For the past 15 years I have worked as an independent window cleaner.
It’s given me all the flexibility I’ve needed to raise my son and get him through school – never missing a sports day or parents’ evening, which I’m very grateful for.
But now his schooling is coming to an end and his needs are changing, I’m starting to think it’s time for a change. As we all know, a change is as good as a rest sometimes.
My previous career was in scaffolding, which I followed for about 11 years. I think the time has come to maybe start my own business again in this industry.
The demand for such a business seems to be growing rapidly and health and safety is at the forefront of the construction industry.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated on setting up and running a limited company as I have only ever operated as a sole trader and don’t want to jump into it ‘blindly’ and make basic mistakes that can be avoided with the correct guidance.
I want to change my career now that my son is older – how do I set up a limited company? Dave Fishwick answers
Dave Fishwick, This Is Money’s Business Doctor replies: I think it’s great that you’ve been able to spend time with your family and get the right work-life balance.
Remember, you can sell all your time for money, but you can’t buy any of it back at any price! So I feel it’s important to use your time wisely and enjoy sports days, birthdays and special events that can never be gotten back.
Being self-employed allows you to work the hours you choose, but it’s being a sole trader and just working alone with very little overhead that has given you control over your time and your life.
If you can do the hours you choose and make enough money to cover all your expenses and a little more, that’s a great position to be in.
Running a more substantial business with staff and premises becomes much more difficult, especially if you are trying to achieve the work-life balance that you have now.
With the added costs of equipment, vehicles, the day-to-day management of a more substantial business including quotations, invoicing, accounts, health and safety aspects and insurance, there will be much more demand on your time.
It may take you years and lots of skilled, reliable employees to get back to the leisure you currently enjoy, so it’s worth considering whether you want to spend more of your time at work.
Of course, there will also be benefits and hopefully you will earn more, so if you are keen to take on the challenges, go for it.
There may be some turbulence in the construction industry and the economy as a whole over the next few years. Even so, your scaffolding business should be fairly protected against it with the huge custom from all the new houses and commercial buildings currently being built in Lancashire.
Especially as you mention, the increasing safety regulation in the construction industry.
I remember when I was 16 years old and I was working for Frank Byrne Builders, I was dangled down the side of a building on an old rope to repair a chimney stack.
The rope used was a frayed old one used to tie the ladders to the back of the truck (This is absolutely correct!).
Firstly, I welcome the new regulation where more scaffolding will be required for safety reasons, which will no doubt help your new business.
Regardless of whether you choose to set up a limited company or not, it should not make a big difference to the day-to-day running of the company.
Limited could be the right option for your business, although it is not always clear cut. While limited companies remain relatively cheap and straightforward to set up, they can offer increased liability protection and some potential tax and cash flow advantages, particularly if long-term growth is the goal rather than short-term returns, recent Budget changes to corporation tax and dividend rules mean a limited company may not necessarily be the right choice choice for a start-up company.
A limited liability company is more expensive to run than a sole proprietorship, with more rules to comply with. Keeping things simple at first is often the best way forward.
One of the biggest advantages of being limited is that the company’s finances will be separate from your finances, so should the business fail, owe money or be subject to lawsuits, your home and personal savings are not at risk as they are. if you are a sole trader.
Of course, you still need public and employers’ liability insurance and can still be held personally liable for violations of laws and regulations. I recommend calculating your expected earnings based on the size of the business you plan to start and running through the specific benefits and costs of both options with a qualified accountant.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to go limited right away; you can always start as a sole proprietorship initially and establish a limited liability company as your income grows.
I like that you have worked in the scaffolding industry before and you will understand many of the challenges you may face.
You are already independent and have proven that you have the necessary discipline to work for yourself. I think you will have a good time.
Almost anything you do in business that is meaningful will usually involve growing in size and taking on more staff and more responsibility, but I really think it’s worth it!
Keep going and good luck!
Ask Dave Fishwick a question about business or career advice
Self-made millionaire and entrepreneur Dave Fishwick is our new columnist answering your business and career questions.
Dave has a hugely successful minibus and vehicle business based in Lancashire and rose to fame with his BAFTA-winning TV series, Bank of Dave, which saw him take on the big banks.
He is ready to answer your questions, whether you own a business, are considering starting one, or have general career questions.
In his spare time, he enjoys lecturing to inspire people to be the best they can be.
A Netflix movie about Bank of Dave is set to air at the end of the year/early 2023, and he’s been friends with This is Money for the past decade. He now wants to impart some of his wisdom and advice to our readers.
If you would like to ask Dave a question please email him at email@example.com
Dave will do his best to respond to your message in an upcoming column, but he will not be able to respond to everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his response constitutes regulated financial advice. Posted questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.
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