Tips for setting up a new business and working from home

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Over the past two years, many people faced a change of circumstances with their work. For some things worked out well, shifting to work from home or a hybrid solution has been hugely beneficial for many employees (and businesses). For others, the past two years have been tougher and returning to your previous work industry may not be possible or appealing.

Setting up your own business is an excellent alternative to trying to find a new role. It is certainly not easy, and there is no guarantee of success, but at the same time, it can be hugely rewarding and break you out of a career with poor prospects.

If you are setting up a new business, my first tip would be to try and do it while still working your traditional job. This will give you a wage as your build up your company. This often requires working evenings and weekends on top of your job, so it can be hard work and may not always be possible.

Decide if you want to be a sole trader or private limited company

Being a sole trader is easier to do, especially at first, but a limited company separates your personal finances and asses from the business, which provides protection should the business accrue debts and do any activities that lead to legal action (clients suing etc.).

A limited company also have some tax benefits, but it is not the primary reason why you should set up a limited company.

Use an online service to register your company

If you do set up a limited company, you don’t need to go to some brick and mortar accountant to do it. Online services can do this for as little as £20, and many will offer various other services on top of this.

Have virtual addresses for privacy

When you set up a new company online, they will often offer you’re a registered business address, allowing you to mask your home address from your company documents. They also often offer things like a fancy London address. This service normally comes with an HMRC mail forwarding service.

Alternatively, there are also business mail forwarding services or business address rental services. These allow you to use a virtual address for all correspondence which can completely mask your personal address whilst giving you a more prestigious address.

Use Online invoicing systems

If you invoice people, don’t bother doing things manually, it is not worth the effort. There are several accounting systems that have free or very cheap services (Wave or Pandle).

Alternatively, for around £15-25 per month, there are many services that have extensive features such as self-assessment, VAT and importing your bank account records to track all payments and expenses.

Use an accountant and save on the stress from doing your own tax

Having an accountant is not always strictly necessary. You can do things manually and using online invoicing systems can do quite a lot of the work for you.

However, my personal preference is that if you are a limited company and are also earning enough money to trigger income tax, then a proper accountant will often be well worth the money. They will save you hours if not days worth of work and stress, and they will also know all the various things your can claim to limit your tax liabilities.

Set up your own company domain and email

I really don’t like it when a company has a Gmail address or some other free service. It looks unprofessional to me. It is extremely cheap to set up your own domain and email services.

You can register a domain from companies like 123Reg or GoDaddy, and these will often sell you an email service. Alternatively, you can set up an email service with Google, Microsoft or Zoho; it is quite easy to do, and each service often provides detailed guides on what to do.

Outsource tasks you are not skilled at

The reality of running your own company is that you end up doing a lot of work that you have no experience or qualifications in. Nowadays, you need to be good at accounts, social media, SEO, photography, writing, marketing and much more. As you grow, one option is to outsource the tasks you are not good at to people with more experience. You don’t need to employ staff; you can reduce costs by using freelancers. There are hundreds of websites that allow you to employ people for small or big jobs remotely. Many of these will be offshore freelancers and considerably cheaper than local UK freelancers. As much as I’d like to hire local, it is not always financially viable when you are a small business

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