Start a Business
Doing Seasonal Jobs

(Last updated: April 23, 2010)

This page shows how to start a business doing seasonal jobs. These jobs mainly consist of outside work that varies with the seasons.

Use this information together with the Business Plan for Simple Services page.

The following topics describe how to provide this service to help satisfy your needs, and the needs of likely customers in your local area.

Here are the topics:

Introduction to idea
Estimated startup costs
Putting idea to work

Other useful information

The Vital Guidelines for Novices page helps beginners who want to start a business. These guidelines provide focused advice and useful insights.


Before using this information to start a business be sure to read the following notice: Disclaimer

Introduction to idea

This topic provides an overview of the business idea so you can decide if it suits you.

Basic idea

Homeowners or tenants pay you to do various types of seasonal jobs. These jobs could include the following:

  • Clearing ice and snow off doorsteps, sidewalks, and driveways
  • Cultivating gardens
  • Pruning shrubs and small trees
  • Raking leaves
  • Removing weeds

This activity is performed by the job. Once one job is finished you will have to find another job. However, if you do a good job for an owner of several properties, you may be asked to do other jobs for that person.

Getting these jobs usually is just a question of making yourself known to potential customers, being qualified to do the work, and quoting the right price for the job.

This is an outdoors activity that can be performed year round (roads and weather permitting).

Suitability of idea

This idea is best suited for people who are physically fit and enjoy working with their hands.

Skills and equipment required

Primary skills and equipment -- You need a pickup truck or van, driving skills, and a valid driver's license.

You will use the pickup truck or van to haul the equipment, supplies, and protective gear needed to perform the work. You also may have to haul away rubbish, if desired by the customer.

Other skills -- You need only everyday skills or skills that can be easily learned on the job.

Other equipment -- You need to own or purchase other items, such as office equipment, job equipment, and protective gear. These items are listed under the startup costs on the next topic.

Profitability of idea

In order to show a profit, you will have to sell enough of your services to cover the startup costs and operating expenses. The more fees you collect over a certain time period the larger your profits. Therefore, you want to have substantial sales, along with low startup costs and operating expenses.

The hourly fees you charge pay for your services, and the use of your vehicle and equipment. These hours include the time spent performing your services and hauling any trash to the dumpsite. Your fee also should include any out-of-pocket expenses you have, such as dump fees.

The amount you can charge depends on how well off the customer is and how anxious both you and the customer are to make a deal. The economic conditions of the local area might also influence these negotiations.

See the Setting the Sales Price page in another section for more detailed information.

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Estimated startup costs

This topic discusses the estimated startup costs for this business idea. Startup costs are what you pay to be ready for business operations. The amount of these costs also helps you decide if the idea suits you.

List of items in startup costs

Note: I am only showing one month for certain expenses. You should be able to get your first job or two in a month. Then these items become operating expenses, not startup costs.

The assumed startup costs for this business idea, using a frugal style of business operations, consist of the following items:

Advertising and promotion (1 month) -- Small classified advertisements in a local newspaper and/or flyers delivered to likely neighborhoods.

Business insurance (1 month) -- Business liability insurance. (Talk to a local insurance agent to see if you need this coverage.)

Governmental requirements -- Local fees and business license. (Note: You might also be subject to state and federal deposits and registration fees, but these will vary. So I have not included them in these startup costs.)

Job equipment -- Broom and dust pan, garden hoe, garden spade, lawn rake, pruners, snow scrapping tool, snow shovel, step ladder, water container (for drinking), and wide shovel.

Job supplies -- Bags of ice-melting granules and trash bags.

Office equipment -- Business telephone, desk accessories (stapler, paper clips, pen and pencils, etc.), and listing adding machine.

Office supplies -- Check blanks for business checking account, file folders or large manila envelopes (for filing papers), lined writing tablets, pads of accounting journals and ledger, and pads of standard job bid forms.

Other operating expenses (1 month) -- Business telephone expense.

Protective gear -- Galoshes and work gloves.

Reference book -- Bookkeeping for Dummies (Paperback)) available from or other online bookstores. (Note: The "for Dummies" series of books are easy to read manuals for normal people, not dummies.)

