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How To Start A Sandblasting Business

How To Start A Sandblasting Business

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How To Start A Sandblasting Business

How To Start A Sandblasting Business

Starting a sandblasting business can be a profitable opportunity with the right planning and execution. This specialized service is in demand across various industries, from automotive to construction.

In this guide, we will go over the industry, walk you through the necessary steps to get your sandblasting business off the ground, and answer some common questions.

Business Overview

A sandblasting business provides abrasive blasting services using pressurized air and abrasive media to clean and prepare surfaces for recoating or refinishing. Services may include removing rust, paint, or corrosion from metal, stone, concrete, or wood. While the term sandblasting is still widely used, most businesses use other abrasive substrates such as crushed walnut shells, crushed glass, glass beads, plastic, etc.

Customers include automotive shops, construction companies, metal fabricators, shipyards, homeowners wanting to revamp their spaces, and more. Much of the work may be on-site for larger projects. Or you may set up a workshop to do smaller jobs. Equipment needs include an air compressor, blasting pot, nozzles, and respiratory and eye protection.

Sandblasting Industry Summary

According to IBISWorld, the U.S. sandblasting industry generates $12 billion in annual revenue and has been growing at an annual rate of 2.4% over the past five years. Overall industry revenue is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 2.2% over the next five years.

One of the emerging trends in the sandblasting industry is dustless blasting. This innovative technology offers significant advantages over traditional sandblasting, including faster job completion times. Additionally, the industry is shifting towards more eco-friendly practices and the use of non-toxic, recycled abrasives.

Steps To Start A Sandblasting Business

Starting a sandblasting business is more than mastering the technical skills. While the process may seem overwhelming at first, we aim to simplify the journey by outlining the steps needed to get started.

Step 1: Assess the Market

Starting a small business is a big decision, and before you put your hard-earned money into starting a sandblasting business, it’s good to know if people in your area would want to use your service. Market research is also about a better understanding of who your customers are, where they are, what they need from a sandblasting service, and how best to reach them. With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions and set your sandblasting business up for success.

So, how do you get started with this research? Here are some simple ways to do it:

  • Local market observations: Sometimes, simple observation can be a powerful tool. Look around your local area. Are there many buildings or structures that could benefit from sandblasting services?
  • Talk to potential customers: Going and asking potential customers who they use for sandblasting services and if they would be willing to try another company is a great way to learn about the local market. In addition, you may get a few customers.
  • Social media: Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook can be great resources for gauging interest in your proposed business. You can post about your idea, see how people respond, or even run low-cost ad campaigns to test the waters.
  • Check out the competition: Knowing there are customers is one thing if there is only one business, but you also need to look at all of the other sandblasting businesses in your area. Are they busy? Is there room for another? It could be a sign that there’s a demand for what you want to offer. Take a look at their online reviews to see if there are things they don’t do well, so you can do things better.
  • Online local groups and forums: Join local groups on social media or community forums. It’s a great place to hear what people are saying and to get a sense of what they might need.

Doing this research may not give you a definitive yes or no answer, but it will give you a much clearer picture of what you can expect. It’s a smart first step that can help you build a business that people really need and want.

Step 2: Write a Business Plan

Creating a business plan can be a foundational step in laying the groundwork for a successful sandblasting business. While many people focus on the fact that a bank will require one to get funding, a business plan should also serve as your roadmap, guiding you through each stage of starting and managing your business.

When writing a business plan for lenders, there are a few sections that I recommend taking some more time on. These include:

Market analysis: This is where you get to shine a spotlight on the opportunities you identified during your market research. Detail why you believe your business will succeed. It could be due to a noticeable gap in the market, the unique services you plan to offer, or the expertise you bring to the table. Make it clear that you have a solid understanding of the market and a strategy to carve out your space.

Management team: Even if it’s just you running the show, the people steering the ship matter immensely to lenders. Showcase the strength and experience of your management team, and highlight past successes, relevant expertise, and the roles each member will play in the business. This section reassures lenders that the business is in capable hands.

Financial projections: This section is particularly important to lenders, as it gives them an idea of your business’s profitability. Include income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and a break-even analysis. Be sure to provide clear, realistic financial projections that demonstrate your ability to repay any loans and still make a profit.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 3: Source Funding

Before moving any further with your business venture, it’s important to make sure that you have access to the funds. If outside funding is needed, this can be one of the biggest challenges of starting any business. Let’s go through the common funding avenues and what to expect from each:

Personal savings: Taking stock of your personal funds is the first step. Depending on the scope of your business, personal funds may be enough, but if they don’t, additional funding will be needed.

