How to Start a Painting Business


Owning a painting business isn’t for everyone. A lot of hard work goes into starting a painting business. To add insult to injury, most traditional business advice is inadequate and faulty, at best. 

So that you don’t waste thousands of dollars or precious time on a business that will ultimately fail, I’ll teach you how to use the lean startup method to start your painting business in a cheaper, easier, and more efficient way. The term “lean startup method” was first introduced by author Eric Reis, and he went on to explain it in more detail in his 2011 book The Lean Startup Method

But before I start explaining the lean startup method to you, I’m going to tell you about the traditional business startup method and explain why it doesn’t work.

The traditional flawed business startup process

Traditional business advice typically provides you with startup steps similar to these: 

  1. Identify a passion or skill set you can cash in on (in this case, I’m guessing it’s painting).
  2. Write a painting business plan.
  3. Fund your business.
  4. Choose a location for your business.
  5. Choose a structure for your business.
  6. Decide on a business name.
  7. Form your business formally: register your business, get tax IDs for your business, apply for business licenses and permits, and open a business bank account. 
  8. Ultimately fail because this method is flawed. 

Reading these steps, it’s easy to understand why so many people use them. They appear to provide a perfectly practical way to start a business. (Except for the eighth step, that is. Most business advice articles don’t include that one.) This startup method makes it seem like if you have a good enough business plan, then all you need to do is obtain funding for your painting business and choose a good location for it and you won’t have to put any effort into making the profits roll in. 

This is a nice fantasy, but it isn’t reality. Just because starting a business should be that easy doesn’t mean it is. On the contrary, four out of every five businesses that use the traditional business startup method will fail within their first year. It’s not because the business owners don’t lack the drive to see their businesses succeed, or because they’re too lazy to put in the work. The traditional business startup method is made up of three very flawed assumptions. 

Assumption 1: You have deep and intimate knowledge of your market. 

If you’re learning how to start a painting business, it’s safe to say you have a lot to learn before you launch a large-scale painting enterprise. 

Starting your own painting business for the first time means that you don’t have intimate knowledge of the painting industry. Maybe you’ve worked in the painting industry and have a bit of experience that gives you more knowledge about the industry than some other business owners may have, but starting your own painting business is quite a different ball game. 

The traditional business startup method makes the assumption that you already have expert-level knowledge of the painting industry. The reason this assumption is wildly flawed is that it can take decades of working in the industry to master it and gain the type of knowledge that this startup method assumes you come pre-equipped with. 

The lean startup method allows you to learn about the painting industry and gain experience before you build your painting business, which will contribute to the overall success of your business. 

Assumption 2: Your needs and wants are more important than your customers’ needs and wants. 

The goal of every business is to make money, regardless of the type of business. A business that doesn’t listen to customer feedback or doesn’t care about the wants and needs of its customer base will quickly fail. 

Under the traditional startup method, you’re encouraged to focus on all the reasons that YOU want to start a painting business, rather than why YOUR CUSTOMERS would want to purchase your services. 

A marketing strategy of “Please buy my painting services” is not a good advertising tactic, and it will not make your business look good. 

When you use the lean startup method, you’ll begin developing relationships with your customers and learning about their painting needs. Do they want a painting business that provides both interior and exterior painting services? Do they want a painting business that offers more than house painting services? Do the other painting companies in the area only offer commercial painting services? 

The traditional startup method makes the flawed assumption that the business owner’s desires are more important than the wants and needs of their customer base. With the lean startup method you’ll research what your customers want from a new painting business before you start a painting business. You can use the information customers provide to build your painting company based on what your customers want. Doing this market research before you open your painting business will give it a better chance at long-term success. 

Assumption 3: You have unlimited cash to burn. 

Unfortunately for us, money is not a never-ending renewable resource. If it were, it would put an end to a lot of human suffering. Alas, because money runs out, even the wealthiest people on the planet don’t spend their money needlessly. Every business owner must occasionally make risky financial decisions, but that doesn’t mean you should be careless with your money. 

If you start a painting business using the traditional startup method, you’ll start out with a brick-and-mortar business, a slew of top-of-the-line equipment, and a crew of professional painters. The traditional startup method makes the assumption that you have enough money to start a major commercial painting company from the start. 

