If you like working with your hands, are comfortable with heights, enjoy transforming spaces, and like calling the shots, then a painting and decorating business could be for you.

This guide will help you get your new painting and decorating business up and running by looking at the following steps:

  • How to start a painting and decorating business
  • How to find clients for your painting and decorating business
  • How to manage your finance as self-employed
  • How Countingup helps you run your painting and decorating business

How to start a painting and decorating business

When figuring out how to start up a painting and decorating business, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure success. We’ve listed them below.

Training and skills

You don’t need a specific qualification to run a painting and decorating business. Many professionals in the field start out as an apprentice and learn the skills on the job. That said, if you work on construction sites, you’ll need a Construction Skills Certificate Scheme card. This card proves that you’re capable of carrying out the work on site. 

While you don’t need specific qualifications, it’s crucial to have the practical skills and keen eye for detail to paint a straight line and select the right colours in different spaces. These days, you can use apps to find the right shade, so you’ll also benefit from knowing how to use those. 

In addition, good customer service is crucial to creating a successful business, so solid people skills are a plus since they’ll allow you to attract and retain clients. Read more about why customer service is important.  

Business focus

Before you launch your new painting and decorating business, choose what services you will offer. The best way to determine your focus is by researching the current market. Look into industry trends and investigate what other painters and decorators offer. Market analysis and competitor research will allow you to uncover service gaps that your business can fill. 

When starting a new business, it can be useful to have a range of skills so you can take on a variety of jobs and not have to turn down work. That said, having an area that you specialise in can contribute to your unique selling point (USP), meaning the thing that differentiates you from the competition.

Also, consider if you want to work in commercial or residential painting and decorating. Residential jobs might be easier to get, but they often pay less than commercial jobs. That said, commercial clients might pay more, but the work tends to be more complicated. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of different fields to help you decide the best path for your business. 

Rules and regulations

There are a number of painting and decorating standards that every person in the trade needs to follow. To ensure you comply with these standards (and look more professional), there are trade bodies you can join. Here are a few examples of trade bodies you can join:

While it’s not a requirement to join these associations, there are lots of advantages to doing so. Being a member of trade associations proves your credibility to clients, helps you find better insurance rates, discounted tool and equipment hire, and support from experienced professionals. 

The legal stuff

When considering how to start up a painting and decorating business, there are some legal tasks you need to get sorted from the beginning. Starting out, you might choose to work as a sole trader or run your business as a single-person limited company. Both legal structures have their own advantages and disadvantages, which you can learn about here.

Once you’ve chosen your business structure, you need to register as self-employed with HMRC. Being self-employed means you’re responsible for paying your own taxes, and you’ll have to complete an annual Self Assessment tax return by the relevant deadlines. 

Next, you need to choose your business name. Limited companies need to register it with Companies House right away, but sole traders can register their names when completing their tax returns. 

Insurance

Business insurance is a must for self-employed painters and decorators. Since you’re your own boss, you’re also liable for any mistakes or accidents that happen when you trade. 

Your core insurance will likely be public liability insurance, which protects you in case anyone makes a claim against your business for an injury or property damage. In addition, you might want to take out business equipment insurance to protect the items you need to do your job. 

If you eventually employ anyone, you legally have to take out employers’ liability insurance.

It’s worth noting that even a small mistake can be financially devastating, so ensure you’re properly protected.

How to find clients for your painting and decorating business

After taking these steps, it’s time to start finding clients so you can begin trading. 

Website 

It’s vital that potential clients have somewhere they can find out more information about your painting and decorating business. That’s why every business should have a professional website that potential clients can visit to learn about the brand, services and fees. You can use template-based website builders like WordPress or Wix to create your site.

It’s good practice to include some images of your previous work to show visitors what you can do. In addition, you also want to write an About Us page where visitors can read about your journey, special skills, qualifications, trade association memberships, and so on. Finally, make it easy to contact you by displaying your contact information where people can see them.

