Running a Business in the Trades
Do you want to pursue a career in the trades, and prefer to be your own boss? Starting and running your own business in the trades might be a good option for you.
Though some of the particulars may differ depending on the trade you pursue – like carpentry, electrical, or plumbing– many parts of running a business remain the same.
If you are thinking of starting a trades business, you likely already have experience working in a trade and want to pursue it further. Before starting your business, make sure you have all the education, skills and licenses to work in your trade. This can include college programs, apprenticeships, work experience, and any necessary local or provincial regulatory licensing. You may also want to register with your local and provincial trade union, as these groups can be a good resource when you need help or information.
The process of setting yourself up as an entrepreneur usually involves creating your own company. You can have a sole proprietorship (just you), or some form of partnership agreement (you and one or more other tradespeople, business people, administrative, etc.).
You will need to register a business name and number with Service Canada. This number is required for most dealings that involve your business, especially for work permits and taxes.
You will also need to use this business number to open bank accounts for your company. It is recommended to keep all business finances separate from your personal accounts.
Make sure you have a very clear idea of what service you plan to offer. For example, if you want to run a carpentry business, you need to decide if you will specialize in a specific task, such as detail work like cabinetry, trim, stairs and railings, or rough work such as framing and roofing.
Once you decide what your business will focus on, it is time for the most important part of any business: the business plan.
A business plan is a document that you research and compile, which sets out your goals, product or service offerings, finances, and plans for future growth. This document is essential to directing the course of your company, and any banks or financial investors will require it. Ask yourself a few questions like; what will make my business special from others? What is my target market? What kind of prices will I charge for my company’s services?
Networking is important and will lead to potential clients. Talk up your company and skills when you meet people in your trade industry. Attend trade shows or conventions related to your trade, and those related to other trades. You may be running a plumbing business, but it can be helpful to meet people in other trades like construction – you never know where you might find your next customer!
Another key factor to running your business is to market yourself and your skills. These days, you will need a website that details your business, the skills and services you offer, and even list prices or quotes to help gain customers.
Once you are working jobs, make sure to build your reputation – do quality work at a good price, be on time to start and finish projects, and treat your customers well. After the job is done, the best thing to do is ask for a client review; good words go a long way!
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