- Randy Benton, Director of Intech Coating Systems
Time spent thinking strategically about all aspects of your painting business will help you save time and money—and increase your chances for success.
If you want to improve your odds of being successful, creating a business plan is a smart move. “When I started my business back in 1992, I jumped in headfirst—and I got banged up a little here and there,” admits Randy Benton, Director of Intech Coating Systems, Inc. of Arlington, Texas. “If I were to start a new painting business today, I would want a business plan."
Q: “Why Do I Need a Business Plan to Start a Painting Company?”A: “Having a business plan is a very important tool for any new company. A business plan gives your company the business structure and solid goals to work toward that will pay dividends,” explains Benton.
While it’s not actually a legal requirement, it will help you address many of the legal and financial concerns that every small business owner has when first starting out. Having a business plan for your painting company will also help you set the stage for growth and changes in the marketplace. Simply putting pen to paper will encourage you to ask yourself the tough questions about your business and what you want it to be.
“My vision is always about four to five years ahead,” explains Benoit Gagné, owner of Benoit Gagné Painting of Ottawa, Ontario. “Without a business plan, the business won't grow, or profits would always be the same.”
Intech Coating Systems Director Benton adds, “The plan helps keep you in tune with what you set out to accomplish and keeps the vision alive.”
Q: “What Are the Key Components of a Business Plan?”A: While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all business plan template for painters, typically there are two common approaches: standard and lean. The U.S. Small Business Administration outlines the standard approach as having the following sections:
Business Plan Sections:
- Services Offered: Beyond painting interiors and exteriors, what specialty services do you offer? Is there a particular skill set or specialized focus worthy of promoting that can differentiate your business?
“Consider a specialty like decorative, decks, restoration, plaster repair. There's less competition, so you can stand out more,” explains Tony Severino of Professional Painters in La Grange, Illinois. “A specialty of ours is painting kitchen cabinets, and people will pass our name around for that.
- Competitive Market Analysis: Learning about your immediate market is an ongoing endeavor. Consider these questions: Who are your main competitors, and roughly how much business do they handle? How are you different from, and hopefully better than, them? Do you see any market themes or trends? Where is there an unmet need in your market that you can fill?
- Strategy and Implementation Summary: This section explains how you will deliver the services you’ve outlined above. How will you roll out your services for launch? How will you attract business to your new company? How will you execute on that work?
- Management Summary and Staffing: In this section, don’t worry about years down the road—focus on what you need now to get off the ground. If you haven’t already, this is a good time to decide whether your business structure will be classified as an LLC, an S-corporation or a partnership. Are you doing all the work yourself for the time being? Do you have a business partner or a family member or friend who’s helping you out? Do you have subcontractors you’ll bring in and manage or part-time or full-time employees you’ll hire to help run your small business?
- Financial Plan and Growth: Being prepared is key to maximizing your success. Consider the following: What will it cost to launch your new business? What financial resources do you need, and will you need a loan from family or a bank? How do you plan to expand beyond your existing customer base, and how will you manage that additional work as well as the additional expenses involved? If you get more business than you can manage, how will you handle that? How will you weather business continuity challenges, like storms or pandemics?
A common goal is to look at where you want your business to be five years down the road: How will you get there, how much funding will you need and where will you get it from?
Q: “Whom Can I Ask for Help with My Business Plan?”A: Family or friends who have gone through this process, as well as former and current colleagues, are good resources for advice. Your Benjamin Moore contractor representative is another great resource who can offer you professional guidance and advice as you develop your plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration exists to help small businesses like yours be successful; they have a helpful guide to writing a business plan, complete with hypothetical examples. It’s also worthwhile to consult with an accountant who can give you experience-based advice to ensure that your tax implications are covered—an investment that will pay for itself come tax time.
Q: “Who Is My Business Plan For?”A: The most important audience for your business plan is you. It’s your roadmap to meeting your goals and achieving success.
Your business plan is also helpful for potential partners, investors, financial institutions, or family and friends—especially if they’re loaning you money to get you started or to expand.
“A bank or other financial institution will not give out a loan without a business plan,” explains Intech’s Randy Benton.
Just as your brush and rollers are essential equipment for the job, think of a well-crafted business plan as equally essential.
Remember: A Business Plan Will Help Your Painting Business SucceedEven if planning ahead isn't something that comes naturally, weaving in time to write and shape your business plan is a smart decision.
“Plan the work, then work the plan,” says Intech director Randy Benton.