Are you tempted by working for yourself?  Has it been thrust upon you by cutbacks made by your employer in the recession?

Here is some general advice for those about to start-up in business as a contractor or freelancer.

Be prepared

Use the time when you are setting up properly so that you:

  1. Discuss the best business structure with your accountant.
  2. Register your business with HMRC.
  3. Get any software you need to run your business and get familiar with it
  4. Get any equipment you need, laptops/computers/printers
  5. Get business cards and stationery printed
  6. Register with any Government agencies eg the Data Commissioner or other trade bodies

Sort out a workspace or office

Working from home can be appealing, you can put the washing on while you’re working and run errands, the downside is that the rest of the family can interrupt you and friends may not consider that you are truly working, so requests to baby sit or pet sit may cause frictions.  As you are going to be working and this will require concentration and focus you may be better with a “workspace”.  This could still be a room in the house that during office hours is out of bounds for the rest of the family, a garden office (there are a number of companies providing suitably wired and insulated outdoor offices), or a rented space.

Wherever you decide to work you will need a broadband link and potentially a business phone line, although there are some mobile packages that will allocate a fixed line number to come through to your mobile without the need for a fixed line itself.

Get online

Set up a website as soon as possible.  You will need to register the domain name you want to use and you may want to register the .com as well as the names just to stop someone else benefiting from your success.  You can build your own website or get a bespoke site made up.  Clearly there are cost implications in this but if you are expecting to get most of your business from the internet spending more for a bespoke site would seem a sensible investment.

There is an art in getting your website to the top of the rankings without paying for Google adwords.  Advice is available on the internet or in books.

Identify clients

Your website and businesses cards should reflect the business and make it clear what you do.  Make sure your marketing effort is focused on your client group.

Getting pricing right

If you are selling to the public it should be easy to get some comparison prices.  It can be harder if your clients are to be other businesses.  Do some mystery shopping (or get family to do it for you).  Some websites will give prices and this might help you set the range for your services.


Drawing up a business plan is very sensible and can help you identify all the costs involved in setting up your business, helping you to recognise the income you need to generate to support your family/mortgage and to ensure that you have any back-up funding in place before you need it.

If you expect to apply for a bank loan a well drafted  business plan will be essential.

Franchise or starting on your own

You can start a business on your own or you can tap into the expertise of others.  Franchise operations can cost a lot in initial outlay and annual fees but you do get help and assistance from the franchisor.

The Government is keen for the UK to create more jobs and self-employment is a growing trend.  There is plenty of help on the Business Link website or you can come to Clearways Accountants for start-up advice and assistance.