You might not think it, but now is an excellent time to start your own business – I even have the statistics to prove it. It’s looking likely that the UK economy will finally come back into life in 2013, while the number of corporate failures has also fallen recently. What’s more, you’d be in good company. According to official government figures, the number of people working for themselves has grown by 367,000 since 2008, to more than four million today.
Having worked on the launch of the UK arm of Rocket Lawyer, I can honestly say that setting up a new business can be a very enjoyable experience – but also hard work. My experience has reminded me that all successful start-ups need the same key ingredients: a great product or service, great marketing to attract new customers, and sufficient cash to keep going for the crucial first few months.
As a lawyer, I’m also very aware that new business owners need to have a basic understanding of some of the key legal rules affecting their venture. For example, you might have thought of a brilliant name for your new offering. However, before you go to the expense of printing your marketing literature, it makes sense to check that you’ll be allowed to call your business by its chosen identity first. To help you come up with an acceptable business name, you might also want to familiarise yourself with the basics of trademark law.
You’ll also need to draw up some basic documents, which will allow your business to function. If you’re setting up with colleagues, but want to keep the paperwork to a minimum, you might want to trade as a limited liability partnership. But, if your idea is more financially risky, you might prefer trading as a company – in which case a shareholder agreement is useful, to protect all investors’ interests. Don’t worry, the pro and cons of the various alternatives are easy to compare – just take a look at the introductory guide my team has put together, Choosing Your Business Structure.
If you’re still not sure what option is best for you, we can help. If you become a Rocket Lawyer member, you get a free consultation with one of our on-call lawyers to help you evaluate your options. We’ve put together a crack team across England and Wales, and they’re all really helpful.
As a lawyer, I’ve seen what can happen when businesses get caught up in expensive, and completely avoidable, legal disputes – all because they hadn’t got the right legal documents in place when they first started out. For me, being legally savvy is like taking out insurance, or installing a fire alarm. Hopefully, you’ll never need to rely on the safeguards you’ve put in place. But, if you do, you’ll be very grateful those safeguards exist.