Starting a company can be an exciting yet challenging endeavor as an entrepreneur. From developing a business concept, to registering a legal entity and building out your product or service offering, there are many nuances to successfully launching and running a new business in the UK in 2024.
While the advent of technologies like social media and digital communication channels have democratized business promotion and connectivity in some respects, there are still important laws, regulations and practical requirements with which you must comply to operate legally and efficiently.
Setting up the proper business structure, accounts, insurance coverage, online assets as well as marketing and hiring strategies from the get-go will help establish robust frameworks and processes to facilitate scalable growth. Clearly defining your value proposition and target audience is also essential to drive relevance in a crowded marketplace.
This comprehensive guide outlines the 10 most important steps in chronological order that aspiring entrepreneurs should consider when starting a company in the UK today. From picking an available company name to opening company banking and hiring employees further down the line, it covers planning for both short-term launch logistics as well long-term commercial viability. Careful consideration of each facet outlined here will steer you on the path to building a thriving, compliant and branded commercial enterprise.
1. Choosing a Business Structure
When starting a company in the UK, you must choose a business structure that determines things like ownership, liability, and tax treatment. The most common structures for small businesses are sole trader, partnership, limited liability partnership (LLP), and private limited company. Sole traders have unlimited personal liability, whereas incorporated structures like LLPs and limited companies provide liability protection. Limited companies require more admin but are most credible to customers.
2. Naming Your Company
Once you’ve picked a structure, you need to name your company. You’ll need to check that your desired name hasn’t already been incorporated. There are also certain words that require approval before use. You can check name availability on the Companies House website and apply to register it so no one else can use it.
3. Registering with Companies House
To legally become a company, you must register with Companies House and submit essential documents like articles of association. For limited companies, you must decide if it will be private or public. Virtually all small startups are private limited companies. Company directors also require important information to be publicly accessible. Read more about LLC registration at the link
4. Opening a Business Bank Account
A crucial early step is opening a dedicated business bank account to keep company finances organized and separate from your personal funds. Shop around to find a bank that offers suitable features for new startups like low monthly fees or free banking periods. You’ll need your formation documents and proof of trading address.
5. Getting Business Insurance
Protect against risks like property damage, theft and legal issues by getting business insurance. Common policies include public liability insurance, which covers customer injury or property damage claims, professional indemnity insurance and cyber insurance. Assess your risks to pick suitable coverage levels and excesses.
6. Complying with Tax Rules
Register with HMRC promptly so you comply with appropriate tax rules right away. You may need to register for corporation tax, PAYE schemes for employees and VAT depending on company structure and turnover amount. Appoint an accountant if you need help with biz taxes. Stay on top of record keeping and reporting deadlines.
7. Finding Office Space
While many start off working from home, you may want dedicated office space as you grow. Options like coworking spaces, shared offices and traditional lease agreements each come with pros and cons. Key considerations include costs, contract terms, facilities, location and room for expansion.
8. Hiring Employees
At some stage, you may need to hire staff to keep growing. Key legal requirements involve PAYE payroll setup, employment contracts and providing workplace pensions. You must also implement robust processes for recruitment marketing, applicant screening, interviews and onboarding procedures while ensuring equal opportunity hiring.
9. Building a Website
A company website lends legitimacy and helps you market products or services online. Consider functionality needs, then pick a suitable web host and domain name. Use intuitive website builders like WordPress or hire web developers. Optimize your site pages and content for organic search performance. Don’t forget web security and data protection compliance.
10. Marketing Your New Company
Promoting and selling your offering is essential for attracting customers. Content marketing via social media and blogging builds brand awareness. SEO improves search visibility so customers can find you. Consider both digital and traditional techniques like flyers, local events and networking. Develop data-driven digital marketing funnels tailored to your niche. Monitor key metrics and iterate approaches accordingly.
Following these key steps will help you start your company in the UK properly in 2024, from choosing a structure through to effectively promoting your brand so you can start winning clients or customers. Identify any gaps in your capabilities and don’t hesitate to seek expert help where required.