A limited company is a separate legal entity from its owners. As such, you’re protected by limited liability. Should your company go into debt, you’re only legally responsible up to the extent of the nominal value of your shares.
Running a limited company offers a more tax-efficient way to operate. Relative to sole traders, you’re able to pay a lower rate of income tax and NICs, as well as claim a wider range of allowable business expenses.
Being registered as a limited company also lends credibility to your company. This could lead to increased business opportunities, particularly for contractors, as it isn’t uncommon for established organisations to specify that they’ll only work with freelancers operating through their own limited company.
You’ll also benefit from easier access to funding. As a separate legal entity, your company presents a lower risk to lenders—which increases your chances of obtaining external financing at a lower interest rate, compared to sole traders. Additionally, you have the option of raising funds through selling shares.
If you're planning to start out on your own, one of the most important decisions you'll need to make is figuring out how you should structure your business.
As a freelancer, contractor or small business owner, there are three main types of legal structures you should consider:
It's a decision that requires careful consideration, and it's important that you seek advice from qualified professionals when you weigh out the pros and cons of each business structure. To begin with, you need to have a good grasp of the basics - and here's where our guide comes into the picture.
Limited companies provide numerous benefits, from tax savings to limiting your liability.
But the first step is to understand what a limited company is exactly, and whether setting up such a company can help you achieve your goals. This article will clearly explain the pro's and con's so you can make an educated decision.
In a nutshell, a limited company is a private company that's a separate legal entity from its owner(s). For freelancers and contractors, a limited company is one of the three main business structures that you may use to run your business (the others being sole trader and umbrella companies).
In this article, we walk you through:
A company number (also known as a company registration number) is an eight-digit number that is assigned by Companies House to a company upon incorporation.
You can locate the number on your certificate of incorporation. The first digit of the company number is usually a zero, and is omitted in most instances. As such, your certificate of incorporation will show a seven-digit company number.
To restart a dormant business, you need to take the following steps:
You can appoint a new director, terminate the appointment of a director or change the director's personal details online, or by downloading the relevant forms and submitting it to Companies House by post.
Before you begin your registration process to set up a limited company, there are a few things you need to consider.
You need to choose the type of limited company you need (public limited company or private limited company), choose a company name and decide on how you’re going to set up your company. For the latter, you have the option of registering with Companies House or using a third-party service, like an accountant or company formation agent.
This involves completing documents like the Memorandum of Association, Articles of Association, Form 10 and Form 12, after which your application will be processed. Companies House will typically provide an update in the next working day, and mail out a hard copy of your articles of incorporation.
You need to open a business bank account, ensure that you’ve received your company UTR number and complete your VAT registration (or if you were VAT-registered as a sole trader, you need to notify HMRC of your transition to a limited company structure).
You’ll also need to set up your payroll, update your company details on your website and business documents (such as your order forms and business letters), and get your accounts sorted out.
While taxes and other administrative work may be relatively easy when you are a Sole Trader, as your volume of business goes up, there are more and more reasons to take on the task of becoming a Limited Company.
Luckily, running a Limited Company doesn't have to be exceedingly complex, though following a set plan will help to keep the complexity to a minimum.
Registering a company is a one off cost of £12 and done through Companies House. However, there are a few different ways that you can get this fee waved with other business services that you need.
We'll walk you through how to register your company for free and the perks that you'll get with each.
When you set up a limited company, you'll enjoy many advantages you don't get as a sole trader. Not only is it a tax-efficient way to run your business, it's also a great way to limit your personal liability and increase your credibility with customers. Additionally, it could open new avenues of work that wouldn't be open to you if you were operating as a sole trader, especially some contractor roles.
One of the disadvantages of running a limited company is that it involves a lot of paperwork, but with the help of this guide, we'll clear away the jargon and tell you exactly what you need.
If you're unsure about whether a limited company is right for you, check out our handy article comparing the differences between Limited companies and Sole Traders to see which business entity is right for you.
If you've got more important things to do than dealing with extra admin, you can always take advantage of one of our accountancy packages and we'll do all the forms and applications for you.
Being a limited company director comes with several legal responsibilities. In addition to your statutory duties, you’re also responsible for meeting your filing deadlines.
Send the FPS on or before your employees’ payday. The FPS must be submitted each time you pay your employee. This means that if your employee is paid weekly, you’ll need to make 52 submissions across the year.
You can change your company's year-end-otherwise known as the accounting reference date (ARD). Changes can be made to your current financial year or the year before.
Your company's financial year can be shortened as many times as you want, with the minimum duration you can shorten it by being one day. You can lengthen your company's financial year by up to 18 months once every five years. If other conditions apply, such as if your company is in administration, you'll be able to lengthen your financial year more often.
As a limited company director, there are several important deadlines you need to be aware of. These are:
As a contractor running your own limited company, you need to be aware of the following deadlines:
“What do I need to do after setting up a limited company?” is a question we’re often asked by users who’ve registered for our limited company accounting packages.
Here’s a brief overview of what you need to do:
Starting a new business?
Bookkeeping requirements are unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind. At this stage there are more pressing things for you to think about.
However, once your business is taking shape, you will need to start thinking about keeping up-to-date and accurate accounting details of your income and expenses. But what kind of records do you need to keep?
More than just a legal requirement, basic bookkeeping is an essential part of your ability to manage your business effectively.
Every year, your business accounts will need to be completed. If your business is operating as a limited company, you will need to submit your company accounts to Companies House. If you are self-employed, your business accounts will be used to calculate your Self Assessment tax liability.
Your bookkeeping records will form the basis of these statutory financial statements. They should include information relating to your sales, your expenses, salaries of you and any employees, along with other bank transactions.
It might sound complicated, but take it one step at a time and it's actually quite manageable.
If you're really struggling to stay on top of it all, there are plenty of small business accountants and professional bookkeepers who will be happy to help. So, even if you're terrified of numbers, rest assured that there's a solution out there for you.
As a small business owner, having a good grasp of your business financials is key-even if you've hired an accountant.
While you can delegate your accounting tasks, understanding the basics will place you in a better position when it comes to discussing your business finances with your team members, financial professionals or potential investors.
Previously, we've explained about the top accounting terms and concepts you need to know. In today's post, we'll explain the differences between bookkeeping and accounting. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to two vastly distinct functions and roles.
A broad swath of small business owners are tackling the myriad tasks required to pay bills, invoice customers, cut checks to employees and contend with past-due accounts, among other accounting tasks.
While that might work for very small businesses, it often opens the door for firms to make accounting mistakes that undermine their growth and siphon precious time and mental focus from other important areas of their business.
Here are five accounting mistakes that can derail growth for small businesses and how to avoid them.
Speak to one of our accountants on a free 30 minute accounting consultation.