Set up a business

Set up a business.

What you need to do to set up depends on your type of business, where you work and whether you take people on to help.

Register your business.

Most businesses register as a sole trader, limited company or 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.

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.


A partnership is the simplest way for 2 or more people to run a business together.

You share responsibility for your business’s debts. You also have accounting responsibilities. Find out more about being in a partnership and how to register.

Rules for your type of business.

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

Check if you need:

licences or permits, for example to play music, sell food or to trade in the street insurance.

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 on business rates and some may pay nothing.

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.

There are things you’ll need to do if you take on your own employees. You’ll have more responsibilities, including:

running payroll paying for their National Insurance – but you can claim an allowance to reduce your bill providing workplace pensions to eligible staff.