Do I need Insurance for my Small Business?

You are legally required to take out Employer’s Liability (EL) insurance if you employee anyone, even on a casual basis. This is the only insurance that is illegal required to operate your business with in the UK. Some contractors will request you have EL insurance, ensure this is clarified in the contract between you before starting to work with them. If you have employees and operate without EL insurance you could receive a fine of up to £2,500 per day.

What is Employer’s Liability insurance? 

This is to cover you and the business if an employee becomes injured or dies whilst carrying out their duties at work.

How much does Employer’s Liability insurance cost? 

Your premiums will depend on the type of business and how many employees you have. For example, an office worker could be as low as £60 per annum whereas an employee working in construction could be just over £200. The average to cost to a small or medium sized business in the UK is about £120 per year.

Will my Employer’s Liability insurance pay out? 

You should read the whole contract through first and if you are unsure about anything ask the service provider or have a lawyer look over it. The main sections to focus on are ‘Insuring Clauses’ and ‘Exclusions’, this can help you clarify what is covered and therefore more likely to result in a pay-out.

Other types of insurance include… 

How much does it cost to add business use to my car insurance? 

If you are going to be using your own vehicle to carry out business activities you may want to add business use to ensure you’re fully covered. Premiums usually only go up by about £30.

What is Professional Indemnity insurance? 

This covers you if a client incurs a financial loss from your actions. This could include if you made a mistake or accidentally omitted something during your dealings with the company. The burden of proof lies with them but if a client does decide to take action against you, a case could be costly and time consuming, not to mention stressful. This insurance applies to many different types of businesses from consultant firms to graphic designers so even if at first you think this might not apply to you, it would be worth getting quotes.

Should I get Professional Indemnity insurance? 

This insurance is not a legal requirement in the UK but we would recommend considering taking out a policy if you feel this situation may occur in your line of work.

What is Public Liability insurance? 

Public Liability insurance covers you against customers and members of the public making claims if they become injured whilst at your business or as a result of your or your employees’ actions whilst carrying out their duties.

Should I get Public Liability insurance? 

If you regularly come in to contact with the public, we would advise considering this type of insurance.

How much does Public Liability insurance cost? 

The average cost of Public Liability for a UK company is about £120 per year however small businesses and sole traders can pay as little as £40 per annum.
There are many different types of insurance out there and we have only covered the three main ones for general business. If you work in a niche industry or with a specialised product/machinery having tailored insurance would be advisable. Always get several quotes to compare, carefully read your policies to ensure you are covered correctly and if in doubt ask a lawyer to look the contract over.

How to Start a Business (Sole Trader)

7 steps to set up your business as a sole trader 

These steps will ensure you are compliant and correctly set up with the UK government

1. Decide if being a sole trader is the right set up for you 

76% of businesses in the UK are sole traders and this is how many people setup. Advantages to being a sole trader include; keeping things simple in terms of administration, you can employ people and it’s a relatively straight forward process with HRMC. However, there are also draw backs; you will be personally liable for any debts the business incurs and will have limited access to external finance options. If you are just starting out and are setting up a low-cost business becoming a sole trader is a great option.

2. Register with HRMC 

Once you have decided you are going to operate as a sole trader you will need to let HRMC know by registering for a self-assessment tax. HRMC will then send you a letter with your 10 digital Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) which will allow you to go online and set up your account.
If you have done a tax return online before grab you UTR (unique taxpayer reference) and fill out this form – CWF1. If you’ve forgotten your UTR find it here.
If you have a business that you run alongside being employed by another company it is still worth looking into whether you should register. The Gov website has a test page here. Alternatively speak to an accountant for advice, more on that later.

3. What to do if you employ someone as a sole trader 

A common misconception of being a sole trader is that you can’t employ people however as long as you have the correct set up you can. You will need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions for each employee so will need to set up a PAYE. You will need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions for each employee so will need to set up a PAYE. This government resource is a good directory for what you will need to cover if you have employees, it also takes you to details regarding your tax self assessment form – get bookmarking!
In terms of employment law – know your basics. A great site for basic legal documents is Rocket Lawyer.
ACAS is a goldmine of informative articles on everything from employment law to workplace Covid advice.
If you’re looking to contact a solicitor our accredited partners, Thursfields have the experience and legal expertise to guide you throughout the life cycle of your business. Read more here.

4. Get an accountant 

You can do your books yourself however unless you particularly enjoy this aspect of running your business getting an accountant is not only a good idea, it’s essential. When you are just starting out and trying to keep costs low it may seem like an unnessccery outgoing however if you make a mistake, file something incorrectly or just miss something from HRMC having an accountant is a life saver. Ask friends, fellow business owners and find out more about our accredited accounting partner, Stewart Associates, here.
Remember to keep organised and maintain detailed financial records of everything to do with your business. It may be boring and the last thing you want to do at the end of a busy day but future you (and your accountant!) will love you for doing it. Download accounting software to your phone to keep organised even on the go – Xero, QuickBooks and Sage are all popular and user friendly solutions.

5. Do you need to register for VAT? 

If your businesses turnover exceeds £85,000 per annum you have to be VAT registered – register here. If you are under this threshold registering is an extra process however it does mean you can claim VAT back on goods and services you use for your business. Don’t forget to keep those receipts!

6. Understand your tax 

This is where the accountant will come in useful however a good rule of thumb is put aside 25% of your income. Don’t touch this until the end of the financial year (sole traders need to pay their tax for the previous year by the 31st January every year) and you should be golden. Alongside your income tax you will have to pay National Insurance Contributions throughout the year. Here are the thresholds
Annual profits below £9,568 (2021/22) = £3.05 per week.
Annual profits between £9,568 and £50,270 = 9%
Annual profits over £50,270 = 2%

7. What insurance do you need? 

There are legal requirements for insurance but this decision is also influenced by the type of business you have and how much ‘peace of mind’ you want to pay for. We’ve outlined a few basic forms of insurance below to get you started.
Employers Liability Insurance – this is the only legally required form of insurance for a small business owner. This is to cover any employees that are injured whilst working for you. If you operate with no insurance and have staff working for you, there can be a penalty of £2,500 per day.
Management Liability Insurance (Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance) – this covers the individual directors personally rather than the business as a whole. This can be helpful if things do go wrong as directors are open to having claims of malpractice brought against them with potential fines, disqualification (this will mean you won’t be able to be a director of a future company) and even prison sentences. When taking out this insurance check your policy covers insolvency and large shareholders (over 15%) as many policies do not protect you in these cases.
Public Liability Insurance – this is to cover customer injury. Accidents do happen and not having this insurance if you have a shop/salon etc could be costly. Also note some clients and suppliers may request you have this insurance as part of your contract with them.
Contents and Portable Equipment Insurance – this covers all the technology and physical belongings you use to operate your business. If you are running your business from home and have contents insurance it’s worth checking the wording of your policy as some do not cover equipment used in a commercial capacity.
Professional Indemnity Insurance – this is for businesses that offer advice or consultancy services. This insurance will cover you if a client of yours makes a claim against you stating they have incurred financial loss after acting on your advice. In these industries clients may insist you have this form of insurance and it will help bolster your professional reputation if you do.
Cyber insurance – this will insure you against any claims made if you have a data breach. You should consider this insurance if you hold large amounts of customers data and/or sensitive customer data. This may become more important as you grow and will be valuable to have as you build the data on your customers to optimise your marketing strategy and potentially increase your product/service offering.
If you follow these steps you will have a compliant and solid foundation from which to grow your business. If you’re still unsure, we’ve outlined the main differences between being a sole trader vs limited company for you. Alternatively if you’ve decided forming a limited company is the best option for you read our checklist on how to set up a limited company.

Sole Trader vs Limited Company

What are the pros and cons of setting up as a Sole Trader vs a Limited Company? 

We’ve gone through the basic considerations for both and directly compared them so you can get a clearer picture on which is best for you. Areas to consider when setting up your business include:
Financial Liability
Status & Professionalism
Finance Options
Publishing Personal Details
Business Name Protection
Tax Requirements
Administration Requirements
Sole Trader 
Limited Company 
Financial Liability 
If your business runs up any debt you are legally required to cover it, this may mean even selling personal assets.
Financial Liability 
By setting up a limited company your business becomes a separate legal entity. Therefore if the business does run up debts the business, rather than you personally, are responsible.
You can build a great reputation as a sole trader and many customers won’t know the legal ‘status’ of your business or, to be honest, care! They are there for your amazing products and service after all.
Having said that, some suppliers & clients may feel more secure dealing with a company that has gone through the formation process. Once you get larger and becoming more prominent it may be time to form a limited company.
Finance Options 
Along with being financially liable for the business, raising funds may be more difficult. Options as a sole trader include; savings, friends & family lending, go fund me pages, and some banks will loan you money however you may be considered too ‘high risk’ and refused. But if your over-heads are low and your cash flow good this may not be a concern for you.
Finance Options 
You will have more financial options open to you and be more likely to be approved for a loan from a bank or lending organisation. All the options of a sole trader will be available to you along with more official routes. If you need a premises to operate from, need to buy equipment or require some start-up cash to get you going forming a limited company will make it easier when applying for finance.
Personal Details 
Increased privacy. Your personal details won’t be published on Companies House.
Personal Details 
You will have to publish your name (as a director), the names of fellow directors and your business address on Companies House. You can limit the amount of information out there by registering with a secretarial business service eg business address but some details have to be made public.
The Name of Your Business 
Business name protection. As a sole trader you may be worried about others operating with a similar name to take advantage of your good reputation, advertising efforts and word of mouth promotion from customers. You can take out Business Name Protection here with NBR to stop this from happening.
The Name of Your Business 
No one can use the exact same business name as you, they legally won’t be able to form the company. However this doesn’t cover you in every situation, they could add an ‘s’ to the name or ‘solutions’ etc so their name ends up being very similar to yours. You can take out business name protection to stop this, find out more here.
Tax can be substantially higher for sole traders, especially when you’ve established the business and are pulling in a good amount of money. Sole traders can be charged between 20%-45% tax on their profits (minus allowable business expenses).
Tax for limited companies is lower and they are generally considered more ‘tax efficient’. They are required to pay only 19% on their total profits (minus allowable business expenses).
Administration Requirements 
There is less paperwork to do as a sole trader. You will still want to have an accountant but in terms of legally required documentation there’s less than a limited business.
Administration Requirements 
More paperwork to do with legal annual documentation having to be submitted. As with being a sole trader getting an accountant is a great idea, they will be able to help you with all the paperwork and requirements.
You can employee people as a sole trader. Make sure you have insurance and are set up correctly with a PAYE scheme and pensions with HRMC. This is were an accountant will come in handy.
As with a sole trader you need to set up a PAYE scheme with HRMC for any employees you have and take out the right insurance to cover them.
As a sole trader you are less likely to have to need different kinds of insurance but check out our ‘Sole Trader’ article where we outline the basic forms of insurance to consider.
As a limited company you may want to take out insurance. We have covered the basic forms of insurance in our ‘Limited Company’ article. One to particularly consider, as a limited company, is individual director insurance.
We hope our battle of the businesses has helped you make the decision which is best for you. Remember the hardest part is taking the first step, get out there, even if everything isn’t perfect and try!
Start.Biz have packages to suit any size and type of business. Get in touch here with our friendly, expert team today to discuss your personal circumstances and set up a solid infrastructure for your business.

Business Name Protection

Why Register Your Business Name? 

Registering a business name is an important step when setting up your business. Choosing the perfect name can be daunting, so we are here to help you through the process. Our service is ideal for sole traders, partnerships and limited companies looking to check and protect their trading name.
Benefits of registering your business name –
Ensure your business name is unique, does not copy an existing business or entity, and meets all statutory legal requirements.
Protect one of your most important assets, your business name, from the malpractice of passing-off, in which competitors copy or use your business name.
Make the most of social media by protecting your online reputation and handles.
A guarantee that we will initiate and cover your legal fees, up to £10,000, if action needs to be taken.
Receive information on any relevant updates in legislation.
Become part of our business community and connect with likeminded business owners.
Access to resources and advice that will enable you to save time and money.
Here at Start.Biz (formly known as the National Business Register) we are passionate about supporting businesses and helping you realise your dream of being your own boss.

What are the Costs of Business Names Protection? 

Business Name Registration costs an annual membership fee of £99 (plus VAT) and includes initial name searches, a display certificate, protection against ‘Passing Off’, obtaining formal statutory permission if needed and expert advice from Start.Biz.
We understand that setting up your own business can seem over whelming at times, our expert team has nearly 40 years’ experience and are here to help you every step of the way. If you have any questions about our services, or just need a little advice at whatever stage of your business journey you are, please get in touch.

How we Protect Your Business Name 

We will protect your trading name against copying by another business, company or brand. This copying is called “passing off”; legal costs, court fees, solicitors and counsel fees are paid by us, for further information please refer to the T&C’s.

What is ‘Passing Off’? 

The law of passing off stands to protect a trader’s goodwill and business against copying, (Passing Off). In order for a passing off action to succeed, you will need to substantiate the following matters:
A misrepresentation made by another, with respect to the business name, in the course of that particular trade.
The misrepresentation is made to the principal customers or prospective customers.
The misrepresentation does cause damage to the principal business or goodwill of which the business name has developed.
Although these elements may be present in an incident that constitutes ‘Passing Off’ it is important that you make us aware as soon as possible so we can act quickly. This gives us the best chance of the claim being successful.

How to Make a ‘Passing Off’ Claim with Start.Biz (National Business Register) 

We appreciate each situation is unique and may require slightly different information depending on the nature of the claim. Our team will be here every step of the way to ensure you are fully informed and take the hassle out of the process so you can get on with the running of your business.
We will ask you to fill out a ‘Passing Off’ complaint form with as much information as possible, sent via email.
Now we get to work! If there is any missing information we require to proceed with your particular claim, a member of our team will be in touch to advise.
We will then issue a letter of notice to the alleged offending party stating that they are ‘Passing Off’ an established business name. This letter will also include useful information for them and next steps on how they should proceed going forward.
If, after this letter has been received, the other party are looking to contend the ‘Passing Off’ action, we will enter a dialogue with them and/or their solicitors. We will start to build a case demonstrating their infringement and work closely with them to resolve the issue at this stage.
Once the above options have been exhausted and it is evident that the ‘Passing Off’ action cannot be progressed without resorting to litigation, we will take your case to the external Legal Counsel.
Since 1984 we have successfully prevented thousands of organisations from copying a registered member’s business name. We can boast a highly professional qualified team who are specialists in their field. Our business exists to protect members’ trading names and for a small annual fee you have access to, and support from internal and external specialists who will endeavour to resolve your problem quickly and effectively.
For a free, no obligation Intellectual Property audit or to discuss your personal circumstances please call 0121 678 9000 or email