How to Start a Handyman Business in Ontario: Step-by-Step Guide + Funding Options

According to Statistics Canada, the number of self-employed workers in Canada has been steadily increasing in recent years, with approximately 2.9 million self-employed individuals in 2020.

This trend is expected to continue, making the handyman industry a potentially profitable and rewarding sector to enter.

The advantages of starting a handyman business in Ontario are numerous. With a growing population and a strong housing market, there is a high demand for skilled professionals who can provide home repairs and maintenance services.

Additionally, a handyman business can offer a flexible schedule, the ability to work from home or on-site, and the potential for growth and expansion.

However, starting a new handyman business is not without its challenges. Competing against established businesses can be difficult, and finding and retaining skilled workers can be a challenge in a tight labor market.

Additionally, navigating the legal and financial requirements of starting a business can be complex and time-consuming.

Despite the challenges, with careful planning, research, and hard work, starting a new handyman business in Ontario can be a fulfilling and successful venture.

In this article, we’ll explore the steps involved in starting a handyman business:

Step 1: Research the Market

Conducting market research can help you identify the demand for handyman services in your area, the types of services that are in high demand, the pricing of those services, and the competition.

To research the market:

  • Identify your target market: Determine who your ideal customers are based on factors such as age, income, location, and service needs.
  • Research your competition: Identify other handyman businesses in your area, their services, pricing, and customer reviews. Look for gaps in the market that you can fill with your services.
  • Analyze customer demand: Use online tools such as Google Trends, industry reports, and social media analytics to determine what services are in demand and what customers are searching for.
  • Conduct surveys or focus groups: Reach out to potential customers and ask them about their needs, preferences, and expectations. This can help you tailor your services to meet their needs.
  • Determine pricing strategies: Research the going rates for handyman services in your area and determine how you can price your services competitively while still making a profit.
  • Analyze your strengths and weaknesses: Evaluate your own skills, experience, and resources to determine what services you can offer and how you can differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Consider market trends: Stay up-to-date with industry trends and changes in customer behavior that could impact your business. For example, a growing interest in eco-friendly products and services could create new opportunities for your business.

Step 2: Choose a Business Structure

Choosing the right business structure is important because it can have significant legal, financial, and operational implications for your business. The right business structure will depend on your business goals and objectives.

To determine the most appropriate business structure:

  • Research the available options: The most common business structures in Ontario are sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to research each option thoroughly.
  • Consider your business goals: Your choice of business structure should align with your goals for the business. For example, if you plan to operate as a one-person business and want to keep things simple, a sole proprietorship might be the best option. If you plan to bring on partners and/or investors, a corporation might be a better fit.
  • Assess your personal liability: Consider how much personal liability you’re willing to take on. Sole proprietors and partners are personally liable for all business debts and obligations, while corporations offer more protection for personal assets.
  • Evaluate tax implications: Different business structures have different tax implications. For example, sole proprietors and partnerships report business income on their personal tax returns, while corporations file separate tax returns.
  • Consult with a lawyer and accountant: It’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer and accountant to determine which business structure is best for your specific situation. They can help you navigate the legal and financial requirements and advise you on the best course of action.

Step 3: Register Your Business

Registering your handyman business is required by law in Ontario. Failure to register your business can result in fines and other legal consequences.

Furthermore, registering your business can help protect your business identity and prevent others from using the same name. This can be important for branding and marketing purposes.

To register your business:

  • Choose a business name: You’ll need to choose a name for your business that is unique and not already registered in Ontario. You can search the Business Name Database on the Service Ontario website to check if your desired name is available.
  • Register your business: Register your business with the government by filing the necessary forms and paying the required fees. You can register your business online through the Service Ontario website, by mail, or in person.
  • Obtain any necessary permits and licenses: Depending on the nature of your handyman business, you may need to obtain certain permits and licenses from the government. Check the Service Ontario website or consult with a lawyer to determine what permits and licenses you need.
  • Register for tax accounts: You will need to register for a Business Number with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and a harmonized sales tax (HST) account with the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

Step 4: Get Insurance

As a handyman, you are likely to work on people’s property, which comes with a risk of damaging the property or injuring someone.

If a client or someone else files a claim against you, liability insurance can help cover the costs of legal defense, settlements, or judgments.


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    Here are the steps you can take to get insurance:

    • Identify your insurance needs: Consider the risks associated with your handyman business and what types of insurance coverage you may need. This may include liability insurance, property insurance, and commercial auto insurance, among others.
    • Shop around for insurance providers: Research different insurance providers and compare their policies, coverage limits, and premiums to find the best fit for your business.
    • Obtain quotes: Contact your selected insurance providers and request quotes for the coverage you need.
    • Review policies: Review the policies you receive carefully, paying close attention to coverage limits, exclusions, and deductibles.
    • Purchase insurance: Once you’ve selected an insurance provider and policy, purchase the insurance coverage you need.
    • Update your insurance regularly: As your business grows and changes, your insurance needs may change as well. Regularly review your coverage to ensure you have adequate protection.

    Step 5: Set Up Bookkeeping

    In Ontario, as in most places, businesses are required to file taxes. Bookkeeping helps you maintain accurate records, making it easier to prepare and file taxes.

    Additionally, bookkeeping provides a clear picture of the financial health of your business. It helps you track income, expenses, and profits, which is essential for making informed business decisions.

