Starting a small land clearing business can be a great way to make some extra money, and it’s an opportunity open to anyone willing to put in the work. There are a few things you need to do to get your business off the ground, but once you’re up and running, you’ll be able to start clearing land for people in your community.
One of my favorite things about land clearing is that you can do it as a side hustle. If you’re already working a full-time job, you can clear land on the weekends or during your free time. It’s pretty straightforward to start your own business. And, if you’re retired or have some flexibility in your schedule, you can also clear land during the weekdays. Many retirees start land clearing businesses.
In this article, we’ll tell you exactly how to start a small land clearing business. We’ll cover everything from how to get started, what you need to learn in the land clearing industry, how to find customers and how to price your services.
If you’re ready to start, let’s jump in!
What is land clearing, and why do it?
Depending on the area and terrain, land clearing can involve anything from trimming trees and bushes to excavating rocks and debris. It’s a necessary step in any construction project, as it allows for a level foundation and easy access to the desired build site.
There are many reasons why you might need to clear land. Maybe you’re planning to build a home or commercial building, create a garden or farm, install a pool or driveway, or improve the value of your land for future development. Whatever your reasons, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of how to start a small land clearing business before you start.
Is land clearing a good business to start?
There are many factors to consider before starting a small business, and each person’s situation is different. However, land clearing can be a good business to start for several reasons-
- It requires little initial investment. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or materials to get started, as you can choose to lease the equipment. We’ll discuss renting vs. buying the equipment later.
- There is always a demand for land clearing services. As long as construction is happening, there will be a need for land clearing.
- You can start small and gradually grow your business as you gain more experience.
- It’s a relatively simple business to run. Once you have a land clearing business plan and the necessary equipment, you can typically complete most projects on your own or with a small crew.
So yes, land clearing can be an excellent business to start, and it’s fairly easy to build a successful land clearing business, but there are some things you need to consider before embarking on this journey.
What equipment do you need for land clearing?
There are various pieces of machinery and equipment that you’ll need for land clearing, depending on the size and scope of the project. For smaller projects, you might only need a chainsaw, brush cutter, and weed whacker.
For larger projects, you’ll likely need heavier equipment like a skid steer loader with attachments, an excavator, bulldozer, or track hoe. You may also need to rent a dumpster to dispose of any debris.
When we start mentioning excavators and bulldozers, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the cost. Yes, they’re expensive to buy or rent, but you can offset some of these costs by finding other ways to use the equipment when you’re not land clearing. For example, you could offer to excavating services to dig footings for foundations or pools.
Nonetheless, you have to decide what equipment you’ll need and whether you want to buy, rent, or lease it.
Renting vs. buying special equipment.
There are pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to buy or rent the equipment you need for your land clearing business.
On the one hand, buying gives you the benefit of owning the equipment outright, so you can use it as much or as little as you want without having to pay additional fees. It also means that any profits generated from using the equipment go directly into your pocket (unless you’re making loan payments).
On the other hand, renting or leasing provides some flexibility as you’re not committed to owning the equipment long-term. This can be helpful if you only have a few land clearing projects lined up and don’t want to tie up all your capital in equipment. It also means that you don’t have to worry about maintenance and repairs, as that’s typically the rental company’s responsibility.
Determine what type of entity your business will be.
Now that we have the equipment out of the way, it’s time to decide what type of business entity you want your land clearing business to be. The most common small business structures are sole proprietorships and LLCs. There are corporations, but for simplicity, I won’t get into those.
Sole proprietorships are the simplest and most common type of business structure. This is when a single individual owns and operates the business. The most significant advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it’s easy to set up and requires very little paperwork. Here in Texas, for example, you only need to complete a single form at the county clerk’s office to register your business name (aka DBA or “doing business as”).
The biggest disadvantages of a sole proprietorship are that the business owner is personally liable for all debts and losses, and raising capital can be more challenging. So if you tear up someone’s foundation at a job site, your personal assets may be on the hook for the damages.
LLCs provide some protection for the business owner’s personal assets as the LLC is considered a separate legal entity from its owner. This means that if the LLC incurs debt or is sued, only the LLC’s assets are at risk, not the business owner’s personal assets. If that track hoe you purchased for the business ends up tearing up a neighbor’s fence, the neighbor can only sue the LLC, not you personally.
