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Start a Land Surveying Business

Mapping Your Future: The Allure of a Land Surveying Business Venture

By Business.How Team
| Updated
gray tripod on brown rock
Camera Icon Valerie V / Unsplash


Having a keen eye for detail and a love for the great outdoors? Look no further, consider embarking on a land surveying business! This intriguing venture revolves around measuring and mapping the terrestrial or three-dimensional positions of points and the distances and angles between them. Steer your compass towards this business, and you'll be the backbone in construction and property development, helping to define legal property boundaries and provide essential data for architectural endeavors.

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This a quick reality check to help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business concept before you dive in.

Expected Percent Margin:

  • Gross Margin: 55-65%
  • Net Profit Margin: 15-25%

Earnings Expectations:

  1. Daily Earnings: $300 - $600
  2. Weekly Earnings: $1,500 - $3,000
  3. Monthly Earnings: $6,000 - $12,000
  4. Annual Earnings: $72,000 - $144,000

Actions to Hit Those Numbers:

  • Professionals: Employ at least one qualified land surveyor (preferably with license).
  • Supporting Team: Hire technical and clerical staff for operations.
Equipment and Technology:
  • Survey Equipment: Initial investment could range from $20,000 to $50,000 for modern, precision equipment.
  • Software: Budget around $1,000 to $5,000 per year for CAD/CAM software subscriptions.
Marketing and Customer Acquisition:
  • Network: Establish good relations with real estate developers, government agencies, and construction firms.
  • Digital Marketing: Allocate a budget for SEO, local listings and paid online advertisements.
Licensing and Insurance:
  • Licensing: Ensure all necessary licenses and permits are in place, costs may vary based on location.
  • Insurance: Budget between $1,000 and $2,000 per year for professional liability insurance.
Business Operations:
  • Pricing: The average pricing for a land surveying project is $350 to $500, aim to manage a few projects per week.
  • Customer Service: Invest in training staff to provide excellent customer service which helps in customer acquisition and retention.

These are generalized estimations and can vary depending on location, economic conditions, and individual business strategies. Always consult with a financial advisor for personalized advice.

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Grab Your Business Website Name

Before you get caught up in the whirlwind of setting up your business, invest in a domain name. It's a small but significant step that lays the foundation for your brand and makes it easier for customers to find and trust you. Just like you wouldn't build a house without securing the land first, don't build a business without securing your domain name.

"Why? Can't that wait?" Here's why it shouldn't

Step 1: Determine if a Land Surveying Business is Right for You

Breakdown of startup expenses

Starting a land surveying business requires a significant investment. You will need to purchase surveying equipment, such as a total station, GPS, and data collector. You will also need to purchase a vehicle to transport the equipment. Additionally, you will need to purchase insurance, office supplies, and software. You will also need to factor in the cost of obtaining any necessary licenses or certifications.

Breakdown of ongoing expenses

There are a variety of ongoing expenses associated with running a land surveying business. These include the cost of maintaining and replacing equipment, vehicle maintenance, insurance, office supplies, and software. Additionally, you will need to factor in the cost of any necessary licenses or certifications that need to be renewed.

Examples of ways to make money

Land surveyors can make money by providing services such as boundary surveys, topographic surveys, construction surveys, and GIS mapping. Additionally, surveyors can provide services such as land planning, site design, and engineering. Surveyors can also provide consulting services to clients such as developers, architects, and engineers. Finally, surveyors can also provide services such as aerial photography, 3D modeling, and drone mapping.

Step 2: Name the Business

Tips for choosing a name

When choosing a name for your land surveying business, it is important to consider how the name will be perceived by potential customers. A good name should be memorable and easy to pronounce. It should also be descriptive of the services you offer, and should be unique enough to stand out from other businesses in the same field. Consider using a combination of words that reflect the services you offer, such as “Accurate Land Surveying” or “Precise Surveying Solutions.” Additionally, it is important to make sure that the name you choose is not already in use by another business.

How to register the business name

Once you have chosen a name for your business, you will need to register it with the appropriate state or local government agency. This process is often referred to as “filing a ‘Doing Business As’ (DBA)”. Depending on the state in which you are registering, you may need to fill out a form and pay a fee. Additionally, you may need to publish a notice in a local newspaper to officially register the name. Once the name is registered, you will be able to use it for all of your business activities. Additionally, you may need to register the name with the IRS for tax purposes.

Step 3: Obtain Licensing and Certifications

Requirements for licensing and certifications

Depending on the state, land surveying businesses may need to obtain a license or certification in order to operate. It is important to research the requirements for licensing and certifications in the state in which the business will be operating. Generally, land surveying businesses must be certified by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Additionally, some states may require a business to obtain a professional land surveyor license.

