What Skills are Required for Trade School Graduates to Pursue Entrepreneurship?

Trade schools are an excellent college alternative. Not only do they cost significantly less than universities, but they also equip graduates with the skills they need to pursue high-paying careers. Many trade school graduates also have the potential to run their own businesses. If you are a skilled contractor, you can increase your earning potential considerably through self-employment.

The only problem? It takes a special set of skills that not everyone has organically. In this article, we take a look at what skills are required for trade school graduates to pursue entrepreneurship.

Customer Service

It’s been routinely stated that customer service is the most important differentiator in the digital era. Back in the day, the saying went that a happy customer generally tells no one about their experience, while an irritated one will tell the next ten people they see.

The internet changes that. Thanks to Google Review and similar platforms, there is a massive audience for all of your mistakes. It’s important to know how to work with customers.

Successful entrepreneurs will:

  • • Unlock the potential of online reviews: Encourage your customers to review their experiences with you online. The more Google reviews your business has, the higher it will rank on the search engine. Obviously, the hope is to get perfect scores. When someone does write in with complaints, respond online tactfully. It may be tempting to argue with a difficult customer but no one wants to work with a business owner who comes across as difficult or volatile.
  • • Be professional in all of your communications: It’s important to put a pretty face on all of your customer interactions. Smile. Be polite. Come across as professional. This means looking presentable when you show up at their house, and clearly communicating at every step of the process.
  • • Be clear, predictable, and transparent: Trade professions have a built-in degree of volatility. You don’t know exactly how long each appointment will take. You may not even discover the scope of the issue until thirty minutes of digging around. While you can’t make any guarantees, you should make a point of communicating as effectively as possible. Provide your customers with arrival windows and stick to them. Make honest estimates and do everything possible to stick to them. Complete projects within the timeframe that you first specified. When something goes wrong with someone’s home, they feel helpless. Business owners who can eliminate the uncertainty and confusion of the process will be highly valued.

Keep in mind that most of your customers will have absolutely no idea what you offer in a professional sense. The average person doesn’t know much about electrical work, plumbing, etc. To them, the experience you provide will be the most important thing. It will mean the difference between building recommendations and repeat customers, and slipping through the cracks.

Think Sensibly About Your Pricing Structure

People will often shop around and get different quotes before settling on a contractor. Price is not the only consideration that they take into account. However, when the solution to their problem is straightforward—say a job that requires a very specific set of actions—they will typically go with the business that offers the best rate. If your brand develops a strong reputation for good customer service and excellent work, you may leverage those strengths into slightly higher rates. However, it’s always important to price your services competitively. Find out what other professionals in your community are charging and think strategically about how your prices will fit into the working ecosystem. What can you afford to charge and how attractive will those rates be for potential customers?


As businesses improve and grow, they encounter new challenges. It’s what many people will call “growing pains.” It’s a good thing, but also a challenge that very few businesses navigate without making mistakes.

Here’s the problem: you want to grow in a way that increases your revenue without negatively influencing your customer service or operating costs. In other words, how do you provide the same level of quality you always did but to more customers?

Often, this will mean bringing on new hires and expanding your internal operations. Naturally, new employees means new considerations. You’ll need to develop effective leadership skills and communicate your expectations effectively. You’ll need to balance schedules and make sure quality standards are being maintained.

It’s important to think carefully not just about what new elements you introduce to your business but also when you do it. Wait too long and it may diminish the level of service you provide. Do it too soon and it will needlessly raise your expenses.


The financial aspect of business ownership is a big barrier for many people. You need to understand how to set up an effective budget for your business and record your earnings. You also need to be able to remain compliant with tax law. You’ll find that filing as a business owner is different and more complex than filing as an individual.

While you can outsource some of your financial responsibilities (it doesn’t cost that much to hire someone to handle your year-end taxes) the day-to-day responsibilities will ultimately fall on your shoulders.

You don’t need to get a degree in finance to run a business. Instead, consider online certification programs that will equip you with a basic understanding. These are a great way to learn the ropes at an affordable rate.

Also, don’t be afraid to tap into the wider community of business owners. Many entrepreneurs are all too happy to lift their peers up in the form of friendly advice and recommendations.


We could go on and on. There are also sales, marketing, and internal management considerations that every business owner must deal with. Books can and have been written about this topic. All of the various departments of a business are, in larger corporations, managed by people with degrees dedicated to the topic area. Can you learn them independently as a small business owner?

You definitely can. Many business ownership skills will be acquired through trial and error. The basics— like setting a budget, establishing your prices, and developing a customer experience strategy, can be learned through a combination of word of mouth and independent learning resources.

By graduating from trade school, you’ve already achieved the hardest part. Take the extra steps to turn those skills into a thriving business.

Andrew Deen