You have an entrepreneurial spirit and you’re ready to be your own boss. Equally important to you is getting away from that desk job and finding a way to spend your workdays outside. With over 100,000 lawn care businesses in the U.S. and more than 80,000 small business car washes in the U.S. for example, there are many profitable ways to make your way outdoors.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has limited many small businesses, there are still outdoor industries that are in demand at this time. You have the drive, determination and a positive outlook that draws you to fresh air and sunshine. Here are a few job ideas to help you chase your passion and create a successful small business in the great outdoors, plus a look at coronavirus safety tips if you are already working in these fields.
There are over 15 million residential pools and 400,000 public pools in the U.S. that require constant attention and care – the average cost to maintain a private pool is nearly $2000 a year. Typically, pool owners fall into a more affluent demographic and value reliable pool maintenance services. This industry is great for entrepreneurs seeking a part-time “side gig.” However, if you can develop the capacity to service a large number of pools, you can build a strong business and generate a significant amount of revenue while enjoying the benefits of being outdoors and away from the typical office environment.
Some of the equipment and supplies you will need to get started include water-testing kits, skimmers and brushes, leaf rakes, pool cleaning chemicals and a vehicle large enough to transport your work tools. You’ll also need business insurance, but state certifications are not required in most states. To set yourself apart from the competition, you may choose to specialize in environmentally friendly products such as chlorine-free pool cleaner alternatives.
Pool services do well across the U.S., but keep in mind that Southern states typically have the longest maintenance schedule (close to year-round in certain areas). Regardless of your location, you should consider adding hot tub, public fountain and spa cleaning to your list of services. This will help to make your business even more marketable with a broad list of maintenance offerings throughout the year.
If you are currently working in the pool maintenance field or plan to be in the near future, take precautions to ensure both you and your customers are safe during service appointments. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC): “Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools, hot tubs or spas, and water playgrounds should inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19. However, while there is ongoing community spread of COVID-19, there should be appropriate care taken both in and outside the pool, to protect yourself and others. Owners and operators of community pools, hot tubs, or spas should follow the interim guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to COVID-19.”
Now more than ever consumers are seeking health-conscious, organic fruits and vegetables. Over 80 percent of Americans have made an organic food purchase and organic produce accounts for five percent of U.S. food sales, If you have a passion for the outdoors and the inclination to gain experience with seeds, soil and crops, now could be the right time to explore the potential of this career option as the demand for clean ingredients is expected to continue to rise.
If all of this sounds appealing but you lack the training, don’t worry – there are plenty of organic growers schools to help you learn this craft. Once you gain a workable knowledge, it’s highly recommended within the industry to obtain certification as a USDA organic grower to help you gain added credibility in your field and a competitive advantage. Of course, if you have farmable acreage you have a big head start, but even if you don’t, you can still begin your journey.
Organizations like WWOOF-USA and Farm Share Austin allow you to learn more about organic growing on small-scale dairy farms, vineyards, orchards and more. You’ll not only master the tools of the trade, but also have the opportunity to set a path toward developing your own operation, including purchasing your own land and equipment.
With this career choice, you will be fulfilling your passion of working in the great outdoors while also contributing to sustainable agriculture and supplying a growing consumer need.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), if you are currently working as an organic grower or will be soon, it is recommended that you take precautions by practicing social distancing in all fields and operations, frequently wash your hands and clean and rinse and sanitize all foods and equipment surfaces.
The U.S fencing market is valued at nearly $10 billion yearly, so there is no shortage of business to be gained. This strong demand is due in large part to an increase in home construction and development in recent years and is expected to continue. With over 100 million single-family homes in the U.S., there is a wealth of opportunity and growing demand for fence construction, repair and maintenance.
To get started in this industry it is a good idea to choose a specialty – such as wood or composite materials. Customers will see you as an expert in your chosen discipline and will be more inclined to trust you to work on their properties. This profession requires that you are handy, able to lift and handle sometimes heavy materials and have an eye for quality. You’ll probably need to hire a team of fencing professionals to assist you with your projects.
You’ll also need to be good with people and estimating budgets to keep your customers happy and projects profitable. As you earn business and complete jobs, plan to create a portfolio of finished jobs to share with prospective clients.
Becoming a contractor or subcontractor who specializes in fencing has a number of benefits beyond just being outdoors -- the industry operates year-round, so you are likely to enjoy financial stability with this career path.
If you are currently working in the fence installation field or will be soon, it is recommended that you take precautions including minimizing physical contact and public exposure, keeping a minimum of six feet between coworkers and customers, avoiding handshaking and encouraging online estimates when dealing with your customers.
Use Online Marketing to Your Advantage
Once you decide to build an outdoor-focused company, you’ll want to start by creating a business plan – a set of guidelines that define the reason for your organization and how you will offer solutions for your customers’ needs. You’ll also need to secure a domain address for your website that reflects your new company name. Learn more about taking these startup steps with this helpful eBook.
To give your business a strong online presence in the marketplace, build a website that serves as the hub of your brand and promotes your unique products and services. With the current coronavirus crisis, a website is essential for staying in touch with your customers and keeping them informed about your business. During this time of social distancing and contactless payments, create an eCommerce page that allows your customers to pay you online. With more people staying home and spending time online, attract more visitors to your website by creating a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that helps your business rank higher in online search directories like Google, Yelp and Bing.
Creating social media accounts is a great way to build stronger relationships with your customers and keep them engaged with your brand. Also, a professional email account helps you stay in touch with your clients and gives you added credibility with your new and repeat customers.
While starting a business right now might feel like a challenge, it could be the perfect time to explore ideas for staying out of the office. By following these ideas, you can safely start a business that is in demand and helps you enjoy more quality time in the great outdoors.