Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
Starting out as a sole trader can be a daunting thing to do when you’re used to being in full-time work for someone else. However, making the leap to start a handyman business could be incredibly rewarding. From managing your own schedule to doing all the overtime you want and taking a holiday whenever you like, there are many benefits to working for yourself.
You’ve got the skills that everyone is demanding, now it’s time to figure out how to put together a business plan and launch your idea off the ground successfully. Below, you’ll find an essential guide on everything you need when setting up a handyman business.
What Services Will You Be Offering?
As a handyman or home and repair business, there are a number of services you can offer. While being the jack of all trades isn’t usually advised, when it comes to being a handyman the more you can do, the better.
While a lot of businesses advise choosing a niche and sticking to it, it will often be more convenient for your clients to only have to source one person to do the work because the idea of multiple people needing to enter their home could discourage clients. However, it’s also important to be honest and only list services you know you can do well. You wouldn’t want to only be able to do half a job, only to have to recommend that the client calls a specialist in.
The good news is, if you are good with your hands then there are so many things that people need doing around their home, from putting up shelving to unblocking drains, painting, gardening, general home repair, fixing broken appliances and plumbing, gas and electricity matters.
In addition, some tasks may require you to obtain a licence when setting up a handyman business. For example, if you are fixing a boiler or touching the gas and electricity. You can easily check what licenses you may need on the gov.uk website.
Some of the most requested handyman services include:
While plumbing is a niche area that often requires multiple qualifications and licenses, if you have the skills then they’re high in demand. Plumbers help with everything from unblocking drains to installing new kitchen and bathroom units and moving pipework.
Plasterers are also an in-demand professional. Anyone can have a go at plastering a wall but only a specialist can do a really good job. A plasterer will work on things like re-plastering after damp and water damage, re-decorating a room, filling holes and damage in a wall or converting a cellar.
Wallpapering and Tiling
These may seem like simple tasks but unless you’re an experienced decorator, a patterned wallpaper or tile can be enough to tip the average home DIY novice over the edge. Your skills could save someone weeks of work and prying mismatched tiles off the wall.
Choose a Legal Structure and Register as Self Employed with HMRC
When setting up a handyman business, you will need to decide whether to set up as a registered company or whether to remain as a sole trader. There are benefits and drawbacks with both, however which one you choose will depend on your circumstances.
Starting out as a sole trader can be the most cost-effective option until you become more established. As a sole trader, you will register to pay tax and national insurance payments and will be responsible for completing your own tax self-assessments forms. This is the simplest legal structure for your business.
If you decide to register as a limited company then this can be beneficial as you grow and obtain more clients while establishing your brand, however you will have more responsibilities and legal obligations as a limited company.
Unlike a sole trader, as a limited business you will pay corporation tax on your profits. These rates are often kinder than that of a sole trader’s rates. There’s also the bonus that your business has limited liability, meaning only your business assets and not your personal ones are at risk.
Start Up Costs to Consider
Setting up a handyman business has some associated startup costs that you will need to keep in mind. These can include:
Equipment such as tools and machines
When going it alone, you will need to acquire your own tools, as well as factoring in the upkeep of them. If you have a small budget to start with, consider loaning the tools from another company or any handyman friends you may have.
There are also personal and business loan options too which you could consider when putting together your business plan.
Business Insurance and Public Liability Insurance
It will be your responsibility to get general liability insurance before you begin work in anyone’s home. The liability insurance will cover you should you cause accidental damage to a home or injury to a person during work, however you will need additional insurance to cover any injuries you may incur. You should keep your insurance certificate to hand at all times on your phone in case you need it.
While liability insurance is a legal obligation, personal injury insurance is an additional option. You should consider this if you are the only person in the business as if you were to get injured and could not work then your financial losses would be covered to an extent.
Tools and Equipment Insurance
As well as the above, as you start a handyman business, your tools will be the most valuable thing you own. It’s essential that you take out insurance on these as if they get broken or stolen and you cannot afford to replace them, you will be left unable to work.
While you may be able to get so far by word of mouth, marketing your business efficiently will be the key to your growth. Below, we’ll go into some further ways to promote your business.
Finding Customers for Your Handyman Business
Here are some top ways to find your first customers…
Set up a Google My Business listing
Make sure you can easily be found on Google by setting up a business listing. This is really easy to do and will ensure you are found when local people type in a search query when looking for a local handyman. After you’ve set up the listing, Google will do all of the leg work for you.
Referrals are one of your most powerful tools because they don’t cost money and are more trustworthy than any other source. Each time you work with a client, leave a printed referral slip with a kind word asking your client to pass on your details to a neighbour or friend in need. Once you begin building up a trusted client base, the referrals should come rolling in.
Joining handyman networks
Struggling to get initial business? Networks such as taskrabbit.co.uk allow you to create a profile on their website and can match you with clients looking for your services. While you may have to pay a small fee for using this type of platform, it’s a good way to get started. Some platforms even offer legal cover should you need it too.
Setting up an online website
If you’re looking to register as a limited company, or even as a sole trader, a website in this day and age is essential. A website will allow clients to get a feel for your services and will make you seem more professional, trustworthy and reliable.
Square’s Online website builder is a handy tool that allows you to create a professional looking online website or store front, where you don’t have a load of coding knowledge.
Set up a Facebook page
Facebook is a powerful B2C marketing tool that will enable you to connect with local people, share your business page and promote your services. Facebook is one of the most likely go-to places when local people need a service and will ensure your business is on the map.
How to Take Payments from Customers
When you’re out and about for work, it can be difficult to take payments on the go. While many handymen take cash, the times are changing, and it is now preferable to accept card payments too. Below are some solutions you could look at when setting up a handyman business.
Point of sale made for on-the-go
Need to take card payments on the go? Square’s mobile payment tools let you accept credit or debit card payments, straight from your phone or tablet.
In Person (Square Reader or Square Terminal)
If your clients can come into an office premises or workspace, then an in-person payment system is a good option. Square’s all-in-one card machine does everything from managing your stock, to taking payment, printing recipes and handling invoices. It also includes chip and pin, as well as a contactless system which is great for social distancing measures.
Square Appointments to Book in Customers and Clients
Finding it time consuming to schedule your clients in? Square’s automated appointment system enables you to put people first and focus on what really matters, running your business.
Overall, learning how to start a handyman business can be a challenge, but incredibly rewarding once the hard work begins to pay off. Just follow the steps above and don’t overcomplicate it and you’re sure to be servicing the entire neighbourhood’s homes in no time.