Starting a business

The biggest barrier to starting out on your own is the decision to actually do it in the first place.

But once you take the first step on that journey, you might be surprised at how far you can go.

To help you along your way we've spoken to experts in everything from finding a unique business idea, to getting the money to fund it all the way through to secrets and tips from people who've made it themselves.

Developing your business ideas

You don't need to reinvent the wheel to make money for yourself, rather than someone else (although if you can, you could end up richer than Elon Musk).

But whether your idea is completely new or a new version of something you're already doing, it's worth taking a good look at it before you make the leap to self-employment.

Here are our guides to finding, developing and reinforcing your business ideas:

How to turn business ideas into a profitable company

What's involved in turning a business idea into a going concern - and should you bother in the first place Here we explain how to tell if you idea for a business is actually a good one in reality, and what the next steps to making it happen.

How to tell if a business idea is any good
Man writing a business plan, filing accounts for a small business

How to write a business plan

Why will your business thrive and be successful when so many others fail? The answer will be found in your business plan.

Business plans made simple
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Can you start a business from home?

Everyone’s heard the stories of billionaires starting their businesses from a bedroom at home, but setting up a start up takes careful planning and there are hidden costs. This is what you need to know to get it right

What you need to check for

Does your business need its own account?

you can open a free business bank account as soon as you have evidence of trading - and the right one can make your life an awful lot simpler

Taking your first steps

Some businesses can be started with nothing more than a phone and some free time, others need a little more investment before they can start making money.

Either way, you'll need to make it official at some point by registering if starts making even a moderate amount of cash - it's that or get hammered by the taxman on your profits.

This is what you need to know to get your business set up:

A toddler, dressed in a suit, carrying a load of cash

How to fund your business idea

If there’s one thing budding entrepreneurs have in abundance it’s ideas. But great concepts often amount to nothing without the financial oomph to make them real. Here we explore how to get the money needed to earn your fortune.

Where yo look for the money you need
Home working, self employed, startup, entrepreneur, laptop, phone call

How to register a business?

Here’s everything you need to know to make sure your side hustle is legitimate including the difference between being a sole trader and a limited partnership, which might be right for you, and the deadlines and paperwork you need to consider

What you need to get ready now
Craftsman In Carpentry Workshop small business SME

Sole trader or limited company?

There comes a time when a good idea starts to look like something that’ll make a significant amount of money. When this happens, you won’t just attract customers as HMRC will also take an interest. So, what do you do? Here's how to choose the right structure for your business

What structures mean in practice


Best business templates

No matter how unique your business idea is, there are some things almost all companies have to do to survive.

And, in many cases, having a handy template to follow can be the difference between securing investment or signing a new client and being politely told to shut the door behind you on the way out.

We've found some of the best free templates to use to give you the best chance of having people say "yes".

Cashflow forecast template

Cash flow forecasts are estimates how much money you expect your business to generate and what it will cost to run over a set period of time - for example a year.

This should include all your expected sources of income as well as expenses.

You'll need them to apply for business loans as well being useful to see how much cash you'll have left over to pay yourself each month.

Business plan template

If you're a new - or even existing - business, making a plan of where you are now, what you need to succeed and how you think it will go can prove incredibly useful.

Not only are they needed for some funding, but they help clarify your thoughts and set your priorities.

It's also a requirement if you're thinking about applying for one of the Government's Start Up Loans.

Invoice template

Businesses don't get very far unless you get someone to pay you.

And a good invoice can be the difference between making sure people stump up what they owe and scrambling for cash to keep the lights on for another month.

You can get software that builds and send these automatically, but here are some examples of what to include to get you going.

Compare startup loans

where to find someone willing to fund a new business

Business essentials

Every business needs to make money - even not-for-profit organisations still need an income after all.

And if you're making money, you'll probably need to pay tax on it too.

We explain what you'll need to know as your business grows - from the basics of making an invoice right the way through to the tax breaks you can find and even paying your first members of staff.

Bill, invoice, tax man laptop

How to make an invoice

If you’ve set up your own business, knowing how to create an invoice correctly is crucial to ensuring you get paid, as we explain.

Full guide to making an invoice
A woman interviewing another woman for a job in an informal setting

How to employ someone

If your business becomes successful enough, or you need a hand to get it started, you will need to think about employing staff to help out. But how do you pay them, what responsibilities do you have, and how much does it cost to employ someone?

What you need to check for
Self-assessment, SME, tax, admin, paperwork

Business tax explained

Business tax can be confusing, but if you run a small business it’s crucial to understand how much tax you’ll need to pay and when - or you could end up with a massive unexpected bill. Here’s all you need to know.

What you need to pay and when

Track your spending and earn rewards

get your firm's finances organised with a company credit card. Business credit cards could earn you rewards or save you money with low interest rates and fees

Protecting your business

Making sure your business is safe goes far beyond a padlock on a storage unit. Risks you face include everything from someone suing to an unexpected demand from the taxman.

These are the things you'll need to be aware of to make sure you're not hit with an unexpected bill that sinks your dream.

woman home small business side hustle working

What insurance do I need for my business?

No one wants to pay for something they may never use, but sometimes business insurance isn’t an optional extra. We explain when business insurance becomes a legal requirement, and when it’s a matter of choice

What you need to check for

How to claim on your business insurance

If your business suffers a financial loss, your insurance could cover the cost. Here is what you need to know about making a claim on your business insurance.

What you need to make a claim
woman working at desk

What is business interruption insurance?

If you're working by yourself, or with only one or two staff, almost any absence could hold you back. The good news is protection is available. Find out how business interruption insurance works to see if it could be right for you.

When it pays out

Follow the money

There's no sense in making things harder on yourself than you need to.

So, to make things a little easier, we've researched the places where you're most likely to find fellow entrepreneurs, where it's easiest to find funding and where people pay out the most cash to new businesses.

Side hustles aren’t the only way to grow your earnings

The side hustle capitals of the world

See where in the world is spending the most time on their side hustle, with more and more of us looking to turn our passions into payments.

See the cities ranked top
Startup Cities

The best locations for entrepreneurs

Where in the world boasts the best environment for launching a business? Our loan experts reveal which cities offer the most accommodating for a new business.

The best places to start a company
meta image graphic for innovation investment index

Innovation Investment Index

Governments around the globe recognise the need to promote, protect and finance the innovation economy to help new businesses to flourish. But which of the world’s economies are doing the most to drive innovation?

The places providing the most help

Taking it global

These days all you need is a website to have an international business - but if you're taking larger orders, or buying in stock from overseas you might want to think about a money transfer