Running your own business as a sole trader is no small task and though it is associated with great freedom, any business owner will tell you how much commitment is involved. These top ten tips will help you ensure you are all ready to start and grow your business.
Understand Your Responsibilities
As a business owner it is vital that you understand what the law asks of you. Sole traders are required to carry out a range of tasks and fulfil a range of responsibilities – particularly with regard to Self-Assessment tax. Make sure that you speak to an accountant or solicitor if you are in any doubt about those responsibilities.
Even as a sole trader, you will still be obliged to register for VAT if your turnover exceeds the VAT threshold. Alternatively, some business owners choose to register voluntarily for financial reasons. Read more about VAT registration.
Insurance should be a priority for every business owner. A good business insurance policy can help protect you against some of the many risks you will face on a daily basis. Make sure that you read your policy carefully, and understand any relevant exclusions.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
Intellectual property, or IP, is a very important legal consideration for start-ups. It covers a wide array of legal ownership claims, including copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets.
Draw up a list of potential suppliers. Get estimates, then go and talk to them so you can negotiate prices, start to develop relationships and get a sense of which suppliers are reliable and trustworthy.
Business Ethics: Be Smart, Be Honest
Never assume you can “get away” with breaking the law. Strive, in all your business practices to know and obey the law. If you are sued, you will be glad you did not cut legal corners.
Create A Professional Legal Website
Small businesses will now have it easier to tap into the international marketplace due to increased support from UK Export Finance.
Free Legal Advice
You could also approach centres such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or local start up groups. Many of these organisations host networking events which provide great opportunities to meet business owners who have had similar experiences, so are well placed to pass on their words of wisdom. Finally, a number of these centres, and indeed law firms themselves, run drop in clinics where owners can have one-on-one sessions with lawyers. Be sure to take advantage of these where possible.
Negotiate Your Lease If You Have One
Rent free periods can be given when occupying a multi-year lease. A cap on service charges can also be arranged with effective negotiation.
Location, Location, Location
Your office could be at home or on the high street, but additional things that would be useful for you to investigate are:
- Checking house deeds for restrictive covenants if you want to work from home,
- Finding out how much your business rates would be, as these apply even if you work from home, and
- Find out the cost of insurance (separate to PI insurance) that covers clients or employees visiting you