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Setting up and checklists

It’s important to know your legal requirements from the beginning of your business journey. Seeking guidance from professional organisations will help you establish your business in the right way from the start. There may be legal requirements that are necessary to start your business.

Business structure

One of the first questions you need to answer is the legal structure of your business: will you set the business up as a self-employed individual, limited company or partnership with others?

Whatever structure you decide upon, be sure to obtain confirmation this is the right structure for you and any others connected with the business. Find further information is available on the Gov.UK website

Discuss your plans with an accountant on so you are aware of your legal responsibilities to HMRC in terms of tax and VAT. Then you can set-up and register your business.

Business licenses

You will need to check to see if you require any special licences to operate your new business. You can use the Licence Finder Tool to check if you require any special licences to operate your new business. You can also contact our Licensing and Permits team.

Working with food

We provide guidance on food safety standards when starting a food business, from food hygiene and handling to suitable premises and registering your business. Find out more in the food business section of this website. 

Free Business Support - Food & Drink Toolkit

Nottingham County Council have produced a free pdf book that is intended for use by any Food and Drink sector businesses across the county – including growers/producers/manufacturers/retailers and hospitality. It focuses on giving practical guidance on how businesses can best leverage locally sourced/produced food and drink and the county’s local assets within their business and how they can use ‘local provenance’ to capitalise on emerging trends as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Property classifications

Depending on the property that you are interested in, you may have to apply to our planning team for change of use on your property to enable you to trade. There is more information in the Business Rates section

You can also use the Planning Portal to check whether the existing classification of the property matches what you intend to do. We recommend that you always seek legal advice prior to entering into any agreement on a property that requires you to seek change of use permission.

Office or work from home

Do you need your own office? Or can you take a desk in a shared space?

If you only require space for a few hours a week then you could look at co-working or hot-desk spaces.

We have some incubation offices at a low cost to help support young growing business in these buildings: 

  • The Ada Lovelace Building, Kirkby in Ashfield
  • The Byron Business Centre, Hucknall
  • The Kingsway Lodge, Kirkby in Ashfield. 

You can find out more in the commercial property section or you can contact us by: 

Working from home

If you choose to work from home but would like a professional address then you could take on a virtual office space (remember to amend your home insurance to take into account the fact you are also using it as a place of work).

Remember that if you are running a business, even from home, you should notify our business rates team. This can also be a benefit to you when local support grants are launched, as you will be listed on the business rates database and so can be included in any notifications that are sent out.

Commercial premises and business rates

If you are looking for retail or commercial premises there are a number of factors to consider, such as footfall if you rely on passing trade, transport links for deliveries and what your budget is.

You will also need to take into account the rateable value of the premises. If it is above £12,000 then you will be liable for business rates.

National Non-Domestic Rates are payable on all commercial properties. This includes:

  • shops
  • offices
  • banks
  • hotels
  • factories
  • and power stations.

We collect business rates for central Government. Under the new Business Rates Retention Scheme, a proportion of the amount collected is retained by us. There is more information in the business rates section of this website on how the business rates scheme works. It also explains more about Transitional Relief and Small Business Rates Relief, and how to appeal.


This is an important area for every business owner to consider. You should research what you need and ensure you have all the relevant insurances in place and with reputable insurers.

There are three main types of insurance that you need to consider.

Employers Liability Insurance

This is required if you employ full time, temporary or casual staff. It covers areas such as injury to a member of staff, which could leave the business owner open to a claim for compensation.

Public Liability Insurance

This covers areas such as visitors to your workplace, whether office or home where there may be a chance they could slip and have an accident. Also, you could accidentally cause damage while on a customer’s property and be held responsible, leading to a costly claim for compensation. A client may also insist you have public liability cover before carrying out any work and you may need this to exhibit at a conference or local trade show.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

If you give professional advice or you provide a service then you will need to consider professional indemnity insurance which will protect your business if you give the wrong advice or if someone questions the standard of your work.

Always read your policy wording carefully and take every precaution. Even very successful and well-established businesses can fail without the right cover in place.

There are a number of useful websites that can help you find information about business insurance in the related links section of this web page. 

Export Insurance

If you are looking to trade overseas, then you will also need export insurance from the Department of International Trade.

This will cover you against the risk of:

  • not being paid under an export contract
  • not being able to recover the costs of performing that contract because of certain events which prevent its performance or lead to its termination.

You can apply for this by contacting:

Ways to contact business support

The best way to contact us is through our online form so we have the right information to help you as quickly as possible. Contact us by: