There are rules you must follow when setting up a business. You can also get help and support.

Register your business

Most businesses register as a sole trader, limited company or ‘ordinary’ partnership.

Sole traders

It’s simpler to set up as a sole trader, but you’re personally responsible for your business’s debts. You also have some accounting responsibilities.

Find out more about being a sole trader and how to register.

Limited companies

If you form a limited company, its finances are separate from your personal finances, but there are more reporting and management responsibilities.

Some people get help from a professional, for example an accountant, but you can set up a company yourself.

‘Ordinary’ partnerships

An ‘ordinary’ partnership is the simplest way for 2 or more people to run a business together.

You share responsibility for your business’s debts. You each have accounting responsibilities too.

You must register for VAT if you expect your takings to be more than £83,000 a year. You can usually still register if your takings are less than this.

Rules for your type of business

You may have other responsibilities depending on what your business does.

Check if you need:

There are also rules you must follow if you:

Where you work

Check what your responsibilities are if you:

If you rent or buy a property, you may have to pay business rates. Small businesses can apply for a discount and some may pay nothing.

You may be able to claim office, property and equipment costs as expenses.

Taking on people to help

If you take on agency workers or freelancers you have some responsibilities, for example their health and safety.

Becoming an employer

You’ll have more responsibilities if you take on your own employees, including:

  • running payroll
  • paying for their National Insurance - but you can claim an allowance
  • providing workplace pensions to eligible staff

If you decide to become an employer, there are things you’ll need to do first.