Forming a business - checklist

Person holding up paper with words 'OPEN'

When forming a business make sure you get it right from the start. Check the key considerations and legal requirements to prevent expensive mistakes.

  • Involve professional advisers (eg an accountant) from the outset.
  • Consider whether you will be in sole control of the business or will share ownership or involve external investors.
  • Consider whether a company or limited liability partnership (LLP) will offer worthwhile financial flexibility, protection of personal assets and credibility with customers, suppliers and lenders.
  • Consider whether the administrative burden and costs, and the disclosure requirements, of a company or limited liability partnership will be justified.
  • Investigate the likely effect of different business forms on your tax and National Insurance position.
  • Choose the most appropriate business form: sole trader, partnership, LLP or limited company.
  • Draw up an agreement with the key individuals involved covering, for example, strategy, remuneration, responsibilities and 'what if' scenarios.
  • Choose a trading name; check that it is permitted, and is not already being used by another, similar business.
  • Use a company formation agent (or your accountant or solicitor) for the legal formation of a company or limited liability partnership.
  • Check any legal requirements (eg licences) with your local authority and organise insurance.
  • Contact HM Revenue & Customs to organise tax and National Insurance (and PAYE if you will be an employer); if necessary, register for VAT with your VAT office.
  • Set up a business bank account so that you can keep your business and personal finances separate.
  • Organise systems to keep records and ensure that you can comply with statutory requirements (eg filing annual returns and confirmation statement).

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.