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Discuss Going self employed in 2018 ?? in the Tiling Forum area at

  1. Coop5

    Coop5 Active Member

    Hi all,

    Firstly I have to say that this forum is fantastic, with huge amounts of knowledge being shared by all.

    Now to my question, which I appreciate will not have a simple answer.

    I have been tiling and fitting bathrooms on and off for over ten years now (always my own or for friends and family)

    So is this a good time to try and get in the trade? By this I mean does the future look bright for you tilers? I have searched and read lots of posts regarding the lack of work around, but most of these posts were a good few years old.

    Has anyone recently started out on their own?

    I’m mid 30’s in a full time employment. I work unhealthy/unsocial shifts and don’t want to spend the rest of my working life like this.

    Although maybe frowned upon I do have the chance to go part time and focus on my tiling. Should this fail I can always return to full time employment. A win - win situation potentially.

    I spent a couple of years in my early 20’s plastering with my uncle which has proven to be a godsend in terms of now prepping for tiling (stud walls and dot and dab walls) I have since renovated 3 properties and I particularly enjoy tiling.

    In fact during my latest renovation my sparky explained to me that he used to work at a well known supermarket until he was in his 50’s, then he started out self employed and has never looked back.

    Any current experiences are greatly appreciated. And sorry for the lengthy post
  2. Localtiler

    Localtiler Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler JOTM Winner Top Contributor

    I say do it, you won’t know if you don’t try, but don’t try and run before you can walk, and dot market yourself as a pro without first learning what your doing and knowing how to correctly do the job. Try and find a Tiler who you can work with to learn a few things, might be a good idea. One of the tilers on here. @impish@impish made the jump from pen pusher to Tiler, maybe he can offer some words of wisdom.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Coop5

    Coop5 Active Member

    Yes too true mate.

    I completely agree with what your saying - never run before you can walk . 100%

    I look forward to some more replies and advice.

    Thanks again
  4. Adey1980

    Adey1980 Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler Top Contributor

    As @Localtiler@Localtiler said, pop into your local tile shops and ask for some tilers in your area to get some experience with?
    You could also ask the forum sponsor Uk Pro Tiling if they got any courses for starting and running your business
    • Like Like x 1
  5. macten

    macten Professional Tiler

    I took the plunge from Toxicologist to tiler/bathroom fitter many years ago and I'm finally turning more work down than taking on this past couple of years.
    I find that now I'm in my 40's coupled with the way I work it's definitely taking its toll on my body, though shift work is just as damaging I imagine.
    I had lots of savings behind me before I took the plunge as I knew it would be tough for the first few years. I did a 4 week tiling course, plumbing course and only did family, friends and stayed in my comfort zone whilst gaining experience for paying members of the public and the excellent advice from this forum.

    It's a steep learning curve as every job is different but you sound quite handy and if you are the sort that takes pride in their work, learns and implements correct practices, uses the correct materials and most importantly take as long as is needed on each job then I don't think you can fail at turning out quality work- that doesn't translate to making a living out of it though so you need a financial security blanket because you can't just expect to make good pay during those first few years (you might, but you probably won't).
    After 10 years I am finally in the position where I always have work, and better than that, I have the luxury of cherry picking the jobs I want. In the early days you will take on some real crap jobs but in hindsight they were valuable - they take you out your comfort zone (don't go too far though - a customer suffering through someones inexperience is unforgivable in my opinion) and force you to learn how to make good and give you the confidence to tackle harder, more profitable and satisfying projects.
    Good luck
    • Like Like x 6
    • Agree Agree x 3
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  6. impish

    impish Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler Top Contributor

    Preston, Lancs
    Oy! Pen pusher?!
    I was a technical sales professional I'll have you know! :p

    (I'll jump on with some sage - and possibly slightly sarcastic advice later this evening... )
    • Funny Funny x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  7. impish

    impish Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler Top Contributor

    Preston, Lancs
    I jumped in 11yrs ago with lots of diy experience and good intent. I thought it would be easy, but then I got presented with large format porcelain, underfloor heating, wetrooms, stone tiles, epoxy grout etc etc.
    In short, I reckon it took me 3 years before I started to earn my wage.
    I had to accept that I was going to be poor whilst I learnt on the job.
    Training wise, I took full advantage of BAL and Schluter's courses, as well as this particular forum.
    Best advice I can give, was given to me by pj if anyone remembers him? He's probably still in Portugal now...

    He told me that as long as you always ALWAYS turn out a great job, even if it means you make no money, then after 5yrs you will never have to look for work again.
    • Like Like x 4
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  8. Adey1980

    Adey1980 Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler Top Contributor

    @UKTT Darren@UKTT Darren
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Sean Kelly

    Sean Kelly Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler

    My story is identical to macten, but I’m a bit older!

    25 years in IT and now I have been a tiler for 10 years.

    I did a 4 week tiling course and 1 week plumbing course. I had redundancy money to fall back on too.

    Ten years on I still love tiling, it’s not just a job. I still do 11 hour days (sometimes). I have never been an 8-4 worker. This forum has really helped. Research, research, research. I’ve even been on a job and ran into an issue, I logged on to the forum via the phone and within minutes I received a resolution.

    I found that working slower gets the job done sooner. Trying to rush is a real no no as you WILL make mistakes. There is so much to learn in tiling, there are so many tools (most tillers love new toys.....I mean tools).

    Look around (especially at CTD) for trade days. Speak to the industry sales men and women, speak to other tilers. Watch Youtube videos to see how not to tile!

    Personally, I don’t advertise. I work with a couple of local builders and I get recommendations. Sometimes there are times when there is no work, but this is ok for me as I need the downtime for my body to heal from the aches and pains.

    Working for myself I see a job through to completion. I meet lots of lovely customers. I am currently working at a lovely Indian couples home and they feed me exciting and exotic foods every day. I would not want to go back to IT. Good luck, and hopefully you will still be contributing to the forum in ten years time.
    • Like Like x 7
  10. whitebeam

    whitebeam Moderator Staff Member Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler JOTM Winner

    Remember your experiance of how you got into the trade...glad it's working well for you.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. pjc

    pjc Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler

    high wycombe
    Sean what did you do in IT?

  12. pjc

    pjc Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler

    high wycombe
    Its easy I would think for some. Like Sean than say for Beam, because the area they would be working in. Due to different housing IMO.
  13. Sean Kelly

    Sean Kelly Trusted Advisor Professional Tiler

    Pete, I worked for Cable & Wireless and IBM on mainframe computers. I was in charge of a group of guys and girls supporting billing systems. We were all on call and often got called at various times of the evening/night & mornings to sort out problems with the bill production systems. I then had to look after other teams based in Warrington/Bracknell/Bletchley/London. I enjoyed it, but the management decided that an Indian firm (based in India) could run the systems far better and far cheaper than us. So we all lost our jobs. Cable and Wireless UK basically does not exist now. The management drove it into the ground and the UK government let them do it.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Tommcd

    Tommcd Active Member

    I’ve just gone self employed (since November) and I’m at the stage where I’m taking on real crap jobs that other bathroom fitters have not even quoted for. Hence this was my view on Friday (moving a toilet on ground floor with a clay soil pipe in 15 inches of concrete slab).

    I have joined all the local buy/sell groups on Facebook and at least 2/3 times a day I’ll see new posts with people asking for a tiler. Not touched any of the lead buying sites yet as haven’t needed to. Good luck mate

    • Like Like x 1
  15. Coop5

    Coop5 Active Member

    Cheers guys. Some great stories and advice. Wishing you all the very best.

    I will keep you updated
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