Becoming self-employed gives you the freedom about when, for who, and how much you work. Setting out on your own is an exciting opportunity, but how do you get started? 

This article will be your guide to how to go self-employed as a painter and decorator by looking at the following steps:

  • Set up your business
  • Notify HMRC of your tax status
  • Look at your start-up costs and finances
  • Get insured
  • Find some clients

Set up your business

To take the first step to set up the business, you need to choose your structure. For example, will you be a sole trader, a limited company?

A sole trader is a simple to manage structure, you have complete control over the profits you make, but you will be responsible for any debt you have. 

While a limited company may give off a more professional image, as well as giving you limited liability for any debt, there is a lot of administrative work that goes into running the business and different tax obligations you’ll need to manage. 

Next, choose your business name. If you’re going with a limited company, you’ll need to register it with Companies House

Notify HMRC of your tax status

If you choose to be a sole trader, you’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC as you’ll be managing your own taxes. After registering, you’ll receive your Unique Tax Reference (UTR), and you’ll need this information for submitting your income tax return annually. 

While registering your new self-employed status, you can also put in the business name you’ll be trading under so that the business name is on record.

If you have chosen to trade as a limited company, you’ll need to register with HMRC as an employer, not self-employed, because you’ll be acting as both a director and an employee in the business. 

Look at your start-up costs and finances

Start-up costs 

Every business will have start-up costs, so consider what equipment you need to begin trading. You’ll likely need:

  • Some tins of standard paints and primers
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint rollers and extender poles
  • A wallpapering table
  • Paste supplies
  • Wallpaper scraper tools
  • Buckets and trays
  • Masking tape and protective sheets
  • Protective clothing and masks 

You can learn more about how to plan for managing start-up costs in this guide.

Business finances

Next, open a new business current account. 

Although it’s not a legal requirement for sole traders to have a separate company account, we’d always recommend it. A different account means that you won’t have to separate all your personal transactions from the business ones on your statements when you submit your self-assessment. In addition, a separate account will make it easier to keep records, and by using an account that comes with bookkeeping software such as Countingup that can manage your invoicing and tax estimates, you’ll be saving yourself hours of financial admin.

Second, does your business need any funding to get off the ground? For example, you might consider a business loan if you need a vehicle to travel between jobs. As another option, you could also bootstrap the business, which means you don’t purchase items or equipment until you have made and saved enough profit to buy them.

Get insured

It’s always wise to get insurance for your new business to protect you in case accidents happen. There are various covers you could get as a self-employed painter decorator, but we recommend you look at:

  • Public liability insurance – covers your legal fees and compensation if a member of the public makes a claim that they were injured in dealing with your business or your work caused damage to their property (such as a paint spill).
  • Property insurance – covers your tools and equipment from damage or theft while you are out working or if your things are taken from your vehicle.
  • Personal accident and sickness – as a self-employed person, if you’re unable to work, the money stops coming in. This insurance will cover your living costs if you cannot work for an extended period due to illness or injury.
  • Contract works insurance – you may need this if contracted to work on a commercial site, such as a newly built home site. It acts like public liability insurance for accidents that happen to the public, yourself or other contractors on the site.

Superscript offers excellent business insurance cover for affordable prices.

Find some clients

After taking these steps, you’ll be ready to start trading – so now, you need to find clients. An excellent place to start is to reach out to your existing network of friends, family and acquaintances. These people might need your services themselves or know someone who does, and it’s been found that 92% of customers trust a referral from someone they know.

You may want to create a professional website that potential clients can visit to learn about the services you offer and your pricing. Websites builders like WordPress or Wix have free templates you can use to create a simple website.

Here are some marketing methods you can use to spread the word about your services:

  • Use social media. Social platforms like Instagram and Facebook will allow you to use visual marketing, such as before and after pictures, to show, not tell, customers why they should choose your services. 
  • Offer vouchers for a discount on your services for referrals or new clients.
  • Create a ‘Google My Business’ profile and local SEO techniques for finding clientele in your area.
  • Use offline marketing such as flyers, business cards or newspaper and radio ads.
  • Register with directories like CheckATrade, Trusted Trader or Yell.

Save time on financial admin with Countingup

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 
Find out more here.

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