You don’t need a college degree to start a business. Countless people start successful firms in the skilled trades without earning a degree in business first. And with sky-high demand and great earning potential in the skilled trades today, there’s never been a better time to launch a trades business. Use this expert advice from Hard Hat Hunter to learn how you can break into the trades.
What experience do you need to start a business in the trades?
The skilled trades don’t require a college degree. However, the trades still require formal training for certification.
Apprenticeships are the most common path to a career in the trades. Apprenticeships involve on-the-job training under the direction of an experienced employer or sponsor. Most apprenticeships last two to five years, during which time apprentices are paid.
Apprentices also receive classroom instruction as part of their training. Training takes place through trade schools, also known as vocational training, vocational programs, or technical schools. Unlike traditional colleges and universities, trade schools focus on building career skills. Vocational programs are also shorter and more affordable than university degree programs.
Finding your niche in the trades
The skilled trades fall into four categories:
- Construction (e.g., electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters)
- Transportation (e.g., equipment technicians, service technicians, mechanics)
- Manufacturing (e.g., industrial mechanics, metal fabricators, machinists)
- Service (e.g., horticulturalists, arborists, chefs, hair stylists)
Not every trade is equally represented across Canada. Which trades are in-demand depend on the industries present in each province and which trade certifications are administered provincially. However, there are more than 50 designated Red Seal trades in Canada. Tradespeople with a Red Seal endorsement can practice their trade nationally without further certification.
Where to learn business management skills
Trade school equips apprentices with the knowledge they need to excel in their chosen trade. However, vocational programs don’t teach the various other skills necessary to run a business. These include business skills like:
- Financial management
- Time management
- Employee management
Luckily, there are places to learn these skills without paying for a degree (e.g., TD Bank’s Small Business Resource Center and government services for small businesses). Entrepreneurs can also take advantage of a wide variety of free and low-cost online business courses.
Tips and tools for managing a trade business
Trades businesses face unique challenges when it comes to management. Trade businesses may operate from several work sites at a given time, so owners need tools that let them manage their business from anywhere.
Mobile time tracking
Time-tracking apps that integrate with payroll make it possible to clock in and out, approve timesheets, and build employee schedules from job sites. On top of convenience, mobile time tracking makes it easier to keep track of billable hours resulting in more billable time for your business.
Invoicing, estimating, and scheduling
Writing up invoices and estimates on the go saves valuable back-office time, improves customer service, and shortens payment turnaround for trades businesses. Many tradespeople opt for a full-featured project management platform that includes these capabilities among others.
Digital marketing and social media
In order to build digital marketing into a busy tradesperson’s schedule, it needs to be easy. That’s where digital marketing apps come in. With the ability to compose email campaigns, manage social channels, and edit images and graphics from a mobile device, marketing apps make it convenient to maintain a web presence.
Connecting, networking, and hiring
These days, networking in the skilled trades isn’t limited to trade shows, conferences, and industry events. Hard Hat Hunter is a free online platform where trades professionals can connect with industry professionals, find safety resources and industry news, and post employment opportunities so you can build your network while building your business.
If you’re wondering what kind of business you can start without a college degree, consider the skilled trades. Through trade school, apprenticeships, and free small business resources, you can develop the skills and knowledge you need to manage a profitable trades business.
Looking for a career in the skilled trades or ready to hire for your trades business? Join Hard Hat Hunter to start building your industry connections.
Guest Author: Adam Evans