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Part-time handyman

Can a Part-Time Handyman Business Be Profitable?

Are you thinking about starting a part-time handyman business, but aren’t sure if it’s worth the effort?

If you like to work with your hands and enjoy being in control of your own time, then being a handyman is pretty awesome.  Not only can you make good money doing it, but if set up properly, it can actually be fun.  Additionally, you get to do things your own way – something I especially enjoy.

These positive aspects of the business draw a lot of people in and that’s why some of my readers, despite having jobs they enjoy, want to start a part-time handyman business on the side.  A few have asked for my thoughts on part-time handyman business.  Well, here they are.

In this post, I’m going to dive into the pros and cons of starting a part-time handyman business to help you determine if it’s worth your time and effort.

3 Good Reasons to Start-It-Up Part-Time

Despite the obvious such as higher income potential, here are some of the benefits.

#1:  Limited financial constraints.

When I started my handyman business, I went all out.  I didn’t have another source of income and I needed the money.  While this was excellent motivation to get my ass in gear, it also forced me to take on jobs that flat out sucked.  These jobs were either for customers that I didn’t care working for or just doing tasks that didn’t enjoy.    But, I needed the money and was eager for business so I did them anyway.  If a customer was willing to pay me to shovel rocks, I was in.

By starting a handyman business part-time (assuming you have other income sources) you aren’t putting yourself in this same situation.  This gives you the ability to turn down work you don’t want right from the start instead of waiting until you have more business than you need.  In other words, you don’t have to shovel rocks just to make the mortgage.  You have less financial risk so you can operate with a more relaxed mindset.

#2:  If you don’t like it, it’s easy to quit.

As if you couldn’t tell already, I’m kinda fond of being a handyman.  But, I also understand that this business is not for everyone.  After all, it’s not all roses and there are some emotional roller coasters you need to endure along the way.

The beautiful thing about starting part time is that if it’s not your thing, you can just quit!  No harm done.  (Well, as long as you didn’t train your customers to pay $20/hour for handyman services.  The next handyman won’t appreciate that very much!)  Since there is a fairly low investment to get started, you’ll have minimal losses if you decide to quit.

#3:  Tax Savings

As you are probably aware, by starting a small business or turning a hobby into a business, you can save a significant amount of money on your taxes.  The money savings come in because of all of the business expenses you can legally write-off.  Since many of these expenses are things that you would be purchasing anyway, you save money.

Some potential write-offs include part of your phone bill, the tools you buy (and probably wanted anyway), your office space dedicated to your business, and several other expenses.  You can even write off trips to trade shows!

These taxes can make even an unprofitable business very lucrative for a part-time handyman.

Disadvantages of a Part-Time Handyman Business

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the positive aspects of starting a part-time handyman business, I’ll go into the opposite argument.

The way I see it, there are a couple of ways you can go with your business.  You can either go all out and set yourself up like a professional establishment.  Meaning you’ll get insured, get the required licensing, setup a website and an online presence, put graphics on your truck, get uniforms, etc.  The other option is to work under the table for friends and family and hopefully get your name out that way.

For the sake of this argument, I’ll assume you are going to get setup like a pro establishment since I don’t really consider working for friends and family “starting a business.”

Is it worth the time?

If you decide to go legit, operating part time may not be worth your time.  For one thing, it’s going to take longer to get going since you won’t be able to respond to customers as well.  It’s likely that your other job will limit your ability to answer the phone or do service calls for people who want their stuff done immediately.  Essentially, by operating part-time you are eliminated one of your advantages as a new handyman business – an open schedule.  This could slow down the progress of your business.

Additionally, you will have monthly expenses for things like licensing, insurance, your website, accounting, and other miscellaneous expenses.  During my first year in business I spent about $400/month on operating costs.  That is not including advertising, gas, tools, or materials.  If you don’t work enough to cover this plus other expenses and turn a significant profit, you’d be better off getting a second job.