The most significant disadvantage of an LLC is that they require a bit more paperwork to set up than sole proprietorships, as you have to file articles of incorporation (or organization) with the state. You’ll also likely have to pay an annual filing fee to the state.
Pricing your services.
You’re all set! You now have a business! But how much should you charge for your services? This is always a difficult question to answer, but there are a few things you can keep in mind.
One of the best ways to determine how much to charge is to find out what other businesses in your area are charging for similar services. You can do this by searching online or calling around to get quotes. Once you have an idea of the going rate, you can adjust your prices up or down based on the quality of your services and the equipment you’re using.
A more deliberate approach is to use a pricing method known as cost-plus pricing. This involves adding up all your costs (equipment, fuel, labor, etc.) and then adding a profit margin. For example, let’s say it costs you $100 to clear an acre of land. You could charge $150 per acre and make a $50 profit, or you could charge $200 per acre and earn a $100 profit.
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Charging a lower price may help you win more jobs, but it also means that you’ll have to do more work to make the same amount of money. Charging a higher price may mean that you’ll have to do less work, but it also means that you may lose out on jobs to cheaper competitors. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what pricing strategy makes the most sense for your business.
I recommend choosing one method and sticking with it for a few months to see how it goes. If you’re not happy with the results, you can always switch to the other method or make adjustments to the prices you’re charging.
People need to find you, so start marketing!
You’re ready to start clearing land and making money! But before you can start making money, you need to let people know that your business exists. Marketing is how you do that.
Fortunately, the internet makes marketing your small business more straightforward and cheaper than ever. You can reach a large audience of potential customers with just a few clicks of a mouse.
There are several ways to market your business, but some of the most common and effective methods include setting up a Google Business Profile, website, and social media.
Set up a Google Business Profile.
The first thing I recommend all small businesses to do is set up a Google Business Profile. This is how you show up in Maps when people search for businesses like yours.
This is free and easy to do. You simply go to https://www.google.com/business and follow the prompts to set up your profile. There is a verification process that may take a few weeks, but once your profile is verified, it will start appearing in Google Maps when people search for businesses like yours.
Once your profile is set up, you want to be sure it is optimized for search. This means including relevant keywords in your business name, description, and services offered. You also want to ensure you have high-quality photos showing off your work. Ensure all fields are completed and that your hours, website, and contact information are accurate.
If this seems too complicated, don’t worry. We set up and optimize Google Business Profiles for our clients all the time and would be happy to do it for you. In fact, we include this service with our website packages.
Get a professional website.
Far too often, I see small businesses that rely solely on their Google Business Profile to market their business. This is a mistake.
While your Google Business Profile is essential, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also need a professional website.
Your website is how you control the narrative about your business. It’s how you show off your work, list your services, and tell your story. It’s like having your business open 24/7/365.
Your website is also how you capture leads. You can include a contact form, a call now button, or appointment scheduling software on your website. If a user visits your site, what do you want them to do?
There are several ways to build a professional website. You can hire a web designer or use a website builder like Squarespace or Wix.
We recommend hiring a professional web designer as this will ensure your website is built to rank well in search engines, is mobile-friendly, and includes all the features you need to market your business effectively. It’s also not as expensive as you might think.
For example, our starter website package starts at just $500 and includes everything you need to get started: custom design, up to 5 service pages, lead capture forms, call now buttons, and more. Our goal is to make it super easy for small businesses to get started.
Don’t forget social media!
Lastly, don’t forget social media. This is a great way to market your business, connect with potential customers, and build relationships.
You don’t need accounts on every social media platform. Just choose the one or two that make the most sense for your business and where your target customers are most likely to be. For example, since you’re probably targeting homeowners, Facebook and Instagram will probably be the best bet.
Once you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to start creating content.
The most important thing with social media is to be consistent. Posting sporadically will not get you results. You need to post regularly, at least once per week, if not more. Show your recent projects, share tips, post photos, and videos, and be sure to respond to comments and messages promptly. What would work out great for a small land clearing business is before and after photos of your work.
What are you waiting for? Go start your small land clearing business!
Hopefully, this article has given you the confidence to go out and start your own small land clearing business. It’s a great way to be your boss, make good money, and help people improve their homes and properties.
If you need any help getting started, we’re here for you. We offer several services that can help, from website design to social media marketing. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.