How to register a retail business

30th March 2023 | Phoebe Dobke

If you are a first-time business owner in the UK, its crucial you know how to register a business to get it off the ground. The process can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s actually rather straightforward. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to register your business, so you can get up and running quickly and easily.

Choose a business structure

The first step in registering your business is to decide on the legal structure of your business. The most common business structures in the UK are:

  • Sole trader: This is the simplest form of business structure, where you are the sole owner of the business and responsible for all aspects of its operation.
  • Partnership: A partnership is a business owned by two or more people who share profits and losses.
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP): An LLP is similar to a partnership, but each partner has limited liability for the debts of the business.
  • Limited Company (Ltd): A limited company is a separate legal entity from its owners. The shareholders are only liable for the amount they have invested in the company.

Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of liability, tax, and regulation, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that’s right for your business. You can find more information about each structure on the government’s website.

Choose your business name

Once you’ve decided on your business structure, you’ll need to choose a name for your business. Your business name should be unique and not already registered with Companies House. You can check if a name is available using the Companies House availability checker.

You should also consider how your name could affect seo. Having a name that Google deems relevant to your audience will help you rank higher in search results.

Register with Companies House

If you’re setting up a limited company or LLP, you’ll then need to register with Companies House. This involves completing an application form and providing certain information about your business, such as your company name, registered address, and details of your directors and shareholders. The goverment website has lots of rescources ready to help you register with them online.

Register with HMRC

Once you have registered your business with Companies House, you need to register with HRMC for taxes and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) if you plan to employ staff. Registering with HMRC will include applications for:

  • Self-Assessment: If you are a sole trader, you need to register for Self-Assessment to pay income tax on your profits.
  • Corporation Tax: Limited companies and LLPs must register for Corporation Tax to pay tax on their profits.
  • VAT: If your business’s annual turnover exceeds £85,000, you must register for Value Added Tax (VAT). You’ll also be able to claim back the VAT you pay on business expenses.

Registering your new business is an essential step towards establishing a legitimate business. While the process may seem daunting, there’s plenty of resources to help you every step of the way. If you need any further help the government website has more tools to support you get set up.


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