What is a Sole Trader?

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself when starting your own business is how you want to run it – what is a sole trader compared to a private or public limited company anyway?

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What is a sole trader? It is the simplest business structure in the UK as there is no difference between the person and the company. This means that there is little extra paperwork and regulations, but also that the sole trader is personally liable for any losses in the company.

It’s a good idea to weigh up early on whether you’d be better off setting up as a sole trader or if your business will benefit from being a limited company.

 

How to register sole trader name with Companies House

Sole traders do not need to be registered with Companies House. To register as a sole trader, you’ll need to:

  1. Keep records of your business sales and expenses
  2. Submit a self-assessment tax return every year
  3. Pay income tax on your profits
  4. You must have a national insurance number

 

Benefits of being a sole trader

You might be wondering how to register as a sole trader, and here is the good news: you just need to  so that they can list you for Self-Assessment and you are ready to go.

This means that there’s less paperwork to think about when you’re becoming a sole trader than there would be when you set up a limited company.

Because a sole trader and their business is one and there are no partners or investors, you have higher control to make your business decisions more confidently and quickly. You can also choose exactly where you want the business to go into the future. However, you can also be the only owner of a limited company, which gives you the same control as sole trading.

As a sole trader, you get to keep all profits after tax. You could channel some back into the business, but equally, you could choose to take it home. This is not very tax efficient though, as you’ll have to pay tax in all your profits even if they are reinvested in the business.

You can make your customer service and business more personal being a sole trader, as you don’t need to rely on others to keep your customers happy.

 

Being a sole trader and the challenges ahead

Let’s review what is a sole trader: it is a business structure where there is no separation between you as a person and you as a business. What this means is that if your business hits hard times, you will too. You’ll be liable for 100% of the debt of your business and, if your business fails, you could also lose your personal assets. This isn’t an issue with a limited company  – still easy to set up but with your personal risk limited to your investment in the company.

You may also find that the challenges faced every day by new business owners may be better shared. As a sole trader, you’re responsible for the good times and the bad, and you’ll need to put the hours in to make sure your business works.

As a sole trader, you may also find you put in longer hours or that you just can’t switch off from work. Plus, if you’re off sick or you’d like to go on holiday your business will need to go on hold while you’re off too.

 

Regulations – what does a sole trader need to do?

You don’t need to register as a sole trader, just let HMRC know you are planning to start trading and you are good to go, but you do still need to keep records of your business finances, including income, expenses and profits.

When it comes to tax you’ll need to register with the HMRC and pay National Insurance contributions (NICs) and income tax. These will be checked via your Self Assessment tax return each year. It is recommended to set up a different bank account to keep your personal and professional finances separately.

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Upgrade for support and peace of mind

Get up and running with everything you need to start and run your business. Subscribe and let us take care of your on-going filing requirements.

Starter

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+VAT

PER YEAR

RRP £220, SAVE 86%

Limited company

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Business phone number

Business bank account

Tax and accounting

Digital docs

Confirmation statement

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Company Filling Edits

Dormant Returns

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Limited Company documents

Certificate of Incorporation:

The certificate provides confirmation that your company has been incorporated under the Companies Act 2006.

Memorandum and Articles of Association:

The Memorandum of Association is a written legal agreement signed by all initial shareholders of a company, agreeing to form the company. Articles of Association are the written rules which define how the company will be run. These rules are agreed on and signed by the company director, shareholders and secretary.

Share certificates:

If a company is limited by shares, a Shareholder Certificate is sent out at the time of incorporation or just after incorporation. The certificate includes information such as the company’s registered address, plus the names and addresses of the shareholders.

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Business Bank Account:

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Bookkeeping software:

Bookkeeping software is essential for a new limited company as it's a legal requirement to keep financial records of the company. It can also save you a lot of time and money, even if you’re not ready to trade yet!

Business phone number:

Every business needs a new phone number and bOnline is here to make it clear and simple. You’ll get a new phone number with unlimited calls free for 90-days and only £9 per month, thereafter, so you can keep your business and personal numbers separate.Every business needs a new phone number and bOnline is here to make it clear and simple. You’ll get a new phone number with unlimited calls free for 90-days and only £9 per month, thereafter, so you can keep your business and personal numbers separate.

First board meeting minutes:

Even if you’re both a shareholder and director of your company, you’ll still need to hold an initial board meeting. It’s a legal requirement that if requested, you can provide the first board meeting minutes, as it is proof that a company director was formally appointed. At The Formations Company, we’ll provide you with a template to easily fill out your minutes.

Company must haves

Business Bank Account:

It’s a legal requirement to have a business bank account as a limited company. We’ve handpicked a range of different types of business bank accounts to suit all types of business. You can even get up to £100 cashback with some of our business bank accounts!

Bookkeeping software:

Bookkeeping software is essential for a new limited company as it's a legal requirement to keep financial records of the company. It can also save you a lot of time and money, even if you’re not ready to trade yet!

Business phone number:

Every business needs a new phone number and bOnline is here to make it clear and simple. You’ll get a new phone number with unlimited calls free for 90-days and only £9 per month, thereafter, so you can keep your business and personal numbers separate.Every business needs a new phone number and bOnline is here to make it clear and simple. You’ll get a new phone number with unlimited calls free for 90-days and only £9 per month, thereafter, so you can keep your business and personal numbers separate.

