There is always value in being your own boss – you get to choose your work hours and if you’re lucky, your salary too!

Whether you are a plumber, electrician, cabinetmaker, refrigeration expert, tiler or builder, skilled handymen are always in demand. For many, the best way to make the most of the opportunity is to open your own business.

Where does one start?

  1. The first step is to register your business with South Africa's Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Look for a catchy name that is easy to spell and memorable – you do not want customers to struggle to find you or your contact details on the internet. It is also a good idea to do a trademark search before deciding on a name. The CIPC will tell you which names are taken.
  2. Consider becoming a member of an organisation such as the National Small Business Chamber, which aims to assist small businesses in growing faster, saving money and ensuring that they receive the support they need.
  3. Register with the South African Revenue Services (SARS) and make sure that all your tax affairs are in order. It is a good idea to get a good accountant right at the early stages of the game. They can also help you set up the legislative requirements for running a business.

Register to become a member of a trade association (like Master Builders, the Institute of Plumbing or other professional bodies). Besides providing credibility, it also provides access to new customers should larger contractors need to sub-contract. Your trade association also formalises training and continuous professional development.

The more operational stuff

  1. Stay focused. For those just starting out, there might be a temptation to take any job that crosses your path. If you are an electrician with a little plumbing experience, for example, tackling a piping job could cause more trouble than it is worth. Every trade is different and you are an expert for a reason.
  2. Market yourself. You don’t necessarily need a website to start offering your services, but an online presence is always a good idea. Social media pages allow you to share a portfolio of ‘jobs well done’, so prospective customers can see what you are capable of, while your contact details are easily accessible.
  3. Business housekeeping. Stay on top of your paperwork! Make sure that you have a record of any work agreed to, done and paid for. Also, it’s not just your car which needs insurance; ensure that your business is insured – even if you’re just starting out. MiWay's Business Insurance team is serious about providing business insurance solutions tailored to your handyman business.

Finally, do not forget that every job is a potential reference and, at the very least, is your entry into that client’s network of friends or business associates. Concentrate on giving good service and actively request feedback so you can remedy any shortfalls.

Testimonials from happy clients can be added to your social media pages which will give you an even better chance of getting new customers.