How To Start An Electrical Contracting Business
The demand for qualified and experienced electricians is currently through the roof and is a perfect time to set up your business! Starting your own business might feel a bit daunting or maybe overwhelming however we are here to set your mind at ease and give you some pointers along the way.
Becoming your own boss is often a dream for many people however the number of people who make the jump is very low. This is an important time in your career and it’s important to take on and learn as much as you can about running a business.
Many tradesmen are technically very good at what they do and see what their employer is doing and think they can do a better job than them at running a business. This might be true however there’s a difference between being a tradesman and a businessman.
Roofers start roofing businesses. Electricians start electrical businesses. But no one teaches you how to run a business, how to sell, market, finance, scale or how to comply with rules and regulations.
Making the jump from being an employee to a business owner might feel risky however with the right guidance you will be amazed at how quickly your business can progress.
What Does An Electrician Do?
As an electrician, you will be responsible for ensuring the safety of electrical equipment. This could involve fixing problems installing new systems, repairing old electrical work or maintaining current electrical equipment.
The job role of an electrician can involve the following:
- Inspecting electrical systems, wiring and equipment to ensure they are safe and functioning properly
- Fixing electrical faults or replacing parts
- Connecting sockets, switches, light fittings and appliances
- Laying cables to connect equipment to power and computer networks
- Installing security or data network systems
- Working with street lights and traffic management systems
- Fitting fibre-optic cables
- Maintaining electrical motors, transformers and machinery
- Making and installing electrical control panels
- Programming computer-controlled ‘intelligent’ buildings
- Following technical plans
- Adhering to strict safety regulations
- Learning about new electrical legislation
- Responding to emergency call-outs such as power cuts
This is quite a broad list of what you could be doing however many electricians often specialise in order to provide the best service to their clients and to become a specialist in their line of work. At start it is common to do what comes your way in order to pay the bills, so this something to keep in mind once you have an established business within the industry and you might find a particular type of work you really enjoy doing.
Qualification And Associations
Starting an electrical business, here are some skills that will benefit you:
- Knowledge of engineering science and technology
- Business knowledge (or have a support team)
- Maths knowledge
- Design skills and knowledge
- Thorough and pay attention to detail
- Analytical thinking skills
- Excellent verbal communication skills
- Able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
If you are looking to become an electrician or further your career you could enrol on a City & Guilds Level 2 and 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation with a local college.
- At least 2 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) (level 2 course)
- 4 – 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) (level 3 course).
The NICEIC provide an 18th Edition Course which has been designed for electricians, contractors and those requiring a working knowledge of the latest edition of the Level 3 Award in the Requirements for Electrical Installations BS 7671:2018 qualification (very popular with electricians – benchmark of the industry).
The 18th Edition is an industry recognised qualification and is a standout addition to have.
Taking steps to expand your knowledge with accredited qualifications will show competence and reassurance to your customers.
If you are looking for extra support take a look at the NICEIC who are the UK largest voluntary register of electrical businesses.
They assess over 36,000 businesses to ensure that the installation work they undertake meets the standards expected to keep us all safe.
They also help:
- Assess and provide certification for renewable energy installers
- Assess plumbers
- And gas and heating engineers
They also provide industry leading training and consulting services for the building and construction sectors.
What Tools Do I Need To Start An Electrical Contracting Business?
The cost of good tools and equipment are quite low compared to other industries however the specialist equipment can be quite expensive. It is worth buying the premium quality tools as they have better performance and the durability is much higher.
Typical Electrician tools are:
- Multi-function tester
- Insulated screwdrivers
- Spirit level
- Multi tool
- Tape measure
- Electric wall chaser
- Approved voltage indicator
- Wire strippers
- Wire cutters
Starting a business may be a never ending list of tasks however it’s often a lot simpler than it looks. Making a business plan is a perfect starting point to list out what you need to achieve, how you are going to make it happen and where you want to get to.
It might also be worth speaking to fellow professionals in the construction industry about what projects you could be getting involved in such as new builds, care homes, schools, domestic jobs or council work for example to see what type of work is available.
As you are starting out, the amount of work you can take on is going to be limited and restricted to local areas. It’s very important that you know who your competitors are and how they compare to you.
Do they offer more or fewer hours than you?
How fast are their turnaround times?
Are they approachable?
Do they offer the same services?
Company Size? Can they afford the larger projects?
What extra value do you bring compared to your competitors?
Electrical work is quite consistent throughout the year with no seasonal trends, the only standout is winter electrical work is inside and summer electrical work is outside!
A massive tip which we can give for free is to answer your phone! Although, if it sounds obvious then you may be surprised to find out that 70% of construction business owners do not answer the phone… If you think this might be a problem for you, take a look at Saint Virtual Assistant Call Handling service to ensure 100% of your calls are answered and in your business name.
Building a business roadmap can be great to get some ideas down on paper on how you want your business to turn out and how you believe you will get there. A business plan can also be a great way to provide a level of accountability to yourself and your team.
Some tips on building a business plan are:
How much do you need to start up and fund your new business? Deciding how you’ll fund the initial costs i.e through a loan, credit card (very risky), savings or is there any Government schemes available?
We always recommend having at least 1 year saved up before you start a business full time as the survival of a business needs all the time it can get.
An electrical contracting business can initially have a low start up cost compared to other trades depending on the equipment you will be needing. A rough guide on the start up cost is between £5,000 – £20,000 depending on the tools, materials, type of van, insurances and business support services (accountant, media, admin etc).
Every business needs to build who their ideal client is. This will help you ensure you are working with the right companies that will grow your business in the right direction. Using your ideal client outline, you can target them using advertising, social media or networking with other trade professionals.
Saint Global is the perfect way to market your electrical company, you’ll receive expert marketing guidance and proven strategies to put your new company on the map for your ideal clients to find you.
One of the many areas many businesses, especially in the construction industry undervalue… Having the right finance team around you can change your business overnight and provide insights into your business you never knew you could have had for your business, no matter how long you have been in the industry!
An accountant is so much more than just helping you pay the right tax, they should be involved with any strategic decision making in your business. There’s a reason why many of the top CEOs in business today are from an accounting background.
Another area an accountant/business coach can help you with is your pricing. Deciding how much you are going to charge is a critical part of business. You need to make sure that you are covering your costs and getting a good profit from the work you are putting into your business.
It may help to look at competitor prices as a rough guide. If you need help with pricing methods take a look at our free Construction Survival Guide.
Every business needs to keep in line with the legal requirements. Some of the things you will need are insurances, licenses, H&S guidelines and any compliance requirements such as registering your company with Company House.
You’ll need the right licenses and insurance before you start working to cover your business financially, legally and against any accidents or mistakes.
Some examples of insurances are:
Public liability insurance – in case of injuries caused by your work
Van/tool insurance – to protect your van/tools
Professional indemnity insurance – to protect you if clients claim the service is inadequate
Employer’s liability insurance – required if you employ at least one person
Plant and machinery (P&M) insurance – to protect your P&M
Licenses are a legal requirement to carry out certain work and for you to continue operating your business such as local authority licenses, goods vehicle operating licenses or public highway licenses for example.
How Much Can You Expect To Pay An Electrician?
As always the more experience, the more the expected salary will be. A rough guide on salary pricing is:
Newly trained electricians can earn in the region of £17,000 – £20,000
Trained with experience, electricians can earn in the region of £19,000 – £30,000
Senior or master electricians can earn in the region of £30,000 – £46,000
Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. Apprenticeships can also be a great alternative.