When you’re first starting out as an odd-jobber, you’re unlikely to have a lot of tools. Not unless you had some money put aside to invest in new business ventures. You’re going to have to build up your arsenal a little at as time, as and when you can afford it. The type of work your getting, and the problems you find keep coming up, will help you figure out what you need to buy at the time.
Having said that, if you can afford to invest a little money into buying tools before you start though, it will definitely help avoid embarrassment when a client’s tool breaks while you’re using it. Look after client tools as well as you can, but sometimes they just break.
It might be because it was a cheaply made tool only meant for light work, and the work that needs doing is too much for it, but sometimes your client won’t share this opinion, and just sees that you broke their stuff. If at all possible, avoid working for clients that jump straight to accusing you of deliberate misuse. Keep the clients that are more worried about whether or not you hurt yourself when the tool broke.
If at all possible, have the right tool for the job before you start. If the right tools aren’t available, or you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to manage the client’s expectations beforehand. “It looks like the ground is really hard. We could use the fork and spade, but it’ll take a while. A mattock would be better if you have one.” for example.
This also helps with under-promising and over-delivering. If you tell the client that it’s going to take a while, but then do the job well in less time than they expected, they’ll be a lot happier than if you say, “No problem. I’ll have it done in a jiffy”. Chances are, you’re going to come across some issues you didn’t anticipate. Don’t be afraid to undersell yourself, then allow your actions to speak louder than your words.
Back to tools. Chances are, when you’re first starting out you’ll have very few of your own tools. You may not know enough about DIY and Gardening to know whether or not the tools provided are going to be good enough. You’ll just have to take care, and be willing to learn.
Chances are, you’ll be working for people that used to be able to maintain their home and garden themselves. They have all the tools, and the knowhow, but their body is letting them down. Make sure they know that you’re new to this work, but you are willing clay, and let them teach you.
Sometimes the client may not know much themselves, having always relied on a late partner or other handy-folk. Luckily, you can make use of the internet to search for how-to guides and videos for nearly everything you’ll be asked to do. You can also ask friends and relatives that have done Gardening and DIY themselves, including me. I’ll be happy to help anyway I can.
Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing how to do everything already, or for not having all the tools necessary for every job. I started with only the experience I’d gained from helping my parents and having (briefly) been a homeowner myself. You’ll learn a lot, very quickly, and before you know it you’ll be able to make suggestions about how best to tackle the job.