Some people have an entrepreneurial mind from a young age – selling lemonade in the summers, early mornings on a newspaper route – and going into business as an adult seems like a no-brainer. But whatever the business, stats show many will fail within the first few years, because running a company is about far more than just being good at something. When starting a company as a ticketed electrician, here are eight things to do to find success.

  1. Get experience

Successful electrical businesses are typically run by people with years of on-the-job electrical experience under their toolbelt already. Without a solid practical foundation, you’ll be up against competition that is well-grounded already. According to stats, the younger you are, the more likely your business will fail within five years, so don’t underestimate working in the industry for a while before branching out.

2. Choose your market

The province you operate in may have varying certifications required for electrical services companies. You’ll need to know if your background makes the grade. Once you know the geography of where you plan to work and you’ve got your skills in check, then you’ll need to pick your niche.

3. Master your trade

Being “all the things for all the clients” is a sure-fire way to fizzle out, and fast. Instead, choose your niche wisely. Maybe you want to specialize in new builds. Or maybe you want to upgrade old spaces so they’re safe and modern. Perhaps you’re keen to get commercial or government contracts. Focusing on one area will help you find success faster. Better yet, pick a niche where you’ve got some contacts when you’re starting out.

4. Make a shopping list

Once you know what your financial resources entail, figure out what you’ll need to spend money on. From tools and vehicles to marketing and dues for trades organizations, there are all sorts of costs associated with going into business. Having a “cross that bridge when we get to it” perspective on your business needs is why so many companies fail. Know what you need and plan for it.

5. Count your money

The leading reason businesses close quickly is because the owners underestimate the costs and needs of a business. After starting the business, you’ll need enough money left over to cover all incidentals, including your own living expenses, for at least six months. Do you have the resources available for a long dry spell or a run of bad luck

6. Tackle the paperwork

Business plans aren’t just for banks – they’re so you know where you need to go, how to get there, and whether you can afford the challenges that lie ahead. Other paperwork you’ll need include permits, equipment insurance, and all kinds of liability coverage, including employer’s liability, product liability and public liability. What else you need depends on your niche and specialities. You might be able to land grants and other government assistance, so talk to people at organizations like Work BC, Small Business BC, and Community Futures to see what resources may be available to you.

7. Have a marketing plan

People can’t hire you if they don’t know about you. Learn about social media, networking, and traditional advertising opportunities to get the word out.

8. Find and grow talent

The reality of the electrical trades is only about 20% of training happens in school, 80% of a junior electrician’s training comes on the job as an apprentice. As an employer, hiring apprentices is a brilliant way to keep your labour costs low while giving you the chance to make sure they’re learning the tricks of your trade. If your work involves specific skills, hiring apprentices means they learn your skills early in their career and you won’t need to correct techniques learned on other job sites. If they do well, you can keep them on once they’re ticketed

But That’s Just the Start

Running a business is hard work, and being the boss means that, when other people drop the ball, you must recover it and still make big plays. The good news is, the success rate for new businesses has improved by over 30% in recent decades, thanks to the abundance of resources and ease of finding information in the modern era. For the electrical trades, the future is bright, since green and clean energy mean more and more business opportunities are expected in the coming decades.

If you want to start your career in electrical and maybe one day become your own boss, start with the EJTC’s Entry Level Trades Training course.