Bank loans: Bank loans can be a viable option if you have a good credit score and sufficient collateral. It is general practice for lenders to require borrowers to invest at least 15% of their personal funds towards the project’s total cost. If the bank perceives the loan as being too risky, they might opt for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantee to secure it.

Friends and family: Friends and family who believe in your vision can be a great funding source. However, mixing business with personal relationships can be tricky. It’s crucial to put all agreements in writing and clearly communicate how the money will be used, when it will be repaid, and what happens if the business fails. This helps avoid any misunderstandings that could potentially damage relationships.

Microloans: If the amount needed to kick start your business is relatively low or obtaining credit from traditional lenders proves difficult, microloans can come in handy. Some organizations offer business training alongside the funding to help run your business more effectively.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 4: Register the Business

Before taking on your first customer, you need to make sure the business is legally set up. While the process might differ slightly from state to state, here is a fundamental guide to help you navigate this important step:

Choosing a business structure: Your first step is to decide on a business structure. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, businesses in this industry typically opt for one of the four main structures:

  1. Sole proprietorship: This is generally the simplest and least expensive business structure to set up, offering complete control of your business. However, it does not provide personal liability protection.
  2. General partnership: This involves two or more people sharing the profits, losses, and responsibilities of the business. It is relatively easy to set up but, like a sole proprietorship, it doesn’t offer personal liability protection.
  3. Corporation: Corporations are more complex structures offering personal liability protection at the expense of higher setup costs and more stringent administrative requirements.
  4. Limited Liability Company (LLC) – This popular choice combines the liability protection of a corporation with the simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership. It is a favorable option for many owing to the liability protection for the owners and flexible tax benefits.

Related: Comparison of business structures

Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.

Some popular LLC formation services include:

IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

ZenBusiness - Best for beginners. $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

Northwest - Best privacy protection. $39 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.

Related: Sandblasting business name ideas

During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.

Related: Finding a domain name for your business

Obtain business licenses and permits: Depending on the location and type of sandblasting being performed, a contractor’s license may be required. Every state and city have different requirements, so be sure to check with the appropriate agencies.

Additionally, there are general business licenses and permits that may be needed, such as a sales tax permit and an Employer Identification Number (EIN).  

Related: Common business licenses, permits, and registrations by state

Understanding OSHA requirements: There are a few regulations from federal agencies for a new sandblasting business to be aware of.  First is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which requires informing employees of the potential hazards when working with chemicals. Next, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has requirements to ensure employees aren’t breathing in too much silica dust. Dustless blasting is worth considering as there is no toxic dust, making OSHA compliance much easier than using traditional media.

Step 5: Set Up Operations

With funding secured and the business legally registered, your vision starts to take form, and the opening of your doors gets closer.

Whether you are setting up shop in a corner of your home or garage, or renting an office space, choosing the right location is key. For those eyeing a home-based setup, first, ensure that your residence is zoned to allow a sandblasting business to operate and that the landlord approves if you rent. Checking the zoning regulations of your local municipality will guide you in making an informed decision.

Once you’ve nailed down the location, it’s time to equip your business with the necessary sandblasting tools and safety gear. A detailed list tailored to your specific services will serve you best. Don’t just go for the first option you see; take time to research and perhaps even seek recommendations to ensure you get value for your money. This careful selection will ensure that you are well-prepared to offer quality services right from the start.

Step 6: Create a Marketing Strategy

With your operations in place, it’s time to let the world know about your sandblasting business.

You can start with the good old word-of-mouth strategy; it never fails and costs nothing but time. Encourage your friends, family, and initial customers to spread the word. Additionally, consider having your business join the local Chamber of Commerce. It can offer networking opportunities and give your business a credible presence in the community.

Incorporating print marketing materials into your strategy can be effective as well. This could include flyers, brochures, or direct mail campaigns. These materials can be distributed to let people know about your services.

In addition to print, online marketing should not be overlooked. Aside from setting up a professional looking website that has information like your address, contact information, etc., you can also explore social media platforms, such as Facebook, to help reach a wider audience by sharing before and after pictures of your sandblasting projects.

Last, be sure to claim your business on various online business directories, including setting up a Google Business Profile and platforms such as Yelp and Angie’s List to showcase your services and gather reviews. This action will help local customers find you easily when they search for sandblasting services near them.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 7: Prepare to Launch!

As you approach the final stages of launching your sandblasting business, there are probably still several final details to consider. Every business will have different needs, but this list should help ensure a smooth launch:

Business insurance: The appropriate insurance coverage can safeguard your operations from potential risks and liabilities. For a sandblasting business, this might include general liability insurance, property insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance if you have employees.  We recommend getting at least three insurance quotes, including local insurance agents and online providers like Coverwallet or Hiscox to get the best coverage and price.