Reach out

When hunting clients for your new painting and decorating business, an excellent place to begin is reaching out to friends, family and former colleagues. These people might either need your services themselves or know of someone who does.

If someone you know recommends your services to someone they know, it increases your chances of getting hired by them. That’s because 92% of customers trust a referral from someone they know. 

You can also try approaching leads directly by reaching out to companies in your area to see if they need a painter and decorator. This approach can be quite time-consuming, but it’s more personal and might demonstrate your eagerness to work.  

Networking

In the early stages of your business, networking is another effective method for finding your first clients. Utilise LinkedIn to make connections with people you would like to work with to try and get a foot in the door of companies that need painting and decorating services. 

Another form of networking is to attend events and online discussions that relate to painting and decorating. These events present opportunities to connect with more people in the industry. Networking could be an excellent source of business if you attend events that provide value to potential clients.

Social media

As a new business, social media is a great way to spread the word about your new painting and decorating business and find clients. You can use platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to connect with other companies, potential clients and other painters to build your credibility.

The best way to leverage your social media presence is to:

  • Create and publish valuable content that demonstrates your expertise to your followers.
  • Engage with businesses and individuals by liking and commenting on their posts.
  • Share content that’s relevant to your business on your own channel. 

Social media is one of the best marketing methods you can use for your business, but it’s more effective when combined with other marketing methods. 

Other marketing

Painting and decorating can often be about who you know, but by combining different marketing methods wisely, you’ll be able to spread the word about your business further. Here are some examples of other marketing techniques you can use:

  • Offer free initial consultations and a discount if they hire you within the next month. 
  • Use digital marketing techniques like local SEO to find clientele in your area.
  • Use content marketing to showcase your expertise. Create blog posts and videos containing useful tips to help people with their painting and decorating issues.
  • Use offline marketing such as flyers, business cards or newspaper ads to attract clients that aren’t very active online.

Once you get your first job, you need to implement a system that allows you to manage your invoices, payments, and other financial activities efficiently. 

How to manage your finance as self-employed

Here are a few ways you can get your financial management off to the best start.

Business current account

Limited companies are legally required to have a separate company account, but sole traders will also benefit from a business current account. That’s because separating your personal and business transactions helps you keep your records organised. Organised records give you more visibility over your business’ financial health to know if you need to make adjustments. 

In addition, having a business current account makes it easier to file your Self Assessment tax return since you won’t need to spend hours digging out your business-related transactions. A business account also helps you keep track of your expenses to ensure you make the most out of your allowable expenses. 

Finally, using an account with built-in accounting software, such as Countingup, makes it easier to manage your invoicing and tax estimates. This way, you’ll save yourself hours of financial admin.

Invoice clients effectively

As a painter and decorator, invoicing is part of your daily activities. Here’s a list of items you need to include in a professional invoice:

  • Unique invoice numbers that are different for each client. For example, John Smith’s invoices could be numbered JS1, JS2, JS3 etc.
  • Invoice Date.
  • Your business name
  • Limited Company Registration Number
  • VAT Registration Number
  • Limited Company Address
  • Contact details, such as email, address, and phone number
  • Client name and address
  • Description and date of services provided
  • A breakdown of hours and rates. For example, 20h hours at £45 per hour.
  • VAT charged (if applicable)
  • The total amount charged (including VAT)
  • Your business account details (sort code and account number)
  • A client reference number or Purchase Order (PO) number

To ensure you get paid on time, it’s wise to include payment terms and late payment information. For example, small businesses often provide a 30-day payment window, but you can set other terms if you want to. Also, remember to send the invoice as quickly as possible to hopefully get paid sooner.

It’s important to remember that invoicing your clients can be a tedious and time-consuming process without the right system. To increase invoicing efficiency, consider implementing accounting software. An app like Countingup allows you to send invoices on the go and automatically records all your transactions once you get paid. 

Focus on doing what you love

When starting a painting and decorating business, your to-do list will be long enough without the added tasks of financial management. Luckily, a resource like the Countingup app presents a fantastic way to make accounting quick and easy. 

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.