Opening a welding business gives you the flexibility to focus on the specific types of welding that interest you. As a business owner, you’ll call the shots on everything from who gets hired to where you work.
You’ll get to put policies and procedures in place that make sure every customer gets an excellent finished product every time. Best of all, by running your own welding business, you’ll get a piece of the revenue pie from every single project instead of just the ones you work on. Our checklist on how to start a welding business can help you start the company of your dreams.
You may want to jump right into finding a location, hiring welders, and marketing your business to potential customers. But first, you have to get organized by writing a business plan.
It’s crucial! “Most welders think business plans are a waste of time,” says David Zielinski, author of The Welding Business Owner’s Handbook. “The truth is, a business plan will give you a very good idea about how much money and time you need to establish your business.”
In the plan, follow these steps:
Your welding business must be registered with the IRS if it’s an incorporated business like a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. To register, you must first select a structure. Welding companies that start small often register as sole proprietorships or LLCs.
The advantage of the sole proprietor route is that it’s easy. You can do business under your own name or come up with a business name and file a DBA (doing business as). All the finances of the welding business (profits and losses) go on your personal tax returns. You can operate under your own Social Security number or get an employer identification number (EIN) and hire other welders. You don’t even have to file any business formation paperwork with the state. But there’s a downside: By putting everything under your personal name, you open your personal assets to liability.
For that reason, many new welding business entrepreneurs choose the LLC structure. Not only does it shield your personal assets from business-related legal action, but it also prevents the double taxation of other corporate structures (many corporations pay taxes on the same money twice; first at the corporate level, then on the personal level). The extra steps are easy — you can even file online with a business formation service — and often worth it.
Most states require that welders be licensed. Different licenses are required for various types of welding. Ensure that you and all employees are properly licensed to be welders in your chosen state. Get more information on this from the American Welding Society.
What’ll you call your business? Envision it on a business card or painted on a van. What’s memorable? What captures the exact kind of business you envision?
After you’ve come up with a few names that could be a good fit, check to see if any are already in use in your state. You don’t want to create marketplace confusion or open yourself up to a lawsuit. Plus, check if the names you want are available as website addresses (URLs) and social media handles.
Once you pick a name, register the domain name and handles on whatever social media platforms you plan to use. You can call your welding business by two different names if you set up a DBA nickname.
Name your business
Enter your desired LLC name to get started
After you register your welding business with your state, use your registration documents to open bank accounts. Don’t mix personal banking with business finances since that “pierces the corporate veil” and may erase your LLC’s liability protection.
You already know welders need to be licensed, but check with your local municipality to see if there are zoning permit requirements for your location or operation. Don’t forget liability insurance, especially since welding can be a dangerous business. Local insurance agents can help you determine what other types of insurance are best for your unique welding business.
Knowing what it costs to run your business is key. It can be helpful to break costs down into fixed, ongoing, and one-time expenses.
Cover the equipment costs you have right now, but also envision what could be coming down the pike. Maybe you don’t need all the tools they had at the shop where you previously worked. You can always buy more when the work supports the expense. Some things are necessary from day one (e.g., personal protective equipment) but others can wait.
The bulk of your business costs will come from payroll, renting space for your welding shop (or buying a truck to be mobile), and purchasing welding equipment. However, you may also have costs for an accountant, an attorney, and marketing.
Counting up the startup costs can leave you wondering whether you can afford to start your own business. Don’t panic, because we have some suggestions.
There are forms of government assistance for small business owners, both grants and loans. Grants are so helpful because, so long as you meet their requirements, you won’t have to pay them back. Loan programs can come from the Small Business Administration (SBA), or maybe it makes sense for you to get a personal loan from your bank.
What about your family and friends? Could they help fund your business, either through a loan or investment? You may be able to negotiate a better payback plan that way but keep in mind the potential relationship cost if you aren’t able to pay it back.
You may also consider using business credit cards. They’re quick, though caution is key. Have a solid payback plan so that you don’t end up with a mountain of credit card debt that crushes your small business before it really gets up and running. Finally, you can also brainstorm ways to make money on the side as a welder until your business is making enough money to be your sole gig.
The equipment you’ll need is directly determined by the type of welding business you’re opening and growing. It can cost as little as $1,000 or it may run into the millions. Consider whether you can cut costs by purchasing used equipment (though this may mean you don’t have warranty protection).
Or, you can start small and add welding supplies like a plasma cutter or a portable MIG welder as your income grows. A mobile welding business will, of course, need a vehicle. Plasma and air cutters, a fume extractor, welding and respirator helmets, and more are also on the equipment list.
There’s no business without customers, but how do you get them? If the business has a physical location, register it with Google Business Profiles. Get included in local business and telephone directories. Create business cards and share them.
Make sure you’re online as well. Create a social media strategy across all your chosen platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) that has the same look and message regardless of where you’re posting. Now isn’t the time for, “I don’t do social media.” The American Fabrication Academy says, “Social media is one of the greatest marketing tools you can use to keep your welding business busy.” Create a website and optimize it for search engines, or hire a consultant to do so.
Go to industry events and expand your network. This’ll help you find out what’s working for existing, successful business owners in your industry.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
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