It can cost at least $2,000 to start a painting business, and that’s a significant amount of money to lose should your business go under. So, assuming that you have that much money to blow isn’t reasonable. 

The lean startup method encourages you to start smaller. Maybe rather than spending loads of money on your own equipment initially, you contract paint jobs out to a professional painter. Using creative business solutions of this sort will be a less expensive way of starting your painting business, and you’ll get the chance to test out your products and painting services, as well as your marketing tactics, without needing to take any significant financial risks. 

If you want to avoid becoming one of the four businesses out of five that fail during their first year using the traditional startup method, you’ll need to think outside the box and use a different type of startup method: the lean startup method. 

What is the lean startup method?

The lean startup method is a name given to a technique that entrepreneurs use to start a new business. 

The lean startup method consists of three basic principles: build, measure, and learn.

Throughout the startup process, you’ll experiment with business ideas after doing market research and getting feedback about the viability of your ideas. So you’ll dive right into the painting industry immediately (but take baby steps to do so) instead of creating a business plan and sticking to it before you even know how your business works. Another driving factor behind the lean startup method is finding the cheapest, most efficient, and easiest way to deliver your services to customers. 

The first phase is the build phase, during which you’ll identify a problem that your community faces and then develop a solution that they like well enough that customers will pay for it. Is there a lack of painting companies in the area? Do consumers want a painting company that provides both interior and exterior painting services? 

Once you’ve completed the build phase, it’s time to move on to the measure phase. This phase gives you the chance to apply the solution you’ve developed and then determine whether it’s a good feasible solution or if you need to start the process again. Do customers feel satisfied with the services your painting business provides? What is the most popular service of your painting company?

After measuring, it’s time for the learn phase. During this portion of the lean startup method you’ll gain valuable feedback about your painting business that you can use to determine which aspects of your company are successful and which aren’t. Do all your services sell frequently or are there some that people never purchase? How do people feel about your employees? Do customers complain about any of your painters? How do people feel about your painting company overall? If any of your ideas aren’t hits, this phase allows you to assess the situation and step away from any tactics that aren’t working so that you can focus on the ones that do work. 

Why use the lean startup method?

If someone wanted to sell you an expensive product and you knew it had an 80% chance of catastrophic malfunction within a year of purchasing it, would you still buy it? This may seem like a crazy scenario, but it’s exactly what you face with the traditional startup method. Four out of every five businesses started with the traditional startup method close their doors for good within a year of opening. 

You avoid this dilemma when you start a new business with the lean startup method, however. Your startup costs won’t be as high with the lean startup method, and you’ll develop a customer base for your business before you officially open it, which will provide you with a more successful painting company. 

If you use the traditional startup method to start a painting business, then you’ll have to take significant financial risks to cover the high startup costs instead of performing extensive market research to determine the types of products and services that your potential customers request. The traditional startup method expects you to open a business and immediately start making a profit rather than learning about the desires of your customer base first. The lean startup method allows you to test your products and ideas throughout the life of your painting business. Using the lean startup method to start a painting business will give you an advantage over other painting businesses, especially those started with the traditional startup method, because you’ll create a community of loyal clients, and they’ll create a demand for the services your painting business provides. 

Using the lean startup method to start a painting business means you’ll have fewer startup costs than those associated with the traditional business startup method. The traditional startup method assumes that every business owner has access to vast amounts of money, which is not the case for every small business owner. The lean startup method allows you to learn about your painting business, as well as the painting industry, instead of immediately taking huge financial risks before you test the waters. And without the stresses of massive startup costs and financial risks, your painting company will have a better chance at success. 

Many small business owners dive right into the traditional business startup method because they’re either unaware of its inadequacies or they mistakenly believe that it can’t be too flawed if the majority of business owners use it to start their businesses. 

The fact of the matter is that the lean startup method is more effective than the traditional business startup method—so much more effective that if you use the lean startup method to start a painting business, then your business will have an automatic advantage over other businesses.

How can I tell you with such confidence that the lean startup method will work for you? I’ve started five different businesses over eight years using the lean startup method. I successfully sold three of those businesses, while the other two are still operating to this day. I’ve also helped thousands of people to open the business of their dreams using the lean startup method, and I can help you open your painting business too! 

