You’re a builder, a creator. You focus your energy on cultivating things that last. This piece of your identity has bled its way into your preferred line of work. You’ve wondered about it, you’ve worried about it, you’ve put the dream off as long as you can, but the desire to build is still knocking. Your calling keeps calling, and you’ve finally decided to answer.
You want to start your own contracting business.
The motivation and willingness to put in the work have gotten you to this point, but you’re not sure where to go from here; what steps and precautions you need to take in order to ensure your company’s success.
There are three major steps to starting a contracting business in Virginia. These guidelines can help you break ground on your dream.
Step One: Create A Business Name
Choosing a name for your business is one of the most enjoyable parts of starting your company. It’s an extension of you and represents the things you value. There are no limits, or stipulations for what you can come up with.
Your name can be sentimental, or catchy. It can be something that people relate to or admire. Your business name can make people laugh or prompt them to ask questions about why you chose it. Don’t rush yourself. Pick something that sparks joy, and brings you pride.
There are a few additional factors to consider when selecting a name for your business. It’s important to make it unique. You don’t want people confusing your company with someone else’s. Try to make the spelling and punctuation as simple as possible so people are able to find you through internet searches or social media.
Make sure your business name doesn’t infringe on another company’s copyrights. You want to avoid conflict or lawsuits as much as possible.
Choose something that makes you stand out against the competition. The logo for your business contributes to its individuality as well. You can hire a designer to create your logo or you can come up with a concept yourself.
Step Two: Obtain Your License and Credentials
The state of Virginia has specific guidelines for contractors to obtain their licenses and other necessary certifications.
You will need an Employee Identification Number (EIN). This classifies you as a certified entity so you can file taxes for your business.
All construction work in Virginia over $1000 requires a license. You need to fill out your application and submit it to the Board of Contractors for approval. Be diligent with the information you provide and made sure that it’s accurate. If you submit satisfactory information the first time around, you can avoid having your application rejected or sent back for corrections.
Your license is essential to your business. Without it, you cannot legally get paid for your work. Ignoring this step can have catastrophic consequences.
Once you’ve obtained your contracting license, you can apply for your business license. These certifications are separated by count; make sure you submit your application to the correct district and follow the stipulations they provide. Some counties require additional or different pieces of paperwork.
Credentialing can also vary by jurisdiction. Before you begin a project, research the guidelines in that region. You may need additional certifications to work in that area. Notify your clients beforehand so they can schedule the project for after these certifications are obtained.
Step Three: Build a Portfolio
Creating a portfolio of quality work is an essential part of running a successful contracting business. Your clients need proof that you can provide the services that you’re advertising.
When you’re starting out, it’s beneficial to do a few small projects for free. This will give you the experience you need and encourage paying clients to hire you in the future.
Begin with minor renovations and small builds like sheds, or driveway overhangs. Once you master these skills in a professional setting, you can market them to higher-profile clients.
Photograph your work and compile a booklet of completed projects. You can also ask clients for letters of recommendation. If you have a website or any sort of social media presence, ask them to leave a review.
Networking and word-of-mouth are great marketing tools. Print business cards and hand them out to potential clients. You can place flyers in store windows or pin posters to telephone poles. Another marketing tool is sponsoring your local children’s sports programs. You can place your logo on the uniforms for exposure.
Loyal clients are always more reliable than constantly searching for new ones.
Focus on building relationships and adding value. Your character and work ethic goes a long way. Setting cornerstones will set the tone for your success.