Anyone who has ever started their own business knows how hard it can be to make the leap from employed to self-employed. It can be a daunting prospect to go it alone. But, it can also be the best decision you ever made. The key, particularly if you are starting a business in the trade industry, is to make sure you do your research, ensure there is real demand in the geographical area you are looking at, and get your marketing plan right. Below, you will find 7 practical tips for starting a trade business.
- Consider your skillset
If you are thinking about starting out in business as a tradesperson, it’s likely you have already been doing the job for someone else for sometime now. Whether you are a plumber, electrician, builder, roofer, or involved in any other type of trade, take the time to think about your existing skills and whether there is any training that you need to do in order to plug any gaps in your knowledge, or in order to attract more customers. By sticking to what you are good at, and improving your expertise, you can ensure you do a great job for your clients.
2. Get your patch right
Because the trades rely on you, or your team, being physically in the home or your customers, you need to think about how far you are prepared to travel, and whether the geographical patch you are looking at has enough demand to make your business viable. If you want to take a look at some of the best places in the UK to set up a trades business, have a look at this article, which helpfully sets out all the best locations to start your business, depending on which trade you are in.
3. Insurance and certification
If you are currently employed in a trade, then your employer may be the one who takes care of much of the paperwork and regulatory issues. However, if you go into business for yourself, you will need to ensure you have the necessary certifications to carry out your work, particularly if working with gas or electric appliances and equipment. Plus, you will have to have the necessary public liability insurance in place before your business will be able to operate. It’s not enough to be able to do the work; you also have to comply with legal requirements and regulations.
4. Tell people about your services
There is no point in having a “build it and they will come” mentality about your business. As well as ensuring you have the right services and geographical area, your business plan should include how you will let potential customers know about you and what you can do for them. What is your marketing plan? Will you have a website, or pay for advertising online or local media, for example? Will you advertise through social media, or through more traditional means such as posting fliers through doors in certain areas? Make sure you are online, as that is where most people will start their search. You can look at other forms of marketing to complement your social media efforts.
5. Will you work alone or with a team?
It may be that you can start off alone as you build up your business. However, if you become very busy, you may have to bring on board a larger team to help you. Or if you want to be able to offer your customers a more extensive service, you may want to consider working with tradespeople who offer different skills to yours. That way, you can help each other to win business. Even if you intend to be a one-person band for now, it is worth considering how you could scale up your business when the time is right.
6. Show off your portfolio and encourage reviews
If there’s one thing guaranteed to win new customers, it is being able to see what a great job you have done for your existing clients. Make sure you show off the work you’ve done for others. You can upload before and after images, for example, onto your social media pages. Or, you can offer to send images privately to your potential customers if they would like to see what you are capable of. When you do have happy customers, encourage them to leave reviews on any trades websites you have a presence on, as well as your own social media. This virtual “word of mouth” will be incredibly effective in ensuring you have a regular pipeline of work.
7. Will it make you happy?
Ultimately, everyone has different reasons for starting their own business. Perhaps you prefer to have more freedom and control over the way you work. Maybe you believe you can earn more by working for yourself. Perhaps you’re finding it difficult to secure other forms of employment. Ultimately, you should decide whether starting your own business will make you happier than you are in your current work situation, whether it is financially viable, whether the demand is there, and whether it will help you to achieve the balance you want in your life. If the answers to all of those questions are favourable, then go for it!