Top tips on how to become your own boss
In this article, we'll cover:
“I can’t afford to start my own business.”
“I don’t have the experience or knowledge to run a business.”
“What if I fail?”
You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have these doubts swirling through your mind. Every successful entrepreneur thinks this before starting up at some point. The fact of the matter is, you can do it.
In fact, you could get your business started up with the help of our ‘Become the boss’ series.
1 email a day with actionable tips. 7 emails in total (and a cheeky bonus email) featuring fellow tradespeople who were once in your position, a free business strategy call, and at the end of it all, you as the Founder of your new business. What’s not to love?
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Understandably, you may want to do some light reading before the emails start arriving, so here’s more information about becoming your own boss below.
Tips for becoming your own boss
If you have visions of becoming your own boss as a tradesperson, there are two distinct areas you must consider first:
- The practical steps you need to take in order to set up your own business
- The personal development you need to undertake to be the boss of a successful company
1. Practical steps for becoming your own boss
Before opening your doors for business, follow our 9-point checklist to make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes to get you set up correctly:
- Business structure. Will you be a sole trader, partnership, or limited company?
- Business plan. Draw up a thorough business plan.
- Insurance. Check what insurance you need to protect you and your business from liabilities.
- Tax. Research your tax liabilities, and possibly instruct an accountant.
- Customer service. Write out your service level agreement to ensure consistent customer service from you and any staff you employ.
- Assets. What tools and equipment do you need for your new business, and how will you pay for them? Don’t forget to insure your assets, e.g. your work vehicle, tools, and materials.
- Marketing. Plan how you’ll market your services. Do you know where your customers look to find reliable tradespeople? We do.
- Cash flow is king. Read our guide to cash flow management.
- Ask for help and advice. Don’t shoulder everything on your own. As a Checkatrade member, you’ll have access to our Checkatrade community. A friendly bunch who’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
For more tips on the practical steps you’ll need to take to become your own boss, check out this post. It covers everything from finances to marketing, legalities and logistics.
2. The skills and attributes you’ll need to become your own boss
We’ve covered the practical steps you’ll need to take to become your own boss, so now let’s look at the personal development that will sit you in good stead for the role of ‘The Boss’.
This includes both the skills and qualifications needed, plus the personal attributes required in order to be successful in your new venture.
The best way to become your own boss
If you’re a qualified tradesperson but have limited entrepreneurial experience, take the time to get some temporary or contract work under your belt.
If you’ve been in the game for a while and feel now’s the time to branch out on your own, review what qualifications you have to reinforce your experience. Qualifications can help make your skills and service more credible in the customers’ eyes and help you stand out from the crowd.
There’s a range of qualifications that can bolster your skills, or help to make you a specialist in your field. A course in basic business skills could also help give a good understanding of finance, tax, HR, and marketing.
Do you have what it takes?
On paper, you might have all the practical skills, qualifications, and experience to go it alone. However, there’s one more thing that will help to determine the success of your business: YOU.
If qualifications and experience are the ‘hard skills’ needed to do a good job, ‘soft skills’ are the personal qualities that’ll help to make sure you succeed in the role.
Some qualities of the most successful business owners include:
- Self-awareness – Having a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses; identifying what you’re really good at and what you need to improve on.
- Decisiveness – As your own boss, all the decisions fall to you, so you must have confidence and conviction in your decisions.
- Fairness – Those who are successful in business do a great job and charge a fair price. These two things will help you to build an incredible reputation. Being fair will also make you a great employer if you decide to take on staff.
- Integrity – They deliver what they promise, i.e. if you tell a customer you’ll send them a quote, do it efficiently. Make sure your level of service exceeds the customers’ expectations.
- Knowledge and experience – A breadth of knowledge and experience will set you apart from the competition and increase your reputation for doing a great job.
- Enthusiasm and endurance – Having the drive and ambition to succeed and the ability to pick yourself up and keep going when things get tough are key differentiators between those who succeed and fail at being their own boss. Plus, an enthusiastic and hard-working tradesperson is much more likely to get work and receive recommendations.
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What jobs can you be your own boss?
As a tradesperson, the opportunities to be your own boss are fairly limitless. Rather than asking what jobs you can be your own boss at, it might be easier to list the jobs that you can’t!
We recently published a helpful post on the best jobs to retrain for. It covers the benefits and qualifications/experience needed to branch into various trades, many of which provide the scope to ‘be the boss’.
Benefits of being your own boss
Some of the advantages of being your own boss include:
Greater control and flexibility
As your own boss, you decide which jobs to take on, which clients to work with, the hours you work, how much you charge for jobs, and when you have time off. The prospect of a better work/life balance makes self-employment very attractive.
You also have full control over the direction of the company and every decision that needs to be made, from marketing to operations, logistics and suppliers.
More earning potential
You get out what you put in, but if you’re willing to graft, there’s definitely more money to be had working for yourself rather than someone else!
However, as with many things in life, there are pros and cons to being your own boss. These include:
When you branch out on your own, you’ll be competing with all the other tradespeople who’ve started their own business. So is it worth being your own boss? Absolutely. There’s plenty of work for everyone.
One of the most important things is to think about how your business is different from others, i.e. how will you stand out from the competition? Perhaps you want to focus on a particular niche, e.g. sustainability, or maybe you just want to do it better than all the rest!
Greater risk and responsibility
When you become your own boss, you’re responsible for every aspect of your business, from making sure you do a great job to being a responsible employer if you have staff, to the money you invest in your business and everything in between.
Becoming your own boss is hugely rewarding and allows you to create something to be really proud of for you and others, but it can be extremely hard work.
To help guarantee the success of your new venture, follow our checklist to make sure you start off on the right foot.
Stories from tradespeople who were once where you are
For inspiration, take a look at some of our incredible member’s stories about their journeys on starting their business and becoming their own boss. Stories include: