Starting up your own trade business is one of the most exciting things you will ever do, but like most exciting things, it carries a fair level of stress with it. If we’re honest, in a lot of areas of life we are looked after by other people, from our parents and teachers when we are children to the government and employers when we are adults. Just to take one basic example, when you work for someone else, you don’t really have to worry about your tax, it’s taken out of your pay packet and given to the government without you having to lift a finger. Once you start to work for yourself, that safety net suddenly disappears and there’s only one person responsible for looking after all your financial and business responsibilities, and you see them in the mirror every morning. You’re great at your trade, and love doing it, but all the unfamiliar additional responsibilities of accounting, licensing, scheduling etc can mount up until the stress really becomes an issue. Stress can cause major mental and physical health problems and distract you in your work, something you certainly don’t want as a tradie where focus, concentration and precision are essential for quality and safety. Let’s think about a few ways we can lessen the burden of stress on ourselves.
One excellent way of removing stress is to be certain that you are covered against all eventualities, be they theft of your tools, natural disasters, or public liability claims. Public liability insurance packages tailed for tradies or tradie insurance is a great way to balance cost and cover for your business.
One of the biggest stresses in anyone’s life, tradie or not, is money management. We all know that even simply trying to keep track of our personal finances can be a nightmare; once you start your own business, if you don’t keep on top of things you’re looking at a nightmare squared. One of the biggest mistakes someone starting out in business can make is to try and keep all their money in one place; it can seem like a good idea, not having to fuss with multiple accounts and remember what you’ve put where, but it can quickly run off the rails. When you come to put together your accounts, how are you going to remember if that cash withdrawal six months ago was to go out for a meal or to pay for raw materials? Did that $200 that came in a year ago come from a customer or was it from those records you sold on eBay? Get a business account and keep it completely separate from your personal finances. Once you’ve established your business account, set up another one for tax and pay into it regularly, making sure that you’ve got enough to cover your tax bill when the time comes. You should also consider an additional account for the running costs of your business; again, pay into it regularly and you won’t have problems when your insurance premium or van hire comes up for renewal.
Another massive cause of stress for tradies is the pressure to simply break even. When you’re running your own business, life can often feel like a constant stream of paying out, for materials, subcontractors, loans, every day expenses and so on. If you don’t figure out carefully where your breakeven point is and how are you going to reach it, it’s all too easy to wind up in the red at the end of the month. The best way of removing this stress is to take some time to design a proper budget that allows you to keep track of all your incomings and outgoings so there aren’t any nasty surprises when it comes to settling up day. The best way to do this is to use computer software and make sure you enter everything – and we mean everything – into your calculations. Once you’ve established how much you’re going to be paying out, you’ll know how much you need coming in in order to make a profit and can set your work schedules accordingly. Of course, you might find that it’s impossible to achieve a level of work that means you at least break even; if that’s the case, then you need to reconsider your business plan and start assessing where you can make economies in order to get your books back into that all-important black.
Most people don’t get stressed about the past: after all, good or bad, what’s done is done and you can’t do anything about it. What causes people the most stress is worrying about what might happen in the future, but one of the primary human defence mechanisms is to deal with this worry by sticking our heads in the sand and pretending it’s not going to happen. Don’t let that be you, proper planning for the future and forecasting your profits will literally pay dividends for you. Many tradies laugh at the idea of being able to provide profit predictions, saying that’s only possible for the big companies, but of course it isn’t. You know what you made in the last three months, the last six months, the last year, unless something dramatic has happened odds are that is what you will make in the future as well. Take a look at that figure, then take a look at the spreadsheet you’ve made of your outgoings, as recommended above, and see if your future income is going to be enough to cover them. If it isn’t, get working on your advertising, start submitting quotes for more jobs, get networking with friends and former colleagues to find out where new developments might be happening. Once you’ve got enough work lined up to ensure that you’ll come out of the next six months or year in profit, the relief will be tremendous.