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How to start a renewable energy business

Starting a renewable energy business is a good move. Not only would your business be in huge demand, but you will be playing a part in protecting our planet too. Here's the definitive guide to successfully starting your own green venture!

With the ever-present threat of climate change and a decline in fossil fuels, the renewable energy sector is thriving.

Renewable energy covers a range of different power sources, including wind power, solar power, hydropower, and biomass power.

Homeowners are becoming more environmentally conscious, and more people than ever before are looking to make the switch to renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprint. On the Checkatrade site alone, we saw an increase in search volume of 537% for renewable energy between March 2021 and March 2022*.

By 2025, gas boilers will be banned in all new homes, which means greater demand for solar thermal systems and air-source heat pumps. Starting a renewable energy business makes sense.

In this guide, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about starting a renewable energy business; from financial and legal tips to ways to make your company stand out and how to ensure future growth.

Creating a business plan for your renewable energy business

Starting up a business takes a lot of work, and it should always begin with a well-thought-out business plan. It’ll outline your goals and how you plan to achieve them, help you to make informed decisions and make you focus on the important details, such as:

  • What is your business?
  • What does your business do?
  • Who is your perfect customer?

Your business plan should also cover logistics

It’s perhaps one of the most important sections. Logistics covers the way you’ll manage and run your new company. You’ll need to outline:

  • The area you’ll operate in (will you operate locally to begin with, for example)
  • What your business’s services are (installation, maintenance, supplier, or everything)
  • How you’ll source materials
  • Whether you’ll hire employees or operate alone (for now)

Include a note about finances

How will you fund your new business? Will you cover start-up costs with savings, a loan, or a credit card?

If you need financial backing to get your new business started, you’ll need to present a business plan.

What will your pricing structure be? Calculate your overheads, look at the competition, and charge an amount that ensures you make a profit while remaining competitive.

Don’t forget marketing!

It’s really important to decide who your target customers will be (homeowners, businesses, or government contracts). This will allow you to focus your marketing strategy on attracting the right customers for your business.

Check out our guide on how to write a business plan which includes a free business plan template for you to use. Simply enter your email below to get your copy:

How to start your renewable energy business – step by step

There are a number of boxes you need to tick before you can launch your own renewable energy business. In this section, we’ll guide you through all you need to know.

Register your business

First of all, you’ll need to decide on a name for your new business.

Next, you’ll need to legally register your business with HMRC and make sure you understand your liabilities around tax and national insurance contributions.

Finally, decide on a company structure. Will you be a sole trader or a limited company?

Take the time to research the different regulations and taxes that apply to each business structure so you can settle on the arrangement that works best for you. If you’re unsure or need some guidance, contact a professional accountant.

Licences, insurance and legal

You’ll need to have the right licences to operate legally, plus insurance to protect your business in case of an accident.

Professional indemnity insurance will protect you in the event a customer brings a claim against you for alleged negligence.

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. Log in to our Member’s Area to claim up to 20% off the cost of your PLI!

And employers’ liability insurance is a legal obligation if you employ anyone else as part of your business.

Finances

Managing your cash flow, understanding your tax liabilities, and keeping your books in good order is crucial to running a successful business. We have three articles to help you do this:

It may not be the most exciting part of your role as ‘the boss’, but poor cash flow management is one of the key reasons for new businesses failing, so it’s well worth spending some time here.

Due to the sector you’ll be working in, it’s worth checking if there are any government grants that could help your business too.

Want to generate leads for your new renewable energy business?

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Marketing your renewable energy business

In order to give your new business the best chance of success, you need to think about how you’ll market your services.

One option is to pay for print advertising. This can include advertising in a local magazine, or newspaper, or sending out direct mail.

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

It’s also important to build an online presence for your new business, by creating social media profiles for your business, for example. This is a great way to showcase the quality work you offer and share testimonials from satisfied customers.

renewable energy engineering for solar panels

Save money and time marketing your business with Checkatrade

Marketing will either cost you in time or money (or both!), so it’s crucial you decide on the most effective way to market your new business, considering your budget and the time you have available.

To give your business the best start, join Checkatrade. If your target audience is primarily homeowners, then you’ll want your business on Checkatrade. That’s where homeowners go to find tradespeople they can trust, and not being listed means you could miss out on potential work.

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

You not only get a business profile on the UK’s leading trade directory, but you’ll also receive a search listing in Google, just as a website would.

As a Checkatrade member, you can:

  • Display customer reviews
  • Show testimonials
  • Give examples of your work on your profile page
  • Manage customer enquiries on the go
  • Use the quoting/invoicing tool in the Checkatrade app
  • Benefit from more job leads
  • Save on business essentials
  • Use free marketing materials

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**.

More than just a directory listing

Get support and a range of money-saving discounts to help get your business off the ground

Start the checks now

Quick action: Sign up for our ‘Become the boss’ series

You could get your renewable energy business started right away with the help of our ‘Become the Boss’ series.

