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How to start a carpentry business yourself

As a skilled carpenter, you possess a range of enviable skills to create top-quality, bespoke joinery. But do you have the skills to go it alone and generate your own income? In this post, we'll guide you through how to start your own carpentry business. Read on to discover if you have what it takes.

With a huge variety of work, carpentry is one of the most interesting trades to be in. From crafting bespoke installations for homeowners to working as part of a team on a construction site, rarely are two projects the same. Carpentry is a growing industry, with plenty of potential to diversify into a specific niche or hone your skills to fulfil more detailed tasks.

Last year, the Checkatrade website received an average of 167,400 searches per month for carpenters*, which is a phenomenal amount. It’s by far one of our most searched-for trades.

So if you’ve been working as a carpenter for someone else, or want to find out whether it’s feasible to turn your passion into a career, read on to discover everything about setting up a carpentry business.

We’ll cover everything from how to write a business plan (look out for the free template), to business insurance, marketing, and the personal attributes that will help to guarantee a successful venture.

Don’t worry if you’ve not got time to read all this right now. Instead, bookmark this blog for later and sign up for our ‘Become the Boss’ series for help starting a carpentry business in the UK.

Simply add your email below to make the most of this free business advice.

How to set up your carpentry business – step by step

In this section, we move on to the practical steps you need to take to set up your own carpentry business. This includes guidance on how to register your business, getting the right business insurance, where to get the best deals on tools and equipment, and how to get those all-important customers.

Create a business plan for your carpentry business

We know you’re already meticulous about detail, so we don’t need to tell you that the very first step for setting up a carpentry business yourself is writing a business plan.

As part of this, you should consider the goals of your business and set realistic financial targets to work towards over the next three to five years so you’re financially prepared for the move away from being a salaried member of staff to a self-employed trader.

Based on your skills and expertise, you should also decide your niche, define your target audience and think about what will set you apart from the competition.

Your business plan will help you to stay focused and make informed decisions as your business grows. Just provide your email address below to receive your free business plan template:

Register your carpentry business

First of all, the creative bit; coming up with a carpentry business name. It should be unique and catchy but also relevant to your business offering.

Make sure to take your time as this will play a crucial role in helping you build a brand identity. You can read our blog on how to come up with a business name for tips and things to bear in mind whether you’re planning on registering as a sole trader, partnership, or limited company.

Next, you have a few decisions to make about how you’ll operate your company. For instance, what services will you offer, what hours will you work, and where will your business be based?

Make sure you understand how to pay your taxes, VAT (if relevant), and national insurance. You’ll need to register your business with HMRC and complete a self-assessment tax return every year.

We recommend hiring an accountant to help with your finances.

Business insurance

It is strongly advised you obtain insurance when you’re first setting up your carpentry business.

Think about it, you are your business. It’s important to insure your business properly so that your income is protected if you’re unable to work.

Included within your carpentry insurance should be cover for your work vehicle, tools and equipment, and any materials you wish to protect. Without insurance, if any of these items were lost, damaged, or stolen, you’d need to cover the cost of replacement from your own pocket.

Public Liability Insurance (PLI) is highly recommended to cover your liabilities toward your customers, members of the public, and third-party property. All Checkatrade members are required to have PLI to become a member. Employers’ liability insurance is a legal obligation if you employ anyone else as part of your business.

Apart from business insurance, there are other things you might want to consider when it comes to carpenter insurance. This includes professional indemnity insurance as well as making sure to include vehicle and equipment in your policy.

Finances

The move to self-employment is a big step to take but it’s certainly worth the leap if you want to take your carpentry career to the next level.

Being organised with your finances is key to running a successful carpentry business. Be sure to keep a close eye on your income and expenditure, and manage your cash flow effectively.

How much does it cost to start a carpentry business? It varies. Establishing any start-up can be expensive and you may not have the funding yourself. If that is the case, look into applying for a business loan. This will allow you to fully invest in all the equipment and supplies you need without cutting corners and risking performance.

Looking to save money on business essentials? Checkatrade members receive exclusive member discounts on tools, vans, fuel, insurance, and more.

What tools does a carpenter need?

You know as well as the next person, to deliver exceptional work for your customers, you need the very best tools you can stretch to. These include:

  • Hand tools — utility knife, chisel, pencil, claw hammer
  • Tool belt
  • Power drills
  • Tape measure
  • Carpentry squares
  • Saws
  • Levels

As a carpenter, you’ll be working a lot with your hands which is why it’s essential to use the right tools. To find out our recommendations, be sure to read our blog on the best carpenter hand tools.

Best carpenter hand tools

Marketing your carpentry business

Now we’re onto the fun task of spreading the word and letting potential customers know about your new carpentry business!

For many business owners, marketing can seem overwhelming at times, not least because the rapid growth of digital channels has presented us with so many ways to reach potential customers.

So how do you market yourself as a carpenter? Let’s start with the basics first.

Print marketing

Print marketing is a more traditional method of spreading the word about your business; a carpenter advertising in the local paper, for example. Joinery business cards that can be left with potential new customers or in local shops and businesses is another idea.

Checkatrade members have the opportunity to feature in our leading trade directory, which is delivered to homeowners around the country.

While this remains a very valid way of promoting your new business, it’s also important to have an online presence, so customers can find you easily.

Carve out a carpentry business of your own

Being Checkatrade approved and guaranteed shows you can be trusted.

Find out more

Digital marketing

People looking for carpenters will also expect your business to have a presence online. Therefore, another very effective way to promote your new business is through digital marketing. This can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • Create a company website
  • Use social media. It’s free and can help you reach a range of prospective customers
  • Coming up with a PPC and SEO strategy
  • Join a dedicated trade directory such as Checkatrade

Save money and time marketing your business

With our digital marketing strategy and strong online presence, becoming a Checkatrade approved and guaranteed member makes it easier for customers to find you.

