October 31, 2022
If you’re thinking of starting an electrician business, you’ll likely be thinking in terms of how much you can earn, and how best you can put your expertise to use and grab hold of your market share. And that’s a significant part of the necessary thought process, but it’s also worth considering how much extra responsibility you’ll have, how you’ll get funding to cover the initial overheads, and then where you’ll be looking for your first customers.
We’ve got a rough guide to all of these things coming up, and some great suggestions on how you can design a business plan that will not only help you appeal to investors but teach you about your new business and its role in the market. First off, let’s take a look at some of the most appealing and somewhat less appealing aspects of starting your own electrical business.
Some of the Pros and Cons of Starting an Electrician Business
There’s a rapidly-growing reliance on smart and digital tech, as well as plans all over the country to build new properties as populations increase. California alone vows to put up 2.5 million homes by 2030 and this leaves plenty of openings for electricians to start businesses.
Not only that, the shortage of electrical talent means that for the right person, now might be the perfect time to get involved.
Running your own business also gives you a lot of independence from bosses, control over the vision and scope of the company, and ultimately a lot fewer people to answer to than working for one. These perks are a major draw for most people, not to mention the amount of money that can come into your pocket if you do the job well.
But there are some drawbacks too, mostly in the form of the responsibility you’ll have to take on. First off, it’s hard work. You’ll have to do all of your regular duties while managing the development of the business too. Then, you’re going to be on the hook for whatever comes your way. Didn’t make any money last month? Too bad! You’ve still got to pay your staff.
Further, the shortage of talent that may work to your advantage could potentially cause you trouble when it comes to hiring other techs for your team. There’s a lot to think about, and this level of responsibility isn’t for everyone but if this doesn’t put you off in the slightest, let’s take a look at where you can go from here.
Starting an Electrical Business: Roles and Responsibilities
First of all, you should know what running an electrical business looks like. The world of electrical engineering is vast and diverse, so you could be designing any number of things if you head down that route. Or, if you’re planning to work as an electrician, you’ll be primarily responsible for installing and maintaining electronic devices or components.
Your path will of course depend on your experience and your specific skill set. If you specialize, you’ll likely get a boost to your salary, so keep that in mind as something to consider before starting an electrician business.
Typically, a self-employed electrician might earn between $45k and $60k, but this is all after the company gets started, and if you’re looking at how to start an electrical business, you’ll need to remember that there will be plenty of admin before that.
Small business owners are responsible for the entirety of their business needs. These responsibilities include:
- Planning the direction of the company
- Arranging the financing and accounts
- Making sure you’re compliant and legal
- Customer service
And there are plenty more moving parts that need to become competencies before you’ll be bringing in the big money. So, where’s a good place to start? Let’s go over a step-by-step process for you to get acquainted with.
How to Start an Electrical Business: Step-by-Step
We’re going to break down some of the most important steps in detail, but it’s worth mentioning that if you’re not qualified yet, this will have to be your starting point. If this is a long-term goal, and you’re just starting out in the field, consider that it will take some years to get up to speed in the industry and gather the relevant experience.
Check your state requirements for electrical qualifications and work towards those, whether you’re starting as an apprentice, or doing your qualifications in an academic setting. To even qualify for a license in some states may take you 8000 hours of experience, and perhaps 1000 hours of education, so keep this in mind – you won’t be able to jump the gun on these.
The next step is to get some experience. If you set up your company before you’ve been around the block a few times, you’re going to be met with a very steep learning curve. Strongly consider working as an employee for a few years at least, to get a feel for how things work.
The next level from employee is self-employed, but this isn’t the end of the journey either; consider being self-employed before starting a larger company. Sole traders are different from limited companies in that a sole trader is legally and financially responsible for their company, while a limited company can go into debt without jeopardizing the personal funds of the owner.
If you’re already qualified in this way, it’s time to get started.
Write up your Business Plan
This is the most important part of your early and ongoing company setup. A good business plan will carry you through funding cycles, marketing strategies, and more. Further, it’ll help you conceptualize your ideas and put them into realistic, attainable plans.
Here’s how it’s commonly laid out:
- Executive Summary – this is the first page summary of the document.
- Market analysis – The second page goes into your competition and your ideal customers, and what issues they’re looking to have fixed.
- Your company – On the next page is an introduction to your company and how you’re going t address these issues.
- Company Organization – This is where you’ll itemize your key players and lay out the way the company will be run.
- Products and Services - Another itemized list; this time with your products and services, alongside how much you’ll be charging for each.
- Marketing Strategies – These will relate to your market analysis and demonstrate an understanding of how you’ll get out there and find your market share.
- Financial plan – You’ll want to take your most important financial documents and use them to project the financial future of your company on this page.
The data you gather and display in this document need to be accurate. This is a very short summary of a complex and detailed document that may take months to complete, so it’s important that you’re doing good research. Once you’ve got a strong business plan, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Source your Funding
There are a number of ways you can go with this. If you’ve got some backing in the bank already, you might be able to scrape by with your own funds and bootstrap your business. If you’re going big, or you have nothing saved up, you’re going to want to look into loans or investments.
Loans are a great way to get large sums of money quickly but come with plenty of necessary diligence beforehand, and they will need to be paid back regardless of whether or not you choose to continue your venture.
