For the past 15 years I have been working as an independent window cleaner.
It has given me all the flexibility I need to raise my son and get him through school – I never miss a sports day or parents’ evening, which I am very thankful for.
But with his school days coming to an end and his needs changing, I’m starting to think it’s time for a change. As we all know, sometimes a change is as good as rest.
My previous career was in scaffolding which I followed for about 11 years. I think the time has come to maybe start your own business again in this industry.
The demand for such a business seems to be growing rapidly with health and safety at the forefront of the construction industry.
Any advice on how to set up and run a limited liability company would be greatly appreciated as I have only worked as a sole trader and would not want to jump in ‘blindly’ and make fundamental mistakes that can be avoided with proper guidance.
I want to change my career now that my son is older – how do I set up a limited company? Dave Fishwick replies
Dave Fishwick, This Is Money’s company doctor, replies: I love that you were able to spend time with your family and find 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 think it’s essential to use your time wisely and enjoy sports days, birthdays and special events that can never come back.
Self-employment allows you to work the hours you choose, but being a sole proprietorship and just working alone with very little overhead gives you control over your time and your life.
If you can put in your chosen hours and earn enough money to cover all of your expenses and a little more then that’s a great position to be in.
Running a larger company with staff and premises is going to be much more difficult, especially if you’re trying to achieve the work-life balance you have now.
With the added cost of equipment, vehicles, day-to-day management of a larger company, including quotes, invoicing, bills, health and safety aspects and insurance, much more will be demanded of your time.
It can take years and a lot of skilled, reliable staff to get back to the leisure time you currently enjoy, so it’s worth considering whether you want to spend more of your time at work.
Of course there are benefits too, and hopefully you earn more, so if you want to take on the challenge, go for it.
There may be some turbulence in the construction industry and the economy as a whole in the coming years. Yet your scaffolding company should be quite sheltered from it with the huge habit of all new homes and commercial buildings currently being built in Lancashire.
Especially as you mention, the increasing safety regulations in the construction industry.
I remember when I was 16 years old, working for Frank Byrne Builders, I was slung on an old rope down the side of a building to fix a chimney.
The rope used was a frayed old rope used to tie the ladders to the back of the truck (this is absolutely true!).
For example, I welcome the new regulation, where more scaffolding will be required for safety, which will undoubtedly help your new company.
Whether you choose to form a limited liability company or not, it shouldn’t matter much for day-to-day business.
Limited may be the right option for your business, although it’s not always obvious. While limited liability companies remain relatively inexpensive and easy to incorporate, they can offer greater liability protection and a number of potential tax and cash flow benefits, especially if the goal is long-term growth rather than short-term returns, recent budget changes to corporate tax and dividend rules mean that a limited liability company is not necessarily the right choice for a start-up business.
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 to move forward.
One of the main benefits of being limited is that the company’s finances are separate from your finances, so if the company goes bankrupt, owes money or is subject to legal action, your home and personal savings are not at risk as they are if you have a sole proprietorship.
Of course, you will still need public and employer liability insurance and you may still be held personally liable for breaking laws and regulations. I recommend calculating your projected income based on the size of the business you plan to start and reviewing 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 form a limited liability company as your income grows.
I like that you have worked in the scaffolding industry in the past and you will understand many of the challenges you may face.
You are already self-employed and have proven that you have the discipline to work for yourself. I think you’re fine.
Most anything you do in business that makes sense usually involves growing in size and getting more staff and more responsibility. But I honestly think it’s worth it!
Put it on, and good luck!
Ask Dave Fishwick a business or career advice question
Self-made millionaire and entrepreneur Dave Fishwick is our new columnist answering your questions about business and careers.
Dave runs a hugely successful minibus and car business in Lancashire and rose to fame with his BAFTA winning television series Bank of Dave, pitting him against the big banks.
He’s ready to answer any questions you may have, whether you own a business, are considering starting one, or have general career questions.
In his spare time he likes to give lectures to inspire people to get the best out of themselves.
A Netflix movie about Bank of Dave will air late this year/early 2023 and he has been a friend of This is Money for ten years. He now wishes to impart some of his wisdom and advice to our readers.
If you would like to ask Dave a question please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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