It’s always best to seek professional advice before you start, to make sure everything is set up correctly, so please call us if you’d like a chat.
Here are some of the things we touch on with our clients prior to start up:
- Business viability– You do not need to prepare elaborate cash forecasts and business plans to start a business, but you will need these if you are looking to raise finance. If you are in doubt whether your idea has potential to become profitable, we can prepare business plans and do market research for you. We can also help you establish costs and price your work appropriately to cover overheads.
- Company name – before making a final decision on a name you should check:
- There are no companies with very similar names already registered at Companies House
- There are no trademarks or names protected – check with the Intellectual Property Office
- The name does not contain any sensitive words – some words are not allowed under UK law. These include “Royal” “Queen” and “British”, but some are not so obvious. Some more examples can be seen here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/3140/schedule/1/made but do seek advice if in doubt
- Domain names – ensure you can purchase a website address relevant to your name – the most obvious ones would end in either a .co.uk or .com extension. Many domain sites such as lcn.con allow you to check availability.
- Format – there are a number of options including a limited company, sole trader, partnership or LLP. There are pros and cons for all of these formats, so we always recommend talking to us before proceeding. Most people set up a company as soon as they have decided a business name. Though it is very easy to set up a company, there are considerable running costs and admin duties involved, so make sure you know incorporation is the right way forward for you and your business.
- HMRC registration – make sure you have registered with HMRC so you can access and submit records digitally. You may also need to register for VAT, especially if you know you are going to exceed the threshold during the tax year, don’t wait until it is too late. If you are planning to employ staff you will also need to register for PAYE, and ensure you comply with national minimum wage and health and safety regulations.
- Additional legal aspects – businesses in certain sectors will require additional licences, such as a music licence if you are playing any kind of music, a food licence if you plan to sell food, or a street trader licence if you are planning to run a market stall.
If you are entering into franchise agreements or negotiating contracts with suppliers and customers, we can review these to check your interests are safeguarded. We also conduct IR35 contract reviews.
- Bank account – Your business bank account must be separate from your personal one. You need to make sure you pay all business expenses from your business account rather than from a personal account. This makes accounting easier and organised. Similarly, the purchase of business assets, plant and machinery like laptops, vans etc, should be in the name of the business if you wish to claim capital allowances.
- Intellectual property – it’s worth considering trademarking your business name, and possibly logo, plus patenting any product designs – this requires specialist knowledge.
- Insurance – ensure you have all the necessary insurance in place before you begin trading. This may include professional indemnity, public liability, employer liability, buildings and contents insurance.
- Business stationery – if you are running a limited company you are required to show the registered office number and address on your website, letterhead, email signature and invoicing.
- Record keeping and accounting – you will need to set up a system for storing receipts and invoices, and for maintaining your accounts. We always recommend this is done at the very beginning of a business – this gets you into good habits from the start.
- Tax planning – a number of tax reliefs are available to businesses, for example capital allowances, VAT re-claim, research and development tax relief and rollover relief. We can help you plan and make a claim for them.
Dependent on the nature of your business, there are other considerations such as business premises, EU and other specific legislation.
We will be exploring some of these areas in more detail on the blog in the coming months.
If you would like help or advice on setting up your business, please contact us on 01256 406 601.