Starting Your Own Business

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                               A Compilation

Copyright ©2011 Richard Page                   Page 1 of 10

Deciding on a Company Name (High Priority}

Setting up a Company (High Priority}

Opening a Bank Account (High Priority}

Company Logo (High Priority}

Company Letterheads and Business Cards (High Priority}

Web Site (High Priority}

Legal Stuff



Register for VAT or Not

Free or Low Cost Software and Services

Keeping the Books


Raising Awareness

Office Space

Paying Yourself                           Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                         Page 2 of 10

Useful Things to Know
The following information is shared with you to help you with setting up your business. The items
are covered in a rough order in line with the steps one takes when setting up a business. Every
business is different so do not take this as a step by step guide. This is merely a sharing of
experience and ideas.

There are many things that you will need to do that are specific to your business. For example,
creating a business plan, creating a marketing plan, working out your positioning & messaging,
developing your value proposition, deciding what channels to use to distribute and sell your
products and/or services, creating a communications plan, working out your pricing methodology.
The list goes on. If you are looking for specific help with any of these then your network of existing
business contacts is a good start point.

Wherever possible hyperlinks have been included but web sites are regularly updated so over
time the likelihood is that one or two may no longer work – but you can Google them.

Deciding on a Company Name (High Priority}
Ideally the name should be memorable. Short is good. Near the top of the alphabet is good. If you
are selling yourself then consider using your name as your company name. A name that conveys
the essence of what your business does is good.

You need to check that the name is available which can be done via a Companies House search.
Then check the web domain is available with Eurodns (which allows you to check all domains and
all countries. Purchase your domain name as soon as you can.

Then choose a hosting company that is reliable and inexpensive such as Justhost or 1and1. There
are plenty around. Even if you do not put up a web site having the domain will give you an email
address with the domain as the suffix e.g.

Setting up a Company (High Priority}
Very easy. Compare offers on the web as there is a lot of competition. is but one
example. One only needs the Certificate of Incorporation, the Memorandum and Articles of
Association and Share Certificates. Everything else is a luxury e.g. company seal.

Opening a Bank Account (High Priority}
Should be easy. Shop around for the best deal. Check if you can access the company account
online. If you have a Barclays personal account you can access the company account from the
same online login. Sweet.

You need the Certificate of Incorporation, proof of who you are (passport, driving licence etc.),
proof of home address (utilities bill in last 3 months). If there are two or more Directors you need
the same for them and add signed Share Certificate.                                    Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                            Page 3 of 10

Consider additional accounts such as a savings account where you can transfer funds to and earn
interest. A savings account for ring fencing VAT and earning interest could be considered (ring
fencing VAT is a wise thing to do especially if you pay it monthly).

You also need to be aware that you will have to pay Corporation tax on your net income (revenues
minus costs) and if you want to be cautious you could set aside funds for this liability in a savings
account also. If trading with EU countries you will want to consider opening a Euro account.

If you are doing international payments (SEPA) then NatWest allow you to do it yourself online at
£5 per transfer compared to £15 using Barclays (which you do by going into the branch or through
telephone banking – and it is currently a painful experience – Barclays tell me they plan to offer an
online service in Q4 of 2011).

Barclays also have a series of Start UP guides and templates you can download. Click here to get
them without registering and being pestered to open an account.

Company Logo (High Priority}
This is a job for a graphic designer. Outsource it, unless you are blessed with a creative mind! You
need it for your business card.

Company Letterheads and Business Cards (High Priority}
Business cards should be the next purchase after your company has been set up and the web site
domain purchased. You will also need to know your mobile phone number. Think about ideas
such as including a QR code on the back of your business card.

Think if you really need to print expensive letterheads and continuation paper. One idea is to print
continuation paper that has a graphic element that bleeds to the edge of the paper (that proves it
is printed as you cannot print to the edge with a laser printer or inkjet) and then use this paper to
print the logo onto and the company letterhead details using a colour inkjet or colour laser printer.
This way you can print one batch of paper (about £64 for 1000 sheets 90gsm at Print Design) and
use it for your letterheads, invoices, credit notes, product flyers, price lists, success stories etc.
Wonderful you have saved your business many hundreds of pounds.

Web Site (High Priority}
Most businesses need a web site. This is the main window into most businesses. You should have
chosen and registered your domain name at the same time as choosing your company name.

Find yourself a web site developer who is also a graphic web designer. If you don’t know anybody
via your network you can check out some of the smaller sites you like and the name of the web
site company maybe at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, search the web. Or you could
submit a project to Freelancer this is the outsourcing service for small businesses and see who
bids. Also is another route for finding resource.

If email is one of the main ways you will be chasing business then consider developing your
website using a Content Management System (CMS) such as Umbraco, Joomla, Drupal. These                                    Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                            Page 4 of 10

CMS’s are all open source. A CMS makes all the difference as you can then integrate email
campaigns with your website and track the email and any links in it to your website.

