Preamble: I am starting my second year in business and would like to offer some help to those interested. Other members here may agree or disagree with what I say. If I say anything that you believe is incorrect, dangerous, or ignorant, please call me out on it.
You don’t need a lot of pressure washing experience to start this business.
Watch some youtube videos on softwashing, read some of the posts on here, use the search feature on this site, if you are unsure of what to search for, ask people on here for things to search for. 80% of the information you need has been discussed already. Hang out, try not to start drama or derail threads. It’s disrespectful and creates a bunch of garbage for people to read when searching for advice.
Always make sure you test what you are doing on a property that knows you are doing this as a test. Never go to a job and make it your first time doing it.
Be careful of who you get your advice from
Take advice from everybody, but only apply the things that are repeated by multiple people. Once you establish your base knowledge you can start testing the more esoteric things.
Your health should be your number one priority. Inhaling bleach all day is horrible for your health. Wear a mask, incorporate it into your price. Wear gloves when using hot water. Use proper safety protocols when on roofs or ladders. The same goes with anything else you are doing. Also, don’t overlook driving. You will most likely be on the road a bit more. Pay attention, drive safe, no texting and driving etc.
Your friends, family, acquaintances, whoever else may put you down.
As your business starts taking form people will put you down, hate what you are doing, attempt to make you feel bad, and many other negative things. No one will understand your business or the amount of time you are putting into it. People will call you selfish, arrogant, greedy, and many other names. Use this as motivation. Once they see your success they will say “You are just lucky, it must be so easy for you”. They will minimize your success and attribute it to luck.
Stop taking advice from people who are not business owners
These people are not business owners, never ran a business, have no ideas the struggles you face. It’s like talking politics with a family pet. A complete waste of time.
No money to start up, no problem
Most businesses should be a rag to riches story. You don’t need a $10,000 trailer with a truck wrapped, office, website, etc. You need the basics. Buy or rent a pressure washer, use or rent a truck, include it in your first purchase price, take money upfront with a contract if needed. If you go to a church or have some sort of large community involvement, ask everyone for small donations and say you will clean the church with the equipment you get. Think outside the box, pop can drive, do whatever it takes. The only reason you don’t have the money to start your business is because you have not acquired it yet. If you want it bad enough you will get it.
File your LLC and get a business bank account asap
Both of these are very easy to do. Spend 10 minutes in google and you will learn how.
You don’t need a business plan
You don’t even have a business yet, why spend hours doing something when you don’t even have your first paying customer. Get your customers, get your insurance, start your business and refine it down the road. You don’t need a business plan for investors or bank credit. Your sales will be proof of concept. Money does not lie.
Stop over complicating everything
Don’t spend countless hours optimizing a business that is not even started yet. Do you have a pressure washer, can you clean something? Ok, get a client, make a deal on a handshake or whatever, get paid. You can optimize everything later. Don’t go ready, aim, fire. Go ready, fire, aim. Most people that go read, aim, fire will end up going. ready… ready… aim… aim… aim… I quit I am discouraged. Get your first customer as soon as possible. Optimize later.
Look the part
Get your haircut, keep your beard looking nice, be presentable, brush your teeth. Be a grownup and show the customer that you are serious and worth their time or money. Something that resembles a uniform without logos works wonders. Jeans and a tee shirt does not.
Get insurance as soon as you can
Working without insurance is a horrible idea. Most people will say don’t work until you have insurance. If you are starving, putting food on the table for your family, don’t want your water to get shut off so your toilet works. Do what you have to do to take care of your family. Just keep in mind, you need your insurance as soon as possible. It should be your number one priority. If you buy a brand new $1500 pressure washer instead of insurance you should stop your business until you can make better decisions. If you spend $1500 on rent and food for one month so your family is not homeless and the next month you buy insurance, well that is a different story.
Stop focusing on your competitors
You have competition, so what? Your competitors should be the least of your concern at this point. Focus on creating a solid service to offer. Worry about them later on.
You’re not a house washer, concrete cleaner, etc. You are a sales man
The biggest and most important part of your business is making sales. Money does not lie and it is directly related to how viable your business is. If you can’t make sales, sales that are only low paying, you will be out of business soon.
You are not your clients accountant
Nancy the senior from the upper class neighborhood who lives in a little shack while their are mansions around her may be loaded. Mark the millennial tech startup founder in the mansion across the street may be on the verge of bankruptcy. You are not your clients accountant, you have no idea how much they make, your price is your price, your service is valuable, treat everyone the same. Don’t give discounts because you feel bad, or feel they don’t have the money.e
Play to win
You think your competition cares if you go hungry? Are they going to pay your bills? Will your customers feel bad if you can’t feed your family because they want a lower price? Does anyone care if you succeed or fail? The answer is no. No one cares about your business, most people will want you to fail, the others just want cheap labor. Create a premium or unique service, strive for perfection, and make the money you deserve. Stop being okay with 5th 4th 3rd 2nd. Be the best you can be and be the best in your market.
If you can’t differentiate yourself from your competitors and they charge lower prices, you will never get top dollar.
Figure out your USP, unique selling point. Why should your customers use you instead of $99 Jose with the 2.5 gpm machine in the back of his rusty truck. What about the mid range guy? Why are you better or different? You charge $300 and they charge $200 and do the same job at the same quality. Why should they pay you more? Figure out your USP.
Minimum starting equipment
I would say a 4gpm@4000 psi belt driven machine, 200-300ft pressure washing hose, 200ft garden hose, hose reels, a small surface cleaner, m5-xjet, something to haul it to and from a job site, chemicals.
That should make you a good sum of money over a year. You can invest more the following year.
EDIT: Thanks everyone who has sent me messages. I was not expecting the overwhelming support you guys have offered and I am so happy that I could give you guys the encouragement to finally make that step forward!