Simple Steps to Self Employment, Tax and Startups

Simple steps to self employment, tax and launching your own start-up, business or blog.

If you are tired of the nine-to-five grind and you feel like just a small cog in some faceless corporate machine, take comfort from the fact that you are not alone. Many individuals across the UK find the ever-changing faces of their careers more stressful and unfulfilling than ever. Working patterns are changing, workloads are increasing, and over the past decade, more people have decided to go it alone.

Becoming a parent is often the spur that we need to make that decisive step. In my case, I wanted to supplement my main income. This was as a contingency to support the earliest possible retirement from working for others. Your own enterprise is something that can be of a tangible benefit to the next generation in your family. Perhaps your children will decide to join it, making it a family concern. Even if not, it could be something of real value a few years down the line. There is something undeniable about the pleasure you can take in the flexibility of being your own boss. It can give you a real sense of pride, and ultimately free you from the clutches of short-sighted organisations where there’s an increasing focus on data and targets over decent quality hard work, dedication and pride in your profession.

Luckily, setting up on your own is much easier now than it used to be. If you have the right skills, a strong work ethic and a great idea, you are already halfway there. But it still needs planning and a methodical approach. Here are some of the details you need to take care of to get started.

Tell the taxman about your new endeavour

Get in touch with HMRC and they will send you a starter pack with everything you need. It is easy enough to do online, or you can give them a call. This will get you officially registered and you can also do some free online tutorials that will familiarise you with the basics of bookkeeping, tax returns and so on. It can be a nightmare setting up the Government Gateway system, particularly at first, but once you’re up and running you’ll start to get more of an appreciation for what you earn each month. Be warned, whilst the telephone lines for HMRC are getting better you will still likely be met with queues at a peak time of the year; so keep things up to date and do your returns as early as possible.

Establish your self-employed base of operations

One reason that many dads, or indeed mums, decide to start their own business is that it gives them the opportunity to work from home. That may sound idyllic, but don’t underestimate the work and time involved in making a new business a success. In the realms of blogging, you’re not going to be able to do everything with a baby constantly on your shoulder and a toddler on your knee. Draw a distinction between home and work life, and give serious consideration to having a dedicated room of zen that is clearly organized and clutter-free. If this is not an option within your home possibly consider renting some office space. Companies like Cattaneo Commercial offer facilities in many locations outside of the congested cities of the UK, so see what you can find in easy reach of home for the best of both worlds.

Branding and online presence

What will your company be called? Initially, it might just be your name, but if you have something else in mind, you can do a search via Companies House to check whether the name is already taken. Also, look online to see if the name is available as an internet domain. If it is, snap it up quickly. Be wary of existing names where there’s a competing .com address as often US-based sites will still compete in UK search results. Snap up those social media handles too, ideally with all the same URL ending.

Accounting for the self-employed

When it comes down to it, every business is about making money. If bookkeeping isn’t your strong suit, appoint a local accountant, ask around in your niche for any VAs (Virtual Assistants) with tax return qualifications, or look into decent accounting software such a Xero to take care of that side of things.

Get your newly started endeavour insured

Some types of business insurance are mandatory, for example, if you have employees or a company vehicle. Others make a lot of sense, such as professional indemnity, sickness cover and so on. If you are thinking of a career in blogging or content writing, then professional indemnity insurance will increasingly import the more you write. It is worth talking to a specialist business insurance broker, both to get a clear idea about what you need and to access the best possible rates.

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