Tag Archives: Small Business Advice

When is the right time to start a business?


First thing’s first: as any entrepreneur will tell you, there’s never a right time to start a business.

You’ll always have reasons to delay your project. Maybe you find the thought of losing financial security too daunting, or perhaps you’re struggling to get to grips with how the company creation process works.

But if you wait for the perfect moment, the opportunity might pass you by entirely.

That said, the trick to launching a start-up or small business successfully is creating a strong brand story and purpose; offering something your customers need, and something your industry isn’t expecting.

There are also other factors to consider, such as how confident you feel in your abilities, and how comfortable you feel with your decision to go it alone.

Here, we’ve listed a few things you’ll need to think about before you quit the 9 to 5 and start something new.


Aspects to consider when starting a small business in the UK


Are you knowledgeable enough?

You don’t need to have 30 years’ experience in your field to start your own company – but you should have a solid understanding of your products or services, and your industry as a whole. 


Is there a demand for your product or services?

If it’s already been done, you’ll struggle to compete – but if you’ve come up with a completely new concept, your idea is much more likely to gain traction. Before you take the plunge, make sure what you’re planning to offer will fill a gap in your market and satisfy a very real demand within a specific demographic. In many cases, the more you can niche down, the better! 


How will you fund your start-up?

Every new business needs capital. Bear in mind that, if you want to raise funds from external investors, you’ll need to put together a sound business plan with clear financial projections. There are also many available grants and bank loans created specifically for small businesses. 

You may also consider trying crowdfunding as an alternative to the traditional channels of funding. Many start-ups found their funds on websites such as Kickstarter.Crowdfunding is a successful and exciting way to engage with a future audience and have a community feel to your enterprise. 

However, crowdfunding can be time consuming and requires a lot of forethought. You’ll need to decide what you may give to your crowdfunders as an incentive, how long it may take to reach a funding goal, and whether your idea is something which people will support. 

Of course, you don’t need millions and millions to begin a business, starting a new venture with limited start-up capital is doable, and in the long run can be super profitable. 


Where will you be based?

Plenty of successful start-ups and even more established businesses are run from home. Amazon was famously founded in Jeff Bezos’ garage. Most small companies can function perfectly from home, but if you plan to host client meetings or prefer to work outside of your home, you may choose to use a co-working space or rentable meeting rooms as a day office

There are many things to consider when deciding on basing your business from home. Firstly, do you have the budget to afford renting an office? Do you have space and the discipline to work from home? Do you hope to employ staff from the start? And more.

 If all you need to run your business is WiFi, a laptop and yourself, then maybe home is the best venue. However, you can register a virtual office for your company to keep your residential address out of the public eye and give you the professionalism of an office address. 


Are you truly ready to become self-employed?

Self-employment is incredibly liberating and rewarding – but it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted! From promoting your business through to managing your tax affairs, the buck stops with you when you’re running your own organisation – and you’ll almost certainly be working long hours, at least while you’re finding your feet. Make sure you’re ready to embrace all the ups and downs that will come with your new situation before you commit to creating a company.

However, by leaning on all available resources such as using an accountant or a company formation agent (like us!) can help you take the hassle out of registering your company and starting your business from scratch.  We offer a range of solutions designed to support new business owners, plus plenty of additional services and resources to guide you along your way. Explore our packages here.


The pros and cons of using a virtual office address


What is a virtual office?

If you’re in the process of starting your own business, you’ll soon need to think about where you want to be located.

Traditionally, as a new company owner, you will look to rent an office in the area you want to serve. But this can be a costly option, especially if you’re a new start-up with limited capital.

Cash-conscious entrepreneurs are increasingly choosing virtual offices over physical offices, as it allows them to work remotely – often from home – while still having an ‘official’ local business address to their name. 

Remember, a virtual office address shouldn’t be confused with a service address.

The case for getting a virtual office address

All the features of a physical office with fewer costs

One of the biggest reasons to get a virtual address is, you can get all the benefits of having a physical location, without paying additional overheads.

