Starting and running an Agency, some of the things you should know.
Starting an agency is not as difficult as you may think. Most people starting agencies, start them as limited companies. The reason is that this limits their personal liability in future. Should things go badly wrong (we hope this does not happen to you): it protects their assets, possibly their home, probably everything else they have built up over the years. It also allows them to put “Company Director” on their passport which is kind of cool. It may also (negatively) affect their car insurance costs: which is not so cool.
So here are some of the do’s and don’ts. It’s not an exclusive list and it should not stop you getting valuable advice elsewhere.
When you register your new company, do it directly on the Companies House website. The link is at the bottom of this page. This page has lots of good links to everything the Government requires you to do.
Your company will probably start life as a Private limited company. There are two types of company: Public and Private. Private means it will initially be small (worth less than a few million) and its shares will not be traded on the stock market. Public limited companies are big and you can buy shares in them.
There are unscrupulous organisations out there which will charge you a fee for what is freely available via the links on this page. So don’t spend what you don’t have to, spend a few minutes reading the links (and their links) and it will probably save you a few hundred pounds.
There are also Accountants out there who will happily charge you for full accounts when limited or abbreviated accounts are all you need and maybe you do not even need an accountant! At least till you have a turnover of more than six and a half million pounds and have more than 50 employees on average. There are other considerations on why you may be exempt from having an audit (and not to complicate things file what is known as abbreviated accounts). The link is at the bottom of the page.
One thing accountants are a bit reticent about is that there is no "legal" qualification to be an accountant. Many accountants are members of trade bodies but this is as relevant to them doing you books (as a private limited company or sole trader) as a loyalty card at your local supermarket. Provided your accounts are accurate and readable you are as entitled to do them yourself or have a friend do them for you.
Do ask people who you know who are experienced in these things.
Do file your accounts with Companies House in advance of deadlines. The reason for this is that if your company is only a few years old then there is little public data for customers who look up these things to go on. They will expect your company to be small, may have made a loss in the first few years, fulfilled its legal obligations to meet the legal (and frankly minimal) accounting requirements placed upon it by the accepted framework of running an (eventually) successful company. So at this point your published credibility rating is determined by these filing and most importantly them being on time.
Do leverage any friends you have to come and work for you or maybe even invest in your company.
Do use your standing in your profession to talk to people you know or have worked for who are likely to need your services. It’s far easier to do this when you are working for them rather than when you are not.
Links that will help you set up a company with minimum costs
You will notice that all these pages are on "Gov.uk" it's secure, it's direct from the horses mouth and it's free.
Overview forming a private limited company
Accounting exemptions for private limited Companies
What you need to do running a company with Companies House: registration and filing (not HMRC requirements of VAT, PAYE or RTI)
Business and self employed: running a limited company
Register for Self assesment