How do you use the lean startup method to start your painting business?

Every time I start a new business, I use the basic principles that make up the lean startup method: build, measure, and learn. The lean startup method encourages you to develop products and services at the lowest cost so that you can build your business relatively cheaply. Starting a painting business with the lean startup method will also provide it with better odds of success because it will be built on solid business foundations rather than on false assumptions and outdated business advice. 


The first of the basic principles of the lean startup method is build. During this phase you’ll develop ideas about your services and start building your business. Key tasks you’ll complete during the build phase include: identifying a problem that people in your community have in common, building a community for your painting business, thinking up solutions to the problem you identified, and then developing that solution. 

Completing this phase will ensure that you use good ideas for your business, and that the solution you provide will be eagerly accepted by the community of potential clients you’ve created. This will ultimately provide your business with a strong start and help it to thrive in the future. 

Step 1: Identify a problem

Before you develop a solution, you must first identify a problem. 

The reason you can’t skip steps and start selling your services is that hundreds of new businesses start every day in the painting industry, and the average consumer doesn’t have enough money to purchase services from them all. It’s far more effective to provide potential clients with a compelling reason to buy your services. 

The real trick is finding this compelling reason. 

When people are presented with a problem, they naturally will seek a solution. One of two things happens when people seek a solution to their problem: they will either develop a solution themselves or pay someone else for a solution. In the painting industry, the answer that people are seeking is simple: a painting business. 

As someone who wants to own a painting business, providing the same services that other painting businesses already offer won’t be effective. You should instead pinpoint a problem that people have regarding their paint needs. Are customers dissatisfied with the paint or the expertise of the painters that other painting businesses offer? Do they want a business that offers both house painting and commercial services? 

Talk to locals and investigate the other painting businesses in your area. If people want a company with painters they can trust inside their homes, then you should design your brand around reliable and trustworthy service because this will meet the needs of your potential clients. 

Ask questions and conduct thorough market research to find out the paint needs of your community. Do they need a painting contractor who has specific equipment that goes beyond the typical brushes, rollers, drop cloths, and paint sprayers? Do they want a selection of high-quality paint to choose from? Do they want a professional painter who’s able to perform a number of painting techniques and follows the latest trends? 

While you’re talking to people, you’ll find it’s easy to obtain information from them if you simply ask. The average consumer will typically provide you with tons of information if you just listen to them. 

The problem is not learning about a problem, the problem is knowing which problem you should choose. 

How do you choose which problem to focus on?

Some steps in the lean startup method have specific instructions for how to complete them, but unfortunately there are no such instructions for how to go about choosing which problem to focus on. However, here are three guidelines that should make the task easier:

  1. Pick a problem that affects the most people. A problem that doesn’t affect anyone isn’t a problem, and it definitely isn’t a good business idea. Are people having trouble finding reputable painting contractors to fill their house painting needs? Are there no painting companies that offer both interior and exterior painting services? 
  2. Choose a problem that can be considered a “pain point.” This is a business term that refers to the amount of pain or distress that a problem causes people. If a problem causes extreme pain or distress, consumers will be desperate to seek a solution. Is it hard to find painters who provide quality paint in a wide array of colors? Are people dissatisfied with the painting techniques of other painters? 
  3. Choose a problem that your business can easily solve. If people want name brand paint and custom paint jobs, but they don’t want to pay top-shelf prices, then that’s not the solution you’re looking for. But you can offer specials on one specific brand or paint color a month, or monthly specials on specific types of paint jobs. 

The most important parts of this step are to identify a problem that affects the most people and to make sure that it affects them so much that they’re willing to pay for a solution to it. 

Step 2: Build a community

After you identify a problem, the next step is to build a community of people affected by the problem. Luckily, this step is easy and it can even be fun, thanks to our modern, technology-driven culture. You could create a Facebook group, Reddit forum, or other social media profile, on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. When you build a community this way, you gain followers and a potential customer base, develop your brand, test out various marketing techniques, and successfully identify the target market of your business. Starting a painting business using the traditional startup method would take three separate steps to accomplish all of this. But starting a painting business with the lean startup method allows you to do it all in one simple step. 

