How to Start a Yard Sign Business
From birthday parties to graduations and everything in between, yard signs add flair to any event, bringing the décor right up to the curb. Yard sign rentals offer customers the benefit of yard decorations without having to buy and store décor that will only get used once.
And, because the signs are rented versus sold, there isn’t a need to continually restock on inventory, which saves the business a lot in overhead costs. As a result, yard sign businesses are a great way to build wealth through a rental service that has reasonably low business expenses.
What’s great about a yard sign rental business is that it is often a part-time business that offers a lot of flexibility, so it’s easy to make some additional income around a full-time job.
A yard sign business rents out signs, such as individual letters, shapes, or phrases that customers use to decorate their lawns or other outdoor areas. The business is responsible for purchasing and storing a wide library of signs to fit a variety of themes, events, or parties.
Typically, yard sign businesses operate online with a well-developed website to display their sign options, schedule rentals, and process payments.
Customers use the website to purchase a rental, typically for 24 – 72 hours. Once the rental is scheduled, the business delivers, sets up the signs, and returns at the end of the rental to collect the supplies.
Many yard sign businesses offer premade packages with customizable messages, such as happy birthday, happy anniversary, congratulations, or for graduations, to expedite checkout.
Sign and banner manufacturing in the U.S. generated $16 million in 2022, which is a decrease of 12% compared to the year before. In fact, over the last 10 years, sign and banner manufacturing has declined.
However, despite the decline in sin manufacturing, yard sign businesses saw huge growth starting in 2020. For example, the franchise Card My Yard earned $7.2 million in 2021, an increase of $1.2 million compared to the previous year. Even more impressive is the growth from 2019 – 2020: The company reported a revenue of less than $1 million in 2019.
So, what was the reason for this intense yard sign business growth? Well, the global pandemic. Here’s why: The pandemic that began in early 2020 had many people searching for creative ways to celebrate special occasions from a distance.
The search for celebrations from a distance led to a trend of posting yard signs (aka yard cards) on people’s lawns to celebrate and broadcast a special event. However, this trend may taper off as people return to in-person gatherings.
In addition, IBISWorld suggests that the low barrier to entry will negatively affect sign and banner manufacturing growth, which may also negatively affect yard sign businesses. A low barrier to entry generally indicates a high level of competition, making growth a challenge for budding businesses.
A yard greeting business appeals to a broad market. From individuals celebrating life’s various occasions to companies promoting sales, many benefit from yard signs. Let’s look at a few of the major groups:
Individuals. Families, friends, or coworkers celebrating birthdays, graduations, weddings, baby announcements, and every little thing in between make up a large portion of a yard sign business’s market. In fact, many yard sign packages appeal to events that families and friends experience, such as important milestones.
Events. Various events, such as concerts, sports events, or festivals, may use yard signs to add attraction and décor. For instance, the signs can be an advertisement for the event or fun photo opportunities. As such, businesses and venues are another large market.
Sales. Businesses with a strong focus on sales, such as real estate businesses, are interested in yard signage because they draw attention.
Checklist for Starting a Yard Sign Business
Starting your own yard sign business is a great way to make some extra money, and with the proper planning and execution, it can be a very successful venture. Even though this business may not be a full-time operation, there are a number of things you’ll need to do in order to properly get started:
Step 1: Write a Business Plan
Starting a yard card business can be a fun and profitable venture, but it is important to have a solid plan in place to ensure success.
First off, a business plan helps define your goals and objectives, giving you a clear path to follow as you grow your business. It also allows you to consider potential challenges and create strategies for how to overcome them. Additionally, having a well-thought-out plan can make it easier to secure funding or investors for your business. Finally, a business plan serves as a useful reference tool that can help keep you organized and on track with your long-term goals.
In short, having a strong business plan is crucial for any yard card business looking to thrive in the industry.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 2: Name the Business
Coming up with a name for your yard card business can be a time-confusing task. The name should not only be catchy and memorable but also convey the essence of your business.
One way to start is by brainstorming words related to yard cards, such as celebration, surprise, greetings, yard, lawn, decoration, and party. Don’t be afraid to play around with combining different words or adding puns or alliteration.
Also, you can consider including your location in the name if you want to target a specific area.
Last, before finalizing a name, be sure to check to see if it is available.
