Winter is just around the corner, so it’s a good time to start thinking about shoveling snow.
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Not getting snow shoveled for you, but doing it for others!
Snow shoveling usually gets written off as something kids do to make a few extra dollars on the weekend.
But, snow removal companies make real money shoveling snow for businesses and residences.
And, even individuals can turn snow shoveling into a lucrative side business when they do it correctly.
This article will show you how to do that!
If you live in an area that gets hit hard with snow in the winter, this post is for you.
Learn how to start, set up, and get customers for your snow shoveling business.
Benefits of Starting a Snow Shoveling Business
Look out, Home Depot snow removal!
You really can earn a profit by starting your own snow shoveling business.
What you have over big-name companies is a personal touch, and you already likely know some of your best-paying customers on a more personal level – your neighbors and local businesses!
Here are some of the benefits you’ll have as a business owner of a snow shoveling company:
Who wouldn’t want the chance to work whenever they were able to?
Unlike having a 9 to 5 job, being self-employed gives you tons of flexibility.
You set your schedule and pencil in customers when you’re able to take them.
Have a doctor appointment at 3:00? Work your schedule around it.
Need to bring the kids to school at 8:00? Start work when you’re done with the morning carpool.
Even if you only want to start a side business and keep your day job, you’ll still benefit from the flexibility that self-employment brings.
You can even shovel snow in the mornings and evenings, before and after work.
Or, use your weekends to make some extra money.
The choice is yours because you’re the boss!
Shoveling snow as a business has one of the lowest startup costs of any small business.
The only thing you’ll need to invest in right off the bat is a snow shovel.
Most other things can come later, like ice salt and a heavy-duty jacket, gloves, and hat.
For a decent snow shovel that can last through several seasons, you’ll want to invest in a professional shovel.
The wider, the better in most cases, as a wide shovel will help you clear more of a sidewalk or driveway in one swoop.
On average, you can expect to pay around $50 for a professional shovel.
Congratulations, you’ve just started a business for $50!
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Easy to Find Customers
Finding customers for your business couldn’t be easier for this industry.
Your ideal client base is located right in your neighborhood.
You’ll want to check with neighbors, friends, and family for anyone in need of your services.
You can even ask around local businesses for ones that might want to set up a contract with you for the winter for recurring work.
You won’t typically have to do much more marketing for yourself than posting your services on bulletin boards around town, advertising your services in local Facebook groups, or placing an ad in the paper.
If you don’t live in an area with consistent snowfall, this business won’t be very lucrative for you.
And, if you live in an area with heavy snowfall, you may find yourself with more business than you can keep up with by yourself.
But, recruiting people to work with you cuts into your profits.
It can be difficult to find a good balance between steady work and too much work.
Also, snow shoveling can be hard labor.
If you have any kind of back problem, this probably isn’t the best option for you because you can do further injury to yourself.
Be sure to clear your health with your doctor before starting this type of business.
How to Start a Snow Shoveling Business
What You Need to Start
This is pretty easy when it comes to a snow shoveling business.
You’ll generally only need a shovel and some customers to get started.
The good thing is that you can start the business with just one customer.
If you do a good enough job, you’re likely to get a good referral from the customer!
It’s a good idea, if you decide to turn your gig into an actual business, to get some business cards.
You can get a started set of 100 or so for pretty cheap, and there are tons of websites that will let you customize them with your branding for a fairly good price.
As your business expands, you might want to invest in more tools, like extra shovels or even a snow blower, to help make the job easier.
And, you can even enlist the help of a friend or two once you start getting enough profits from your business.
Should I Use a Snow Blower or Shovel?
As I mentioned, a snow blower purchase is something to consider.
Of course, this will be a much bigger investment than a snow shovel to start with.
You may want to save the cost of a snow blower for later in the season, once you start building up your customer base.
After all, it could eventually make you work more efficiently because it moves the snow much quicker than shoveling can.
Remember, though, that you’ll also need to spend money on gas for the snow blower, which is an additional expense.
If you plan to keep your business very small with only a few customers, a shovel should be just fine.
But, if you’re looking to expand your snow shoveling gig by getting some local businesses and a lot of residential customers on board, a snow blower could really be a good investment for you.
Warm Up Your Body to Prevent Injury
If you’ve ever shoveled snow before, which we’re going to assume you have if you’re considering turning it into a business, you know how physically demanding it can be.
It’s important to warm yourself up (not the heat way, but the muscle way!) before you shovel each day.
You can do this by moving your muscles in ways that are comfortable for you.
Turn your head from side to side, rotate your shoulders, twist at your waist, etc.
Spend about 10 to 15 minutes getting your muscles ready before you head out in the cold.
When you shovel snow, try to push the shovel instead of lift to reduce the strain you put on your back.
Where Can I Find Customers?