It’s a good idea to diversify your community by creating an offline community as well. You could create a club or meetup group with regular meetings at a local small business. These offline communities allow you to get to know your community, and face-to-face interactions will make customers feel like they really know you. Plus, you can get customer feedback in real time, rather than waiting around for community members to fill out surveys on your website or comment on your post. 

It’s a good idea to reach out to local business groups, as well, such as your local Chamber of Commerce. These local business groups often offer a variety of different services that could benefit your small business. 

Reasons to build a community:

  1. Building a community allows you to learn more about the problem you identified, such as how many people it impacts and how much pain it causes them. 
  2. Creating a community lets you begin developing your brand and marketing strategies. 
  3. Once you finally do open your painting business, the fact that you’ve created this community means that you’ll have a pool of people who are already familiar with you because of your online presence, are affected by the problem you’re seeking to solve, and will eventually become your customer base. 
  4. Creating a community will make it easier to gain support and funding for your painting business in its early stages. 

How to build a community:

  1. Create a Facebook group to provide your community a place to discuss different paint trends and painting techniques. It’s a good place to discuss the needs of your community, as well. Keep posts consistent by sharing content about various painting projects, new techniques, color schemes, and paint trends. Frequent interaction with your community will lead to its growth, as well. 
  2. Twitter is another good place to gain a following. You can create interactive polls on Twitter, which consumers love because it makes them feel like their voices are being heard. 
  3. Create an Instagram account to share images of creative paint color combinations and painting videos. Many painters have Instagram accounts that display their talents, so this could give yours some recognition and help grow your following as well. 
  4. Use social media to network with other small business owners and people in the same industry. If you create relationships in the painting industry, they can provide you with information about the market, various requirements for painting businesses, like liability insurance and business insurance, and more. And talking to other local small business owners will give you an idea about how to start a painting business in your area. 

Creating a community for your painting business will provide you with useful customer feedback as well as support for your business. When consumers have a platform to voice their opinions, they will share with you everything you want to know. They’ll tell you all about the services they want, the paint types and colors they like, what sorts of jobs they are currently seeking a painting contractor to complete, and more. They’ll also tell you all about the service that other painting companies provide and how satisfied they are with the paint job and the painting experience they got. The best part about this is that you get all this information for free, and it can massively help your business, which is why it’s important to complete this step. 

When you create an online presence this way, it will also serve as free advertising and marketing for your business. When customers reply to your comments, join discussions, like and share your posts, and participate in polls or surveys, your group will become more visible to other people, which will lead to the growth of your community. It will expand even further when word gets out that you interact with people and use customer feedback to tailor your services to meet their needs. 

Step 3: Identify a Solution Opportunity

Once you complete the first two steps, you’ll notice that the problem still exists even though you’ve identified it and discussed it with your community. This is because realizing that there’s a problem and having the desire to find a resolution doesn’t actually solve the problem. 

While you’re learning how to start a painting business using the lean startup method, you can use the community you’ve built as a platform to ask questions about the types of paint they currently buy. You can find out what your community thinks about other house painting businesses and their satisfaction levels with them. This is a good opportunity to find out about the types of paint that other companies use, whether they only take commercial jobs or if they would take on a house painting job as well, how satisfied customers are with the paint job another company did, and if customers feel satisfied with the service lists of other companies. 

It’s important that you ask questions about how much they pay for a paint job, if they’re satisfied with the quality of paint that other companies use, if other companies allow online bookings, whether there were any surprise costs and fees they had to pay, if they got a free estimate, and anything else you can think of to ask about the painting experience. Do other companies offer only bland neutral paint colors? How many other painting companies in the area rival your own? Do consumers feel they can trust the painters that other people send to complete their house painting jobs? 

You can use this information while starting a painting business to not only decide which services your business will offer, but also the marketing tactics you’ll use, how much your services will cost, the brand of your company, the type of information you’ll add to your website, and the type of person you’re looking for when you hire a new painter. 

Step 4: Develop a solution

By the time you get to this step, the problem still hasn’t been solved. You have identified a problem and found possible solutions. Now it’s time to develop a solution to the problem. If you choose the right solution, then your community will be happy to pay for it. 

