How to set up as self-employed
If you’re setting up as self-employed in the UK, we can help you get started – from weighing the pros and cons of going solo to understanding your responsibilities once you’re up and running. In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of self-employment and address some of the common concerns you may have if you’re starting a business on your own.
How do I set up as self employed - and is it right for me?
There are many good reasons to choose self-employment. Primarily, going solo gives you the freedom to be your own boss and affords you the flexibility to work the hours you like. You’re able to juggle several different projects at once (or none, if you fancy a holiday) plus you have the potential to earn more money: day rates for self-employed professionals, consultants and freelancers tend to be higher than salaries. On top, there is tax relief available from HMRC on self-employment travel costs, entertaining clients – and even on utility bills (if you work from home).
It’s also fair to say running a business comes with its own unique challenges. There are many things to think about: managing the finances, paying taxes, completing your Self Assessment return, legal compliance, VAT, insurance – to name just a few. You’ll also need to think about how you set up. There are pros and cons to being a sole trader, but it’s undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to structure your business when you’re starting out. Some of the different options you have are here.
How to set up and register as self-employed
To help you register, you can use the Amaiz ‘how to set up as self-employed checklist’. This free guide to registering includes a list of everything you need to make sure your business is ready for the taxman. Just head over to the gov.uk website using the following link with your guide.
Once your business becomes more established and develops, you may decide to form a limited company. You can read about the differences between setting up as a sole trader or a limited company here.
You’ll also find useful guidance on what to look out for when you set up your own business here.
Naming your company
When starting up a new business, you should really give it a name. Most small businesses start off trading as a sole trader or partnership. Sole traders are not required to give a business name (just their own) but it can be more professional and appealing to customers if you do.
Bank accounts for sole trader businesses
You don’t have to open a separate business account if you’re a sole trader, but there are several advantages to keeping your personal and business banking apart. When it comes to doing your Self Assessment tax return it’s much easier to gather your expenses and identify your precise income, if you choose a business bank.
An Amaiz account is specially designed to suit self-employed workers and small businesses. Much more than just a business bank account, it includes an Accountancy Expert Service, in-app customer invoices, instant payment notifications, cash flow tools, expense breakdowns, and 24/7 support. Plus it’s really quick to set up. With our banking current account, all you need is a few minutes of your time, a smartphone and your ID documents to get started. You’ll have a sort code and account number in no time.
By contrast, opening a business account with your local high street bank can be a long-drawn-out process. You’ll usually need to visit a branch in person and provide documents and details about you and your company.
Do I need small business insurance?
Some, almost certainly. Once your business is established, make sure you have the appropriate insurance to protect you against risks such as accidental damage, theft, fire and legal fees. If you employ staff, you’ll also need to carry employers’ liability insurance. The most common form of protection for sole traders is public liability insurance. Insurances will be covered in more detail in a future blog, so stay tuned!
Make sure you’re up to date with common compliance issues too, such as health & safety, licensing and data protection. Gov.uk features detailed guidance, so have a good look. This section on gov.uk allows you to check if you need a licence for a particular business type.
Should I make a business plan?
Every business should have a business plan that defines its objectives and goals, and how you will measure the achievement of those objectives. A business plan will also help you when you apply for loans from banks. You can grab a template for a business plan here where you’ll also find some very useful links to other websites.
In the early days of your business, you may have setup costs, like buying equipment for your business or renting premises. One of the main ways for your business to be successful is to try to keep costs as low as possible in this period. Look out for more on this in the coming weeks from our expert accountant, Jay.
Loans to start your business
Most small businesses start with very little capital, which may come from savings or friends and family. However, as a start-up, accessing money to start your business can be difficult. You could go to your local bank or find investors that will back your ideas and lend you money, but the chances are this will be a long and difficult process!
However, small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy and the government is encouraging these types of businesses to grow. If you’re a small business that’s been trading for less than 24 months, you can apply for a government-backed start-up loan of £500 to £25,000. Here’s a useful link that provides details on the scheme and how to apply.
Managing your cash flow
Cash is king in business. One of the most important parts of running your business is to make sure you’re managing it properly. Your business might be making a profit, but if there is very little cash in it, you run the risk of not having enough money to pay your creditors, suppliers or employees. Our handy in-app cashflow chart can help you keep track of your incomings and outgoings easily.
Further online help for business owners
The government ‘set up as self-employed help scheme’ is useful for anyone going solo in business. This website is dedicated to new UK businesses with tips and advice if you’re running a business or in the process of setting one up.
And, don’t forget you can always contact our Expert Accountant Team. They’re happy to help with general queries by email, at Amaiz Web or in the app!
The Amaiz team
And you can open a business account with all the support you need in minutes.