Once you’ve got your idea sorted and worked out all your plans, you need to register a business before you can start trading. When registering as self-employed (on which there’s more here), the process you have to follow differs depending on the type of business. By ‘type of business’ we don’t mean, say, florist or butcher but rather the method of company formation you settle on.
If you’re registering as a sole trader or forming a business partnership, you may feel comfortable taking care of everything yourself; filling in a few details like your business’s name and your National Insurance number to register for self-assessment is fairly simple and, once you’ve done that, it’s just a matter of waiting for your UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference). From there onwards you’ll need to submit Self-Assessment Tax returns, which, according to that advert, ‘doesn’t have to be taxing’! In reality, you might like to hire an accountant to help you make sure everything is ship shape before you submit.
If you’re forming a limited company, there’s a little bit more to it. First of all, the process takes 48 hours and costs £15 if you do it online. Postal applications cost £40 and take 8-10 days, but you can upgrade to same day service for £100! You can’t name your company anything too similar to one that already exists in the Companies House database (or name it something offensive!) and have to provide the details of directors and shareholders.
Because there are more things to think about when setting up a limited company, some people choose to use an agent to guide them through the process. But be careful! There are plenty of fraudsters out there who claim to be able to set up companies but aren’t recognised by Companies House. Fortunately, Companies House list agents who have passed their tests and are qualified to submit electronic incorporations on their website.
Such agents will often provide customers with a bundle, commonly offering things like web hosting, business bank account creation, secretarial services etc alongside company formations to make their services appear more attractive.
It’s not as difficult as many people think to register a business; there’s very little paperwork involved, you can hire an agent to help you and there are plenty of step by step guides online. So if you’ve been putting incorporating off, hopefully this has given you the nudge you needed to get you back into gear!