What You Need to Get Started as a Freelance Painter-Decorator

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Freelancing is a mode of working that is once again growing in popularity, after the coronavirus pandemic exerted some downward pressure on a growing sub-industry of workers plying trade under their own steam. As someone with trade experience, you might be looking to create a painting and decorating business of your own – but what does this look like? What are some key things you need in order to get started?

Registering Your Business

Before you make any formal moves towards operating as a freelancer, you should first take steps to ensuring your operation will be legal. As a freelancer, you will typically fall under the bracket of ‘sole trader’ – an official designation that identifies lone workers running their own business, and how taxation applies to them. In order to operate your business legally, you will need to register as a sole trader with HMRC, enabling you to meet your tax obligations.

You do not necessarily need to register yourself as a sole trader before you start trading, but it can be good practice to do so in order that you do not miss any key deadlines. Your official deadline for registering your business with HMRC is the 5th October in your second tax year of trading, but registering sooner can give you less to juggle when your business is formally off the ground.

Tools of the Trade

Your next thoughts should be the tools of your trade. In order to offer a competitive decorating service, you will not only need some key items to hand, but also reliable access to trade supplies such as paint and timber. In order to be job-ready, you’ll need to invest in some evergreen pieces of equipment such as paint roller poles and plastering tools, as well as overalls and other protective items to remain safe while you work.

When it comes to supplies, you would do well to start building relationships with local and regional suppliers. Rather than starting an account with a big paint supplier, you might find a local paint recycling centre with favourable trade rates that you can build a more personal relationship with. This can go some way to ensuring your operation isn’t impacted by shortages or unexpected delays to supply.

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Of course, there is no trade business without trade. Finding those first few customers can be an extremely difficult thing to do – at least, without a robust marketing strategy with a suitable budget. A good marketing strategy for the emerging decorator would be a mix of digital and physical marketing, with an emphasis on reaching residents and businesses local to you. 

A good start would be a website, which can act as both a contact portal and a portfolio showcasing the quality of your work. You should also draw up some flyers to post around your neighbourhood, in order to directly target locals.

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