When you’re considering starting your own construction company, there are a lot of steps that are similar to those involved in any startup. You’ll be thinking about how to manage early costs, how you can gain clients, what your staffing needs look like, and where you’ll work from. You might piece together a marketing budget, set up a good website and social media presence, and hone in on a first big project that will serve as a foundation for your credibility. All of these steps are more or less universal among people starting businesses.
Beyond those universal steps though, each type of business has unique considerations. So in this article we want to cover some specific things you should be prepared for when you’re setting up a construction startup.
1. You’ll need permits
First and foremost, you’ll need to secure licenses and/or permits with your local government — something you’re no doubt aware of if you’ve been a leader in construction before, but which you might overlook otherwise. Whatever the case may be, it’s vital to address this need in order for your business to function legitimately. DLA Piper provides a thorough overview of the different licenses and permits that come into play for different kinds of construction in the UK, and reading through them you quickly get a sense of how complex and vital this part of setting up your business is. It’s easy to overlook the need to acquire a certain license or permission without meaning to, which is why sifting through all of this should be a priority. Though it can be a pricey step to take during the startup process, some ultimately opt to consult with lawyers just to make sure everything is in order.
2. You’ll need insurance
Many if not most startups wind up investing in one form of insurance or another. This is of particular importance in a construction company though, given that this is an industry in which accidents can occur. At the very least, it is important from the beginning to make sure that the business is adequately protected from liability for on-site accidents, and that expensive materials and/or equipment are insured as well as possible. In other lines of work, it can sometimes be okay to hold off on significant insurance. In construction, it’s something to address early on.
3. Forex might matter
While this hasn’t always been a concern for UK startups in the past, Brexit has made it more necessary to consider international exchange rates and trade issues. According to EuroNews, Brexit has already had a negative effect on UK-EU trade, resulting in (among other things) crashing British imports. This makes things more precarious for businesses that may be importing materials from abroad, and makes forex exchanges worth considering. As an article on ‘What is Forex?’ by FXCM explains, even a very small shift in the relative value of currencies can become significant when trading occurs in large amounts. And with trade relations having been complicated, these differences can be exploited to make up for losses. Suppliers may be more rigid in handling foreign transactions, angling for favorable forex rates in order to make up for lost revenue due to the broader trade issues. To some extent this is all part of the inevitable turmoil of Brexit. But any construction startup founder would do well to stay on top of exchange rates as a result, and at least ensure that said rates are not being exploited or leveraged unfairly by suppliers.
4. You need a hazard plan
We looked into ‘Construction Site Hazards’ recently, and they also make for important early consideration for anyone working on a construction startup. To some extent, this idea aligns with that of securing proper insurance for such a company. Hazards need to be considered in the assessment of work site risks. However, they should also be thought of for the purposes of advance preparation and avoidance. In short, you need a plan for how to educate employees about safety, how to protect against possible problems, and how to address problems when they do arise.
5. Technology should play a role
It’s also important to recognise in advance that technology should play a role in your construction business, and specifically in the management of work sites and active projects. This can mean a lot of different things, though most recently forward-looking construction companies have thrived specifically by embracing the IoT. As is explained in an IoT Businesses News write-up on construction, this branch of modern tech can enable you to fill a site with sensors that will monitor machine performance, track worker hours, and even send automatic alerts regarding certain hazardous conditions. A few years ago, these features were cutting-edge luxuries. But increasingly, for new construction companies, they’re becoming necessities for work site safety and project efficiency.
Once again, plenty of other standard startup considerations apply as well. But starting a construction company is its own challenge, and there are certain factors — licenses, cost issues with supply, work site safety, and so on — that need to be planned for specifically. Keep the points above in mind, and you’ll be that much closer to getting a solid construction startup off the ground.