As well as being provided with a mailing address – which allows you to send and receive post at a secure location – you can often choose to pay for additional phone and voicemail services, printing services, and even a shared receptionist, who will be trained to answer calls as if they are a part of your company. All these features will make your company appear much more professional and credible from day one. 

Some virtual address providers host co-working and meeting room spaces, too, so you’ll have somewhere you can hire for chats with colleagues, suppliers, and clients.


No daily commute

Forget jumping on a jam-packed train first thing in the morning or battling through rush-hour traffic every day of your working week. As long as you have the right equipment and a good WiFi connection to hand, you can work from wherever you like when you have a virtual office address – even the comfort of your own living room, if you want to. You’ll save a lot of money on fuel or public transport, and you may find that you’re more productive when you have the flexibility to switch up your working environment as you please.


Expand into new markets with ease

If you want to find new customers in a different area, purchasing a virtual office address can allow you to start building a presence in this region without setting up shop miles away from your HQ.


The downsides of running a virtual office

 No space for staff or clients

If you don’t rent your own physical office, you will never have a permanent base for your team. Even though fully remote working is increasingly becoming the norm, it’s no secret that remote staff take longer to bond, which means you may struggle to create strong relationships and develop that all-important company culture. You could of course combat this by arranging regular team socials in different venues – but it’s often difficult to keep staff wholly engaged without regular face-to-face interactions.

You’ll also need to consider how far you may need to travel for meetings if you can’t invite your clients to your own premises. You’ll need to pay for the journey, plus other related expenses, such as accommodation and food.


An unsettled work/life balance

In our view, this is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

Living and working in the same location can blur the lines somewhat, resulting in fewer boundaries in terms of how many hours you are willing to work, and leading to longer working days. Plus, you may benefit from having time to get into ‘work mode’ during your morning commute and decompress after a hectic day on the way back.


Home distractions

Some people thrive when they’re working from home, while others struggle to separate their professional life from their home life or feel too isolated when they’re away from the typical office environment. If you know you’re someone who would rather clean the kitchen than tackle that tricky project, you may want to invest in a dedicated workspace instead of setting up in your spare room.


Contact Companies MadeSimple for more information on the benefits of getting a virtual office address. We offer virtual office addresses and other services as part of our company formation packages.

Inspiration: Take the Plunge! Why you should start your small business journey today.




Small and medium businesses account for 99.9% of the UK’s business population, they are the backbone of the UK economy. With advances in digital technology, global connectivity and a changing consumer consciousness, there has never been a better suited time to start your business. 

If you’re a wannabe future entrepreneur and need that final push to take the plunge and start your own business, read on. 

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The Flat Rate VAT Scheme Explained




If you are a business owner in the UK, you might be familiar with the concept of Value Added Tax (VAT). VAT is a tax on the value added to goods and services, as a business owner, you are required to register for VAT if your taxable turnover exceeds a certain threshold. 

While VAT can be a complex subject for many small businesses, the UK government has introduced the Flat Rate VAT Scheme as a way to simplify the process of VAT Return for small businesses. 

But what is the Flat Rate VAT Scheme, and who can benefit from it?


What is the Flat Rate VAT Scheme?

The Flat Rate VAT Scheme is an alternative way for small businesses to calculate and pay VAT to HMRC. Under this scheme, instead of calculating the VAT owed on every sale and purchase, you apply a fixed rate percentage to your gross turnover. The rate is determined by your business sector, i.e. photography or catering, and takes into account the average VAT incurred by businesses in your sector.


How does the Flat Rate VAT Scheme work?

To join the Flat Rate VAT Scheme your business must: 

  • Be VAT registered
  • Have an annual turnover below £150,000 per year (excluding VAT). 

Unlike other VAT services, you must apply to the flat rate scheme. It is recommended you speak with an accountant or professional before joining the scheme. You can use a formation agent to assist you with your application to the scheme.

You can not join the scheme if your business:

  • Has left the scheme within the last 12 months 
  • Has committed a VAT offence within the past year, such as VAT evasion
  • Are closely associated with (close financial or organisational ties) to another business. 
  • Has joined (or was eligible to join) a VAT group in the last 24 months 
  • You’ve joined a margin or capital goods VAT scheme

You also can not use the scheme with the Cash Accounting Scheme. 


