You have poured countless hours and tireless energy into learning a trade, and now you’re ready to take the ultimate plunge. Working for others has its perks, but you understand that there’s nothing more richly rewarding than starting something all your own. You are confident in your skills, confident in your ability to offer standout customer service and confident of your ability to run an organized business.
Those are really the only criteria for starting your own trades business. Wherever there are showers in need of installing, wherever there is a cabinet in need of making, a wedding in need of a caterer or a home’s electrical system in need of rewiring, there will be a need for competent tradespeople. In other words, you are in a unique position among entrepreneurs: the world does, and always will need your services.
Having said that, there are still things you can do wrong. A failure to diligently acquire business and foster loyalty, a lack of proper licensure, mismanagement of cash flow and/or an unorganized accounting process can damage your business before it even has time to take off. Avoid all those common pitfalls by following these four, simple tips.
Find (and Keep) Your Customers
Customer acquisition is going to be the spark that lights your business – don’t take on the task lightly. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Start a social media presence, employing ads and offering a compelling brand. Make your own website, one that is simple in design, easy to navigate and offers your unique “value proposition” – that is, what sets you apart from competitors. Designers and developers will be crucial during this stage.
To move up in the Google rankings, employ SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services. Worth the initial investment, SEO experts will optimize your website for search engines and drive visibility. In a world where most people find their tradespeople online, this is paramount.
Once you have acquired customers, it’s as simple as offering great service and encouraging your customers to leave reviews and tell friends.
Acquire Permits & Licenses Early
This is a fairly straightforward item and one that you should do before advertising your business. Visit the government’s page on starting a business, and follow the applicable links toward licenses, permits, registration, and incorporation.
Lease Your Vehicles
A common mistake some new trades businesses make is assuming they need to buy their fleet vehicles. You do not. In fact, it’s better for cash flow if you lease, since leasing offers lower monthly payments without the need for a pricey down payment. And there are other benefits of business fleet leasing too: you access tax advantages, and are able to upgrade your fleet every few years, keeping your business looking current and professional.
For Accounting, Software Is Your Best Friend
Finally, don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed with paperwork. At best, you add stress to your job, and at worst you could run afoul of the tax agencies, which can sink your business quickly. If you have the capital, by all means, hire an accountant; at the very least, consult with one. For ongoing accounting needs, however, turn to the fast-advancing world of business software.
Research the best accounting software for your type of business, and make a point of learning the process. This may be a facet of the business that is eventually outsourced or hired for, but there is no harm, especially at the beginning, in learning how to do it.
The world will always need tradespeople – do them the favor of setting your business up for success!