How to Start a Solar Business-Are you looking to start your own business in the growing solar field? Solar is one of the hottest businesses around and with the growth in alternative energy, this permanent trend is going to continue.
Alternative energy sources are on the minds of everyone today and this trend is going to continue. Oil prices are going to continue to go higher and saving the environment is being tackled by lawmakers and entrepreneurs alike. Two of the biggest venture capital firms have recently shifted most of their funding to businesses that specialize in finding ways to save the environment and make money at the same time and solar is at the forefront of this revolution.
1-Find out how to become certified in your state. Most states require certification for most rebates and incentives. These certifications can take up to two years for approval, especially in states like Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Make sure you know what you’re getting into prior to anything else.
2-Create your business plan. The business plan will need to include financing options as well as where you will find customers at a minimum.
3-Include Costs, Customers, Contacts and Contracts in your business plan.
-Costs is pretty self explanatory. They will include money to start your business as well as how you are going to collect from your customers and in what time frame these will happen.
-Customers is also pretty straight forward. Without customers, you have no business, and you need to figure out which customers you are going to target as well as how you are going to get those customers. -There are several target markets for your solar business. Are you going to target residential or commercial customers? Will you be selling to the high end or going after middle class? These are questions you must answer because you can’t just open your business and think the customers will come, you have to target a specific market and then go after them.
-Contacts refers to several different types of people. These will include companies you will turn to that will help you start your business including capital and training sources. There are many capital sources including venture investors, banks, angel investors and friends and family.
Contracts. One of the most overlooked part of any business is having proper contracts in place.
-Contracts do cost a little money to get done, but not doing them can cause your business to fail from no fault of your own. We aren’t suggesting that you have to have all your contracts written up before you start your solar business, but you need to have a good idea of the contracts you will need and how you will get these contracts written and executed.
4-Get started with your business. A few Solar Power related businesses are:
–Solar Installation Business – Installation of the entire solar system
–Solar Sales Business – Market the systems to homeowners and business and get paid a commission on each sale after installation
-Solar Manufacturing Business – Manufacture the panels and all other associated parts including racks, inverters, etc.
-Solar Parts Business – Sell solar systems and parts purchased from wholesalers and manufacturing companies
-Solar Tax Credit Expert – Help mostly business figure out the solar tax credit maze to make sure they get the proper tax credits
-Solar Consultant – Knows all parts of the business and helps individuals and companies understand the business and how they can helped by going solar
-Solar Maintenance Business – Offer an annual maintenance check on installed systems to make sure they are working properly and look for other ways to cut down on electricity usage
-Energy Consultant – Focuses on all types of alternative energies and other ways to conserve energy and sells their services to both homeowners and businesses
5-Do the installation. There are numerous types of solar systems but in this course, we are talking about rooftop PV systems. These are the most popular types of systems and are the most requested by homeowners. A few other types of systems are ground mount, pole mount and solar thermal systems. The systems all work the same in that you are trying to replace electricity usage.
6-Get a solid customer base. Basically the only way to get customers for your solar installation business is to go out and explain the benefits of solar and show potential customers pictures of different systems. Advertising does little beyond getting your name out, and solar systems get sold through personal interaction, not through a yellow pages ad.
Meeting potential customers can be done in a variety of different ways. You will be mostly marketing to the affluent in your community, so you need to figure out where these people spend their time and what activities they like to do. Maybe there is a home show in your area where you could set up a small table advertising your services. Or, you could visit some of the local clubs and pass out some brochures or sponsor an event. The local Chamber of Commerce is a really great way to get customers for your installation business. You will not only meet business owners in the area, but will get some press coverage. Don’t forget about the press when you start your installation business. They are always looking for great stories and there aren’t many solar businesses out there and many would love to do a story about your business, giving you a good name and a lot of free advertising.
7-Develop a website. Another must for your marketing efforts is having a website. No high tech business can do without a website and contrary to popular belief, they don’t costs thousands of dollars to build. One helpful tip is to go to Elance.com or Guru.com and put out a bid for a web designer. You will receive many bids and can work with whoever you choose. It is best to have a layout of your website and this can easily be done in Microsoft Word. Just view other solar business websites and use those as a basis.
8-Utilize social media. This is a must with any solar business. By social media, we mean Facebook, Twitter, MySpace along with numerous others. You can open an account for free and then just post updates about what you are doing and the progress your business is making. You don’t want to be spamming potential customers, but it is fine to provide them with discounts and even pictures of other installations you are doing.
-See more: http://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Solar-Business