Main Street Blog

How to Start a Painting Business: The Best Guide for Beginners


There’s never been a better time to launch a painting company. The industry is currently worth $43 billion and has consistently grown by 4.2% over the last five years.

What’s driving the growth? For the most part, it’s a result of a rise in new housing and the increasing value of residential construction.

From being your own boss to making a good income, managing a painting business can be an exciting and rewarding venture. 

Thinking about getting into the painting industry but don't know where to start? We've created a step-by-step guide on how you can start your painting business in no time. Here’s what you need to know.


Questions to Ask Yourself Before Launching a Painting Business

Before you start a venture of this magnitude, you’ll want to pause and reflect. Business ownership is no walk in the park — it is a long-term commitment that affects you and those who depend on you. Frontloading the time you spend on this decision-making process could save you years of headache, as well as greatly improve your likelihood for successful outcomes.  Below are a few questions you might ask yourself as you evaluate whether or not you want to start a business and what kind of business might work best for you.


WHAT’S YOUR PERSONALITY OR LIFESTYLE?

Managing your own painting business is great, but it’s not for everyone. You'll have to put yourself out there — and sometimes that means getting rejected. If meeting or working with new people makes you uncomfortable, then you might struggle as a business owner. Are you willing to get out there and knock on doors to generate leads for your business? Do you have the grit to keep going if you give your first 50 estimates and don’t close a single deal? 

Consider your location, too. Depending on whether you plan to focus on providing residential or commercial painting services, your territory could either make or break your business. The average age of homes, quantity of homes, and median home value are all factors you should consider. If a house is more than 15 years old, the risk of harmful chemicals used in its construction, such as asbestos or lead paint, increases, which will increase the difficulty of completing these painting jobs and decrease your margins. You can click on the above links for means of identifying those metrics for whatever territory you would be starting a business in.


WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT BUDGET?

Take an honest look at your finances. Will you and those who depend on you be able to live comfortably if you have a slow start and it takes you six months to generate any revenue? 

There are a lot of variables that define how much it will cost you to get started. Some of the hard costs that need to be considered are business formation, General liability insurance, workers comp insurance, physical and digital marketing for lead generation, website, graphic design, and more. If you’re starting the business from scratch, you could see these startup costs ranging anywhere from $10,000 - $100,000 or more.   

Determine how much you're ready to invest, the startup costs, and how much revenue you need to generate in order to meet your income goals.


WHAT IS YOUR EXPERTISE IN THIS FIELD?

Be objective about your current knowledge regarding providing painting services. Do you already have painting expertise? If not, do you plan to go through training? If you expect to work with subcontractors, do you have the ability to manage their production to the high-quality standards needed to generate five-star reviews?


Getting Started

Once you’ve gone through the self-assessment process, it’s time to get to business. Here’s everything you need to prepare for success.


CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN

They say failing to plan is planning to fail, and it’s true. Business owners need a roadmap to follow in order to guide their company.

Here are a few components to include in your business plan:

  • S.M.A.R.T goals: S.M.A.R.T stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound. Set goals that are ambitious but realistic enough not to discourage you.

  • Create a mission statement: Ask yourself what’s driving you to pursue this business. What’s your mission? What value do you want to bring?

  • Target personas: Be specific about who you’re targeting. Where do they live? How can you help them solve their problems?

  • S.W.O.T analysis: S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Study the current market, identify who your competitors are, and figure out how you can stand out.

Hiring an experienced business consultant during your journey goes a long way, but it can get expensive. At Main Street, we provide free training and coaching so you won’t be going it alone.


BUSINESS LICENSE, INSURANCE, AND PERMIT

Anytime you’re launching a business, there’s some paperwork involved in order to establish the legal tax entity with your state. Certain states even require licensing to complete painting jobs, which may require you to have any of the following:

  • Proving your past work experience in the painting or home improvement industry

  • Providing a financial statement that shows your financial stability

  • Passing state or county exams

  • Paying a fee to register your business

In nearly all cases, one of the first things you can do is get your business registered with the secretary of state in the state where you’ll be doing business. Each state has specific laws, so be sure to find out what your state requires.

