non-existent marketing).
Would you recommend starting a lifestyle / service business?
100% yes. Dependant on the service you provide costs are often quite low to get started, and the demand for lifestyle services such as gardening and cleaning continues to grow as our lives get busier.
I would love to hear about your experiences feel free to add them in the comments.
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