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.
Use this checklist to help you get started:
You will need to think about these points when starting a business:
- Your business structure
- What if any licenses do you need?
- Think about intellectual property, and how this impacts on what you plan to do?
- Are you working with food? Then learn about food safety standards
- Property and classifications for business use
- Do you want to work in an office, or from home?
- Register for Business Rates
- Learn about VAT and tax
- Make sure you have appropriate business insurance
- Think about recycling and waste management
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.
Check to see if you require any special licences to operate your new business. Use the Licence Finder Tool to find out which licences you need. You can also contact your local authority Licensing and Permits team.
Intellectual property (IP)
You need to check to see if what you want to do will make use of someone's else's intellectual property? And if not, will you be bringing your own ideas into the public domain? If you are, then you need to ensure you can protect yourself, and does copyright, patents, design right or trade marks apply to your work.
Working with food
All local authorities can provide guidance on food safety standards when starting a food business, this covers; food hygiene and handling, to helping find suitable premises and registering your business – see the Council Business Services page.
Free business support - Food and drink toolkit
Nottingham County Council have produced a free PDF toolkit book that you can download. It is intended for use by any food and drink sector businesses operating across the county. The toolkit contains a lot of information to support growers, producers, manufacturers retailers and hospitality food and drink providers.
Depending on the property that you are interested in, you may have to apply to your local council for a ‘change of use’ to enable you to trade. Contact the Duty Planning Officer.
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.
Most local authorities have some low-cost incubation offices to help support young growing businesses. Contact the commercial estates team at the council where you plan to be based – see the Council Business Services page.
However, if you choose to work from home but would like to have a professional address, then you could take on a virtual office space (but remember to amend your home insurance to consider the fact you are also using it as a place of work).
Finally, remember that if you are running a business, even from home, you should notify the Business rates team by email of the Council where you are based. This can also be useful to you, when any economic support grants are launched, as you will be listed on the Business Rates database and so you will be included in any notifications that are sent out.
If you are looking for retail or commercial premises then there are several 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 consider the rateable value of the premises. If this is above £12,000 then you will be liable for business rates.
It’s also useful to understand how the Business Rates scheme works and enquire about Transitional Relief and Small Business Rates Relief, for exemptions and how to appeal. You can do this by emailing the local council business rates team and simply ask them for clarification.
- link: Business rates page
Page updated: 22 November 2023