Starting a business

Starting a business

Thinking about starting a business? Talent, hard work, and a solid business plan should serve you well. But you may also need legal advice. For example, perhaps you need help protecting intellectual property, structuring your business or researching applicable regulatory requirements. Browse the links below to find information on these topics, as well as tips on the day-to-day reality of starting a business, employment law issues, and much more.

Legal Status of Private Enterprises with Employees (%) New
Legal Status of Private Enterprises with Employees (%) New
Source: Department of Business, Innovation & Skills

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ico4Frequently asked questions

  • What legal structure should I use for my business?

    There are a variety of legal structures available for your business, ranging from sole trader to partnership, limited company or PLC. The question as to what is right for you will depend on a number of factors, including the type of business, tax planning issues, and how the owners of and workers in the business are to be remunerated.

  • Do I need to register for VAT?

    You will need to register for VAT if you expect your turnover to exceed £70,000 during the next month or once your turnover exceeds £70,000 in a 12-month period. You may also want to register for VAT even though your sales do not exceed the threshold. For example, if a significant part of your sales are "zero-rated" or "reduced rate" for VAT purposes, then if you register for VAT you may be able to claim a refund of some or all of the VAT you pay on inputs.

  • What insurance should a small business carry?

    If your business has employees, it is required to have employer liability insurance. In addition, many businesses also carry public liability insurance -- since most businesses, one way or another, interact with the public. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need motor insurance, product liability insurance and/or special types of risk cover such as professional indemnity insurance or performance bonds.

  • What is PAYE? Do I need to worry about it?

    Employers must use the PAYE ('pay as you earn') system to deduct taxes from their employees' earnings and remit them to HMRC. Nearly all businesses are required to make such deductions. You are also required to pay a separate employer's National Insurance contribution. The amounts that you are required to deduct depend on each individual employee's tax coding. Many businesses choose to out-source their payroll accounting, but some do their own. For people who run small businesses and want to handle their own payroll, HMRC offers free assistance.

  • Do I need to worry about health and safety regulations?

    Yes, all businesses need to prioritise health and safety. If your business is labour-intensive, and especially if it involves physical labour and/or transportation services, it will likely present a range of health and safety issues and may be subject to inspections to ensure regulatory compliance. You will need to determine how you will ensure compliance, and how much it will cost the business to do so.

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