If you’re reading this blog, we’re going to guess you’ve either taken the leap to Self-Employment or are toying with the idea. We know only too well, how daunting a step this can be. We went through the exact same thing during our business start-up. From feeling the adrenaline rush of exploring the potential of being your own boss, to then feeling anxiety of what happens if things go wrong. We’ve been there and know what you are going through, so we’ve put together this short blog to hopefully help ease some of those worries!
For anyone, who is not familiar with our brand, we are a small business operating out of Glasgow that designs, manufactures and sells our own brand of kneepads for construction workers. Our kneepads work through a 6-spring suspension system that absorbs impact on your knees; reducing pressure by up to a massive 76%. We’re a small company, but we’ve got big ambitions! We want to make working life better and improve our customers physical and mental health. Our product delivers the physical health benefits, but we hope our blogs provide the mental health benefits you need to calm anxieties and worries and allow you to get on with your task in hand and allow you to reach your potential.
So, if you’ve dreamed of self-employment in the construction sector, but are feeling a bit anxious about it, then here are our top tips for making the leap.
Tip 1 – Check out local business start-up support agencies
Many local councils run initiatives to help support and encourage business start-up. From business start-up grants, to employment funds, or assistance with sourcing a workplace, there are always various options available in different districts, so it’s worth exploring your surrounding area. In the UK, try Business Gateway! Most offices can be contacted via phone or email, and they will then arrange a meeting with you to discuss your individual business requirements. We’d recommend this is your starting point, as these guys will know exactly what support is available in your local area.
Tip 2 - Visit the Bank
Cash is King; and making sure it is well organised is key to your business survival. Our recommendation is that you check out your local banks online and read up on which one offers the best deal on a business account. It’s important to note that with business accounts, unlike personal accounts, there is often a fee! But don’t let this put you off from getting one, some banks offer special deals for new accounts too e.g. 6 months free on bank fees etc, so don’t be scared to ask what support they can offer. Having a separate bank account helps with the accounting side of things; and can help to avoid any potential issues with Tax authorities later on!
Tip 3 – Let the authorities know what you’re doing
In the UK, this means contacting HMRC and letting them know of your intention to become self-employed. The easiest way to do this is to visit the HMRC website. It’s quite simple to inform them of your move to self-employment via an online form on their website; or if you next some advice you can always give them a call. Be aware, it’s important to do this sooner rather than later. You don’t want to work for 6 months then let them know and realise you have a whopping tax bill to pay. If you’re not sure, when it comes to taxes, then it’s always best to ask first than regret later! Your local authority might also be a good place to seek further advice on this, so ask at any meetings you have with the likes of Business Gateway.
Tip 4 – Get Insurance
This is a big one, and one that can be easily overlooked! Public liability is highly recommended. It will protect you against any compensation claims made against you or your business if someone is harmed or injured as a result of visiting your business premises or whilst you are working on their premises. For those in the trades/construction sectors, we would say this is a ‘Must Have’.
In addition, to Public Liability, Employers Liability is an absolute MUST. In the UK it is required by law. This protects you from compensation claims made by employees should they become injured or unwell because of working for you. It’s important to be aware, that volunteers and some Sub-Contractors can fall within the requirement to have Employers Liability Insurance too, so even if you’re just going to be working for yourself you may still have obligations under this act.
Tip 5 – Check out accountancy software
There are two accountancy software packages we would recommend investigating – Quickbooks & Xero. These are monthly subscription packages and will make your accountancy needs super easy. With both software providers, you’re online bank stream can be fed straight into your accountancy software, making receipt/invoicing management easy to reconcile and keep track of. Of course, you could employ an accountant to do it all for you – but we’d recommend giving one of these subscription packages a go first of all. It could save you a load of cash!
Tip 6 – Invest in a Card Reader
This is neat little thing to have. A card reader which can connect to your phone to take card payments anywhere (well almost anywhere, as long as you have an internet signal and smart phone)! Make sure you can always be paid on completion of a job instantly and avoid the pitfall of not being paid as a customer doesn’t have cash on them, or have the hassle of cashing a cheque into the bank. We use an iZettle card reader in our workplace, and we find it brilliant, so perhaps worth checking them out.
Tip 7 – Don’t skimp on the right kit
If you are self-employed then your health and wellbeing is key! If you are unwell, then you can’t work, and you can’t earn a wage. It’s important to make sure you kit yourself out with the right equipment from the off-set. Hard hats, hi-vis vests, steel boots, kneepads, safety glasses..etc. Prevention is always better than cure! So make sure you get yourself adequate kit.