Once you've made the decision to set up your own business, it's time to turn your attention to the legal side of things. With a wealth of online legal information available it can seem a daunting prospect, but there are a few things that should definitely be on your checklist.
We know this one is a bit of a given. Get everything on paper and know what your goals are, as well as how you plan to achieve them. Giving yourself targets to work towards will keep you on track and you can always refer back to your plans to make sure that you are still working to a viable plan. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, and you're in a better position to identify potential pitfalls before they happen. You can also include details as to how you plan to manage marketing and advertising if this is relevant. This will be useful later on when it comes to managing your finances and allocating resources.
Depending on what sector you plan to operate in, your legal structure is important; if possible seek business legal advice for guidance on this. Smaller businesses that offer services personally may be best suited to operating as sole traders, for example. The legal structure you choose will influence your legal responsibilities as a company and will determine what paperwork and documents you will require. It also dictates for what taxes you are liable. While it is important to choose a structure that works for you, it isn't rigid and can be changed at a later stage as your business grows and develops.
You should also make sure that you have all relevant paperwork for dealing with clients. Do you need membership forms? An invoice template? Carefully choosing templates for your various documents is important from both a legal and a professional standpoint so don't skip this step. We offer resources at the FSB that are specifically designed to help you manage this stage of the start-up process to ensure legal compliance.
Is your start-up viable? Being realistic about the amount of investment your venture will need is vital, especially since you're a new business. Know where your financing is coming from and how you plan to repay this capital. Insurance also plays a major part in protecting your assets, and the type of coverage you'll need depends largely on the type of business you are and the industry in which you are planning to operate. Either way, it's not to be overlooked and the documentation for this is essential.
All businesses have to consider health and safety regulations regardless as to their size. Research what aspects of these laws apply to your business and its size; this is particularly important if any parts of your business will be including labour-intensive work. It protects you and your staff, so is an absolute must.