Thinking of setting up your very own electrical business? As a qualified craftsman providing an essential service, you’re in a great position to launch into the challenging and highly rewarding project that is starting a company.
Running your own business, with your own transport and work schedule, is an incredibly motivating prospect. While some requirements are business-specific, many of the steps you’ll need to take can apply to any field. Let’s take a close look at how to set up your independent electrical business, with five essential steps to help you get on the track to success.
#1 Getting qualified to set up your independent electrical business
We assume you have come to some conclusions of your own about your ability to work with householders, businesses and other independent contractors. Only you can judge these issues, and only you can know whether you are comfortable with working sometimes in cramped spaces, or up ladders or poles, or out of doors for long periods. We’ll take those things as given, along with your knowledge of the trade and technical skill.
There are no formal requirements to launch your business; however, you will need official qualifications as a starting point. Chief among them, a level-3 electrical or electro-technical qualification delivered by an official industry body, such as JTL , the ECA and City & Guilds.
Apprenticeship schemes are a popular option of earning these qualifications, since they allow you to learn on the job; you could also study full-time with a college course. Some training bodies also offer intensive courses for those who wish to fast-track.
While also not formally a requirement, you may consider registering yourself with an official electrical trade bodies through a competent person scheme. This demonstrates your commitment to keeping up to speed with industry standards and gives you an easy way to demonstrate to customers that you are on top of your game. The most relevant schemes for electricians in the UK include ELECSA (Electrical Self Assessment), NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) and NAPIT (National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers). The first two of these, ELECSA and NICEIC, have recently been brought together under the umbrella of Certsure LLP. This is a joint venture between the Electrical Contractors’ Association and the Electrical Safety Council and it operates the certification schemes of both these bodies.
#3 Start planning your electrical business from top to bottom
So far, so good. You have the skills, the qualifications to prove it, and the certifications that will make you a trusted name. If you are like most beginning entrepreneurs, however, you might not have much of anything else apart from your enthusiasm and your ideas! That is quite normal. Now would be a good time to organize your thoughts and plan the shape of your new business. The first and best way to do so is to write a business plan: it will cover most of the details you need to consider at this stage. Others include the following.
What is your focus ?
As you know, an electrical business can actually be quite a few different things. As a fledgling entrepreneur, you’re unlikely to offer a particularly wide range of services. Whether your field of predilection is installation, maintenance, machine repair or renewable energy, you should consider the competition and demand in your local area to determine what gives you the best edge.
Projecting costs and sizing up your price is an essential part of writing your business plan. Build your budget around realistic expectations of the amount of paid work you can achieve in the early stages. You may be tempted to seek an early boost by setting the most competitive rates in your area, but this would be unwise.
There’s no need for a sophisticated accounting system, but do be careful to keep a record of income and expenditure – this will both enable you to complete a tax return and give you valuable information for future planning.
As an independent electrical business, you must have insurance to cover you for public liability and personal indemnity. You can obtain this through an independent body, or through the official body that accredits you.
To register yourself as a self-employed sole trader, all you have to do is to tell HMRC when you file your tax return that you are self-employed.
#4 Choose the right van for your business
Clearly, you need transport. And not just any van will do: this one has to be your mobile office, storage space and probably occasional workshop too. Have a look at our guide to how to choose the van that’s right for you, and bear in mind that the main issues will be:
Choosing how to finance your business van can make the difference between a cash flow that works, and an unmanageable commitment when you can least afford it. See more about how to choose the right business van finance deal.
If your work is likely to be mainly city-based and domestic, a car-derived van like the Renault Kangoo could serve your purpose. Advantages include lower running costs, easier parking and nippier traffic navigation. If your business will be mostly on building sites or public works, requiring more bulky equipment, a medium van like the Renault Trafic provides a good deal more storage space, especially if you organise it with a custom-made interior storage solution from a specialist like Ready4Work by Sortimo. Among other advantages, the Renault Trafic can function as a mobile office, with comfortable working space and plenty of storage.
If there’s any likelihood of your needing to transport workmates as your independent business takes on increased workloads, the Kangoo Crew Van Cab comes with a multi-positional bulkhead that lets you adapt your storage space to carrying crew or load. As for larger models, the Renault Trafic comes in a Crew Van as one of its many options; if what you really need is a mobile workshop, consider the Renault Master Conversions, both off-the shelf and bespoke, that are available.
Of course, if you are unsure and feel like you could use some truly tailored advice, feel free to talk to one of the many Renault Pro+ Specialist dealers – they will always be on hand to help you choose the right van for your business needs.
#5 Get your name out to attract customers
Having figured out your business plan, equipment and means of transport, you can show your local market and community just how much your electrical business has to offer.
Marketing is an issue that will stay with you throughout your business career; as communication channels change, so will your marketing plan. For the start-up phase, make use of traditional methods like flyers and inclusion in local online and print directories, as well as maintaining an online presence. Most of all, don’t forget to make good use of all that advertising space on the side of your business van! Check our tips on making your van stand out with custom sign writing.
Finally: stay flexible, hold on to your optimism, and keep the passion for your business that got you going in the first place.