One key thing to remember about your website is to decide why you have it and what you want it
to do for you. Most sites are there to inform prospective customers about what you are selling,
your products and services. If that is the case then give enough information to capture their
interest such that they are compelled to contact you. You do not need to tell them everything on
your website because you want to speak and connect with them as that gives you the opportunity
to engage with them over a longer time period even if they do not buy immediately.
Calls to Action are an important part of your website. Getting users to click: to download
something, to contact you, download a special offer (coupon, trial, demo etc.) is the aim of your

Legal Stuff
You must put you company name, company number and company address on your letterhead and
your web site.

You will need a ‘Privacy Statement’ for your website. You will need ‘Terms and Conditions’. These
can be; copied from others, requested from your accountant or a legal person or obtained from
your bank (Barclays throw in some legal advice as part of their small business start-up deal)

You will need to follow the Compliance with ‘Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (EC
Directive) 2003’ for emailing, direct mail etc. That means on your emails including an
‘Unsubscribe’ option. And you also need to check out the Opt-in and Opt-out rules. This all ties in
to your Privacy Statement.

If you are starting a business with a third party as a co-director then draw up a document that
details how you work together (or better still, if you can afford it) take legal advice to draw up a
document that details: how you work together, what the obligations are for each Director, who is
responsible for finances, who is responsible for sales, how the revenue will be shared, what are
acceptable expenses, what funds must be ring fenced such as VAT and Corporation Tax
obligations, what percentage of revenues will be retained in the business etc. Get it signed by all
parties and witnessed co signed.

Equally important is to define what the process is for a Director wishing to exit the relationship:
how business signed prior to leaving will be handled / shared etc.

If registered you must inform Jobseekers of any work that you undertake. That means the number
of hours you worked for your customer and the amount that you earned. In addition, it is prudent
to inform Jobseekers that you are setting up your own business and make everything transparent
to them.

The New Enterprise Allowance was introduced in April 2011. It will give Jobseeker’s Allowance
customers access to business mentoring and a financial package worth around £2,000. This
includes a weekly allowance and access to a small loan.                                  Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                           Page 5 of 10

Find an appropriate accountant. One who handles small business but an accountant dealing
primarily with trades is very different from one dealing with business to business. Don’t learn the
hard way and find you have had poor advice.

It is good to know in advance whether you should charge VAT or not.

The accountant’s time is charged at a high rate so consider using a book keeper to manage your
accounts and then you can deliver the ledger, trial VAT return, trial P&L etc. to the accountant
along with paperwork for sign off saving on the higher fees.
Register for VAT or Not
Take advice from you accountant. Remember too that for some businesses having a VAT number
is expected as a sign that you are a serious business. It may be a bind to do VAT returns every
month but small businesses can opt for the Flat Rate scheme. That means you collect VAT at going
rate (20% in 2011) but pay HMRC a flat rate. If you are doing VAT returns, then you MUST set your
payment terms to 7 days or risk severe cash flow problems. Find out why in John Onolan’s article.

If invoicing another EU country you do not charge VAT for certain types of business e.g.
management consultancy

Free or Low Cost Software and Services
Keeping costs down is an important task for a small business. Software applications can be very
expensive but there are alternatives for those running on the Microsoft Windows platform:

    1.   Office applications are available at
    2.   Skype is excellent for free video calls and voice conference calls overseas (and UK)
    3.   Dropbox is great for free file sharing and/or backup with up to 2gb storage
    4.   SyncToy is a brilliant utility from Microsoft that can be used to synchronise files for backup
    5.   7zip is a free substitute for Winzip for compressing files
    6.   MWsnap is a great screen capture utility
    7.   PDFCreator is an open source fully fledged PDF creator with security options and great
         flexibility in settings

If you have a need for designing marketing materials then you need to consider using the Apple
Macintosh platform. It is expensive. Software such as Indesign is almost an Industry standard for
designing marketing documents, adverts, etc.

Keeping the Books
Depends on your business what you do here also. If you are handling loads of invoices, credit
notes etc. then a full accounting package and service maybe the way to go. If you are a small
business with a small number of high value invoices then you could do it manually on spread
sheets. For example, if you are an Interim Manager billing once a month then a spread sheet is
probably the best way to go.

If you are a small business issuing invoices, credit notes, buying a few things etc. then consider an
online Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. They are only £5 per month                                     Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                             Page 6 of 10

for 80 transactions per month, £10 for 200 transactions per month and £15 unlimited. That’s a
maximum of £180 per year for an unlimited accounting service. My searches could not find
anything better.

Others include:

This is the strongest tool for building a business. This is a subject in its’ own right. For networking
LinkedIn should be your first port of call.

Did you know?
    1. You can personalise your name to include your business? E.g. Instead of plain ‘David
        Smith’ put in ‘ David Smith ¦PC Training Services ¦ Microsoft’ All these words are indexed
        by LinkedIn and Google and help to bring your name up in any searches.
    2. You can add Skills to your LinkedIn profile?
    3. You can embed a video in LinkedIn by creating a PowerPoint, embed the video in the
        PowerPoint and then submit it via the slide app in LinkedIn.

Other sites for networking include Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Forums etc. You could spend all
day on these so focussing on those that work for you is best.

