Staring your own small business is a great way to get the freedom and life you want but it can be a bit nerve wracking getting everything like licensing, loans and advertising organised. Once you are able to work the hours you want to and for the clients you like the initial struggle will feel like it was well worth it.
In this article I will explain the basics on how to get your small plumbing business up and running so you can start being your own boss.
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cu_pipe_leonard.jpgThere is a good chance that you have already worked as a plumber or have completed a plumbing apprenticeship in the past. If you haven't then it's generally not a good idea to be starting a plumbing business as you essentially don't know enough about what you are committing to.
If you are already proficient as a plumber then remember that any additional courses or training you can take is going to make your business more attractive to customers. Updating your skills should be something that you do continuously over the life of your business as it's going to feed straight back into the work you do and the value you give your customers.
Each state and local government will have it's own licensing requirements for you to fulfill before you can start a plumbing business. These licenses are necessary to ensure that all plumbers are going to do a safe job and so that the government knows exactly who is dispensing plumbing services.
To find out about your area's plumbers licensing requirements you can check out your local government website. Additionally you can use the small businesses hub to find your local area's website.
Financing Your Start Up
Credit: wikipedia CommonsWhen you first start your plumbing business there is going to be a significant initial investment to purchase tools and a starting base of plumbing supplies. Not to mention any licensing and business registration fees that you may be face with.
Ideally you want to finance your business on savings as you wont have to pay repayments which could eat into your profits considerably. Unfortunately most people won't have significant savings to adequately finance their business and they will have to also take out a small business loan. If you are in this position it is crucial that you spend considerable time comparing the loans available to you as it could mean thousands of dollars difference. Online loan calculators are readily available to assist you in this step.
Sometimes small businesses are eligible for government grants. It is worth checking out first whether there is any of these grants available in your area and whether you meet eligibility for them. This, too, could save you a lot of money on a loan.
Pictured Above Right: Tools like this pipe wrench are going to make up a significant part of your startup costs and they cannot be avoided if you want to provide a complete service.
Registering Your Business
Before you begin taking on work you will need to decide on and register the name and structure of your business in addition to obtaining a Federal and State tax IDs. If you already have your licensing out of the way those are the only four things you have to do to get your business up to official standards. There is plenty of information on each of these steps available on government websites such as the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Advertising Your Business and Finding Clients
As a small business your main advertising avenue will be through word of mouth. However, word of mouth only starts happening once you already have a satisfies client base. As such, you will need to undertake some more conventional marketing measures to get yourself the initial clients to get you up and running.
A good place to start is with bulletin boards in your local area or with phone book listings. The latter can cost a bit of money but it should pay for itself in clients fairly quickly. Since this is your first attempt at attracting clients you will want to provide an added incentive to get them to try you out. A free quote or plumbing inspection is a great way to attract some attention and immediately get into clients good books.
The next step is to work on your online presence. Even conventional businesses like plumbing cannot afford to ignore an online presence as such a large portion of the population searches for services throughout the internet now. At a bare minimum you will want to make sure that your business' information is listed on the local business directories including Google Maps. Craigslist can also be a good way to get a few extra clients for no cost.
An additional step you can take, though it is not necessary, is to create a basic website. It is possible to do this for free using WordPress or other free website hosts, but for a higher quality website it may be worth paying a professional to create you a simple one. Your website should have at a minimum: your businesses basic information, an about you page, and a contact page. Once you have created your web page it may be worth deciding whether a search engine optimization expert is worth your investment. If you are in a big city where competition for search results is more fierce it may well be worth it.
Don't forget to create a recognisable logo or symbol of your business. It should be simple as your business is a small, personal business, and it should incorporate your name and phone number. If you aren't the creative type, graphic design places can create simple logos for relatively cheap. Once you have one you can brand your work vehicle, your business cards, flyers and your website all with the same logo.