Related: Tips on naming a business
Step 3: Form a Business Entity
A business entity (also referred to as a business structure) refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business structures to choose from, which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.
When deciding on which business entity is best for a yard sign business, it normally comes down to the sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company.
A partnership opens the owners up to unnecessary personal liability because if a partner does something to get the business sued, or runs off with cash from the business, the other partners are personally liable to repay.
The corporation can be a good choice to minimize liability risk because it separates the business assets from the owner’s assets. If the corporation is sued or certain business debts can’t be paid back, the owners aren’t personally responsible to repay them. The downside to the corporation is that it is more complicated than all the other entities and requires more administration than the LLC. If you plan on raising a lot of investment though, the corporation is usually the better choice.
That leaves the sole proprietorship and LLC.
The sole proprietorship is the least expensive and easiest entity to start which is appealing. The downside is that the owner is personally liable should anything happen to the business, which is an important consideration. The LLC offers the ability to operate as a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation. Depending on the state, the cost to form an LLC runs from $40 – $500, which is pretty inexpensive for protecting the owners from business-related lawsuits and certain debts.
Related: Guide to forming your LLC
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!
IncAuthority - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent the first year!
ZenBusiness - $49 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
Step 4: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits
Even though the licensing requirements for a yard card business are minimal, it’s important to check with your local government about the necessary requirements before starting.
Generally, you will need a local business license and potentially a home business occupation permit. In addition, some states will require a service-based business to collect sales tax and obtain a sales tax permit.
Step 5: Open a Business Bank Account
Keeping your small business and personal finances in separate bank accounts is important to track the income and expenses of your business and identify trends.
Many banks offer free business checking accounts, so be sure to find a cost-effective option for your business.
Step 6: Order Sign Inventory
Starting a yard card business can be a fun and profitable venture, but it’s important to make sure you have the necessary inventory to meet customer demand, especially as some customers will wait until the last minute to place an order.
First of all, a variety of yard cards with different designs and messages will give customers options when creating their own personalized displays. In addition to the yard cards themselves, which often feature letters and numbers for greetings or announcements, you’ll want to have a variety of accessory items on hand, such as stakes for securing the cards in the lawn, lights for evening displays, and balloons or other decorative elements.
It’s also a good idea to have spare parts on hand, such as extra letters and numbers for replacing damaged pieces or creating custom messages. By having a well-stocked inventory, you’ll be able to meet any requests and ensure happy customers.
Step 7: Get your Marketing Plan in Place
There are several ways to market a yard card business, but one of the most effective ways to get the word out is through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Since yard cards are visually interesting, be sure to post pictures of previous setups to show your work.
Having a website that includes information about pricing, designs, and contact information are important for people to find your business searching on Google for your service. Also, consider partnering with local events and businesses, such as florists or real estate agencies, to help spread awareness of your yard card services.
And last of all, don’t forget to utilize word of mouth by asking satisfied customers to leave reviews and share their experiences with friends and family. With some creativity and effort, you’ll be able to attract new customers and grow your yard card business.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
Running a yard card business can bring joy to customers and provide unique decor for special occasions, but it’s important to have the right insurance coverage in case something goes wrong.
It’s easy to think that insurance isn’t needed, but especially important, general liability insurance helps protect against property damage or injuries that may occur on the job. Commercial auto insurance will protect you and any staff while traveling to a job. Personal policies often won’t cover an accident while a personal vehicle is being used for business purposes. Also, if you have employees, even temporary ones, having workers’ compensation insurance can help cover medical expenses for any employees who may sustain injuries while on the job.
Step 9: Set up an Accounting System
If you’re running a yard card business, keeping track of orders and payments can quickly become overwhelming, and that’s where accounting software comes in. While a complex system isn’t needed at all, look for a program that offers invoicing, billing, and mobile payment processing capabilities.
The thought of accounting can be intimidating for a lot of new entrepreneurs. There are a number of ways of handling bookkeeping, from DIY to hiring a bookkeeper. These include:
- Pen and paper - Low expense, but difficult to track.
- Spreadsheet - Low expense, but easy to make errors.
- Accounting software - Medium expense, but owner typically inputs expenses. Some great accounting software programs include Freshbooks or Wave Accounting.
