You’ve finished your ICA School training, or you’re about to. In no time at all, you’ll be ready to take on your first client.
Not so fast. You’ve got a lot of work to do before you set out to perform home inspections, and all of it can help determine the success of your fledgling business.
Here are 4 tips for getting off on the right foot:
#1: Devise a Business Plan
First things first. Before you buy a wardrobe of work clothes and have your business name emblazoned on a magnetic panel for your vehicle, you need a business plan. Entrepreneur says that it’s the “written description of your business’s future.” It can help if you intend to apply for a small business loan, but it’s also important for understanding your goals.
The first part is your business concept. You’ll be a home inspector, so that part of the plan is covered. But this portion also includes details such as how you intend to make your business take off and succeed. The second part deals with understanding your local market. Who are your prospective clients and how will you win them over? And the third part covers financials. Entrepreneur says you might need an account to help with that. The Small Business Association has numerous resources to help you design a complete plan.
#2: Find the Right Insurance
Before you ever take on your first client, be sure your insurance is adequate and in force. You’ll need general liability, and you’ll also need E & O or Errors and Omissions insurance. General liability is the bare minimum, and it might not cover what you think.
General liability insurance only covers issues that happen outside the scope of your inspection report. For example, if you accidentally drop a ladder off your truck and damage a client’s vehicle window. For everything else, you need E&O. This insurance protects you against issues such as an overlooked defect or a defect that you didn’t recognize and that harms the client or costs him money later.
#3: Get Your Taxes Straight
There’s nothing quite as intimidating as Uncle Sam wondering where all of his money went. It’s imperative to get your tax strategy lined out before you open for business. That way, you’ll know which tax structure you operate under, whether you’ll have to file quarterlies, whether you’ll need to pay into Social Security, and much more.
The safest bet is to hire an accountant or tax attorney, at least while you’re setting up the business. You can maintain a plan that a professional helps you set in motion. But fixing a major tax problem on April 15 is something altogether different.
#4: Create an Advertising and Marketing Plan
Your marketing and advertising strategy can make or break the best of beginnings. Do you have a logo and company name? What about a website? Do you know how you’ll advertise, or whether you advertise at all?
Marketing and advertising are how you get your name out there, and they’re how you help people remember you. Maybe you’ll use social media. And maybe you’ll print up business cards and flyers to hand out. however you approach it, devise you plan early to help you get the word out. Resources such as the National Federation of Independent Business(NFIB) help small business owners like you create a strong marketing strategy.
Some home inspectors probably start work without any formal thought about how to run a business. Those people are either very lucky, or else they run into major headaches down the road. You don’t have to rely on luck, and you can avoid many of those headaches by planning in advance.
If being self-employed is your dream, you owe it to yourself to plot the course carefully. And if you haven’t yet begun home inspection training, there’s no better time. Enroll now and build your new career from the ground up.