business start-ups

Set up your start-up for success.

Business start-up legal advice

When setting up a business, getting specialist legal advice at the start is essential.

Having legal advice on business structures, terms of business, financing, intellectual property, employment law, and business premises can avoid a wide range of pitfalls and problems which could be hard to resolve at a later stage.

Here at Wilkin Chapman, we understand that every business is different. Our business start-up solicitors will provide expert advice, to ensure that all your bases are covered and that the potential for disruption to your new operation is minimised. This allows you to concentrate on the idea that inspired your new business venture.

Choosing your business structure

Getting your business structure right at the start could save you time and money in the long run.

There are several key differences between the type of business structure you could choose. Your choice of business structure will impact how you are paid or draw money out of the business, the tax you will pay, and whether or not you are personally liable for the debts of your business.

Our solicitors will share their extensive knowledge and experience to assess your strategy and find the structure that’s right for you. By familiarising ourselves with your goals and objectives, we will provide commercially sound legal advice for your new business.

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  1. Sole trader

    A sole trader is a self-employed person who owns and runs their business as an individual.

    This is one of the most straightforward ways to set up a business; however, you will be personally liable for the business, meaning that your personal assets could be at risk if the business were to become insolvent or face a legal claim.

  2. Partnership

    A partnership is formed by two or more parties jointly managing and operating a business.

    With this business structure, the partners personally share responsibility for the business including any losses or bills due. They also share the profits and pay tax on their own share.

    In a general partnership, the partners’ personal assets could be at risk in the event of a legal claim made against the partnership. In contrast, a limited liability partnership limits liability to the partners’ contributions to the business – not your personal assets.

  3. Limited company

    The company is legally separate from the people who run it and has separate finances from you personally. There are benefits in terms of tax efficiency and limiting personal liability for the business.

    Limited companies must, however, be incorporated at Companies House and are subject to certain regulations and restrictions. Companies are required to adhere to strict record-keeping requirements and must have a formal set of accounts prepared each year which will be filed at Companies House. This results in additional costs and administrative burden compared to other business structures.

Dealing with suppliers and customers

Whether you’re trading with the public or other businesses, it’s important to ensure that your terms and conditions are comprehensive.

If you are supplying, producing, or purchasing goods or services, then you should make sure that your procedures ensure that your terms and conditions are incorporated and that they take priority over any that a customer or supplier may try to impose.

If you sell goods or services through a website, it is important to have terms tailored specifically to internet sales as the relevant legislation provides customers with different rights to cancel or return when purchasing online.

Our specialist start-up solicitors will help you by drafting new terms and conditions or reviewing your current set and by taking into account the operations of your start-up, we will offer advice and guidance on what you need to include.

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Your terms should offer enough protection to you and your business.

As a minimum, your terms should include:

  • A limitation clause to limit your liability as far as legally possible

  • Payment obligations, including what happens in the event of delay or non-payment

  • Title and ownership terms, to ensure ownership of your goods does not pass until full payment is received

These terms need to meet relevant legislation requirements and the requirements will differ depending on whether you are trading with other businesses or members of the public, which are highly regulated by consumer rights regulations.

Financing a start-up business

Whether it’s a start-up business grant or a business start-up loan, securing finance is another vital step in the process of starting your business.

Investors need to be confident of a return on their investment, while banks need assurance that a loan will be repaid.

Banks will therefore often require security for monies loaned. Before you enter into any type of security arrangement with a bank, it is advisable, and often a requirement, that you discuss the implications with a solicitor.

Our start-up team will advise you on any requirements of an investor or lender and, wherever possible, ensure that both you and your assets are protected.

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Ways to finance a start-up

  1. Bootstrapping

    Bootstrapping is when an entrepreneur starts a business relying on their own personal money and assets to fund everything themselves.

  2. Asset finance

    If you need vehicles or machinery, asset finance can be a handy solution. The asset can be used as collateral, reducing the lender’s risk. Common financing options include contract leasing and hire purchase.

  3. Business start-up loans

    Entrepreneurs may be able to acquire a loan from a bank or other lender to fund their start-ups. You may need to provide security for the loan, such as a charge over your property or a director’s personal guarantee. Lenders often require detailed financial information before agreeing to the loan, such as a cash flow forecast.

  4. Start-up business grants

    Business grants are an alternative source of finance provided by the government or private organisations. You typically have to submit an application and your eligibility for a grant may depend on a number of factors, such as location or sector.

    There are several government business finance support initiatives aimed at those starting a new business.

  5. Third-party equity investors

    For start-up businesses that require a significant amount of start-up capital to get going, an equity investor may be the best option.

    Types of third-party equity investors include business angels, venture capitalists, and individual investors.

Protecting your ideas

In business, it’s not just your financial assets that require protection. All businesses will own at least some intellectual property (IP).

