Many people dream of making the leap from being an employee to being self-employed but hesitate to do so because they are unsure of exactly how to go about becoming self-employed van drivers. Ditching a stable job and becoming self-employed is not for everyone but it can have many advantages if it is done correctly. As with all important life decisions, the decision to become self-employed is not one that should be made lightly. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the steps that you should take after you have made the decision to become a self-employed van driver.
Establishing a legal entity or business
As an employee, your employer took care of most of your tax obligations but as a self-employed person, it is your responsibility to ensure that this is done. The first step to becoming a self-employed van driver is registering your business. Although there are several different types of legal entities in the UK, the easiest and most popular option for van drivers is to register themselves as sole trader. In the UK, you can set yourself up as a sole trader online and it only takes a few minutes to do so. It is important to note that sole traders are not required to register themselves with companies house, which makes the process a whole lot easier.
Choosing a name for your business
As part of the registration process, you will have to choose a name for your company. This is the name that your company will be known by, and you will be trading using this name, so it is important to choose it carefully. Remember that many businesses also have an online presence today so it is wise to check whether a corresponding domain is free for the name that you have chosen so that you can create a website later down the line. Failing to do this can often lead to needing to use a different name for your website which can be confusing for potential customers.
Registering with HMRC
As an employed person, your employer takes care of most of your taxation related obligations. However, as a sole trader, you will be required to register for self-assessment with HMRC. This means that you will need to submit a self-assessment tax return every year and HMRC will tax the profits that you have made in accordance with this assessment. Sole traders are also required to pay contributions to the NHS, and you should remember to include this in your expense budget. The great part about being registered for self-assessment is that you can use the profits that you have made freely after having paid tax on it.
Once you have finished the registration process and received confirmation from HMRC, your business is registered and ready to go. The next step is to start trading and there is nothing as exciting as the feeling of satisfaction after taking on your very first assignment as a self-employed van driver! However, it is important to ensure that you keep up with the day-to-day administration that is required to keep a business running smoothly. As a self-employed van driver, it is easy to become so focused on transporting goods from A to B that record-keeping and other administrative tasks slip a bit. It is important to remember that these tasks are equally as important to keeping your business running smoothly.
Getting a suitable vehicle
A self-employed van driver is only as good as his or her van! As one of your most important tools, it is extremely important to have access to a reliable van. This van doesn’t necessarily have to be the best model, but it must be functional, economical and practical. Fuel will likely be one of your biggest, if not the biggest, expenses so pay particular attention to fuel economy when making your choice. You should also take things like vehicle insurance, maintenance and registration fees into consideration when choosing a van. It is also a good idea to equip your van with a drive cam so that you can record your journeys, you never know when you might need this.
Keeping meticulous records of all your business activities is the key to understanding if your business is operating healthily and profitably. Make sure that you keep track of every expense, no matter how small or trivial it may seem. One of the benefits of the modern tech-oriented world we live in today is that many digital resources are readily available to help small business owners and self-employed people manage their record-keeping tasks. Investing in a simple accounting app makes keeping records much simpler and it allows you to invoice your customers easily for any work you have done. Record keeping is not just important, it is also required. HMRC regulations require sole traders to keep records of their earnings and expenses and can ask for these records at any time.
Finding work as a self-employed van driver
Now that your business is registered and your van is ready to roll, you will need some customers. Here too, the internet plays a vital role. You can use social media and digital marketing to promote your business and make people aware of your service offering. There are also several online courier platforms that you can join as a self-employed van driver. These platforms aim to connect people who are looking for delivery drivers and couriers with self-employed van drivers and they can be a good place to find work, especially in the early stages of your business. As you build a name and reputation for yourself, your business will likely become busier and busier. Courier exchange platforms have another important advantage, they make it easier to avoid the dreaded “running empty” phenomenon which is a problem for every courier. By using these platforms to ensure that you minimise the number of kilometres that you travel without a loaded van, you can greatly increase your profits.
Aim to deliver excellent service, time after time
One of the keys to success in any business is consistently delivering great service. This is especially true when it comes to personal services and couriers are no exception. Although it is inevitable that problems with deliveries will occur due to circumstances beyond your control, you should aim to do everything that you can to keep your clients happy. Marketing and courier exchange platforms are a great way to find work but if you are looking to build relationships with customers and become their courier of choice, consistent service delivery is the key to success. While great service delivery slowly builds a business up, bad service delivery can destroy the same business in record time. You can ensure good service delivery by adopting simple rules like planning your journeys carefully to maximise speed and efficiency on every trip.
Being a self-employed van driver is a great courier option for people who are looking to become self-employed. As more and more purchases move from the high street to online service providers, the need for delivery services continues to rise. However, it is important to remember that being self-employed also comes with its own challenges and rewards and you should only embark on this journey after thorough contemplation. There are few things as rewarding as seeing your fledgling business grow and prosper and by putting in the effort to do things in the right way from day one your chances of success are that much higher.