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Checklist for Starting a Business in the UK

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Starting a business can be a stressful experience at the best of times and knowing all of the things you need to do can be overwhelming. In this article, we focus on starting a business in the UK and provide you with a checklist of things you should do before you launch your new brand.

1. Come Up With a Name

Arguably the most important step of the process of starting your business is coming up with a business name, but with so many options already taken, where do you start? Hopefully, you already have a good idea of what your business will do and who your customers and where you will operate. Using all of this information you can start thinking about company names. So perhaps your name is Jane Smith and you want to be a photographer for business events in London. Your company name could be any of the following:

  • Business Photos by Jane
  • Jane’s Business Shots
  • Business Photography London
  • Jane’s Business Photography
  • JS Business Photography

These are just some examples, but by using your name, initials and location, you improve the chance that the name hasn’t already been taken. Names like “Business Photography London” will likely already be in use, but simply putting your initials in front of it will usually fix that problem.

Top tip: Once you’ve got a list of names, use Companies House’s Lookup Tool to check to see if a business is already registered with that name.

2. Secure a Domain Name

Once you’ve got your name, it’s time to get a domain name. Much the same with coming up with a company name, you may find the process of finding an available domain name a little difficult. But, if you’ve chosen a name that is fairly unique and perhaps includes your name or initials then this part of the process will be easier. Using a website like GoDaddy, 123Reg or similar, you can very quickly check to see what domain names are available. It can take a bit of time to find the perfect fit, but there will always be something that is close to your company name.

Top tip: Remember your domain name doesn’t have to be the exact same as your company name. If you are stuck, try adding a word in front of your company name like “hello” or “get”, you’ll soon unlock a whole range of possibilities.

3. Get Your Tech Setup

Now you have your domain name you can start to think about getting things like a website created and email setup. When it comes to websites, there are tons of tools you can use to build your own site, or you can reach out to a web design company to give you something a bit more professional. For email, look at Google Suite or Microsoft Office 365, both are priced on a per user basis and will give you an email address using your company’s domain name. The good thing with both of these platforms is that they are scalable and will grow as your business does. Finally, it’s time to get a phone number. Gone are the days of needing to get a physical phone system, you can now get a cloud-hosted service from a UK VoIP provider for a fraction of the cost. As it’s hosted in the cloud, you don’t need any equipment and best yet you can get yourself local, national and international phone numbers for very small fees.

4. Decide on Where You’ll Run Your Business

The next step is to decide where you actually want to operate your business from. Most new businesses, start in humble beginnings of a back bedroom or garage of the house, but if you’ve got a bit more budget to play with and want to have a professional image, be sure to look at options like renting a desk in a shared office space. By this point, you’ll already have a pretty flexible tech set up so wherever you choose to work from your phone service and email will be with you.

5. Research Rules and Regulations

Some businesses don’t need to follow too many rules or regulations whereas others need to meet stringent standards. Make sure that you spend some time researching your local regulations before you start trading, the last thing you want to do is fall foul of the law in the first few weeks of your business. Companies that sell food, work with vulnerable people or indeed those in construction or hazardous industries should pay particular note to this step.

6. Get Insurance

Regardless of the industry you are in, you should look at taking out some form of insurance to protect you and your business should the worse happen. Your best bet will be to speak to a broker who will be able to advise you on a range of policies and make sure you have the appropriate cover for your business. If you’re a contractor and you’re looking for advice, you can speak to business protection insurance specialists about policies such as Executive Income Protection Insurance, which is designed specifically for individuals operating small companies.

7. Start a Marketing Campaign

Once you’re ready to go, now’s the time to start marketing your business. You can do that in a variety of ways, from social media to simply telling your friends about what you’re doing. The key here is not being shy, make sure people know what you’re doing and the benefits of working with you and you’ll set your business off in the right direction.

8. Pause and Reflect

Finally, make sure you have enough time to once in a while take a step back and consider how you’re doing and the direction you’d like to go in the future. Teaming up with a business coach can really help here, but if that’s too expensive or you prefer to work alone, just make sure you give yourself a bit of headspace now and again to think about where you want your business to go next.

About the author


Chris Steele