You’ll receive a series of 8 emails containing actionable tips and top advice from fellow tradespeople who were once in your position. And at the end of it, you could be the founder of your new business.

To get trade business insider secrets sent to your pocket, enter your email address in the form below so we can help you get started:

Useful checklist for starting a renewable energy business in the UK

  • Starting a renewable energy business is a great option for anyone looking to take control of their career in a booming industry
  • Creating an in-depth business plan will help you to achieve your company goals
  • Along with job satisfaction, you can take pride in working to combat climate change
  • It may be worth specialising in one area of renewable energy to help your company to stand out
  • You’ll need to use problem-solving, communication and mathematical skills

Check out this post for further advice on setting up your new business.

How to grow your renewable energy business

Once you’re up and running, you’ll probably be keen to know how to grow your renewable energy business.

But before you launch in and recruit additional engineers or apprentices, or invest in new technology and equipment, it’s recommended you do a bit of planning and strategising first.

With pen to paper, you’ll have a much clearer picture of how your business can grow in a structured way.

In this section, we’ll guide you through the process of identifying, setting, and achieving realistic targets to scale up and take your business forward.

Want to generate leads for your new renewable energy business?

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What does business growth mean?

Business growth can take place in many different ways, including generating more revenue, developing a wider customer base, and expanding your service offering.

However, growth isn’t just about ‘increased sales’. It’s also about maintaining or improving profitability, through greater efficiencies and minimising costs, for example.

Before you progress to the ‘growth’ stage, it’s important to think about what growth means for your business:

  • What does ‘growth’ look like?
  • How will you achieve that growth?
  • How will you gauge success?

Setting growth targets for your business

Growth can be achieved in a number of different ways. So, it’s important to think about what growth targets you hope to see your business achieve.

Also, it may sound early, but you might want to do this in the early stages of starting a renewable energy business. Once you’ve got them set, it’s all about planning how you’re actually going to achieve the growth targets, and by when.

We have a FREE business development strategy template to help you do this, and a really useful article to explain what information to include:

Below we go through a couple examples of growth targets and how you can go about achieving them.

How to get more work

If you want more work, you need to attract more customers. But how do you do that?

Within your original business plan, you would’ve had a marketing strategy. Take some time to review this: have you implemented everything you set out to do, what worked, what didn’t, and what new ways can you think of to promote your business?

From traditional marketing to a more digital approach, it’s important to consider all types of tactics.

Check out our FREE marketing planning guide and checklist to help create a clear list of marketing tactics and responsibilities.

How to develop a bigger team

When you become an employer, you have certain responsibilities. But don’t let this put you off.

We’ve put together a checklist for taking on employees to help guide you through the process. This includes information on employment checks and insurance through to HMRC requirements.

When you find good workers, you’ll also want to know how to keep them! You can find out more about that in our guide on how to retain an amazing team.

Remember, whatever growth targets you set, they must be S.M.A.R.T

  • Specific – what does the task 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?

For more advice on ensuring your renewable energy business is a success, check out our FREE guide to ‘Growing your business the 2024 way’

See your renewable energy business succeed with Checkatrade

Whether you’re in the early stages of starting a renewable energy business or looking to grow, we can help.

Checkatrade is the UK’s leading trade directory. Here are just a few reasons to join the best trades with a Checkatrade membership:

Get more leads with a Checkatrade membership

Checkatrade is the best-known sign of quality in the trade industry and 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***.

A Checkatrade membership helps you to win more business

A Checkatrade membership gives you our seal of approval. 8 out of 10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade compared to one that isn’t endorsed****. It’s the tick that homeowners trust.

Get exclusive access to trade deals

A Checkatrade membership is more than just a directory listing. Our exclusive discounts on business essentials will help you to keep your profit margins sharp. Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year each***** on everything from tools, equipment, van leasing, insurance, workwear, and more.

More than just a directory listing

Get support and a range of money-saving discounts to help get your business off the ground

Start the checks now

Starting a renewable energy business FAQs

What types of renewable energy can you work with?

The term “renewable energy” covers a range of different power sources. Therefore, it may help to pick a specific type to specialise in when starting your renewable energy business. You can choose from options including:

  • Wind power
  • Solar power
  • Hydropower
  • Biomass power

Do I need to apply for a HETAS certificate?

The heating equipment testing and approvals scheme (HETAS) is designed to ensure biomass and other solid fuels are properly disposed of. This needs to be done safely and in an environmentally friendly way.

If you do plan to work with these fuels, having a HETAS certificate will mean you can self-certificate your work meaning you don’t need to apply for Building Notice. For more information, check out our HETAS certificate guide.

Want to generate leads for your new renewable energy business?

Give your business the best chance of success with a Checkatrade membership

Tell me more

*Comparing average search data for trade categories on checkatrade.com in the month of March 2021 and 2022.

**Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.

***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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