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  • Starting off as a self-employed tradesmen

    Upon leaving college, university or an apprenticeship there are a few things you need to think about before going alone as a self-employed tradesman. Below are just a few of the things you need to be thinking about.


    • All qualifications have been completed, printed and have them handy to show customers.
    • Get references from teachers or previous employers so you can show your customers. This will give you more of a chance of winning the job you are quoting on.
    • Taking pictures of your previous work is a great way of showing off your skills. Have them handy on your phone or social media. If potential customers know you are a young tradesperson, they will be more hesitant to hire you because you have not got years of experience as of yet but if you can show them your work then they will be more likely to hire you.

    Tools and Materials

    • Find a good builder’s merchant which can provide you with all the necessary materials for jobs you are completing. You can even open an account with your builder’s merchant if they offer this service. This is good because it will help you record your spend and show your clients the material invoices if need be. Once you have been paid by your customer then you need to clear any outstanding balances as soon as possible.
    • Make sure you have the tools you need to complete the jobs you will be doing. Tools can be expensive so think second hand/ refurbed. There is nothing worse than showing up to a job and not having the correct tools. This will make your job harder and keep you there longer.

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    Logo and Uniform

    • Get yourself a logo and business name sorted. You can get a third party to design your logo for a small price. This will make a big difference as it can help you get more work as people will see your logo and remember your business name.
    • Get some work clothes with your logo, this will make you look presentable when you turn up at a customer’s house. First impressions are everything. If you turn up looking smart then people will feel a lot more comfortable around you and it will show that you are professional and take pride in yourself and work.

    How can you acquire new work as a trade?

    • Get yourself some business cards printed and take them to local shops or building merchants and see if they will allow you to leave some for any customers. This is a simple and easy way of drumming up some work for yourself. You can also leave your business card with any of your customers so they can tell friends and family. Most self employed tradespeople’s work comes from word of mouth.
    • Create a website – A website is a great way of getting customers. Most things these days are online. Once you have created a website you can try and rank for local terms in your area, you can put all your qualifications, recent work and even allow customers reviews. You can also show people if you are a member of any organisations for example the gas safe register if you are a plumber. This will allow people to view your work and get in contact. Take a look at the website builder, who have hundreds of website template to choose from.
    • Sign up to tradesmen directories. This is another simple and cheap thing you can do to try and get some work in your area. If people are new to the area and are looking for a trade then they will use a local trade directory to find trades in the area.
    • Put an ad in the local newspaper. This type of advertising has fallen by the wayside recently. This means that it is a lot cheaper to advertise in the paper than it used to be. So, I would recommend taking advantage of this and getting an ad done as soon as you can.
    • Get yourself a facebook, instagram & twitter page, this will allow people to see all of your work and allow people to get in contact. Update regularly with your work and any special offers you may have. Social media is a great way of getting your name recognised in your local area. After all it is free and will not take you long to set up so it’s a must have for new starting tradesmen.
    • Offer deals to get some customers through the door to build relationships and get yourself known in the area. Although you will be taking a slight hit at first it will help you grow your client base.
    • Sign up to a lead generation service to get some jobs coming in. This can be cheaper than paying to be on an expensive directory. You can sign up to MyJobQuote on a free trial.
    • Stickers for your car/van. These are a great idea as they can generate you work easily.

    Other things to think about

    • Customer relationships are so important when you are a self-employed tradesmen. Focus on giving new customers the best experience you can. By acquiring loyal customers, they are more likely to use your service again and tell their family and friends when they require work. Do not underestimate the worth of repeat customers after all you need to build up a good customer base to succeed. One thing you need to remember is word of mouth, if people do not get a good service from you then you have not only lost that one customer, you might have lost another 1 or 2 that customer might have referred to you.
    • Public liability insurance – This insurance is necessary if you are a self-employed tradesmen because if anything goes wrong you are insured.
    • Are you a member of the gas safe register or NICEIC register? If so, show it off because people would like to know if you are member or not. If you are a member and don’t tell people this could affect the amount of jobs you win when quoting.
    • Get in contact with other local companies to see if they can put any work your way when they are too busy to complete the job. This is a great way of forming some friendships with local trades. If there are big jobs on you could even worth with another trade in your area to get the job done.

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