How to turn your DIY hobby into a trade business

DIY Trade Business

Many people in the UK enjoy great job satisfaction as a self-employed tradesperson. Here, Lauren O’Connor, from tool and equipment specialist Zoro, takes a look at how you can turn your DIY hobby into a successful business.

Do you have a real talent for DIY? If the answer is yes, then you may have found yourself wondering whether your handiwork could ever be turned into your own business venture. Well, it may be easier than you think — with the right set-up, a career as a self-employed tradesperson can be highly enjoyable and profitable.

If you like the sound of being your own boss, and you enjoy working with your hands, setting up a trade business could lead to an impressive level of job satisfaction. In a recent survey by One4All, tradespeople scored themselves 7.41 out of 10 for happiness, which made it one of the highest scoring professions and well above the average satisfaction level of 6.81.

If you’re inspired by the idea of turning your DIY hobby into a trade business, I’ve put together five essential steps you should consider following to get up and running. Read on to find out more.

Make sure that you’ve got the full skills package

If you’re at the point where you’re seriously considering a career swap, it’s likely you’ve already got quite a few of the skills needed to succeed. However, if most of your experience comes from doing DIY jobs around the house or for friends and relatives, you may need to expand your skillset so that you’re ready to branch out and tackle more varied jobs as a tradesperson.

Consider the skills you already possess, then identify those that you need to work on. You may need to enrol on a course to build your expertise in some areas: NVQs and other professional trade qualifications are often offered by local colleges or training providers and are worth researching. Once you’ve gained the necessary skills, you can look to take the next step.

Create a business plan and register your business

It’s good idea to create a business plan at an early stage so that you have a good idea of the direction your new trade will be heading. Sit down and work through all the potential issues: work out a budget for set-up and running costs for the first 12 months and write down any challenges you will need to overcome and how you’ll deal with them.

You will then need to register your business, and to do so you’ll need decide on a legal structure that will determine how you will operate. Most self-employed traders start out as a sole trader, which is the simplest setup for a one-person business. If you choose to do this, you’ll need to register for self-assessment with HMRC — the government have a detailed guide to setting up as a sole trader that you should follow, as this will take you through all the necessary details.

Another thing to consider is whether you need any kind of licence or certification to operate legally in your trade. Use BritAssoc’s list of UK organisations and bodies to find the one that regulates your chosen area, then read the relevant website to see exactly what is required from a tradesperson.

Manage your finances and insurances

As part of your business plan, you should’ve worked out how much money you will need to invest in your new trade to establish and run your business. But, you need to stay vigilant to make sure you remain on target and within budget. Your self-assessment tax return requires you to keep records of your income and expenditure, so you may wish to look into a course or materials on basic accounts and bookkeeping to stay one step ahead.

Don’t sink essential funds into any non-essential purchases and take care to pay your bills and invoices on time to maintain good relations with suppliers for the future. If you need extra funding and advice for setting up your business, it’s worth using the government’s business finance and support database to see what grants and guidance are available in your area.

You will also need to take out the correct type of insurance. The main cover that you will require is public liability insurance, which will protect yourself and the public should something go wrong with your work. You’ll also want to look into other products, like professional indemnity, tools, and stock insurance to ensure your fledgling enterprise is shielded in the event of any other setbacks.

Purchase the right tools and equipment

One of the most important investments you will make in your trade is in quality tools and other hardware. Spending a little more on your essential kit at the start will mean that you’re less likely to need to reinvest when cheaper tools break, and you can always be confident that you have gear that will get the job done when it matters.

Unfortunately, tool theft is now a widespread issue — there was a 60% rise in 2017 — as thieves look to target expensive hardware, so you will need to take extra precautions to ensure your equipment remains safe. Always try to move your kit to a secure storage location and avoid keeping them in your vehicle overnight if at all possible. You may also wish to consider measures like vehicle alarms and CCTV to further protect your hardware.

Getting the word out there

Once you’ve set up your trade business and you have the essential equipment, you can begin to take on a few jobs under your own steam. When you’re just starting out, the majority of your early customers will come through recommendations from other people, so make sure that you establish a great reputation for yourself as a tradesperson.

There will reach a point when it’s time to cast your net a little wider and try and drum up some custom by marketing your handiwork. This doesn’t need to be complicated: get some business cards printed to hand out and place on local noticeboards, list yourself in local offline and online directories and on sites like Gumtree and Craigslist, and set up a social media presence to advertise and speak directly to potential customers. Eventually, you may want to create a web page so that you have somewhere to direct people when they need more information.

Take these five essential steps on board and you will be able to successfully turn your DIY skills into a brand-new career as a tradesperson. Get the early stages right and you should stand every chance of success.

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