The next step is to get a federal EIN (Employer Identification Number). You can apply for your EIN on the IRS website. Don’t overlook this step — this is the number you’ll be using to set up your business bank account and file taxes.

Once that's done, you'll need to get insurance. How much you'll pay depends on your equipment value, the number of painters, and other factors.

Getting all the necessary permits and insurance can be time-consuming and stressful, but it’s a necessary part of becoming a business owner. At Main Street, our training and coaching program for starting a painting business provides support and resources that can help you quickly and efficiently overcome some of these seemingly daunting hurdles. That way, you're able to put all your focus into what matters most: providing world-class service to homeowners and driving revenue for your business.


Necessary Equipment for a Painting Business

Investing in tools can be expensive, but it can pay dividends once you’re up and running. Here’s a checklist of painting equipment you’ll need for your company if you’re starting from scratch:

  • Extension pole: You’ll need this for rolling out walls and ceilings.

  • 16-foot extension ladder: This will come in handy for stairwells and exterior jobs.

  • One brush per person: Make sure each painter has a brush to do their job.

  • Fluorescent light: You’ll need fluorescent lighting for interior painting.

  • Tool bucket: A tool bucket is useful when you’re carrying your equipment around on the job.

  • Caulk gun: Caulk guns help fill in gaps between wood and walls.

  • Sandpaper: You’ll need this for sanding down peeling areas.

  • Drop cloths: These are essential so you don't make a mess in someone's home.

  • Small fan: A fan helps dry out walls after you’ve finished painting them.

  • Airless paint sprayer: This is the most expensive item on this list, but it helps speed up the painting process dramatically.

If you plan on working with subcontractor crews, they’ll typically lessen or completely eliminate the need for you to have your own equipment. Main Street painting businesses are led down a path that requires no initial investment in equipment, which drives some of the efficiency in our lean and scalable startup model. 


Build a Company Website

A well-designed and search-engine-optimized company website can be one of your most important marketing assets. It establishes authority and makes your business easier to find for potential customers, especially if you’ve put some intentionality into building out your local search presence through local SEO.

If you’re creating your website on your own, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow.

1) BUY A UNIQUE DOMAIN

Run through a list of domain names you'd like to use. From there, figure out which one is available and pick your favorite. 

When it’s time to register your domain name, here’s a list of platforms we recommend:
2) Create Your Design

You have three options when building your website:
  • Code it yourself: If you have a web development background, you can make the site yourself. Keep in mind that this is going to take time you could be spending on other aspects of your business.

  • Use DIY software: Many platforms offer built-in templates that help create sites. Our top picks include Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly.

  • Hire a freelancer or agency: If you feel completely lost, you can always hire professionals to help. You can look for web agencies or freelancers to create your site, but get ready to pay around $500-$3,000.

3) DON’T WAIT TO GET STARTED

Your website is a critical way for customers to find you. Don't put off launching your site because it's not "perfect" or the steps seem complicated. 

Many painting businesses don't even have a website. Business owners get busy with other aspects of growing their brand, and creating a web presence gets overlooked. 

At Main Street, we understand how important your digital presence is for driving revenue. For business owners that are selected to join our program, we provide complimentary state-of-the-art solutions for local marketing, branding, and website development with no upfront fees.


Getting Your First Painting Clients
This is the fun part.

Now that you have done all the hard work, it’s time to find clients. Here are some of the most common marketing techniques that’ll help you land your first painting gig in no time:


DOOR-TO-DOOR MARKETING

Door-to-door can be daunting, but it is a predictable and repeatable means of getting customers.

Door-to-door marketing is simple. First, you select which neighborhood you want to target. Then, you knock on as many doors as possible to pitch your painting services.

