Between 2016 and 2017, the Thames Valley gained 112 new inwardly investing businesses, creating 2219 new jobs across a range of sectors. The Thames Valley is the number one region outside of London for attracting inward investment and is a thriving economic community in its own right.

The business structure of a new venture will influence almost every decision and obligation on running the business. It is essential that the pros and cons of being a sole trader or setting up a partnership, limited company or limited liability partnership (LLP) are considered before venturing down any one path. Each affords certain benefits, for example, the UK has long standing case law which protects those who set up a limited company or LLP from personal liability if things don’t quite proceed to plan.

Location, location, location” is what they say. London may sound like it poses the best opportunity for a start up business, but consider the levels of competition, employee remuneration, costs of living and the rates of leasing business premises. Moving slightly further out can give a start up many benefits without sacrificing its success. Additionally, with social media and online marketing, it is much easier to reach target markets without leaving the building.

Intellectual property (IP) can often be the most valuable asset a business has. It is important to scope out any intellectual property challenges the start up might face. Existing patents and trademarks can be checked online at the Intellectual Property Office. The investment of patenting a product is arduous, with only 1 in 20 applicants being successful without professional assistance, and the average time taken being approximately 4-5 years. Trademarking may be more appropriate. A start up will need to consider if intellectual property protection is necessary and, if so, the best way to obtain this. Consideration will also need to be given to intellectual property internationally and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is often a good place to start if dealing with trademarks.

If employing anyone, the business needs to ensure that it is compliant with UK employment legislation. There are a wide range of categories in the UK including employees, workers, freelancers, and contractors. Then consideration should be given to part-time, full-time, fixed term and other types of contracts which may be on offer. Each one will have slightly different terms to their employment, and it can be a costly mistake to get this wrong. Employing staff in the correct manner will ensure a productive and (hopefully) happy workforce which in turn assists the business in reaching its early goals. The start up will also need to consider protecting its business interests by ensuring it has strong confidentiality, IP and post termination restrictions.

It is highly likely that any new business will need to register with the Information Commissioner. Furthermore, when handling data (which can include anyone from staff members to customers) the business will need to have regard for the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which will apply both in the UK and the EU. It will not matter that the start up may only be registered in the UK. If it is trading or taking details of data subjects within the EU, it will need to comply with the GDPR.

Insurance is recommended and where someone is employed by the start up, insurance is a legal requirement. There are various products available which can protect the business and/or its owners from accidental injury and property damage claims from customers and visitors, to work related injury or illness claims from employees.