Investment comes at a loss to your equity share, but may include some expertise, and lets you off the hook, financially, if you go under. This means that you’ll maybe be able to get valuable industry insights from investors that you wouldn’t receive from a banker, at the cost of some control over the direction of your company.
Whichever source of funding you’re going to choose, you’ll need some well-executed financial projections to present. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve done a good job with your business plan, as you should have accurate and realistic data to draw upon.
With these data points, our Specialty subcontractor financial projection template can forecast the effect of your decisions before you make them, and build up a professional-looking set of financial projections to show to capital providers.
These customizable templates are designed with investors in mind, provide projections five years ahead, and come with support included, so they can make a great addition to your business plan.
Get Registered and Insured
Now you can register your company. You’ll have decided on whether the sole trader or limited company is a better option, but either way, it’s time to make it official. Register a name and get all your state and federal documentation in order.
You’ll need to be insured against a whole range of things as an electrical company. Accidents happen, and when electricity is involved – as you’ll be aware – the outcomes can be very serious. As a business owner, you will need to make sure everyone who works under you is covered, and that the business itself has the relevant insurance too.
Consider whether your tools need to be insured, as they can be expensive to replace if stolen or lost.
Find your suppliers
If you haven’t done this already, now’s the time to start forming relationships with suppliers. You might have a network that can help you with this, otherwise, shop around and make sure you’re working with reliable people.
Your supplier’s mistakes will become yours when they’re passed on by you to your customers, so it’s a good idea to spend time on this step before going out there. Agree on the deals you’ll make; e.g., will you have a credit line with your suppliers? In the early days, this can be a great way to protect you from parting with money before you’ve been paid for the job.
Buy your equipment
If you don’t have a full kit yet, you’ll have to budget for that. You’ll also be covering the cost of any tools your staff needs, so again, get them insured. Before you go out and spend all your budget on a full set, consider what you’ll need in the immediate future and see if you can build up your collection over time.
If you put a bit of thought into this step, you might be able to save money in the long run. Upgrading your old sets can come at a reduced cost if you can hand them down to your staff or sell them for a decent price second-hand.
Build your brand
You could probably have been getting on with this around the time you were working on your business model, but if not, it’s not too late. You’ll want to have logos, color schemes, and anything that you associate with your brand set up in a way that it’s consistent across all channels.
Then, you’ll be working on brand awareness, so getting out and networking, joining online groups, etc., and getting your name out there. One of the best ways to get noticed is to contribute to online groups with educational materials. Spread your expertise and get recognized as an expert in the field.
Now you’ll want to push a little harder. You should have your strategy ready from your market analysis, so begin putting it into play here. Make sure you know who your ideal customers are and where to find them. Then tailor your content to their needs and draw them in.
In the very early days, your sales funnel and marketing strategy doesn’t have to be a detailed, scientific method; just be as informed as you can be, and get ready to adapt it as you learn more about your market.
How to find Clients for an Electrician Business
So you’re all set up and you’re looking for clients, but you want to know how to draw your first customers in quickly. We’ve got a few options, some of which are faster than others, but consider them as inspiration for your approach.
Your Online Presence
This is a powerful tool that isn’t going to work its magic very quickly. However, you can start it before you begin anything else, meaning that by the time you’re ready to look for customers, you’ve already got this network set up and ready to serve you.
As we mentioned, building your online presence is about sticking to your branding and contributing something to the community. Join groups that include people in your area and answer their questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from industry giants, either. The more active you are, the more your presence will become known. Make sure you have an up-to-date website with contact details that work.
When the time is right, you’ll have a wide audience to pitch your services to, and a wealth of material available online for them to research and look into you. If you don’t have this, you’ll be missing out on a lot of engagement with your customers and will lose many in the early stages.
Trade shows and other real-world networking opportunities shouldn’t be ignored. You’ll get other perks to this approach too, such as learning more about the industry and your prospects’ needs. Just make sure the places you attend are relevant to what you’re doing.
Maintain your portfolio
Your LinkedIn profile is a good place to showcase your skills and accomplishments. Have it attached to your online media, and print it on your business cards too. You’ll want a record of what you can do that’s available to anybody who’s looking, so keep it up to date, and include your best work.
Find referrals and offer discounts
If you’ve got your first client, you can increase your customer base rapidly by asking them to introduce you to more of them. Referrals and word of mouth are cheap and effective ways to grow your audience, so consider giving your early customers a discount for bringing you new ones.
Discounts don’t only have to be for referrals, either. If you run the figures well, you’ll be able to tell whether you can afford to drop prices early on to bring people in and undercut the competition. This gives you a chance to show off your work before you start charging full price.
Starting an electrical business doesn’t have to be daunting. It’s certainly hard work, but it isn’t necessarily difficult, once you know how and what you need to do. There’s a roughly systematic approach that carries you from conception, through the relevant qualifications, into finding and reaching out to your prospective clients, and each step can be broken down accordingly.
Keep in mind a few tips: the sooner you start building your online presence and network, the better; the more detail and accuracy you use in your financial document, the more reliable your financial projections will be; and your business plan is perhaps the single most important document you’ll need!
With all that understood, you should be well set to get started on your new business.