13 million homeowners searched for tradespeople on the Checkatrade website last year, with customers three times more likely to search with us than any other provider. Carpentry in particular is one of the most searched trade services at over 5,000 searches per day.

And with the Checkatrade tick by your name, it makes your marketing just that little bit easier, as 8/10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade, compared to one which isn’t**.

As a member, you can display customer reviews, testimonials, and examples of your work on your profile page. We’ll also help you with free marketing materials and help to increase your business’s visibility on Google.

carpentry apprenticeships for adults

How to grow your carpentry business

As we mentioned at the start of this post, there is a constant stream of people looking for carpenters; the potential for growth is huge.

Once you’ve finished with the initial steps involved in setting up a carpentry business, you might be wondering how you can expand and take things to the next level.

In this section, we’ll guide you through how to grow your carpentry business in a structured way, with clear, achievable targets.

What is business growth?

You might be thinking about how to expand your carpentry business or how to get more customers as a carpenter. Perhaps you’re ready to take on an apprentice? All of these things contribute to business growth; it’s important to outline the growth targets most appropriate for your business.

In doing so, you’ll also need to map out your growth targets in a way that makes sure they’re ‘SMART‘. That is:

  • Specific – what does the target involve?
  • Measurable – how will you quantify success?
  • Achievable – is this attainable given the resources, knowledge, and time available?
  • Realistic – is the target realistic to the confines of your job and your existing responsibilities?
  • Time-bound – when should the target be achieved by?

To pull all of your ideas together, why not use our FREE business development strategy template?

Once you’ve figured out your growth targets, you’ll need to plan how you’ll achieve them. Let’s look at a few examples to get the ball rolling.

Carve out a carpentry business of your own

Being Checkatrade approved and guaranteed shows you can be trusted.

Find out more

If your aim is to get more work, you’ll need to attract more customers

Marketing is an effective way to do this. For example, you could:

If your aim is to increase your revenue, you’ll need to increase your sales

To do this, you may need to sharpen your sales toolkit, so your customers are left with no doubt that you’re the right person for the job. Here’s a few of our articles to help you do this:

You can also review your costs to see if there’s scope to make your business more efficient and/or increase your pricing to increase your profit margins.

The cost of a carpenter

If your aim is to expand your team, you’ll need to identify your needs

Is it an apprentice you need, to help you with basic tasks, or a part-time employee to take care of the business admin, freeing you up for more high-value work? While starting a carpentry business may have been a solo venture at first, as you grow, you’ll likely need to hire.

Remember, as an employer, you will need employers’ liability insurance – it’s a legal requirement. You’ll also need to understand company payroll and learn about holiday pay.

We have a selection of articles to guide you through the process of hiring a team, helping to protect the trusted name and reputation you’ve worked hard to build:

If your aim is to expand the services you offer, you’ll need to consider the what, where, why, and how

What additional services will you offer, will you expand into new markets, have you identified a particular need for these services or lucrative avenue, and will you need any additional training to facilitate these plans? A lot of these things might have been laid out in your business plan as future goals when you first started setting up a carpentry business.

Lastly, four more areas to consider around business growth

Take a look at our tips to help grow your trade business.

Grow your carpentry business with Checkatrade

Despite best intentions, when you’re out working all day as a tradesperson, it can be hard to find the time to put all of this into practice. However, there is a simpler way to help your carpentry business grow – by joining our trusted network of the best trades on the UK’s leading trade directory.

Here are just a few of the many reasons you should become a Checkatrade member:

To get more leads

Checkatrade members receive more than 100,000 leads each week. 3 million homeowners used our trades last year. A third of all trade work comes through Checkatrade***. Use our flexible membership to control the number of leads you want to receive.

To help to secure more work

8 out of 10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade compared to one that isn’t endorsed****. We’re the tick that homeowners trust, which helps you to build your reputation and win more business.

To save money

Get exclusive access to trade deals, saving money on business essentials to help keep your profit margins sharp. Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year each***** on everything from equipment, van leasing, insurance, workwear, and more.

More than just a directory listing

Our members have access to exclusive discounts, helping to save on average, £470 per year***** on business essentials

Start saving

FAQs

How much does it cost to start a carpentry business?

There are various costs associated with starting a carpentry business, but exactly how much will depend on your circumstances. If you’re an experienced carpenter who already has most of the necessary equipment, then you could launch your business with just a few hundred pounds. However, those earlier on in their career may need to invest in more tools and supplies, which could cost thousands.

How long does it take to start a carpentry business?

If you take the traditional route of a college course or carpenter apprenticeship, this will take up to three years to complete. After you’re qualified, it will probably take a couple of years of on-the-job experience to sharpen your skills and feel confident about starting a carpentry business.

Can carpenters make good money?

How much a carpenter makes can vary depending on the level of skill, qualifications, and experience. Choosing to go self-employed and setting up a carpentry business can also definitely help boost your earnings. If your business offers a unique service or attracts a large client base, you’ll be in demand enough to charge higher rates, helping you to earn considerably more than some of your competitors.

Carve out a carpentry business of your own

Being Checkatrade approved and guaranteed shows you can be trusted.

Find out more

*Checkatrade search data 1st January – 31st December 2021
**Deep Blue Thinking 2021 Trade Perception Survey
***Checkatrade brand tracking survey April 2021
****Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.
*****Year runs from April 21’ to March 22’. Saving calculation based on average spend across 12,505 members in 2020/2021/2022. Discounts differ depending on the partner. Products range from low value items to high value items. Some exclusions will apply on products.

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