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Do you have an idea that you feel could be the basis of a successful business?
You know you are ready to be the entrepreneur that launches a startup and drives forward a dream.
You would not be alone in wanting to run a business in the UK. Almost 15% of the workforce are registered as self-employed.
Therefore, although starting a business is a bold choice, it is a path that is well trodden by others.
Before you get started there are some decisions to make and some actions to take.
Here we guide you through the process of setting up a business step by step.
Make a clear plan
Before investing too much time and money, you should sit down and write a business plan. Start by checking to see if you can legally set up a business in the UK. You should then decide on the type of company you want to set up – known as the legal structure of your business.
You may want to be a sole trader, public or private limited company, a social enterprise, or just work as a freelancer.
Before making any moves to register, make sure you do your research.
Who is your target market? How do you propose to access this market? How will you deliver your product or service? What investments will you need to make? How much do you expect to earn?
Most importantly: will the profits you make be enough to sustain your day-to-day living expenses – plus a little bit more for emergencies?
A lot of businesses are started while the sole trader is still doing a full-time job with another company. Your profits might be small, to begin with. It could just be a matter of planning for growth and a time when you can run your business full-time.
Then, choose your business name. You will need to do some checks before determining your business name.
1) Does someone else have the name? And
2) Will your name appear in a Google search?
Registering your business
For a small business or your first venture, it is likely that you will want to work as self-employed, or as a sole trader.
This is the same as being a freelancer. You merely need to register with the HMRC
to make sure you pay appropriate contributions.
Another possible choice could be a Private Limited Company (Ltd). By declaring your business as a limited company, you are saying that the company is separate from the person running it.
You will likely register yourself the director and another interested party as a shareholder. You will have to register with Companies House
as well as the HMRC.
If you don't think either of these options suits your aims, then you should seek advice, either from a legal advisor or maybe by visiting Citizens' Advice
Build the basics
You should buy the domain name for your business as soon as you have fixed on a name. Indeed, available domain names may influence the name of your company. You should then set-up a business bank account, particularly if you are creating a limited company.
If you are a sole trader or freelancer, it is not necessary to set up a business account, but you should keep clear accounts if you don’t. There are online accounting packages that can make this straightforward and help you avoid a lot of paperwork.
It is also a good idea to seek out business insurance. You are going to be entering into contracts with people that expose you to liabilities.
You are also basing your income on your ability to continue working. If anything happens that disrupts your business, you need the option to make a claim to secure your finances.
Set up your work area. If working from home remember you can claim some of your utilities against your business taxes. It is best to work in part of a room of your home rather than devoting a separate area to the business; otherwise, you may face capital gains tax.
When you start your business keep your costs as low as possible and make sure your communication is excellent.
You will not earn much money at first, but you are building an invaluable reputation.
Any testimonials or reviews are worth more money to you in the long run than initial sales of your product or service.
Focus some of your attention on promoting your business and encouraging word of mouth recommendations.