Now that you've decided to set up in your own business it may be worth a couple of minutes to run through this checklist to ensure you haven't missed anything out on the way

Are you sure you want to work for yourself, or is there another option?

If you're being forced into Self Employment it may, or may not, be for you - we would suggest taking the 3 tests in Business basics, Just Starting

Have you clearly decided what it is that you want to do in your own business?

Is it something you do well, that you can continue doing and that is a growing market? If not it may be worth your while looking at the section on Business Basics, Market Research before you go to far.

Is there a real market for the product, or service, you want to provide

Or is this a figment of your imagination, a wished for, hoped for thing that really cannot be sustained. It may be worth your while looking at the section on Business Basics, Market Research before you go to far.

Have you clearly identified and profiled the potential customers?

Not everyone is a potential customer and the image you portray will determine who is, and who isn't, and also the prices you can charge for your product, or service.

Are there enough of them to build a business on?

Again, see above

Have you decided on an effective way to tell them that you exist?

In other words have you considered your advertising and marketing strategy? - you can build the best mouse trap in the world, but unless you tell people about it you will just end up with a warehouse full of mouse traps! look at the sections on market research and Sales for further information.

Have you identified your 'Unique Selling Point'?

In other words someone is already servicing your customers, why should they come to you, what do you offer that they can't get from their current suppliers? If it's a lower price beware, when the competition lower their price they'll simply go back to them.

Have you worked out your 'survival budget'?

In other words do you know exactly how much you need to earn to have a living income in the first few months and does your business have the potential to grow from there?

Have you discussed the route you are about to take with your family, and / or partner?

Are they in agreement, are they able to support you, both financially and emotionally during the long hours and hard times that may be ahead?

Have you calculated how the flow of cash, in and out, of your business will be over the next few months.

Do you need to discuss this with your Bank Manager? They are there to help and advise. You can download a Cashflow Spreadsheet (complete with all the formulae) in the Business resources section of the site.

Have you prepared any sort of sales Forecast and will you have to register for VAT?

The Compulsory limit for VAT registration is now £54,000 sales per year. If in doubt, contact your local VAT Office. Alternatively access their web site here

Have you registered with Inland revenue?

Within 3 months of starting to trade you must register your business with inland revenue if you are trading as a Sole Trader or Partnership. you can do this on a P/SE/1 which you can download from If you fail to register you can be fined. Included in this leaflet is a form to register and pay National Insurance. those are the only requirements if you are trading as a Sole Trader, or Partnership. For Limited companies please see the section on 'Should I start a Limited Company' in Business Basics

Have you organised adequate insurance for the business?

As an absolute minimum it is advisable to arrange Public Liability Insurance - this will protect members of the Public, and their property, from you as you carry out your business. You may require further insurance such as Employers Liability, Additional Insurance on your Vehicle, Insurance for your Tools and Personal Accident Insurance. Often the best place to start looking for this is your local bank.

Have you set up any kind of book-keeping system?

There is a section on general tips for book-keeping and many shops such as W H Smith carry a range of standard books that are adequate for all but the biggest businesses. One of the more straightforward book-keeping systems is the Simplex D system where a book will last a full 12 months and has examples of how to complete it. The Simplex Web Site is at

Do you need to apply for any change of use to premises?

Often the best place to start is with your local council, with the Planning and Environmental Health department. They are usually more than helpful

Do you need any licenses to operate?

this is usual for people running pubs, clubs, residential homes, etc. best to check again with the Local Council to see if there are any additional local by-laws

If you have completed all of the above and are still eager to get going then I don't think we should hold you back any longer - but remember to keep coming back to this site for further information and ... there is no such thing as luck in business ... you make your own luck, the smarter you work.