Dollar amount of startup costs

Here are the dollar amounts for a frugal business operation:


Estimated Startup Costs

  Advertising and promotion (1 month) $ 75
  Business insurance (1 month)   50
  Governmental requirements (local fees and business license)   50
  Job equipment   255
  Job supplies   25
  Office equipment   120
  Office supplies   100
  Other operating expenses (1 month)   50
  Protective gear   40
  Reference book   15
       Total estimated startup costs $ 780

Note: See the Planning costs and expenses subtopic in the Business Plan on another page for ways to reduce these startup costs.

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Putting idea to work

This topic satisfies the Starting business operations subtopic in the Business Plan page.

Preparing for business operations

Completing the startup requirements -- This is the last step needed just before you start business operations. See the Listing the startup requirements subtopic in the Business Plan for the items remaining to be completed.

As a minimum, you should have discussed the business idea with your family, set up your business entity, and satisfied all governmental and insurance requirements.

Local information needed -- You need the location of local dumpsites, fees charged for dumping, restrictions on materials allowed to be dumped, and rules for hauling trash.

Find out what materials are classified as toxic wastes. You probably want to avoid these materials.

Operating the business

Soliciting customers -- Place classified advertisements in your local newspaper and/or deliver flyers to likely neighborhoods (where rich people live). Use a simple, honest description of your services. Once you become well known in the community, you should benefit from word of mouth advertising from satisfied customers.

For additional ideas on soliciting customers, see the Sales Methods page in another section.

Qualifying customers -- Hopefully, some of the people who read your advertisements and/or flyers will inquire about your services. During this initial telephone conversation, you should determine:

  • If you are willing and able to provide the desired services.
  • If you will need to bring a helper.
  • If you and the customer can agree on an hourly fee, unless this was stated in your advertisements.
  • If you and the customer can agree on any extra charges, such as for hauling the trash to the dump.

Getting jobs -- For a small job, you may be able to come to an agreement over the telephone.

If this will be a big job, the customer may want a firm bid for the job. If so, you probably will want to inspect the job site first. If you both agree on the terms for the job, you can record them on the job bid form. Then both parties can sign it.

I recommend that you meet with customers in their homes or offices, or at the job site. Your neighbors may object to having a stream of strangers arriving at your home. Also, meeting with customers in your home may violate the zoning rules in your town or city.

See the preceding Profitability of idea subtopic for my thoughts about setting your fee.

Before taking on any dangerous jobs, you should have adequate experience and workmen's compensation coverage.

Determining needs of customers -- To insure satisfied customers, you need to determine what they want from you. You need to replace assumptions with specific instructions.

Following are some questions you may need answered:

Clearing ice and snow -- Which areas need the ice and show removed? Is the hardened ice to be removed also? Where should the ice and snow be placed after removal from sidewalks and other areas?

Cultivating gardens -- Are the weeds to be taken off the property? Which plants are to be left alone?

Pruning shrubs and small trees -- Are the trimmings to be taken off the property? Which portions of the shrubs or trees should be cut off? (Note: Before doing any pruning read a how-to manual if unskilled in this matter. Buy how-to manuals at Lowe's, Home Depot, or a local nursery store.)

Raking leaves -- Are the raked leaves to be taken off the property, or just bagged up? Who supplies any bags to be used? Where should the filled bags be placed?

Removing weeds -- Are all weeds to be taken off the property? Which areas are to have the weeds removed? Are there any flowers or other valuable plants (that should be protected) mixed in with the weeds?

You also need to determine when and where to perform the services and receive your fee.

Job procedures

Preliminary job activities -- After arriving at the job site, you may want to ask customers about any final directions they may have. Remember, one of your main goals is to satisfy customers.

Main job activities -- Perform the duties as outlined by the customer. Any refuse to be taken off the property should be placed in your vehicle. Use the wide shovel to put small items of refuse into trash bags for easier handling. Tidy up any areas that need it.

Final job activities -- Collect your agreed upon fee from the customer. Haul any refuse to a dumpsite.

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