Start-ups need nurturing, you need to build your confidence!
1st post in a series on starting your own business
Ok, so you’ve hit on the perfect idea, confidence is high, this idea is the one, the one to make money, maybe even lots of money!! You’ll have to work hard on your start up, build your confidence and make sacrifices, but it’s all going to be worth it. Before you get carried away, let’s have a look at some of the practicalities of starting your own business, and maybe, just in case, how you could avoid some of the pitfalls, the things that could go wrong and ruin your dream!
*Please note the links and content of this article are intended as a helpful guide and do not constitute financial or legal advice, you should always check carefully and take legal advice before entering into any contract.
Are you compliant?
Now this may seem like a very silly question, but there have been cases where some very bright entrepreneurial careers have come to a shuddering halt before they’ve even started. http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/jul/08/theo-paphitis-startups-dragons-den
If you’re starting from home, and many a large business has had small beginnings, then make sure you’re allowed, i.e. if you have a landlord, does your lease permit it, if you are likely to keep irregular hours will your neighbours be disturbed, are you likely to be keeping foodstuffs at home, this may contravene health & safety laws etc.
You should also be aware that some marketing and promotional ideas also fall foul of the law, you may inadvertently be starting a lottery or a sweepstake if you offer prizes, you may need to check that images your website designer uses are not protected by copyright, or if they are that the requisite fee has been paid.
If you hold databases of prospective or current clients you may also need to register your business with the Information Commissioner’s Office, this is the government organisation charged with looking after Data Protection. It’s really not too onerous and doesn’t cost too much, but could save you a lot of grief later in your business life.
Make sure your accountant registers your business, you’ll need to decide on your business structure, sole trader, partnership or Limited Company are the three most common forms of business entity. Once you’ve decided you’ll need to register with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) commonly known as The Taxman! Have a look at this useful article from the Guardian giving you some very worthwhile advice and tips, http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/jan/28/tax-advice-anxiety-small-businesses You may also need to register for Value Added Tax (VAT), have a look at the HMRC website for some VAT guidance https://www.gov.uk/vat-businesses but do take advice, the official HMRC website can be a bit impenetrable, see the later section on choosing an accountant.
From April 1st 2016 all taxes are payable online, so take check the official HMRC website and see how you register to pay tax online, https://www.gov.uk/log-in-register-hmrc-online-services/sign-in
- Handy tips #1
The key here is simply to check, do some web searches, organisations like the Federation of Small Business can be very helpful http://www.fsb.org.uk , also trade bodies, if it’s a retail business idea you’ve got try looking at http://www.bira.co.uk/ or http://imrg.org/ for online retailing. All sectors have got trade bodies now so consider investing in joining one of them, they can be very helpful in lots of different ways. By now you’re probably sick of me saying ask your lawyer or accountant, and before you do, follow this advice, make sure they charge you a fixed fee for setting your business up, but do remember ignorance is no defence, so don’t assume, HMRC are pretty ruthless when it comes to enforcement. The advice professionals give you will protect you should a government agency decide at a later date that you should’ve registered for VAT or you owe some tax etc. Finally or perhaps firstly, check this government website https://www.gov.uk/set-up-business-uk