Another thing to consider is the amount of time and work required outside of actually performing work for the customer.  You need to work on advertising, accounting, invoicing, answering phone calls, and maintaining your licenses and insurance.  These tasks will likely take more time than you would expect, especially the marketing when getting set up.

What will you be able to charge?

From my experience, It would be harder to charge a decent hourly rate as a part-time handyman.  When a customer hires a part-time handyman, they probably have one thing in mind – “I want to save money.”

If you are looking to demand a high hourly rate, why should your customer choose you when they could pay the same to another business that does it full time.  The full-time business is more likely to be around if there is an issue with the work and are also likely to be more responsive.  The good customers don’t want to deal with a handyman who is “just testing the waters” unless there is something in it for them, usually in the form of significant money savings.

Sure, if you are extremely talented and offer services that are in high demand, you can charge a decent rate.  My point here is that in most cases, you probably won’t be able to.

Final Thoughts

After weighing advantages against the disadvantages, I’ve concluded that it’s only worth it to start a part-time handyman business if you are looking to go full time in the future and simply want to mitigate the financial risks.  Otherwise, the amount of time and effort to get started and operate your business will not be worth it.

The amount of billable hours you could work probably wouldn’t justify the amount of time spent on accounting, advertising, invoicing, and dealing with customers.  This coupled with the fact that it will be more difficult to demand a decent rate and it definitely wouldn’t be worth it to me.

What do you think?  Is it worth it to start a part-time handyman business? 

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  • Grant May 28, 2013

    I would have to agree that starting a part time handyman business without the thought of going full time right away would be terrible. I started my business on April 1st of this year, as my full time job. It hasn’t even been two full months and I’m already hiring independent contractors to help me because I have more jobs than I could have ever imagined. The demand, at least in my area, is unbelievable and if I was only doing it part time, I would spend all my time answering the phone and turning down jobs. I went all in and followed the advice of this website. It was the best decision I have ever made. If you are set on starting part time then give it a try, but be ready to turn down more work than you can take on!

    • Big D May 28, 2013

      Well put, Grant. Thanks for the insight.

  • Todd June 11, 2013

    Good article, D. My aspirations to start a part-time handguns business has been sidelined by a possible great opportunity with my full-time job. So, there you go. Another reason why starting up part-time might not be the best way… too much distraction from the full-time gig.

    • Big D June 12, 2013

      Yep, at the end of the day you need to figure out what you want to spend your time doing. Sometimes it better to focus on one thing so you can maximize your effectiveness.

  • Todd June 11, 2013

    Handyman, not handguns. Stupid autocorrect.

  • Red June 12, 2013

    Hi Big D

    Another great article. I would encourage anyone thinking about starting a handyman business part-time to give it a shot. I recently started a handyman business on the side of my full-time job, but I have been fortunate enough to have my wife taking care of the office work, calls etc.

    In my case I rely heavily on sub-contractors and one part-time employee who is a fireman/carpenter. This is an alternative to doing the work yourself but basically you become a manager and need to have a good network of people and resources to make it work.

    At the end of the day the customer will let you know if you are doing things right or not. I have been trying to offer an exceptional service, i.e answer calls, return calls, follow up calls, leave the job cleaner than we started and so on.

    These are my thoughts. Don’t hold back on your dreams.


    • Big D June 12, 2013


      That’s great that you have made it work. Do you ever see yourself going full-time?

      Thanks for the comment!

      Big D

  • Red June 16, 2013

    Hi Big D

    I would love to get to the point where I could leave my full-time job and that would be the goal down the line. I’m only beginning to get my feet wet and figuring out the kinks so I’m a ways away.
    My boss at work has been running three businesses in this way for 4 years now and makes out really well. He does not need to work a full-time job but I think he likes the money more than most.
    He has a painting business, flooring business and snow plowing business. Its nuts how he can manage it all, but its very doable. He never leaves his desk and never goes to any of the jobs he does, but he has a great network of people, estimators, secretary and subs. He does fire subs a lot though.

    I have learned a lot from him and this sight over the last few month so thank you again. Its a great thing your doing.