Guides and support

Hub business manager:

You can manage your business from your Hub business manager. Access invoices, company details and any additional services you might need, including bank accounts, insurance, websites and much more!You can manage your business from your Hub business manager. Access invoices, company details and any additional services you might need, including bank accounts, insurance, websites and much more!

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A 3 in 1 service that protects your privacy, all other directors privacy and includes our mail forwarding service.

Registered office address:

On the public register, use our address as the business’s registered office address

Service address:

On the public register, use our address as all the directors service address

Mail forwarding:

Quick and efficient mail forwarding and junk mail filtering. No additional handling or postage fees.

Registered agent

Free for 12 months with this bundle

A 3 in 1 service that protects your privacy, all other directors privacy and includes our mail forwarding service.

Registered office address:

On the public register, use our address as the business’s registered office address

Service address:

On the public register, use our address as all the directors service address

Mail forwarding:

Quick and efficient mail forwarding and junk mail filtering. No additional handling or postage fees.

Registered agent

A 3 in 1 service that protects your privacy, all other directors privacy and includes our mail forwarding service.

Registered office address:

On the public register, use our address as the business’s registered office address

Service address:

On the public register, use our address as all the directors service address

Mail forwarding:

Quick and efficient mail forwarding and junk mail filtering. No additional handling or postage fees.

Digital scan and send

We'll digitally scan all your mail, then email you a copy, making sure you get it ASAP.

Company admin

Our experts will take care of all the complicated companies house fillings you might need:

Confirmation Statement:

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Dissolution service:

If you decide to close your limited company, you'll have to let Companies House know. There are several different ways of doing this depending on the circumstances of why you're closing your limited company.

Our experts will take care and take the necessary course of action with Companies House, should you need it.

Dormant returns

If you’re company has no ‘significant’ transactions in the financial year, it’s classed as dormant. In this case, we’ll file a Company Tax Return to show HMRC that your company is dormant so you don’t have to.

Company filling edits

At some point in your business's lifetime you'll need to make changes, be it changing a directors details, removing/adding a shareholder, a change of address or even changing the company name.

Company admin

Our experts will take care of all the complicated companies house fillings you might need:

Confirmation Statement:

A confirmation statement is a snapshot of all the information about the company directors to make sure that Companies House's records are up to date. It's a legal requirement for limited companies to file a confirmation statement at least once every 12 months.

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Crunch - Limited Company Pro

Crunch combine market-leading online accounting software with a team of expert accountants and client managers to create the UK’s greatest self-employed accounting solution.

PAYE Registration

Many business owners decide to pay themselves a wage below the tax threshold via PAYE. Make sure you are registered correctly by letting us handle this for you.

VAT, PAYE & MTD Registration

We'll take care of registering your business for VAT, PAYE and MTD. leave the complicated admin work to us and focus on your getting your limited company up and running.

VAT Registration

Crunch combine market-leading online accounting software with a team of expert accountants and client managers to create the UK’s greatest self-employed accounting solution.

Check & Send Service

Before your application is submitted to Companies House, be sure it is 100% complete and correct. One in ten applications are rejected the first time around, resulting in longer wait times.

International ID Check

If your residential address is not in the UK, we will need to run an international ID check to verify your details.

Fraud Protection Service

Protect your company from fraud by preventing changes being submitted via paper forms and secure your account with added notifications if anything changes.

PSC Online Register

By law all UK Ltd companies must have a 'Persons of significant control' register. Our online register is a simple and cost effective way to safeguard you and your business.

PSC Online & Printed Register and Minutes

By law all UK Ltd companies must have a 'Persons of significant control' register. Not only will you get an online register, but you£ll also get a printed version of it and minutes.

All bundle add-ons

Crunch - Limited Company Pro

Crunch combine market-leading online accounting software with a team of expert accountants and client managers to create the UK’s greatest self-employed accounting solution.

Registered Agent Monthly and Yearly

3 in 1 service that protects all directors, shareholders, PSC's and your personal address details. All your mail will be sent our London office address where we will filter out the junk and swiftly forward all important correspondence.

PAYE Registration

Many business owners decide to pay themselves a wage below the tax threshold via PAYE. Make sure you are registered correctly by letting us handle this for you.

VAT, PAYE & MTD Registration

We'll take care of registering your business for VAT, PAYE and MTD. leave the complicated admin work to us and focus on your getting your limited company up and running.

VAT Registration

Crunch combine market-leading online accounting software with a team of expert accountants and client managers to create the UK’s greatest self-employed accounting solution.

Check & Send Service

Before your application is submitted to Companies House, be sure it is 100% complete and correct. One in ten applications are rejected the first time around, resulting in longer wait times.

International ID Check

If your residential address is not in the UK, we will need to run an international ID check to verify your details.

Fraud Protection Service

Protect your company from fraud by preventing changes being submitted via paper forms and secure your account with added notifications if anything changes.

PSC Online Register

By law all UK Ltd companies must have a 'Persons of significant control' register. Our online register is a simple and cost effective way to safeguard you and your business.

PSC Online & Printed Register and Minutes

By law all UK Ltd companies must have a 'Persons of significant control' register. Not only will you get an online register, but you£ll also get a printed version of it and minutes.

Knowledge hub

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The Formations Company and Companies House

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What is a Private Limited Company?

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How long does it take to register a new company?

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When should I change from sole trader to limited company?

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Limited Company Vs Sole Trader: Advantages and Disadvantages

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Setting up a limited company for contracting

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