Going it Alone: How to Become Your Own Boss as a Tradesman

During those initial apprenticeship days, the thought of becoming your own boss feels something of a pipe dream.

However, as time progresses, it will soon become apparent that this is an obvious next step. Sure, it’s a step that’s most definitely not suited to everyone, but with a few years of experience, you should be encouraged to consider the move.

Today isn’t about covering a step-by-step guide; in truth, everyone’s journey will be different. Instead, we will outline some of the most important issues that you should consider if you are thinking about making this move.

Whether you’re a plumber, electrician, joiner or anything else – find out the biggest need-to-knows today.

Do you have the necessary qualifications?

Different trades have different requirements, but if you don’t have the formal qualifications to hand, we’d suggest that you investigate them before taking the plunge.

Sometimes, this will be for a legal requirement. After all, if you are looking to become a qualified gas engineer, you are not legally allowed to carry out work without being Corgi registered.

On other occasions, it’s more of a ‘nice to have’. In other words, the law doesn’t demand it, but it might be a USP for your customers, which can be crucial when you’re trying to drum up new business.

How will you get your first customers?

This is a question that plagues anyone starting up their own business. Even if you have all the qualifications in the world, it’s meaningless if you don’t have any customers.

This is where good business acumen and a healthy dose of tenacity come in – you’re going to have to work hard to get those first few jobs.

One way to get started is to network with local businesses. In many cases, they might have regular contractors for specific jobs, but they might also be looking for someone new to take on a one-off project.

The other is to turn towards clients you have already worked with during your past roles. Granted, this can sometimes be a moral grey area, but mainly if you were the primary contractor a job, dropping a note to inform them that you are now operating alone can slowly get the ball rolling.

What about the paperwork?

When you’re self-employed, there’s much more paperwork to contend with. This includes registering for self-assessment, getting the relevant public liability insurance, setting up a limited company (or becoming a sole trader) and, of course, making sure you are entirely up to date with your tax payments.

None of it is particularly onerous, but it can be time-consuming if you’re not used to it. Make sure you factor this in when you’re planning your workload and be prepared to set aside a little time every week to deal with the admin.

Will you be able to operate without a ‘soundboard’?

This is something that many fledgling business owners overlook – the importance of having someone to bounce ideas off. As an employee, you might have had a colleague with whom you share war stories or someone you could go for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed, whether it’s that tricky plumbing job or the best way to plaster an odd-shaped corner of a room. There’s a case for every tradesperson.

When you’re working for yourself, you don’t have that luxury. Do you have the confidence to go it alone? And, if not, do you have people you can turn to in your potential hours of need?