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The Self-Employed Chippy’s Checklist

The self employed carpenter life is the stuff of dreams: no angry boss breathing down your neck, just you, your tools and all the tea breaks you need.

But trying to be successful whilst making it out on your own is no easy task - there’s a lot of hard work required, and a lot to take into account.

From making sure you get the correct training, to correctly managing your money, here’s a checklist of all the things you need to consider if you’re hoping to become a self employed chippy...

Get some training (if needed)

While you may already have the skills you need to be a carpenter, it’s always a good idea to top up your qualifications. Not only will it make you look more professional, but it’ll also increase your customers confidence in you.

Carpenter courses

There are many trade specific courses out there, so do some research and you’ll be sure to find some carpenter courses that will add to your impressive list of qualifications.


If you haven’t already got any NVQ’s, it would be a good idea to get some of these nationally recognised qualifications under your belt. Being able to showcase this will surely boost your client prospects.

Experienced worker practical assessment

An experienced practical worker assessment is the right way to go for those who are more experienced. You’re expert trade skills will be professionally assessed and once you pass, you’ll have an impressive stamp of approval you can show off to your clients.


Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for anyone - not only will you be studying towards a qualification, but you’ll also be getting quality experience from working in your desired field.

Business admin & marketing courses

While you may be a bit of an expert when it comes to carpentry, it’s likely you won’t be as informed about businesses, finances, marketing etc. It’d be a good idea to take a course and learn more - with all this extra knowledge, you’ll be an unstoppable carpentry tycoon in no time!

Find business support

Going down the solo career path isn’t going to be easy, and you’re going to need all the support you can get. It’s time to to deflate that ego a bit and reach out for some help, because there’s certainly plenty out there..

Join Expert Trades

Expert Trades is a great organisation that helps take care of all the boring admin stuff for us busy tradespeople - with a community of over 16,000 members who are all there to give you a hand.

Check out business grants

When starting your solo career, you’re going to need financial help. Check out services in your local area to see if there are any grants out there that could help you out.

Forums & Facebook groups

There are many groups out there for self employed tradespeople, and they’re a great way to meet people just like you trying to make it on their own and to share tips, advice and support.

Find the right tools and workwear

Without the right gear, you’re going to struggle to make a dent in that long list of potential jobs you have in your pocket. Find some high quality gear that you know will get the job done best.


What’s a carpenter without their tools? Hint: pretty useless. Grab yourself some good tools that will help you smash through every job you get.


You’ve got the tools, now you need to make sure you look right for the part. Buy yourself some fresh new workwear. Check out our stylish, functional range of carpenter’s workwear - we can guarantee it’ll help you look the part!


If you don’t already have one, you’re going to need to get yourself a sweet new van to get you to all the jobs you’re sure to get, and also to store your tools and gear in.

Sort out legal / admin stuff

We all dread this part - but it’s got to be done. We can’t have you living outside the law. So buckle down and get it over and done with...


It’s highly unlikely you’ll get any good work if you don’t have any public liability insurance, so be sure to get yourself at least some insurance.

Get registered as self-employed

If you want to avoid spending more time arguing back and forth with HMRC when tax return time comes around instead of doing your job, it’s probably best to get registered as a self employed chippy.

Open a business bank account

If you want to take your new career as a self employed carpenter seriously, and make sure your clients see you as a pro, then it’s time to open a business bank account rather than continuing to use your personal one.

Find an accountant

Unless you pride yourself on your brilliant maths skills, it’s probably a good idea to get yourself an accountant to take care of your finances for you.

Get business cards / stationery

Take your professionalism to the next level - invest in some new stationery and business cards to proudly show off your status as a self employed chippy.

Marketing / promoting your services

Now that you’ve taken care of all the essential and boring stuff, it’s time to get your name out there and make sure people actually know you exist.

Get a website

Clients are going to want to know more about you and your services before they hire you, so it’s a good idea to get yourself a professional website to increase clients confidence in you. Expert Trades offer website design packages and can help you build and manage your website for a low price if you need an extra hand too!

Get a business email

Clients aren’t going to think very highly of you as a professional carpenter if you’re going to reply to messages and queries when you’re email address is Make sure to set up a new business email to give clients a better impression.

Create social media profiles

Creating professional business profiles on social media sites is a good way to build awareness of your services, engage with other chippy’s and find new prospective clients. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are some of the best social media sites for serious tradespeople.

Create business listings

Business directory listings are a great way to bring in more work - and will increase your visibility and rankings on search engines. So on your next coffee break, sit down and get yourself on some business listings like Yell and Yelp.


Sometimes simply meeting and engaging with other tradespeople and self employed workers will help you get your name there - talk travels fast!


There’s certainly a lot to go through and get done before hitting the road as a self employed carpenter, but once you tick your way through the list you’ll soon be enjoying your freedom - and the envious glares of all your mates.

Got any more tips for self-employed chippy’s? Drop us a message on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

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