How to Develop Your Solution:

  1. Come up with a solution idea. If potential clients have told you that they want a guarantee that they can trust any painter that you send to their house, then that’s what you should develop your brand and marketing around. If people have complained that other contractors don’t offer enough paint colors or that they provide low-quality paint, you should stock a variety of high-quality paint colors. And if your clients have voiced complaints about the job that other contractors do, then you should ensure that when a painter goes to a client’s house they treat the job site with respect, using drop cloths and keeping the probability of messes relatively low. 
  2. Get feedback from your community about your solution idea. What you think about the solution idea isn’t as important as whether your community believes your solution idea will solve their problem. The community needs to like and support your solution idea. It’s a good idea to talk to other contractors to find out whether your solution idea is feasible, too. 
  3. Develop your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The MVP for your company will be the service that you can provide at the lowest cost, which you can deliver easily and will produce the most profits. 

You’ll be able to tell that your product or service is a good choice for your MVP if it has the lowest production cost and is the easiest to produce, and if people will pay more for it. Properly developing the MVP for your company will ensure that you won’t be financially strained by the high cost of production, which means that your company has a better chance at success. 


The second phase of the lean startup method is the measure phase. I mean “measure” in the scientific sense of the word, synonymous with “test” or “experiment.” This phase allows you to run tests and determine whether your solution idea will work. 

Step 5: Test your MVP

Once you’ve put together and polished your solution idea, gotten feedback from your community about your solution, and developed an MVP, it’s time to test the MVP of your company. Starting a painting business with the lean startup method means that you’ll conduct many tests throughout the life of your business, so it’s a good idea to get comfortable with them early on.

A number of factors go into creating the MVP for your company. Some factors include whether the service is versatile enough to perform on any job site, the cost of equipment you’ll need to buy, and the type of insurance policies you’ll choose for your company. The best part of the lean startup method is that if you choose an MVP that doesn’t work, you can always go back to the drawing board and begin the build, measure, learn process all over again to discover successful marketing tactics and products. 

It may seem backward to test your MVP while starting a painting business before you even have a brick-and-mortar location for your headquarters or actually opened your business. But it makes a lot of sense from a financial standpoint. If you were a loan officer would you be more likely to provide funding to an aspiring business owner who hasn’t done any market research and has nothing to validate their business ideas except a business plan and a dream, or a business owner who has a business plan, an established community of clients, extensive market research, and a tested and successful business? Most loan officers favor the latter example, and for good reason. 

It may seem scary to test your MVP, but the process is quite simple. It’s also a great marketing device that will help get the word out about your business. 

There are a few different ways to test your MVP while starting a painting business. You could get a booth or table at local home and garden conventions, at local farmers markets or flea markets, or at other local events. From there, you could perform free product demonstrations and show people what sorts of skills a painter from your company has. Show customers the quality of the paint and the colors you have available, as well as the equipment each painter will use. 

Another option that costs slightly less than product and equipment demonstrations is setting up an information booth with free information about your business and your services. Of course, handing out business cards with your business phone number and website is a good idea, as is sharing a list of the services you provide and the costs of each service. But if you go this route, you should also create some sort of free product to hand out that will catch customers’ attention and make them want to take one. This could be ink pens shaped like paint brushes, rollers or other equipment, flyers that depict a dilapidated old house with multiple colors of paint in spotty patches on one side and the same house immaculately painted on the other, or rulers that depict a cartoon-style painter in a comedic pose. Get creative. Most people aren’t immediately interested in taking products from a painting company, so your free product needs to be something eye-catching and interesting. 

Be sure to question your customers about your products. What part of your product demonstration did they most enjoy? Which services are they excited to purchase? Did they notice anything about your services that stands out from the products and services of other contractors in the area? How do they feel about the costs of your services? Are they likely to purchase your services or recommend your services to their friends? 

You’ll know that this experiment was a success if your booth is surrounded by visitors and if many of them say they would buy your services. There should be a lot of buzz about your booth and your company, and there should be a lot of traffic to your booth. Let’s face it, most people’s interest in painting businesses is relatively low, so if you manage to catch the interest of lots of people, then this test was a success. 

