Setting up your business

What are the practical steps in setting up my business – should I be a sole trader, a limited company, a charity or something else entirely?

Limited companies and sole traders are by far the two most common legal structures for businesses. Partnerships, limited liability partnerships and social enterprises make up most of the rest. Choosing which is right for you depends on your business ambition and how you plan to operate. The resources below help you to learn to avoid common mistakes, understand the benefits and risks of different legal structures, and also consider questions such as whether you need an accountant.

Legal structures

Evaluate the pros and cons of becoming a sole trader versus a limited company, plus an introduction to other business forms

from Startups.

WHAT? An unbiased and thorough analysis of the two main types of business structure, with an overview of other legal forms. Beware of comparisons by some accountancy firms and business formation companies that have a vested interest in pushing founders to limited company status.

WHEN?  You’re planning your business and are clear on its objectives and growth ambitions and now need to choose the right structure to match

WHY?  Decisions you make now will affect your growth, ability to employ and tax


>> A helpful range of articles from Bytestart including:

Business structures overview

Advantages of a limited company

Advantages of being a sole trader

>> A short comparison article on limited companies versus sole traders from SME Web

>> Key differences between sole traders and limited companies from Caroola Accountancy

Community Interest Companies (CICs)

Get to grips with the pros and cons of operating as a Community Interest Company (CIC)

from Inform Direct

WHAT? An article outlining the pros and cons of CICs over other forms of legal and organisational structure

WHEN?  You’ve decided you want your business to have a social purpose, but aren’t sure if you want to set it up a charity or a business or something in between

WHY?  Setting up a social enterprise affords tax benefits and greater access to grant funding, but does mean profits for shareholders are sacrificed


>> Helpful CIC guide from The Guardian

GOV.UK information helpline

Don't forget that the national small business helpline is there to help answer your questions, and it's free

from GOV.UK

WHAT? The helpline is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm. It's a free service but check call charges using the link on the webpage.

WHEN?  You can't find the answer online to a key business question

WHY?  You need help or advice on setting up, incorporating or operating your business


>> Frequently Asked Questions on setting up a company from Startups.

Setting up

Explore this step-by-step guide on setting up a business

from GOV.UK

WHAT? An article with comprehensive up-to-date guidance, assistance and advice on business formation for all types of legal structure, plus information on other related licenses and regulations

WHEN?  You’ve decided to set up your business and need a comprehensive guide to everything you need to do, regardless of whether you’re intending to do it yourself

WHY?  Enables you decide on when to use a third-party such as an an accountant and gives you confidence that you’ve covered everything that’s legally expected of your new business


>> A guide on company setup from Bytestart

>> An article on ongoing responsibilities for limited companies from Startups.

>> Choosing a name from Bytestart

>> Free resources for starting your business from Start Your Own Business

Setting up a social enterprise

Follow these steps to form a CIC or Social Enterprise

from GOV.UK

WHAT? A list of requirements and process for structuring a company as a CIC, plus information on other relevant charitable legal forms

WHEN?  You want to set up a social enterprise or a trading charity

WHY?  CICs require a number of specific legal documents to be put in place at the outset


>> A comprehensive and accessible guide on CIC registration from Charity Excellence Framework

>> Q&A on setting up a CIC from The Guardian

Registration of businesses that aren't limited companies

Guidance for setting up as a Sole Trader (self-employed) or partnership

from HMRC

WHAT? Government advice and explanations on alternative business forms

WHEN?  You're starting a business and don't want to set up a limited company

WHY?  Explains how to account for business income and expenses through self-assessment


>> Guidance on setting up a partnership from HMRC

Business news

Business Insights

Spotlights on Business

Website by CRATE Places UK Ltd for London Borough of Waltham Forest

© Waltham Forest Connected 2023-24

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy

Follow us on: Facebook | Twitter / X  | Instagram