Important practicalities

Although these may seem like dull tasks to complete, they’re important so work your way through them methodically.

  • Find out who needs to know you’ve started a business. HMRC is a must but you may also need to contact a relevant body for a licence to trade. It may also be that your industry has its own regulatory body. If so, get in touch with them and find out what action you need to take.
  • Get insured. It might be that you need insurance in order to trade in your specific industry but even if this is not the case, insurance is a wise idea.
  • Access advice where it’s available. New businesses are often eligible for a host of free mentoring, support and advice services. You’d be wise to take what input is available. Go to HMRC, Companies House, enterprise agencies, your local council or Chamber of Commerce, and ACAS as a starting point.
  • Invest in good IT. IT is a significant business cost so get it right from the start. If necessary, pay an IT professional to advise you on the hardware and software you need; this may save you a fortune in the long-term.
  • Resolve to be a good employer. Becoming an employer is a huge responsibility and one that should be taken very seriously. Employees have lots of statutory rights, which must be observed. Being unaware of these rights is not good enough. Use the ACAS website ( to learn more about your responsibilities as an employer.
  • Understanding the Equality Act. The law says that your services must be accessible to disabled people. Visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission website ( to find out the ways in which you must comply with the Equality Act. Make a note of areas where the legislation will affect your business, the action you have taken to comply with it and when you took it.
  • Take care of your customers’ data. Any business that holds data must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, which is designed to protect personal data. The Information Commissioner’s Office must be informed if you intend to process information about other people for business purposes. You can find out whether you need to notify the Information Commissioner by calling 01625 545740.
  • Abide by consumer law. The way you conduct your business must comply with existing consumer laws. Some laws will relate specifically to your industry and there are also a number of laws relating more generally to faulty goods and bad practice. The Trading Standards website ( is a good place to start checking you’re above board. Jot down where legislation will impact your business. Also make a note of the actions you have taken to make sure you’re abiding by consumer laws and when you took them.
  • Protect your original thinking. Your intellectual property (IP) may be very precious. If you’re invented an amazing gadget or designed a super system you should give it the legal protection it deserves. IP is an umbrella term for copyright, commercial designs, patents and trade marks. You can find out more about IP at
  • Research other practical measures that apply to your business. Different types of business have their own separate considerations. For example, someone working with children may need Criminal Records Bureau checks, while those in the service industry need specific food hygiene certification. It’s your responsibility to find out what practical steps you need to take and then take them.
  • Useful links


    Visit for good, clear information on employer responsibilities.

    The Information Commissioner

    Go to to find out whether or not you qualify as a ‘data controller’ according to the Data Protection Act.

    The Intellectual Property Office

    If you’ve some Intellectual Property you’re keen to protect, go to for guidance on how to go about it.

    Scavenger is a great resource full of factsheets, guides and reports all geared towards helping users research, start and run their businesses.

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