Bookkeeping: Proper bookkeeping is necessary for managing finances and ensuring tax compliance. You might want to consider hiring a professional accountant or using accounting software like Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks to keep track of income, expenses, and tax obligations.

Contracts: In the sandblasting industry, you’ll likely need contracts with clients, such as service agreements. RocketLawyer and Law Depot have free and inexpensive templates that may be helpful, but it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional to ensure these contracts protect your business

Bank account: Opening a separate business bank account is crucial for keeping personal and business finances separate. This can simplify bookkeeping and make it easier to manage business finances.

Setting pricing: Determining competitive pricing for your services is essential. Be sure to consider factors such as labor costs, materials, overhead, and the pricing of competitors in your area.

Credit card processing: Accepting credit cards can make it easier for customers to pay for your services. Payment processing systems like Square or Stripe can be integrated into your operations to facilitate seamless transactions.

Greg’s Tip: To stay profitable, calculate your costs accurately and set your pricing accordingly. It’s a common mistake to undervalue your services initially to attract customers.

Greg's Business Tip

Common Questions When Starting A Sandblasting Business

How much does it cost to start a sandblasting business?

Starting a sandblasting business requires a significant investment, with initial costs typically ranging from $15,000 to $50,000.

Let’s break down the various elements you’ll need to budget for in your startup phase:

Home-based: If you plan to operate from home, your initial costs could be relatively low.
Leased space: For a leased commercial space, anticipate deposit costs which might range from $2,000 to $5,000. The cost will depend on your geographic location and the size of the space.

Equipment: Acquiring the necessary sandblasting equipment will be one of your significant expenses. Initial setup can range between $10,000 and $40,000. This amount covers the purchase of a sandblasting machine, compressor, protective gear, and other essential tools.

Vehicle: If your business is mobile and you don’t have an adequate vehicle, one will need to be purchased.

Business registration: You will incur fees while registering your business and acquiring the necessary permits. These fees can vary greatly, but expect to set aside around $500 to $1,000 for this purpose.

Insurance – Getting the right insurance is key to safeguarding your business. Initial insurance costs might range between $1,000 and $3,000.

Marketing – To kickstart your business presence, a modest marketing budget of around $1,000 to $2,000 should be allocated. This can cover website setup, business cards, and initial promotional activities.

Miscellaneous – Remember to set aside a fund for unforeseen expenses that might pop up. A good estimate would be around $2,000 to $4,000.

Not included in this estimate, it’s highly recommended to have three to six months’ worth of operating expenses on hand as a buffer. This can cover unexpected costs or fluctuations in income, especially in the early stages when your business is still establishing its customer base.

How profitable is a sandblasting business?

While it is difficult to pinpoint an exact profit margin for a sandblasting company as it varies significantly depending on a range of factors, including the type of work being done, location, market demand, and business efficiency, we can build a rough estimate based on industry standards.

Generally, sandblasting services are charged per hour, and the average rate is around $40 to $65 per hour. If we presume that you operate for 30 hours a week, the potential weekly revenue stands at about $1,200 to $1,950, translating to annual revenue of $62,400 to $101,400.

To find the potential profit, let’s subtract the yearly expenses from the revenue. Common annual expenses might include equipment maintenance, which could be around $5,000, rental space (if applicable) at about $24,000, insurance costs at $3,000, and a marketing budget of $2,000, totaling roughly $34,000 in expenses.

Therefore, the calculated annual profit before taxes would range from $28,400 ($62,400 – $34,000) to $67,400 ($101,400 – $34,000).

Do remember that these are ballpark figures, and actual profit can vary.

What skills are helpful for running a sandblasting business?

Running a sandblasting business requires a combination of technical and business skills, a few of which include:

Technical skills: Knowledge of sandblasting procedures is a core requirement. This includes understanding air pressure, safety regulations, and how to work with different materials like aluminum.

Certification: While not always necessary, becoming certified in sandblasting and painting techniques can provide a competitive edge.

Physical fitness: Sandblasting can be physically demanding work, so physical fitness and stamina are important.

Business knowledge: Basic knowledge of marketing, finance/accounting, and human resources can help you manage and grow your business effectively.

Safety awareness: Attention to safety is critical in this industry to protect yourself, your employees, and your customers.

Mechanical aptitude: Some mechanical understanding may be beneficial, particularly for troubleshooting equipment issues or working with complex machinery.

Customer service skills: As with any business, being able to provide excellent customer service can set your business apart and foster customer loyalty.

What is the NAICS code for a sandblasting business?

The NAICS code for a sandblasting business is 332813.

The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.

Related: What is a NAICS code and how to find yours

How To Start A Sandblasting Business

How To Start A Sandblasting Business

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