It's going to take courage, but trust us — it's worth it.

We know how intimidating door-to-door marketing can be for beginners. We provide proven scripts so you won't be starting from scratch. Practice your pitch a few times, and you’ll be confident enough to approach anyone and sell your services.


WORD OF MOUTH

Another excellent way to get leads is to talk to people around you. Talk to friends and family and ask them for referrals. It’s possible that they know someone who needs house painting and could use your help. Asking clients for referrals is also an excellent strategy to get the word out about your business.


FLYER DROPS

This method consists of dropping flyers in an area to get calls from potential clients. While expensive, it can help you generate a healthy and predictable flow of leads if executed correctly.

For example, let's say you spend $1,000 for 2,000 flyers. As a result, you may get seven calls, of which three convert into jobs that average $3,500 in revenue. You've just generated $10,500 from that advertising campaign alone.


LEAD PROVIDERS

As a last tip, there are various lead providers out there to help you track down potential customers who need painting services.  Our marketing team will get you set up on sites such as Thumbtack and HomeAdvisor to generate these new client leads and optimize your listings for success.


Estimating a Painting Project

Determining how much to charge for a painting job can be a challenge for beginners. Here are things to take into account when billing your client:

  • Examine the job site: Are there any factors in the client’s home that may affect the price?

  • Cost of materials: How much will you invest in equipment for the job?

  • Cost of paint: How much are you planning to invest in paint per gallon?

  • Labor cost: How many painters will you need for the job? How much will you pay them per hour?

  • Marketing cost: How much did you invest in marketing to land the client?

Once you’ve calculated all of these things, add everything up, plus the markup, to estimate how much the project will cost you.


Common Mistakes to Avoid
There are always pitfalls when you’re starting a new venture. Take some advice from our experts and avoid these common mistakes.


MISTAKE #1: HIRING THE WRONG SUBCONTRACTORS

The subcontractors you hire could make or break your business.

Don’t rush this step. Take the time to hire quality house painters you know will get the job done. A sloppy team of painters will make clients unhappy and lose money for your business.


MISTAKE #2: NOT TRACKING YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS

We encourage you to try out various marketing techniques. However, make sure to track the effectiveness of each one.

What might work best for someone else might not work for you. For example, if you've been killing it with door-to-door marketing, but your flyer drop campaigns are falling flat, then it's best to focus on the former. The key here is that you’ve meticulously tracked your results and are able to use that data to validate your best lead sources for generating predictable, repeatable revenue.


MISTAKE #3: CHARGING TOO LITTLE FOR YOUR SERVICES

We get it — launching a painting business for the first time can be daunting. That’s no reason to underestimate yourself. Know your worth and charge what’s right. Customers will pay a premium for services that are delivered by a business they trust.


How Main Street Makes it Easy

As you can see, there’s a lot involved with setting up your own painting business, but it’s an exciting opportunity. Main Street streamlines the process to remove the guesswork, helping you get up and running with your business sooner — generating leads, closing estimates, and completing jobs with your crews. 

Main Street streamlines the process to remove the guesswork, helping you get up and running with your business sooner — generating leads, closing estimates, and completing jobs with your crews. 

Our unique training process gives you all the tools you need to take your business live, generate leads, and begin giving estimates quickly. Here are some examples of what you’ll get when you onboard with us:

  • Coaching to guide you every step of the way of building your painting company

  • Access to a library of over 500 training modules, from winning sales to determining estimates

  • Owning your own business while being part of the Main Street brand

  • Continuous support from a strong team of marketers, designers, and coaches

Get Down to Business

Ready for the next step in your career? Let’s talk. See if you qualify by applying to our New Owner Program. We’re happy to walk you through the steps of what it takes to get started with Main Street, so you can see if this is right for you. With a little bit of hard work — and the right process in place — you could be the successful owner of a profitable, growing painting business in just a few short months.
More Resources