Example for how the Flat Rate VAT Scheme works:

If you are a software developer and your sector rate is 10%, and your gross turnover for a quarter is £10,000, you would calculate your VAT as follows:

  • Gross turnover: £10,000
  • VAT at 20%: £2,000
  • Flat rate VAT at 10%: £1,000
  • Total VAT owed to HMRC: £1,000

As you can see from the example above, under the Flat Rate VAT Scheme, you pay a lower amount of VAT than the standard 20% rate. This is because the percentage you apply already takes into account the average VAT incurred by businesses in your sector.

It’s important to note that under the Flat Rate VAT Scheme, you cannot reclaim VAT on your purchases, except for certain capital assets over £2,000 (including VAT). This is because the fixed rate percentage you apply already includes the VAT you incur on your purchases.


Cons of the Flat Rate VAT Scheme

Your business may not benefit from the Flat Rate Scheme for a few reasons. Many service led businesses, such as contractors, spend little on goods. Therefore, VAT may not be a big expense for you. 

Secondly, if your business buys or sells goods from outside of the UK, such as a drop shipping business, the scheme will be more complex for you. 


Disclaimer: This blog is for general information about the Flat Rate VAT scheme, and is based on our understanding of the laws at time of writing. As tax laws are subject to revisions we recommend you consult a professional before making any tax related decisions or if you require any further information in the contents. 


3 Ways To Optimise TikTok for your Business



How to form your freelance writing business

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms out there. With over 30 million daily users and a hyper-curated user algorithm, it’s a great place to promote your small business. 

However, getting started on TikTok can be daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with the platform or any social media. In this blog post, we’ll go through three key tips on how to optimise TikTok for your small business.

Before beginning, you may want to claim your username, even if you are planning to start later. Just like making sure your business’ name is claimed and free for use before forming your company. 


1. Understand your audience, understand their trends.

The first question to ask yourself is, who is your audience, what kind of videos would pop up on their FYP (For You Page). TikTok curates a feed based on the user, this is why you might hear terms like ‘BookTok’ or ‘I’m on the F1 side of TikTok’. 

If your business sells high end scented candles, perhaps your audience is engaging with the ‘self-care’ side of TikTok. Once you’ve determined an audience, look at the kind of sounds and video formats trending under ‘Self-Care’ and start building a strategy from there. 


2. Consistency

TikTok is all about consistency. To optimise your TikTok account, you need to post often. This may sound daunting, but not every video has to be high quality or even clever. As long as you make use of sounds and trends, even a short 3-6 second video has the potential to reach thousands. 

Make sure your video content is relevant to your services or products, but have fun with it. The audience on TikTok do not require 4K, professionally lit videos, as long as you show authenticity and personality, your videos have the potential to go viral. 


3. Engage your audience

Engaging with your followers is a great way to optimise your TikTok account. When someone comments on your video, respond to them. If someone tags you in a post, thank them. By engaging with your followers, you’ll build a loyal fan base that will help promote your business. It is a great way to receive feedback on your products and services, conduct market research before launching and cultivate a loyal fanbase for your business. 

There are many ways to ensure the success of your business, by utilising TikTok you are sure to start your marketing plan on the right foot. Read our blog for more advice on how to create, own and operate a successful business.


Advantages of using a co-working space


WorkHub, Central London Co-Woking space, displaying a pink meeting room and a long work bench

In recent years, co-working spaces have become increasingly popular among professionals seeking a flexible and collaborative work environment. 

A co-working space is a shared workspace where individuals from different companies and industries work alongside each other. 

If you are a smaller company, or just yourself, you may want to consider a co-working space. 

