Six tips for starting a trade business

Starting a trade business has many benefits; you can be your own boss and be reasonably confident of job stability, as the UK always needs skilled workers.

The demand for tradespeople in the UK is ever-growing, with the number of people Googling for a local plumber in the UK alone hitting over 400,000 searches a month.

A potential need for over 200k additional trade workers by 2025 means now could be an excellent time to consider starting your own trade business.

With several skilled trades in demand, we’ve compiled a guide of some of the most needed trades and potential earnings alongside our tips for starting a trade business.

Read our guide on the top 10 big challenges of starting a business.

Different trades and opportunities

Based on data from Ironmongery Direct, here are some of the most sought-after trades in the UK today, alongside average salaries and areas of the UK where they are in the highest demand.


The average self-employed plumber earns around £36,000 per year.

With UK Google searches for plumbers accounting for 23% of all online trade searches, plumbers are one of the most sought-after trades.

Blackpool, Lincoln, Cambridge, Bedford, and Preston are the most in-demand areas in the UK for plumbing services.


On average, qualified UK electricians earn as much as £40,000 annually.

Electricians are highly sought after and account for nearly 300,000 Google searches a month.

Electricians are most in demand in the Cardiff, Birmingham, London, Bristol, and Nottingham areas.


An experienced bricklayer can earn up to £50,000 per annum.

With a shortage of bricklayers across the UK and the government committing to build 300,000 new homes a year, the country needs thousands of additional bricklayers to meet the current demand.

Ironmongery Direct suggests that Colchester, Southport, Poole, Bedford, and Preston have the highest bricklaying demand.


Experienced carpenters can earn around £43,000 per year.

The pandemic saw many people improving their homes, and carpenters now see nearly 130,000 Google searches for their services.

Bedford, Norwich, Exeter, Cambridge, and Swansea are hotspot areas for carpentry services.


The average earning of plasterers is roughly £30,000 per year.

Nearly 150,000 Britons Google search for plasterers every month.

Plasterers are most sought-after in areas such as Bath, Ipswich, Norwich, Preston, and Exeter.


A roofer’s average salary is around £25,000 per annum.

The need for roofers in the UK sees nearly 195,000 searches a month for the trade.

Preston, Blackpool, Stockport, Chester, and York have the highest roofing service demand.

Painters and decorators

The average salary of painting and decorators is roughly £33,000 per year.

Fewer people search for the services of painters and decorators than other trades, but there are still over 17,000 searches a month for the trade.

Exeter, Luton, Ipswich, Oxford, and Norwich are the most popular areas in Britain for painting and decorating work.


Experienced gardeners can earn an average of nearly £23,000 per year.

The effects of the lockdown have resulted in many Britons renovating their gardens and homes, creating a greater demand for gardeners and resulting in nearly 165,000 searches for landscapers a month.

Essential tips for starting your trade business

If you’re considering starting your own trade business, you may be weighing up the costs of doing so, which incorporates everything from training and insurance policies to sourcing your tools or mode of transport.

Read our guide on how to protect against tool theft.

Here are some other things to consider.

1. Get the right qualifications

Being qualified in your chosen trade can be an important starting point to show potential customers you have the necessary skills to complete the job.

You can look into NVQ qualifications to obtain the essential skills in your chosen field.

NVQ qualifications are divided into five levels, with the fifth being the most skilful.

You may also want to consider joining an apprenticeship program or assisting experienced tradespeople on jobs – the more experience you have, the more skill you’ll learn that you can use to go on and start your own trade business.

Read our guide on a start-up owner’s guide to apprenticeships.

2. Choose the right business structure

Before setting up your trade business, you’ll need to establish an appropriate business structure; you can work entirely for yourself as a sole trader or decide to enter a partnership or limited company.

It’s worth taking the time to consider your options and seek independent specialist advice as your business structure affects your income, legal responsibilities, tax liabilities, and insurance.

Read our complete guide to a private limited company.

3. Ensure compliance with rules and regulations

The trade industry has a multitude of rules and regulations regarding health and safety requirements.

To avoid dangers to yourself, others, and your business, take the time to ensure you are accurately informed and qualified.

Read our guide on employment laws every UK business should know.

4. Organise your accounts

To save time and money on your new venture, it’s a good idea to create a plan to keep organised.

If you’re running your own business, the paperwork can pile up, and getting caught up in administration work is easy.

For example, recording invoices and expenses from day one is wise.

You may consider outsourcing your accounts or employing someone to manage the administration and account keeping.

Read our guide on how to outsource and grow your business.

5. Create a portfolio of work

A portfolio is a great way to validate your expertise and win new customers.

You can showcase your business through social media, showing the work you have completed and promoting your company and your skills.

Adding photos of completed jobs or showcasing before and after videos of your work allows potential customers to see your skills and build trust in your business.

Read our guides to using the following social media platforms to grow your business:

6. Ask clients to leave a review

Many tradespeople gain new business through positive word of mouth from previous satisfied customers.

A great way to build client testimonials is to ask satisfied customers to leave reviews on websites such as Rated People or Check a Trade.

Positive reviews may increase your chances of attracting new customers.

Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses include:

Plus free courses on climate and sustainability, teamwork, entrepreneurship, mental health and wellbeing.

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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