Attending networking events is a great way of meeting business people. Search on the web to find

Raising Awareness
Much of this can be done via your networking channels. But there are other low cost ways. Google
Adwords is one. Couple this with Google Analytics code embedded in your website so you can
track whoever clicks on your Google advert.

You should also be considering running email campaigns. Yes you can email a list of contacts but to
really get maximum benefit you should be doing this using an online mailing service. These allow
you to run large email campaigns, personalise them and most important of all track what is
happening. Who has opened the email, who has deleted it, who has asked to ‘Unsubscribe’, who
has clicked a link on one of your ‘Calls to Action’ and more.

This is powerful stuff and can be used to really drive lead generation. ‘Calls to Action’ can be
download a success story or product flyer, link to a demo, access a special offer or promotion,
register for a webinar, view a video, download a trial application etc.

You can find email services online that are free for small email runs, or priced per run – there are
many options. Here are some: Campaign Monitor ($5 per campaign and 1 cent per email OR go                                     Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                              Page 7 of 10

monthly) is a great one to check out. Constant Contact and Vertical Response are a couple of
others to look at. The best, if email is the prime route for generating business then Act¦On is the
way to go but it costs around £500 pm.

YouTube is the de facto place to promote your offerings if video works for you. Video testimonials,
demos, product briefings etc. are one of the most powerful and effective ways of selling. If you
are looking for a promo video there are plenty of small outfits out there. One to check out is 3rd
Planet Media Group. Tip: Store your videos on Youtube and link to them using embedding in your
web site that way you avoid the use of your bandwidth and you get a backlink from Youtube to
your site which helps boost your search engine rankings. The more sites that link to your site the
higher up the Google search engine rankings you go. Sites with a high pagerank (like the BBC) push
you up even more.

Office Space
Many start-ups begin from home or the garage or an office cabin in the garden. That’s good as it
keeps the cost down and saves wasted time commuting. But it also leaves you isolated so ensuring
you get out and meet people is very important both for your confidence, to know what is
happening in the real world and to keep your social skills honed.

Alternatives, include finding office space with a company you may have good relations with or is
one of your customers (it could be free or discounted or negotiated). Obviously you can rent an
office. One alternative is to use a Serviced office or a Virtual office. Check out Regus.

If you join your local Chamber of Commerce (Thames Valley) the membership (£280 +Vat for 2011
for business of 1-5 employees £330 +Vat for 5-10 employees) includes a ‘free’ Regus International
Gold Card (£35 per month in 2011 or £25 pm UK only) which gives you access to their lounges.
Check out what it costs to join Regus direct to the cost of joining your local Chamber.

Remember that all these costs should be recorded (along with VAT receipts) as business expenses
which will reduce your Corporation tax liability.

Paying Yourself
Various choices here. First make sure you celebrate your first remittance with at least a pat on the
back! Enjoy working for yourself and being the master of your own destiny.

One tip is to set yourself various goals such as winning your first client and therefore rewarding
yourself with say a new piece of office equipment. Or hitting a financial goal such as the first
£100,000 and rewarding yourself with a new mobile phone (with new capabilities that will help
you achieve your next business goal. It makes you feel all the hard work is worth it.

But only pay yourself if you have the net income and profit to do so. If you have taken out a
business loan or have a redundancy fund to draw upon that’s fine but loans have to be repaid and
redundancy funds can run out. So prudence in how you spend your money is crucial.

Choices are: salary, dividends, Directors loan. Which one you choose depends on your
circumstances but a combination may be the best way.                                  Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                            Page 8 of 10

For example, you could take a base salary that will use up your income tax personal allowance
(£6475 2011-2012). Thereafter pay using dividends. You can do that quarterly, half yearly or
annually. But to do so you have to close the accounts and that will incur fees with your

The way round this is to do a Directors Loan. You can do this whenever you like as long as you call
a Board Meeting and write it up in the Minutes afterwards. You must state that the loan is
‘provided on a commercial basis’ and include that in the Minutes – very important.

That also means charging interest on the Directors Loan. Check what the rate is for borrowing on a
credit card and charge that rate. (March 2011 it was 6.9% so choose 7% as your rate and that
should be fine with HMRC).

If you have an overseas Director or employee then you can simply pay them directly. No need for a
directors’ loan or dividends or payroll. They are expected to sort out the tax in their country of
domicile and any health (NI type) contributions etc. You do not need to have Employers Liability
insurance for them either. Professional Indemnity insurance is a different matter that you will
need to check up on.

Minimizing Profit… Directors Dividends are paid out of profit. Corporation tax is charged on profits.
So how to minimize corporation tax and maximise benefits? Look for making sure all costs that you
benefit from and are allowable are charged. So you could set up a company health scheme. You
benefit and it goes down as a cost. Charge all business meals. Make sure you have the best
equipment such as mobile phone, laptop etc. you benefit from being able to work better and
makes life easier. Finally, let me know of any other ideas and ways of reducing corporation tax
and maximising benefits.                                   Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                            Page 9 of 10

                  THIS PAGE LEFT FOR PERSONAL NOTES AND ACTIONS                      Copyright ©2011 Richard Page
Phone: 0118 948 3993
                                   Page 10 of 10

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