How to obtain the necessary licensing and certifications

To obtain a professional land surveyor license, applicants must have a degree in land surveying and pass the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam and the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam. Additionally, applicants must have a minimum of four years of experience in land surveying under the supervision of a licensed land surveyor. The NCEES provides information on the requirements for obtaining a professional land surveyor license in each state. Additionally, the NCEES provides study materials and practice exams to help applicants prepare for the FS and PS exams.

Step 4: Create a Business Plan

Elements of a Business Plan

A business plan is an essential document for any business, and a land surveying business is no exception. It should include a detailed description of the services you plan to offer, a market analysis of the competition and potential customers, a financial plan, and a timeline for achieving your goals. Additionally, it should include a mission statement, a list of the resources you will need to get started, and a plan for marketing and advertising your services.

Tips for Creating a Business Plan

When creating a business plan, it is important to be as detailed as possible. Research the land surveying industry and the competition in your area to get an idea of what services you should offer and how you can differentiate yourself. Additionally, create a realistic timeline and budget for your business. Make sure to include a section on how you plan to market your services, as well as a section on how you plan to manage your finances. Finally, make sure to include a section on how you plan to measure your success, such as customer satisfaction surveys or financial metrics.

Step 5: Find a Location

Factors to consider when selecting a location for a land surveying business include the size of the space needed, the cost of the space, the local zoning laws, and the availability of parking. It is also important to consider the local demographics and the competition in the area. It is important to select a location that is easily accessible and visible to potential customers.

Tips for finding the right location for a land surveying business include researching the local zoning laws, researching the area to determine the competition, and researching the local demographics to determine the target market. Additionally, it is important to look for a space that is large enough to accommodate the necessary equipment and staff, and that is easily accessible and visible to potential customers. It is also important to consider the cost of the space and the availability of parking. Finally, it is important to consider the potential for growth in the area and the potential for expansion.

Step 6: Purchase Equipment

Types of equipment needed

When starting a land surveying business, it is important to purchase the right equipment. This includes a range of surveying tools such as a total station, a theodolite, a GPS receiver, a data collector, and a robotic total station. Additionally, you will need a tripod, a tribrach, a prism pole, a range pole, and a prism. You will also need a laptop or tablet to store and analyze data.

Tips for purchasing the right equipment

When purchasing the equipment for your land surveying business, it is important to research the different types of equipment available and compare prices. You should also consider the quality of the equipment and the warranty that comes with it. Additionally, you should look for equipment that is easy to use and can be used for a variety of tasks. You should also consider the cost of maintenance and repair for the equipment. Finally, you should consider the cost of any additional software or accessories that you may need.

Step 7: Market Your Business

Ways to market your business

One of the most important steps to starting a successful land surveying business is to market your services. There are a variety of ways to market your business, including creating a website, using social media, attending local events, and advertising in local publications. Additionally, you can reach out to local real estate agents and developers to let them know about your services. You can also join local business groups and attend networking events to build relationships with potential customers.

Tips for successful marketing

When marketing your business, it is important to be creative and think outside the box. Try to come up with unique ways to get your message out there. Additionally, it is important to be consistent with your marketing efforts. Make sure to create a plan and stick to it. You should also focus on building relationships with potential customers. Show them that you are knowledgeable and trustworthy. Finally, make sure to track your results so you can see what is working and what isn’t.

Step 8: Hire Employees

Tips for hiring the right employees

When hiring employees, it is important to consider the skills and experience they bring to the table. It is also important to consider their attitude and work ethic. When interviewing potential employees, ask questions that will help you determine if they are a good fit for the job. Additionally, consider their references and past work experience. It is also important to have a clear understanding of the job duties and expectations before hiring someone.

How to create a job description

Creating a job description is an important step in the hiring process. It should include a detailed description of the job duties, qualifications, and expectations. It should also include the salary and benefits associated with the job. Additionally, it should include a timeline for when the job will be filled and any other important information. This will help ensure that the right person is hired for the job. Additionally, it will help ensure that the job is filled in a timely manner.

Step 9: Keep Records

Types of records to keep

It is important to keep accurate records of all business transactions. This includes keeping track of all income and expenses, as well as any contracts or agreements made with clients. It is also important to keep track of any tax information, such as sales tax, income tax, and payroll taxes. Additionally, records should be kept of any equipment purchased, leased, or rented for the business. Finally, records should be kept of any permits or licenses obtained for the business.

Tips for keeping accurate records

The most important tip for keeping accurate records is to be consistent. All records should be kept in the same format, and all information should be entered in the same way. Additionally, it is important to keep records up to date. Any changes or updates should be entered into the records as soon as possible. It is also important to keep records organized. This will make it easier to find information when needed. Finally, it is important to back up all records in case of an emergency. This can be done by storing records in the cloud or on an external hard drive.


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