    Here’s how you can set up bookkeeping:

    • Open a business bank account: Separate your business and personal finances by opening a business bank account. This will make it easier to track your business income and expenses.
    • Choose a bookkeeping system: Choose a bookkeeping system that works for your business, such as using spreadsheets or accounting software like QuickBooks.
    • Record all business transactions: Keep track of all business transactions, including income and expenses, in your bookkeeping system.
    • Categorize transactions: Categorize your transactions into relevant categories, such as office supplies, tools and equipment, and advertising.
    • Reconcile your accounts: Regularly reconcile your accounts to ensure that your bookkeeping records match your bank statements.
    • Generate financial statements: Use your bookkeeping system to generate financial statements, such as balance sheets and profit and loss statements.
    • Keep receipts and invoices: Keep all receipts and invoices related to your business transactions as supporting documentation for your bookkeeping records.
    • Consider hiring a bookkeeper: If you don’t have the time or expertise to manage your bookkeeping, consider hiring a bookkeeper to help you.

    Step 6: Market Your Business

    Marketing can help you differentiate your business from competitors and highlight what makes you unique. For example, you may specialize in certain types of projects or offer exceptional customer service.

    Effective marketing can help you build brand awareness and establish your business as a trusted provider of handyman services.

    Here’s how you can make an effective marketing plan:

    • Identify your target audience: Determine who your ideal customers are and what they are looking for in a handyman service.
    • Develop a brand and message: Develop a brand identity for your business, including a logo and tagline, and craft a clear and compelling message that communicates the value of your services.
    • Create a website: Develop a website that showcases your services, experience, and customer testimonials. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and optimized for search engines.
    • Establish a social media presence: Create social media profiles on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and post regular updates about your services and promotions.
    • Utilize online directories: List your business on online directories like Google My Business and Yelp to increase your visibility online.
    • Network with other professionals: Network with other professionals in related industries, such as real estate agents and property managers, who can refer clients to your business.
    • Advertise in local publications: Consider placing ads in local newspapers, magazines, and community newsletters.
    • Ask for referrals: Encourage satisfied customers to refer their friends and family to your business.

    Step 7: Acquire Tools and Equipment

    Using the right tools and equipment can help you deliver high-quality work, which is essential for building a positive reputation and generating repeat business.

    Similarly, using the right tools and equipment can help you work safely and avoid accidents or injuries.

    To choose right tools and equipment:

    • Identify your needs: Determine what types of services you plan to offer and the tools and equipment you will need to perform those services. Make a list of the items you need.
    • Research suppliers: Research suppliers of tools and equipment, such as hardware stores, home improvement centers, and online retailers. Compare prices and features to find the best deals.
    • Consider buying used: Consider buying used tools and equipment to save money. Look for deals on online classifieds sites or at local yard sales and auctions.
    • Purchase essential tools: Purchase essential tools, such as a hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, and a drill, to get started.
    • Invest in specialized tools: Consider investing in specialized tools, such as power saws, sanders, and a pressure washer, as your business grows and you take on more complex projects.
    • Consider leasing: Consider leasing larger equipment, such as a trailer or scaffolding, if you only need it occasionally.
    • Inspect tools and equipment: Inspect all tools and equipment before purchasing to ensure they are in good working order and meet safety standards.
    • Protect your tools: Protect your investment by purchasing insurance or adding a rider to your existing policy that covers tools and equipment.

    Step 8: Develop a Customer Service Strategy

    Providing excellent customer service is a key factor in satisfying customers and building a positive reputation for your business.

    Customers are more likely to continue using your services if they have a positive experience and feel valued as customers. This can lead to repeat business and referrals.

    To develop an effective customer service strategy:

    • Identify your target customers: Determine who your ideal customers are and what their needs and expectations are for a handyman service.
    • Define your brand voice and values: Define your brand voice and values, and ensure that they are reflected in every customer interaction. Your brand voice should be professional, friendly, and helpful, and your values should include honesty, integrity, and a commitment to excellence.
    • Train your staff: Train your staff to provide excellent customer service. This includes providing training on how to communicate effectively, how to listen actively, and how to resolve customer complaints.
    • Develop communication channels: Develop communication channels that are easily accessible to customers, such as phone numbers, email addresses, and social media profiles. Respond to customer inquiries promptly and professionally.
    • Offer a satisfaction guarantee: Offer a satisfaction guarantee to demonstrate your commitment to customer service. If a customer is not satisfied with the work, offer to make it right at no additional cost.
    • Request customer feedback: Request customer feedback to identify areas for improvement and to gain insights into what your customers value most. Use feedback to make necessary changes and improvements to your service.
    • Build customer relationships: Build strong customer relationships by being friendly, respectful, and attentive to their needs. Remember to follow up with customers after a job is complete to ensure their satisfaction.
    • Continuously evaluate and improve: Continuously evaluate and improve your customer service strategy to ensure that it aligns with your customer’s needs and expectations. Use customer feedback, reviews, and other metrics to make data-driven decisions and implement changes as needed.


    By understanding the local market, developing a sound business plan, and providing excellent customer service, you can build a successful and profitable handyman business.

    While there may be obstacles along the way, with hard work, dedication, and a commitment to quality, you can create a business that offers valuable services to your community while providing you with a sense of accomplishment and financial security.

    With the right approach, starting a new handyman business can be an excellent investment in your future.

    Resources for Handyman Businesses in Ontario

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