Going Self-Employed #1: From Tradesperson to Entrepreneur
Are you a tradesperson looking to go self-employed? Based on our decades of experience, here are our top tips to successfully start and run your own small business. In the first of this series, we’ve tried to show which traits, skills and characteristics make a good, small business owner – read and see if you fit the bill!
Starting a new business as a tradesperson requires someone who is not only skilled in their trade but also possesses the drive and ambition to succeed as an entrepreneur. It’s not an easy job and the business is rarely far from your mind, so the first step is to find a very understanding partner!
A successful tradesperson turned entrepreneur is self-motivated, organised, proactive, and willing to take considered risks. You should have a naturally strong work ethic and be committed to going that extra mile to provide a quality service to each of your customers. In the early years, this can feel draining and lonely, and it may seem like you’re having to do everything as well as the day job!
You should also be adaptable, flexible and thick skinned, as some kind of failure in the first few years is inevitable and should be accepted as part of the journey. This doesn’t mean the business fails, but that bad things can happen out of your control – and you’ll make poor decisions too, so prepare and learn from your mistakes.
Overcoming challenges when you’re self-employed requires perseverance, determination, and a willingness to learn from both successes and failures. Metex director Daniel Hopkins knows this from first-hand experience: “My first business in 1997 saw us landed with an £11,000 debt after what I thought was a very reputable customer went into receivership! I knew recovery of the debt was unachievable, and at first I thought: This is it, after just one year we’re going to have to close our doors due to poor cashflow! The reality was far different, as I gathered myself and spoke to suppliers who extended credit terms a little, giving me more time. I also worked harder to secure more sales and customers to ensure that the debt didn’t affect the business’s ability to continue to trade. Relentless, thick skinned, self-motivated and adaptable are all words I would use, and skills that I needed to trade through this difficult time – and you can do the same!”
Most importantly, you should set yourself some simple goals. These could be based on e.g. turnover, amount of new customers, or gross profit for year one. You should have a solid understanding of your target market, potential challenges and basic financials, i.e. can you make a profit, before going it alone. Recognize and list your USPs (unique selling points) and ask yourself whether these are genuinely unique, or if you’re just following the crowd!
By being organized, disciplined, and willing to invest time and effort into your business, you can increase your chances of success in the self-employed journey!
Have you recently made the switch, or have you been self-employed for years? Do you prefer working for yourself or for a company? Let us know!