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How to Start a Business in the UK - The First Steps

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Now that we've covered the different types of legal structures there are for business, we can look at the first steps to actually getting something off the ground - laying the right foundations for growth


Check that you can legally start a business

You’ll need to make sure that your immigration status allows you to set up a business. Depending on your status and residency permit you may need to apply for a specific visa (we will look at this in our upcoming blog).

Write a business plan

This is not a compulsory step, but a very important one. Take the time to work on it as it will assist with your bank, setting up the legalities of your business and guide you. Most importantly it will help you determine whether your business ideas are likely to succeed and be sustainable.

You’ll need to research the market and prepare budget forecasts. You can download the business plan and cash flow forecast templates from the UK government website.

Decide on your structure

As above, you’ll need to choose the business structure that best represents the way you are going to operate. Visit our previous blog The Different Business Structures for more info.

Choose a business name and address

If you’re a sole trader, you can just use your own name if you want. You’ll need an address for registering your UK business for tax purposes and joining the company register.

Only limited companies need to register their name, though others can register as a trademark to stop anyone else from trading under the name.

If you’re setting up a limited company, you must appoint directors and a company secretary, work out your shares and shareholders, write your memorandum and articles of association, open a separate bank account, and register for corporation tax.

Register with HM Revenue and Customs

You will need to register your UK business with HMRC for tax purposes. Limited Companies need to register with Companies House.

Check any additional rules for your type of business

Depending on the nature of your UK business, there may be additional requirements, such as:

  • Licenses or permits (e.g., for selling food, playing music, or trading in the street)
  • Insurance
  • Rules to follow if you buy or sell goods abroad or store personal information

 These are some of the basic steps to follow to get you started but there is so much information available to help you make the best decisions. www.gov.org is a great resource (and our blogs of course).

If you want more in depth assistance on a monthly become a member of The Small Business Growth Club - with mentoring and monthly topics, e-books, checklists and a networking group of likeminded people going through the same successes and struggles as yourself. Our guest speakers have all had to go through the same hurdles you might find yourself trying to jump through. For more info on how to become a member visit Become a member

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