Tiling, like many trades, is a booming business here in the United Kingdom. It isn’t without ups and downs, and you certainly can’t start a tiling business tomorrow if you don’t have any experience at all. However, tiling is an industry with very low startup costs, which doesn’t require decades of experience to launch a successful enterprise on your own or with a partner.
Here’s a simple step-by-step you can use, regardless whether you’re already an experienced tiling wiz looking to start a business, or someone looking to enter the trade and start their own business in a few years time:
Step 1. Pay your dues first
First thing’s first folks! You have to learn how to actually install tiles, right? That is, unless you own an existing home building or improvement business and are hiring tilers to expand your operations. In that case, you’ll need able-bodied tilers to do the work, including someone with a great deal of experience to supervise your crew.
In either case, you need to understand how tiling install works from the ground up in order to run the business effectively. Most get their comeuppance by apprenticing under a tiling installer for a few years and learning the ropes (ie., meeting with potential clients, drafting estimates, sourcing materials and labour, invoicing and collecting fees, and more). Never underestimate the value of good tiling courses to get you ready for the trade either.
Step 2. Pick a business name and register with the government
There are a number of considerations to make when it comes time to register your business. Sole Traders and Business Partnerships are most popular when it comes to putting yourself on the HMRC’s radar.
If you’re just looking to run a simple tiling install business and don’t have any partners or investors to worry about, registering your business as a Sole Trader is probably your best option. Otherwise, consult the Gov.UK page for setting up your business and decide what type of business entity you need to form.
Step 3. Secure enough funds to establish and the run business for two months (at least)
This one is really simple. At this point, if you’ve served your comeuppance in the trade by taking a certified tiling installer course and/or training with a knowledgeable contractor, now you’re ready to dip your toes in and give this thing a go. You’ll need to have enough money to run your business for the foreseeable future until your first several clients pays you in full.
This will include startup funds for registration, employee wageroll, small business insurance, buying equipment, work vehicles, renting a base of operations, marketing funds, and last but not least: purchasing job materials (as you won’t likely have credit built yet with local suppliers). Lack of money can get you into real trouble when you finally get a contract signed and then find you can’t afford the materials to get it done.
Step 4. Begin networking and marketing for initial customers
There’s no real easy way to begin marketing a new tile installing business, here in the UK or elsewhere. You have to get out and grind the pavement to dust, putting your name out there everywhere you can and diligently talking to people. Put out classified ads, ask friends and neighbors if they know anyone who’s looking for a contractor, make friends with the related trades, etc.
If you find yourself out there with no customer prospects at all, one of the best tips you’ll ever hear is to look for work installing tile with a home improvement retailer who sells the supplies and subs out the install work. This is by no means your only option, but retailers will get you lots of jobs, with plenty of diversity to add to your portfolio.
Don’t forget to set up a website and start building social media profiles!
Step 5. Hire an attorney to draft your contracts
Having ironclad terms and conditions on the contracts you and your clients sign is one of the rather dirty, and sometimes expensive parts of being an SME owner in the UK. This is a task best left to professionals, not using some template you find online.
To be blunt, it’s one of those things that can leave you broke as a joke and potentially up to your neck in litigation if you don’t hire an experienced attorney to draft your terms. There’s so much to cover with contract writing, it’s just not worth trying to draft them yourself.
Starting any new business is anything but easy. However, if working for yourself and helping to provide jobs to your community is something that interests you, starting a tiling business in the UK is as simple as getting a proper education (including work experience) and then following the rest of the steps indicated on this page.