How to Start a Solar Company

Renewable power sources are yet to experience their prime, as more and more commercial and individual consumers are recognizing the environmental impact of our energy needs. Solar power industry has many niches, including distribution of solar systems, installation of panels and equipment, as well as providing solar energy services. Although solar technologies have been prevalent in sunny climates, their reduced cost and increased effectiveness is going to make them feasible virtually anywhere.  

Select your niche

Considering all the aspects of solar power industry, you’re best off with a niche you are good at. You can always expand into additional products and services, but as a startup, it’s really important to overextend your capabilities and resources. Check out the competition in your area. Perhaps the residential solar system installation market is over-saturated, but no company is focusing on commercial systems. Maybe there is a deficiency of solar hot water or pool heating systems, outdoor lighting kits, or personal items like solar phone chargers or backpacks. 

Choose your business name

Filing the company name with your state agency as a fictitious business name allows you to write checks, conduct financial negotiations and advertise using the name of the company instead of your personal name. Name selection for a startup can be overwhelming and frustrating from time to time. If you can’t intuitively tell what makes a good name, this article might give you a few ideas. You need to think of a few keywords to get you started. Bust-A-Name is a great online tool for brainstorming available online domain names, while checking all possible keyword combinations. 

Register your company

Before you can operate legally in your state, you need to register your enterprise at the state agency website. After you pay the registration fees and receive your articles of incorporation or organization, you need to apply for a tax identification number. This is required for any business in order to hire employees, open bank accounts and apply for any kind of credit or financing. After the business is insured, contact your commercial insurance provider to obtain proper insurance policies. Make sure you go through the whole procedure with the agent, so as to receive the right policies and the best coverage. Also, you should ask about workers’ compensation insurance and auto insurance policies, too.  

Purchase tools of the trade

You’ll need a van or a large ute to handle all the equipment. Solar Pathfinder is an essential tool for determining a site’s solar potential, while mobile maps app can tell you the local latitude and magnetic declination. If your niche is more focused on installation, you’ll need a range of power tools and electrician’s equipment such as AC/DC multimeters, wire strippers and crimpers. Of course, you need to invest in one of portable scaffolding solutions for easy assembly and transport. These work platforms are suitable for commercial and domestic projects, allowing the installers to work on the roof. 

Obtain licences and certificates

As with all developing industries, it sometimes takes time for state regulating bodies to determine how to classify and licence them. Unfortunately, with many legislations still not requiring any licencing, the industry has succumbed to poor quality practices and fly-by-night entrepreneurs. Inquire with your local contractors’ board to see if and what type of licensing is required. While some areas require an electrical license, others are establishing a specific license for solar power installation and services. 

Learn to market your business

Not unlike plumbers and HVAC installers, most solar installation companies rely to banner-wrapped vans and door-to-door brochures. If your company specializes strictly in retail, partner with a company doing installations. This way, you can utilize their marketing effort and become a secondary resource for their clients. For example, if you offer solar energy monitoring and optimization, you can offer a discount to the clients choosing your partner company to handle their installation. 

Solar power industry is still a new branch which offers a lot of potential to ambitious startup owners. However, it’s important to stay focused on one niche in the beginning, so you can always branch out when established. Partnering with a firm that offers complementary products or services can bring you additional leads as well as experience for your future expansion.

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Author Bio: As a senior digital marketing specialist, Lillian Connors believes that the question of business goes far beyond the maximization of profit through different money-grabbing ploys. Instead, she likes to think that ethical principles should be at the core of every commercial venture, paving the way for much more balanced distribution of wealth on a global scale. You can check her out on Twitter and LinkedIn.