If you’re thinking of setting up as a tradesman, there are a few things you need to do first. We’ve compiled a list below of things to consider, your legal obligations, and also some marketing activities to win new customers and get your business going…
Before offering your services to customers, you need the relevant skills and expertise to carry out the job correctly. If you’ve spent years working as a tradesman for a construction company, you’re likely to have built up experience in the industry. However, if you’re starting out as a tradesman for the first time, you’ll need to learn how things work.
Depending on what you choose to specialise in (bricklaying, plumbing, electric etc.) will determine the exact qualifications you need for the job. There are hundreds of NVQ courses available and given that the competition can be high for tradesmen, the more qualified you are, the better.
2. Health and Safety
As a tradesman, it is crucial you understand the basics of health and safety to protect yourself from danger as well as prevent harm to anyone else as a result of your work.
The law regarding health and safety on site requires that construction firms and self-employed tradesman must manage hazards and risks and comply with regulation. It is the tradesman’s duty to carry out a risk assessment before they start the work, establish any potential risks and act accordingly to minimise those risks.
It is crucial for Tradesman to familiarise themselves with the law regarding health and safety. If an inspection is carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and you are found to not have taken the correct precautions, you could be fined or even prosecuted.
3. Registering Your Business
Whether you choose to be a sole trader or limited company, you’ll need to inform HMRC and register your business with Companies House if you opt for a limited company.
Setting up as a sole trader is usually the preferred choice for lone tradesmen as it means less administration when it comes to managing taxes and lower costs compared to that of a limited company. Many people are unaware that as a sole trader can employ staff.
Setting up as a limited company means the company is legally separate from you, and all of the business finances are kept separate to your personal finances. Like sole traders, you keep all profits after paying the correct amount of tax.
4. Managing Accounts
Once you’ve registered your business, you should aim to get your finances and tax affairs in order as soon as possible. Doing your taxes correctly is vital for your business to succeed (and it keeps HMRC happy!)
Setting up a separate business bank account will make managing your personal and business funds easier. When you start taking on jobs, you will need to keep proof of all income and expenses, and you are also legally required to file an annual tax return.
Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant is the best way to stay on top of your business finances, avoid any fines from HMRC and help to grow your business.
Before you take on any work as a tradesman, you should seriously consider having the right insurance policies in place to prevent you from expensive compensation claims and legal fees in the event of an accident or damage as a result of your work. Without insurance, you are legally responsible for any costs associated with an injury to others or damage to property – costs that can be very expensive and detrimental to any business.
There are many policies available for tradesmen and you should seek out the one that is best for you. However, Public Liability, Van, and Contractors All Risk are the most common policies that provide essential cover for tradesman.
6. Equipment For The Job
Before you can say yes to jobs, you need to be prepared to carry out the task at hand. To do this, you’ll need to have the right tools, equipment, and van in place. As a tradesman, you never know the nature of your next job, so having professional equipment readily available means you won’t have to say no to clients’ requests. The more jobs you say ‘yes’ to, the more money you can make.
Tradesmen rely heavily on a van and a reliable vehicle is essential for getting to jobs efficiently. If you’re not sure where to start when buying a van, check out our guide to buying a commercial van here.
7. Get a Website
A website is important for Tradesmen as many people will search online to try and find someone to do the work that needs to be done. It acts as an advert of your services and a method of communication for your customers to get in touch with you. Your website does not need to be over-complicated, it should simply state all of the types of work you can carry out for customers as well as a portfolio/examples of your previous work. Including customer feedback on your website is also a great way to sell yourself.
8. Use Social Media
Social media is a useful and powerful way for Tradesmen to network and make customers aware of them. However, the more effort you put in, the more beneficial the rewards. Sharing useful ‘how to’ questions and demonstrates your expertise and knowledge of your sector and posting ‘before and after’ images is a great way to showcase the results of some of your projects. Be consistent with your social media efforts so that when the time comes that a customer needs a tradesman, you will come to mind.
9. Customer Service
There’s no better marketing than recommendations, and this is the most common way for Tradesmen to win new business.
Featuring on review sites and accreditation sites such as SafeTrades4You is a powerful way for customers to find you, read positive feedback from other customers and hopefully get in touch with you. The best way to win new business as a Tradesman is via word of mouth, so it is imperative to always provide top quality customer service and results.
Have you got what it takes to be a credible Tradesman? Check out this post: ‘4 Ways To Be Known As A Credible Tradesman’.