Becoming your own boss and running a painting business is an exciting prospect, but it can be hard to know exactly how to get started. There are lots of factors to consider to ensure your business is set on strong foundations.
If you’re keen to take the journey, we’ve put together some key information on starting a painting business in Australia.
What’s in this guide?
What skills, knowledge or requirements do I need to start a painting business?
To position yourself as a professional painter offering a quality service, you’ll naturally need to have some knowledge and experience with painting techniques and paint products. It also helps to be detail-oriented and have a good aesthetic eye. Setting up a business will also require some management and communication skills.
Here are a few skills and requirements to consider when getting started:
- The ability to coordinate colours and patterns
- Organisational skills
- Physical dexterity – balance and strength
- Good soft skills to deal with customers
- Be capable of measuring spaces that need to be covered
- Able to use scaffolds and ladders
- Project planning
- Time management.
What courses or qualifications do I need to complete?
The main qualification for painting recognised in Australia is the Certificate III in Painting and Decorating. You can do this with a Registered Training Organisation such as TAFE or as part of a traineeship. You’ll also need to obtain a White Card which is a ‘Work Safely In The Construction Industry’ certification. This is required by law for anyone working on a construction site or projects involving construction.
A subsidised Certificate III in Painting and Decorating at TAFE can range from $2,990 to $8,570 including an apprenticeship. The full non-subsidised price is around $14,270.
Some states in Australia require a painter’s licence before you can get started. You can apply for one of these once you’ve registered for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have officially chosen your business name:
Equipment needed to start a painting business
Your painting business will operate mostly out of your van with a selection of painting tools at the ready.
Here’s some of the equipment often needed to set up a painting business:
- Paint trays
- A caulking gun
- Protective clothing
- Breathing masks.
To run your business efficiently, it’s likely that you’ll also need some basic computer software and equipment to handle the admin side of your company. You may need:
What business structures do I need to consider before starting a painting business?
The simplest, most hassle-free way to start your painting business may be as a sole trader. This works well if you just want to start a small enterprise and have complete control over how your business is operated. Alternatively, if you want to share the responsibility you could create a partnership and collaborate with others.
- Sole trader. Operating your painting business as a sole trader is a straightforward way to get started and have complete freedom in how you run your business.
- Partnership. If you want to partner with one or more other people in your business, you can set up a partnership. This means all members will share equal control and responsibility for the business.
- Proprietary Company. Setting up a company can be a more time consuming and complicated process, but it has advantages including greater flexibility for tax planning and the ability to raise capital by bringing on additional shareholders.
As previously mentioned, the initial stages of your business set up will need to include applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and registering your business name. While an ABN is not strictly required by the Australian Taxation Office until your annual turnover reaches $75k, it will be necessary when invoicing clients and for tax purposes.
Do I need any legal documents written up before I start operating? What about online legal services?
While all the necessary legal components involved in setting up a business can seem daunting, there are plenty of online legal services to help you get through this initial process.
Here’s some of the important legal documents you’ll need for a painting business:
- Client agreement: This document – sometimes known as a service level agreement – sets out the expectations and obligations for every job for both you and your customer.
- Partnership agreement: If you’re going into a partnership, you’ll need to draw up an agreement to ensure both you and your partner are protected in your venture.
- Employment agreements: As you take on more staff or external contractors, it’s very important to have employment agreements in place so everyone is clear on expectations.
You’ll also want to think about your insurance needs. For example, public liability insurance is especially important given the physical work involved in a painting business; getting this type of business cover can offer protection if you injure someone or damaging their property from your business activity.
Find legal services and free downloadable templates online
How do I build up my customer base?
When you’re first getting started, you can quickly find customers by posting your services on online marketing platforms. Some of the leading platforms in Australia include:
- Airtasker. Easily connect with customers and make offers on job posts.
- hipages. Find quality customer leads with this professional platform for tradespeople.
- tradiesonline.com.au. Add your business to this Australian site and find customers fast.
It may be a good idea to download the apps for these platforms so you can browse job postings and quickly make offers. Airtasker updates in real-time and you can communicate via messages with potential customers while you’re on the go.
Other places you might want to consider advertising your services are business directories such as White Pages and True Local.
How much should I charge my customers?
Painters typically charge anything between $2,500 and $20,000 on average for a painting job. There are several factors to consider when setting your prices for a painting job, including the size of the home or building.
Firstly you’ll need to do a site visit and take measurements to help with your estimate. Then you’ll need to do an estimate of the cost of paint, materials and labour needed and add your markup.
Frequently asked questions
How do I write a business plan for a painting company?
Look into the market in your area, analyse the products you’ll need and think about what makes you unique as a business. Then sit down and brainstorm how you want to run your business, your overall vision for the future, your preferred company structure and target market. Then go through the necessary steps to draw up your plan.
How do painters get clients?
In addition to word-of-mouth business, having a strong website and driving traffic to it by using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques may help you get noticed online.
You could also leverage social media and you may want to look into Facebook ads. Make sure you list your business on popular directors such as Yelp and Yellow Pages under the ‘Painter & Decorator’ categories.
How can I grow my painting business?
To grow your business, you’ll need to build on your marketing and engage with potential customers regularly. You may want to look into setting up a Customer Relationship Management software(CRM) to capture and track your interactions with previous clients and prospective customers.
You can bring interested customers into an email list by using online ads such as Google and Facebook ads. This way you can leverage inbound marketing by having your customers come to you.
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