Step 6: Sell your MVP

By this point you’ve already tested your MVP, learned about the market, and gained some experience in the industry, all of which are helpful when you’re learning how to start a painting business. The sixth step is to sell your MVP. But you should know that initially making sales when you use the lean startup method isn’t as exciting as the nationwide painting business you’ve envisioned. 

This crucial step is the last step you need to complete before you get feedback on your company from your community and then proceed to seek funding from a financial institution to further grow your business. Selling your MVP while you’re learning how to start a painting business gives you an advantage over other contractors who started their business with the traditional startup method because it proves that you can sell your products and services, that you know how to run your business, and that your business is worthy of funding. 

Since you’re starting a painting business, selling your MVP means that you’ll actually need to complete some painting jobs and paint some houses. You should set up a temporary office, which you can do from home, and start booking appointments for jobs from your website and business phone number. If you lack the money to cover equipment costs, then you have another option. Many subcontractors have their own equipment, which means you can book the jobs and then send subcontractors to complete them. Subcontractors typically charge 50%–60% per job. The only thing you’ll need to cover is the paint and materials needed to complete the job. It’s easy enough to get the money to cover the costs of materials by charging between 15%–25% upfront to complete the job. As this is standard practice for nearly any home improvement job, customers will usually be happy to cover the up-front costs. Starting a painting business this way is great because by eliminating the cost of equipment, you mitigate the cost to start selling your MVP. 

Selling your MVP will help you learn more about your business and the market, gain experience in the industry, help you develop your brand, and build up a loyal customer base that is enthusiastic about your services. 


The last phase you need to complete before seeking funding for your business is the learn phase. After you’ve built your business around solid foundations and measured your MVP and found it to be effective, it’s time to get feedback from your customers and community about your business. You need to find out whether your community feels that the solution you’ve provided them with adequately solves their problems. You’ll then use that information to make changes to your products and services to ensure they’re better suited to meet the needs of your community, leading to a more successful painting business. 

Step 7: Get feedback on your product idea

By this time you should have built up a community of people you regularly interact with, identified a problem that affects many people in your community, developed a solution that members of your community agree solves their problems, and then created, tested, and sold your MVP. It may have taken a while to complete this process and involved a great deal of work, but you now understand not only the painting industry, but your business as well, and this will lead to more success. The last step is to get feedback on your product idea. Here’s how you can learn from the feedback and use it to improve your business. 

  • Ask your community about their favorite products and services, what they like and dislike about your services, how your business compares to other painting companies, and whether there are products or services that your clients would like to request. 
  • Pay attention to feedback. Do clients report having positive experiences with your company? How do they feel about the quality of your products? Which of your services is the most popular with your clients? Which is your best-selling paint color? Have you noticed a particular type or color of paint or a service that is repeatedly requested by your clients?
  • Use the feedback your community has provided to improve your services. When you customize your services to meet your clients’ needs based on their feedback, they will be happier with your services and your business. And we all know that happy customers lead to business success. 

You can get the most information with relatively low effort on your part through social media and your website. And you can easily accomplish this by creating an online suggestion box or a survey on your website, or by creating polls on Twitter and other social media platforms. Online reviews, as well, can reveal a wealth of information about how you can improve your services. 

After you’ve collected the necessary feedback and you feel that you have a good grasp on the wants and needs of your community, the next step is to make changes to your services based on suggestions from your community. 

During this time you should also pay attention to the promotions, sales, and marketing tactics of competing businesses. Every time they create a new ad campaign or sale, or they introduce a new product, they’re attempting to provide a solution to a problem that members of your community face. Of course, if these tactics aren’t working then you’ll know not to employ them yourself. But if they’re successful, you should learn more about the specific problem that these products and tactics solve and then use similar tactics for your own business. 

This feedback will help you improve your services and grow your business. It will also help you to effectively compete with other businesses, which will lead to more profits and the long-term success of your business. 

What’s next? 

So, you’ve proven to the world that people will buy your products and services, and you’ve acquired feedback about how to improve your business in a way your customers will support, all while gaining experience and learning how to run your business. Now is a good time to think about expanding your business. This means your small business will have a brick-and-mortar headquarters, professional equipment, employees, and more. Of course, to make this happen you’ll need to obtain a business license and get funding for your business. But obtaining funding should be a piece of cake. Once you couple your experience and knowledge of the industry and the fact that your business is already successful with a solid business plan, any business-savvy loan officer will consider funding your business. 