- Hire a bookkeeper - Higher expense, though very affordable at $100-$200 per month in most cases. A dedicated bookkeeper will probably save money because, in addition to handling all of the bookkeeping (so you can focus on the business), they also provide personalized tax advice and ensure the business is in compliance.
Find bookkeepers in your local area or use a service like 800Accountant.
How much does it cost to start a yard sign business?
You can start a yard sign business with an arguably low investment of around $3,000. However, if you invest in a large inventory or a professionally designed website, you should expect startup costs to be spend closer to $5,000 – $10,000. Let’s look at some initial expenses:
Business formation. Business formation costs include items like licenses, permits, and insurance.
Licenses and permits vary by state, so it’s best to check the state’s website for business licenses to determine the cost. However, the cost is usually below $1,000.
Similarly, insurance rates vary and are based on the business’s exposure to risk. An insurance agent can help gather quotes so you can compare coverage and pricing options.
Inventory. It helps to have a wide but well-curated stock of inventory so customers have options and your business will appeal to a broader market. You can purchase inventory from several sources, but some sites sell starter packs.
For example, VictoryStore sells starter kits beginning as low as $72 up to $2,799 for a package with over 400 pieces. Their best-selling starter pack sells for $999.
Website. A website is another essential element to help your business function smoothly. A professionally designed website for a small business can cost between $2,000 – $9,000.
Alternatively, you can build your website with a builder like Wix or Squarespace. However, these websites typically charge a monthly or annual fee. Wix’s monthly plans, for instance, range from $16 to $59.
Marketing. Advertising and social media help increase your business. For instance, you can buy Facebook ads for as little as a few dollars per week. Keep in mind that effective advertising is a great way to invest in your business and gain customers. So, spend some time figuring out what amount feels right for your budget.
Employees. As you grow your business, you may hire employees, especially as the schedule fills and multiple or overlapping deliveries or pick-ups occur. The average delivery driver earns $17 per hour, so with one staff driver during a 40-hour week, expect to spend $680 per week on employee wages.
How much money can you make with a yard sign business?
You can earn $19,500 per year by only renting five signs each week (1 per day based on a 5-day work week). This figure is calculated on a 24-hour rental for $75 (which is an estimated rate— many businesses charge more).
For example, EventYardCard sells a $250 package for a 72-hour rental with a personalized message. They also offer a 24-hour rental for $95. Yard Sign People have a starting price of $79.99 for a one-day rental.
So, assuming your start-up costs are near $3,000, your business will earn a profit of $16,500 in the first year with only five weekly rentals. And there is an opportunity to make even more if your rates start higher than $75.
Are there grants to start a yard sign business?
It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a yard sign business. If you search for business grants, you will come across a lot of scams and misinformation. Occasionally an organization will offer grants to start a business, however, be skeptical and don’t provide any sensitive personal information or pay money to get more information.
Legitimate federal grants can be found at Grants.gov, and you can check on your state’s economic development office to see if they have any grants available.
What Skills Are Needed to Run a Yard Sign Business?
Yard sign businesses require some essential skills to gain momentum and success:
Organization. Much of a yard sign business will be coordinating rentals and managing your storage facility. For example, yard sign businesses need a variety of inventory to meet their customers’ needs. So, storage organization is key to smooth operations and allows you to find the signs you need in the correct color and font style.
Additionally, you will need to coordinate rental drop-offs and pick-ups. This requires organizing your or your staff’s schedule to accommodate each rental. Organizational skills are critical to ensure your rentals are met on time and as expected—which, in turn, leads to a positive brand reputation.
Marketing. Consistent rentals mean consistent income. So, to get clients, you will need some talent in marketing and sales. An aptitude for advertising, networking, or social media can help you accomplish your marketing goals.
Design. Your site should be visually appealing and easy to navigate so customers can find what they want and efficiently complete purchases. Therefore, being able to design your website in an attractive and sales-oriented way helps translate sales. For instance, creating premade packages is a great way to encourage quick sales.
Although sign manufacturing has decreased, yard sign businesses have had a few busy years. The pandemic gave attention to creative ways to celebrate life’s milestones through the simplicity of yard signs.
It is possible that as people resume in-person activities, yard sign businesses may have fewer customers. Nevertheless, yard sign businesses made a memorable impact on many during an unexpected time, and that fact likely will be remembered.