Here are some of the advantages of using a co-working space:

  1. Cost-effective: Co-working spaces are typically more cost-effective than traditional office spaces. Rent, utilities, and other expenses are covered through your booking/membership, making it more affordable for individuals or small businesses.
  2. Networking opportunities: Co-working spaces provide an opportunity to meet and connect with other professionals from different industries. This can lead to potential collaborations, partnerships, and even new clients.
  3. Flexibility: Co-working spaces offer a flexible work environment where individuals can choose to work whenever they want. This is particularly useful for freelancers, remote workers, or those who have irregular work schedules.
  4. Productivity: Working in a co-working space can boost productivity by providing a structured and professional work environment. Co-working spaces are designed to facilitate work, with amenities such as high-speed internet, printing, and meeting rooms.
  5. Credibility: Co-working spaces often have meeting rooms, which you can book to host your clients or suppliers. This can add a level of professionalism to your company operations. Secondly, having a quiet and well equipped space for meetings is more productive than using a noisy cafe or your home. 

Another additional benefit to using a co-working space with meeting rooms is being able to rent a room as a ‘day office’. By renting a ‘day office’ you can host a collaborative day with your team, a workshop or seminar for your clients and network. By using a co-working space you know you’ll have state of the art equipment, adequate space and a good location for a fraction of the cost. It is an easy way to level up your business or treat your employees. 

Overall, co-working spaces offer a cost-effective, flexible, and collaborative work environment, with numerous benefits for individuals and small businesses. For Companies Made Simple clients, our ultimate package gives you free access to our modern state of the art WorkHub, based near Old Street Station in London, UK. 



5 ways to set up your small business for success.



A lady on a business phone call in her small business workshop

Starting a small business can be an exciting and rewarding endeavour, but it also requires careful planning and a strong strategy to achieve success. As a small business owner, it’s important to set your business up for success from the very beginning. 

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

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What government grants are currently available to small businesses?


If you’re planning to launch your own business, there’s no harm in asking for help.

There are hundreds of government-run grants available to British entrepreneurs who want to lower their start-up costs, invest in innovation, and achieve much faster growth.

If you’re keen to take advantage of government grants for opening a small business, here’s our pick of some of the most useful schemes available right now in the UK.

Follow the links provided to learn more about the criteria for each initiative and find out if you are eligible to apply.

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

As one of the government’s most popular schemes for small businesses, SEIS provides tax efficient benefits to investors who provide early-stage funding to start-ups. If you’re successful, you’ll get access to much-needed capital, plus the skills and experience of investors with contacts and expertise in your sector.

The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme

The Prince’s Trust provides training, mentoring and financial support to help businesses develop great ideas and launch their products or services with confidence. The programme is open to UK citizens between the ages of 16-30 and offers grants of between £175 and £250. To be eligible, you will need to be working less than 16 hours a week (or unemployed) or studying for less than 14 hours a week.

British Council Grants

British Council government grants deliver finance for research, travel, and workshops through Going Global Partnerships. Funds can be used to support partnerships with universities, colleges, education policy makers and other bodies in the UK and internationally. These partnerships tend to be focused on projects relating to climate change, public health, and teaching opportunities.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)

There are 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) between local authorities and businesses in the UK, which are organised and managed within various regional Growth Hubs. According to the LEP website, LEPs exist to empower local companies, generate private investment, and boost jobs and skills, amongst other benefits.

UnLtd Awards

Comprised of both funding and support, UnLtd Awards are for social entrepreneurs: those who have started, or are looking to start, a business with a distinct social cause (sometimes called a profit for purpose organisation). There’s up to £8,000 available for new organisations, and up to £18,000 available for more established companies between 1-4 years old that need help scaling up their operations.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency, which supports business-led innovation in all sectors, technologies, and regions across the country. It helps small companies hit their research and development goals by providing funding at various points throughout the year.

Research & Development Tax Credit Scheme

Research and development (R&D) tax credits aren’t considered government grants as such – but this type of tax relief is a brilliant option for businesses that can prove they are investing in new products, services, systems, or processes that have not yet been explored in their industry.

You can apply for R&D tax credits if you are embarking on a project that is scientifically or technologically uncertain, and you may even be eligible for this relief if your project is unsuccessful. Find more information on R&D tax credits on gov.uk.

The grants listed here represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything the UK government can offer start-ups and smaller businesses. Whichever scheme you choose, we wish you the best of luck with your application!