You’re not finished once you’ve obtained funding for your business, however. There’s still a lot of work to do. 

Hiring employees means you’ll need to apply for an Employer Identification Number or EIN from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). It’s also a good idea to open a business bank account during this time. A business bank account can ensure that your personal finances and business finances remain separated, which is handy for tax reasons. A business bank account is also important to establish a separation of personal and business aspects, as well. An EIN is also necessary to open a business bank account. 

Another important task is choosing the business structure of your painting business. There are many structures that you can choose for your business entity, such as a sole proprietorship, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC). If you’d like to know more about choosing an LLC structure for your business, check out my article on How to Form an LLC. 

You also need to appoint a registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or business entity that accepts mail, legal documents, and service of process on behalf of your company. To find out more about registered agents, read my article on the Best Registered Agent. 

It’s important to choose the right brick-and-mortar location for your painting business, as well. Just because you aren’t providing a service that people purchase every day doesn’t mean you should choose a remote location for your business. It should be convenient to get to and in a popular location. 

Here’s a list of some of the other activities you will need to complete after you’ve chosen your business’s location:

  1. Hire employees: Hiring employees is an important aspect of your business because you want to make sure you hire a competent team of people that both you and your clients can trust. Here’s a list of some of the positions you should hire for: project manager, commercial painter, estimator, finishing specialist, apprentice, web developer, content creator (for your website), and inventory specialist (to keep track of stock and equipment).
  2. Follow state requirements: You’ll almost certainly need to obtain a business license from your state, but you may also need to obtain business licenses and permits from your local government as well. There may be other requirements, such as general liability insurance or business insurance. 
  3. Find the right vendors: Quality paint and equipment is crucial in your business, so it’s important that you find vendors who provide products that meet your expectations. Choose trustworthy vendors that give you good prices on their products. Remember, an important aspect of the lean startup method is finding the cheapest product you can produce. 
  4. Switch on the utilities: Now that you have a brick-and-mortar location, it’s time to switch on the utilities. Here are some of the utilities you’ll need: electricity, water, heating and air, a good ventilation system, wifi, and a good security system. 
  5. Business Software: Every business, great or small, can benefit from quality business software. It can streamline many activities, such as payroll, taxes, inventory management, keeping track of orders, and keeping an updated list of customer information. For more information on what good business software can do for you, check out my article on the Best Business Software
  6. Obtain legal advice: When you’re providing a service in people’s homes or businesses and drafting estimates and contracts, it’s important to obtain legal advice. Luckily, it’s easy to use online legal services. They can help you ensure your contracts are legally enforceable, provide you with legal counsel, and give you access to a variety of printable legal documents. To find out more about what online legal services can do for you, check out my article on the Best Online Legal Services.
  7. Upgrade your equipment: As your business grows, you’ll need to purchase new equipment. You should have drop cloths, a variety of paint brushes, rollers and sprayers, tapes, pressure washers, scaffolds, ladders and lifts, industrial primers, and tracking technology so that painters (and you) can keep track of their progress on each job. 


Congratulations! Starting a painting business is difficult, and the fact that four in five businesses that are started using traditional startup methods fail within the first year complicates it even further. But if you start your painting company using the lean startup method, you increase the chance that your business will succeed. Here are the steps to start a painting company using the lean startup method: 

  1. Identify a problem.
  2. Build a community.
  3. Identify a solution opportunity.
  4. Develop a solution.
  5. Test your Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
  6. Sell your MVP.
  7. Get feedback on your product idea.

The lean startup method isn’t completed once you’ve completed the last step, but is instead a cycle of the build, measure, and learn phases, which you’ll complete repeatedly over the life of your business. This continuous cycle will ensure your business’s success. 

It’s always hard to start a business, regardless of the startup method you choose. But your passion for painting will ensure that your painting company prospers for many years. And the lean startup method’s success rates mean that your company will have a good chance at success. 

Again, congratulations on choosing to start a painting business, and good luck on your business adventure!

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