Lily’s story to starting up her building and roofing business
We were delighted to talk to Lily about her career and starting up Bear House Build and Roofing Ltd.
Introduce yourself! Tell us about you and your business
My name is Lily, I’m one of the roofers and the owner of Bear House Build & Roofing Ltd.
What was your biggest challenge starting out? And then how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was deciding to start my own company and brand during Covid. I wasn’t sure if I was going to fall on my face or, as I had hoped, embody the little mouse in the fable who churned milk into butter, and keep going until eventual victory.
Starting up was terrifying, and it came with a lot of sleepless nights and anxiety.
Not knowing how much money to spend on advertising, marketing, and having to set up all new accounts with suppliers that previously were all taken for granted. There wasn’t really an overcoming it, it was more a push to keep going.
Better to try and keep going than to listen to the panic or worry inside your own mind.
What is your best advice to other trades looking to start their own business?
Whilst it’s always wise to research and revise what you are going into, my best bit of advice would be not to overwhelm yourself or be critical of yourself.
Ok, so paying CIS is new to you, VAT returns suddenly become daunting, managing your diary and material delivery dates… but remember, you are just one person. You don’t have to be the oracle, it’s ok to ask for help. And if you do get overwhelmed, just come away from whatever it is that is making you feel weighted.
You are not alone, and whilst there are multiple pages on the internet about starting a business or how to best run a business, and it may seem a blessing, it’s also a curse. You submerge yourself in all the context and drown.
If you’re unsure, it’s ok!!! If it seems daunting… it is for everyone. No one started a business knowing everything right at the start. Don’t beat yourself up because you weren’t aware of something.
In the first year, invest in an accountant. Personally, I would avoid taking on this additional stress, learn from your accountant, and ask them questions.
If you could have done anything differently with your business, what would it be?
I would have stayed simple. Order just enough uniforms to cover everyone’s needs, avoid anything fancy, and give myself a stricter budget when it came to advertising.
At first, you think you need to be everywhere, on every platform, saturated in every trade site, but you don’t. You lose the ability to stay on top of it.
Start small, get comfortable and then the rest will follow.
What’s your biggest achievement with your business?
A sense of family is what I’m most proud of. Not the profits for the year, not the new shiny vans, but the team around me that support me, and I them.
They share in the small wins, they share in every aspect of the company, who are you without your team?
What made you join Checkatrade?
It was reputation. From people I worked with before, from my own family, there wasn’t really another other option in my mind regarding where I was going.
So, when you first joined Checkatrade, what size was your business?
Very small, it was just little me.
What size is your business and service area now?
We cover a wider area now, I would say approximately twice the size as we initially did 2 years ago.
Now we’re a team of roofers, builders, a lovely female painter. We have an amazing relationship with a window and landscape company.
It’s a company that is known, it’s not ‘just Lily driving around with her husky doing the odd job‘, it’s being part of a community where we all help each
other, able to recommend the best and that be returned also.
Was it worth joining Checkatrade?
Yes, Checkatrade is a brilliant platform for your business. It showcases your work. You’ll get an online gallery to show what you do, a platform to help build honest reviews for your business, and you’ll real life people at the end of the phone when you need help. Best of all, they want you to succeed.
Checkatrade wasn’t just a team of people that helped me to get leads, it was a ‘Scott’ or a ‘Laura’ that listened to me over the years, especially my panic through Covid.
They listened to me, fearful about the fact I wasn’t getting leads. But they acted, by looking for less roofer-saturated towns nearby.
They listened to me worry about being too far from the kid’s school and made it work to make sure I could stay local with my work.
Checkatrade isn’t just a pop your name in and off you go, every member advisor who has ever answered the phone has been there for me.
What’s the biggest benefit of being on Checkatrade?
Other than the obvious and getting leads, it’s the flexibility of choosing and changing categories. You can control it to best suit you.
If you’re having a quiet few weeks, ramp it up. Busy few months, drop it down. Some categories are best suited to certain seasons, so you can plan around seasonal demand too.
What are your plans for the future?
A great big pink fleet of Bear House vans and being able to support my community further.
We already support our local children’s ward and the smaller community, but the hope is to help even further. We will be doing our annual Halloween event this year for the Frimley Hospital Children’s Ward and will be donating to our local school PTA, but it would be amazing to be able to donate and fund projects that mean something to my team too.
Thank you so much for your time, Lily. Some huge lessons there for fellow tradespeople. And your Husky is beautiful!
Do go and check out Lily’s member profile page for her business Bear House Build and Roofing Ltd.
Has Lily inspired you to start your business?
If you’re looking to start your own trade business and want some support, make sure you check out the ‘Become the Boss‘ series.
You’ll get a free series of videos and emails sent to your pocket. It includes a free strategy call at the end of it all, and you as the founder of your shiny new trade business!