For this type of gig, finding customers is pretty straightforward.
You can start out just by asking your neighbors, friends, and family.
By doing so, you can at least get an idea of who might be interested in your services.
And, even if you don’t get any bites, at least you’re getting the word out so they can tell others who might need your help.
To go a little further into digging for customers, you can sell yourself on social media.
Use your personal Facebook profile to let others know that you’re looking for work.
Or, post in local Facebook groups to gauge interest.
You can also place an ad on Craigslist or in the local newspaper.
Check around the stores in your town, too.
Some of them have bulletin boards where people can place their business cards.
Figuring Out the Finances
Now that you’ve got the set up of your business figured out, it’s time to delve into the financial part.
This is the part of business that everyone loves and hates at the same time.
You love the money you get, but figuring out business expenses and profits can be challenging.
Fortunately, this business will only grow as much as you want it to.
You can choose to keep it small and simple or grow it into something bigger.
Of course, a bigger business gets a little more complicated with expenses and taxes.
Let’s cover the basics of finances with a snow shoveling business to get you started.
How Much Should I Charge?
You can either decide to charge a flat rate or an hourly rate, depending on what makes sense for the work you do.
If you plan to just shovel residential sidewalks and driveways, you might stick to a flat rate.
Shoveling business parking lots, though, might lean more toward an hourly rate.
Or, you can simply choose to affix a flat rate that scales according to the size of the space you shovel.
A small driveway is something you might charge $20 for.
Add in sidewalks, and it might be $30 total.
Large driveways and long sidewalks might warrant closer to $50.
Really, it boils down to prices you and your customers are comfortable with.
It’s better to start with a lower rate and move up from there than to turn potential customers away with crazy prices.
It’s a good idea to occasionally examine your rates by turning your profits into an hourly rate.
This way, you’ll see if you’re earning a desirable hourly rate when all is said and done.
For example, let’s say you charge $25 for a medium-sized driveway that took you 45 minutes to shovel.
That turns into an hourly rate of $31.25, which is great.
But, if you charged $25 for a large driveway and some sidewalks that took you an hour and a half to shovel, you now have an hourly rate of $16.66.
It’s not bad, but $31.25 sounds better, right?
How Much Can I Make?
This will all depend on your rates, how many customers you have, and how quickly you can shovel.
If you do an excellent job, you might be lucky enough to have some tips thrown your way, too!
Let’s say you have three customers in one day.
You charged two of them $20 and one $30.
Two gave you tips totaling $13.
Just from those three customers, you’ve made $83 in one day, for work that would likely take somewhere between 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the shoveled area.
This type of business is a good opportunity to get paid more than you would at a regular job for less hours each day.
How Many Customers Should I Have?
The number of customers you take on depends on how consistently they need your help and how big you want your business to be.
You might want to consider drawing up agreements with people to get more consistent work that you can rely on.
For example, you can create contracts that state that you’ll provide shoveling each day of snowfall over an inch or two.
This way, you’re guaranteed to have work on the days it snows and can do some fill-in work, like icing driveways and walkways, in between.
Just be sure not to take on more customers than you can handle.
If it’s just you flying solo, I wouldn’t suggest having more than ten regular customers at a time.
What About Business Taxes?
Even if you’re just shoveling snow as a side gig, you’re required, in the United States, to report that money on your taxes as other income.
And, depending on how large you want your business to be, it’s a good idea to look into business licenses and filing for your state and city.
This isn’t always a requirement, but it might be depending on where you live.
If you’re outside the U.S., check with the government offices that oversees taxes and businesses.
Start Your Business with Shovler
If you’re looking for the easiest possible way to set up a snow shoveling business without hassle, you can try Shovler.
Shovler is a handy mobile app that makes it easy to start a profile and find people in your area who need their homes or businesses shoveled.
You can set the app to alert you when a job near you is posted and sign on to view jobs whenever you’re available to work.
You could even find long-term customers by starting out with Shovler!
Shovler even lets you get paid by credit card through the app.
Shovler sets rates for jobs, which vary depending on the amount of snow, size of area, and more.
But, large sidewalks and driveways can pay around $75, and you can earn about $2 per square foot for business lots.
Shoveler does take a 15% fee out of your earnings, so keep that in mind before using it.
Still, the prices are very fair and competitive, even when you consider the fee.
The app is available for both iOS and Android devices. It’s worth checking out if you want to start quickly!
Conclusion: Shoveling Driveways for Money
I hope this article helped give you the confidence and information you need to get started on your snow shoveling business, no matter how big or small.
If you’re not sure about where to start, Shovler can give you a really helpful way to find customers without needing to market yourself.
If you’re lucky, some of them might turn to repeat customers!
Have you started, or considered starting, a shoveling business for snow?
Let us know in a comment how you got started and how it went!