Starting a Van-based Business
Direct Line for Business provides comprehensive public liability insurance for a range of trades and professions, from tutor to builder, from online seller to landlords and restaurant owners. They also offer van insurance which mobile businesses can use to protect their vehicles.
You might think starting a van-based business is as simple as owning a driving license, but the reality of being an entrepreneur (no matter how small or mobile your premises) means ticking a few boxes before you can get the job started.
If you’re thinking of working in removals, catering, cleaning or building, or any business which works out of a vehicle, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of the administrative and legal requirements that come with owning any small business.
It might be cheap to find an old van that’s fit for purpose, but your van is your livelihood now: you need a contingency plan if it breaks down. Take this into account when you’re calculating what you’re going to be spending in the future. After all, one of the most expensive things you’ll be purchasing on a regular basis is fuel, so sometimes it’s better to invest in a newer, more fuel-efficient van that’ll save you money in the long run and is less likely to let you down.
As well as van insurance and breakdown cover, you’ll need public liability insurance so you’ll have a safety net if any members of the public get injured in the line of your work. If you decide to take on staff, you’ll need to research employer’s liability as well.
The trickiest budget to predict when opening a mobile business is in terms of advertising; traditional methods, like putting up fliers and leaving cards on notice boards, are still valid, but increasingly most people will turn straight to the internet when they need to find a tradesman.
Setting up a site and trying to make connections with online communities is essential, and if you want something that looks slick you’ll probably have to pay a price, and you’ll need almost constant access to the internet in order to be efficient when answering questions or requests.
Sole Trader vs. Limited Company
Deciding what type of umbrella term your company will operate under has implications for not only the levels at which your income is taxed, but what happens if your company starts to stutter and stall. Once you’ve got an idea of outlay, overheads and return, talk to a financial adviser about which would work best for you.
Being a limited company generally gives you more flexibility in terms of getting loans and selling your business, and could have tax benefits for smaller companies, but it’s always worth getting sound advice before making such a big decision.
Researching the market and finding a community to discuss your plans with is essential; whether you find an online forum on which to find the best deals or handy tips, or seek out a local business owner who can act as your mentor, knowing what to expect will help you start your company on the right foot. Financial advice, from a bank or private accountant, should be your next move.
Finally, if you’re planning on leaving a 9-to-5 job in order to start this business, remember that you can always test the waters outside of business hours. It may take a while but you’ll get a better feel for market demand, and build a reputation for yourself, while still having the safety net of a regular income.