The principal forms of IP are copyright, trade marks, designs, and patents. It is possible to register certain IP both in the UK and worldwide, which gives protection from competitors using your IP and can provide you with a commercial advantage in the future.

Our business start-up solicitors will provide expert IP legal advice, working with you to identify the steps you need to take to protect your IP.

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  1. Copyright

    Copyright protects your work and prevents others from using it without permission. Copyright is an automatic protection, meaning you don’t have to register it or pay a fee.

    Examples of work with automatic copyright protection include original artistic work such as illustrations, photography, web content, databases, and music recordings.

  2. Trade marks

    A trade mark is a recognisable design, sign, or expression that identifies your product or service from others. With trade mark protection, you can take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without permission.

    You must register a trade mark so you can use the trade mark ® symbol. Once registered, trade mark protection lasts for ten years and registration can be renewed.

  3. Designs

    A design registration protects the appearance of your product, such as a recognisable shape or pattern. Registering your design makes it easier to prove that it is legally yours and helps you pursue legal action if someone tries to copy or use your design.

    Design registration lasts five years, and you can renew the registration every five years (up to a maximum of 25 years).

  4. Patents

    A patent protects new inventions. You must apply for a patent with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), by paying a fee and submitting detailed documents that describe your invention.

    Patents last five years, and you must renew it every year thereafter up to a maximum of 20 years.

Ready to get started?

We’re always there for you. Why not contact us today for a chat about your new business venture?

Covering all bases

Here at Wilkin Chapman, we have extensive experience working with business start-ups to develop long-lasting relationships with them. We are dedicated to helping businesses to reach their full potential.

As the leading law firm in Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire, our solicitors can draw upon an abundance of knowledge and experience across a wide variety of disciplines to provide holistic, cost-effective solutions tailored to your needs.

  1. Employment advice

    You must ensure that you follow a non-discriminatory recruitment process, from placing your advertisement to selecting the most appropriate candidate. It is a legal requirement to have a contract of employment in place, together with disciplinary and grievance procedures.

    Our employment law experts will work with you as a first-time employer, from helping to draw up contracts to writing job adverts or any other aspects of recruitment.

  2. Business premises

    When looking to rent premises for your business to operate from, there are a number of factors to consider:

    • The length of the term and whether you have the option to ‘break’
      Consider whether the length of the term is right for your business and try to negotiate break clauses to enable you to leave early if things don’t work out.

    • Can you afford the annual rent?
      Rent is usually paid quarterly in advance and late payment will incur interest. Do not overstretch yourself.

    • Repairs
      Will you be responsible for the repair of the whole premises or only the interior? Is the property in good structural repair?

    • Registration and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
      On all property transactions, the purchaser or tenant must check whether any SDLT is payable. This is determined by the length of the term and the rent. The majority of leases must be registered at HM Land Registry.

    Our team of commercial property experts will guide you through this process, offering help and advice at each stage, ensuring that you secure premises that work for you and your business.

  3. Working from home

    If you wish to run your business from your home then it is important to check your property deeds for restrictions on carrying out such activities. You will also need to check with your local planning authority whether they will require a ‘change of use’ to take place to show that part of the property is being used for business purposes.

    We will help you to decide if running your business from home is the right option for you and help you to check for any restrictions.

  4. Regulatory issues

    For your business to run smoothly you need to ensure you have the appropriate policies and procedures in place to deal with a multitude of situations. Some policies are also a legal requirement.

    Whether you need help with a complaints policy or support with data protection obligations, our regulatory experts will advise you on the processes you need to incorporate within your business and help with drafting the relevant policies for a whole range of areas.

  5. Commercial disputes

    Whilst nobody intends for disputes to arise, it is crucial for a new business to consider potential disputes and how to resolve them from the outset. You must be careful in managing disputes to ensure that they do not become detrimental to your business growth.

    Our commercial dispute resolution solicitors will advise you about the dispute resolution mechanisms available for contracts you enter into, and will assist in resolving any disputes should they happen to arise further down the line.

  6. Health and safety

    As a business owner, you are responsible for the health and safety of all people affected by your business. You should ensure that you have health and safety policies, risk assessments, documented accident reporting processes, and training programmes.

    We can put you in touch with an expert health and safety advisor who can help.

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  7. Insurance

    As soon as your business begins trading you will need business insurance to protect you from both smaller everyday risks and larger unexpected claims.

    We can put you in touch with a broker who can assist you with putting insurance in place with the right type of cover.

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Contact a business start-up solicitor

Submit an enquiry and one of our team of experts will be in touch as soon as possible to discuss your needs.

Or call the corporate and commercial team on 01472 253929

Adam Ottley, Wilkin Chapman LLP
Partner Adam Ottley 01472 253929 Grimsby
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