I'm starting my own website business, which will launch in about 2 months time.
At the moment it's pretty well figured out it terms of the idea and how it's going to work - it's the behind the scenes nuts and bolts I need help with - I'm just a man with a dream - total noob in most practical matters!
I'll give some examples
1) Taxes, getting an accountant. Do I need to notify people that I'm starting a business? Will I need an accountant to run this for me? Do I pay them monthly fees or every year to do the books for me? How does this work?!?!
2) Legal stuff - do you need a license to handle customer finances, details etc? Also T&C, how would I go about writing T&Cs to cover myself legally? Employ a lawyer I assume, how would I find a reasonable one, presumably even the most basic lawyers could do this so it wouldn't be too pricey?
3) The name of my business is practically the same as another website - although this website's business is nothing to do with my website, except for being to do with poker. Is this a problem? Am I allowed to do this if it's really similar? Can they sue?!
That's just a few of the things worrying me at the moment!
Basically, I need a BUSINESS ADVISOR. Someone who knows all this stuff and can help me out. OR links/references to some good literature/websites on starting your own business, that has practical solutions rather than wishy washy advice.
Thanks very much, blonde is full of very smart and helpful people who I hope can help which is why I've posted this here.
1. You need to register for VAT, almost certainly, if you are selling good or services - http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/register/when-to-register.htm#1
This is pretty easy to work out on a quarterly basis and unless you are amaze busy, or doing a zillion transactions out of the gate then you probably would not need an accountant to do this.
If you decide you want to be a company rather than any other form of business then you will need to register with companies house and would probably need an accountant once a year to prepare and file an audited set of abbreviated accounts (basically just a balance sheet). You would also need an accountant initially in all likelihood to draft articles of association for the business and register the directors of the company etc.
You can buy very basic software where you can produce your own sets of accounts and pay an accountant to audit them once a year. Real basic things like Quickbooks will work for most small start ups.
2. Depends what you want to protect yourself against. If you want to limit your liability, become a limited company for sure. Beyond that, I wouldn't employ a lawyer - massive cost for little worthwhile input at this stage - most
and Cs are pretty standard 'boilerplate' terms - you can find these readily online. A lawyer producing some clever terms for you won't protect you very much anyway eg, if you sell shoddy, unfit goods or services.
You don't need special licenses to handle finance if you mean this at the most basic level in terms of invoicing them for goods or services and receiving payment. You would need to say more about the nature of transactions you intend to conduct for this to get answered properly.
3. If the other company can make a reasonable case that you are making an attempt at 'passing off' your company as theirs then they would be able to sue and could potentially stop you trading under the name you've chosen. I'd suggest you think very carefully about this. If the other company is likely to be irritated by your name, has deep pockets and can demonstrate that you are in any way competitive with them then you could cause yourself quite a lot of pain.
It is worth getting advice but unless you are embarking on something very large, very complicated I'd be really cautious about spending big money on accountants, lawyers etc. There are lots of small business networks where dull business owners meet and discuss dull business things - getting involved in one of these with the range of varying experience available for free could be advantageous.
Also, all this stuff is much less complicated than it first appears.
1) You need to understand VAT and your personal and company tax liability which I think is learnable online in a few days
2) You need to be able to make a legal offer, take an order, raise an invoice, receive payment
3) You need to record your transactions
One other thing, it might be easier now but one area we found difficult ten years ago was getting merchant accounts set up to take online payments. It really was quite painful. It surely must be easier today but if you are intending to take payments on line then I'd start looking at this now (assuming your web developer isn't handling it)
Hope this helps in some small way and good luck of course