Being Self Employed Free Articles and Advice Sat, 21 Jul 2012 19:47:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How To Become A Self Employed Restaurant Owner Mon, 09 Apr 2012 14:52:24 +0000 admin According to 2009 research from the British Hospitality Association (BHA) there are 27,502 restaurants across the UK as well as 31,000 fast food outlets. Entering the restaurant trade is a dream for thousands of Brits keen to display their passion for cooking or their love of playing the welcoming host.

However, making a success of a cafe or restaurant can be tough. So, that’s why we’ve put together this guide to the factors to consider when thinking of becoming a self-employed restaurant owner.

Being a success involved being good at running a business, not being a good chef

Logic would suggest that if you’re a great chef, your restaurant will be successful. However, high profile restaurant failures that have hit the likes of Gordon Ramsay prove that this isn’t always the case.

Ian McKerracher, former chief executive of the National Restaurant Association, says: “People tend to go with what they enjoy rather than what there are the right resources for. Too many people say ‘I know what I like’ when it’s rather more a question of marketing and the quality of your product.”

Running a restaurant is also likely to result in hard work and long hours. You’re likely to be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and so you may find yourself at your premises for the majority of every day and night.

Deal with the regulations

When you open a restaurant there are lots of rules and regulations that you must adhere to.
Firstly, your kitchens must adhere to strict rules concerning hygiene. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the body appointed by government responsible for all food safety standards and can provide you with more information. As the business owner, you must ensure that you and anyone else working with food at your business has the appropriate level of training and/or supervision to do their job properly.

You are also required to register your premises with the environmental health service at your local authority at least 28 days before you serve your first meals. In addition, if you’re planning to sell or supply alcohol you will need to apply for a licence.

You’ll also find that mechanical and electrical ventilation systems are compulsory and that refrigeration systems need to be digitally controlled. The building and wiring must be safe and your kitchen must be a reasonable size to cope with the restaurant.

Finally, you also need to make sure your premises have the right commercial classification. Restaurants need an A3 classification, which is often the hardest classification to obtain. Pubs and bars need an A4 classification whilst takeaways need A5 planning consent.Also, even though it is not necessarily a requirement, it is highly recommended to get a general liability insurance quote to protect your business.

Take into account all the costs

When setting up your restaurant, it’s vital that you budget carefully and take all the costs into account. Your set-up costs will often include:

• Kitchen equipment including ovens, cookers, dishwashers, storage units and fly-killers
• Furniture
• Cutlery and crockery
• Toilet facilities
• Stock
• Property costs including rent and rates
• Staff costs

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How To Be Self Employed Mon, 26 Mar 2012 10:17:29 +0000 admin Setting up as a self employed business is a difficult decision. There are so many aspects to consider including finding customers, insuring your business and looking after your admin and tax affairs.
So, that’s why we’ve put together this great guide. Keep reading for three great tips on how to be self employed.

Registering as self employed

When you set up your own business, one of the first things that you must do is to formally register as self-employed.

It’s a legal requirement that you tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that you’re going self-employed. You can do this by calling HMRC’s Newly Self-employed Helpline, online through HMRCs secure service or by post by completing HMRC’s form CWF1: ‘Becoming self-employed and being registered for National Insurance contributions and/or tax’.

If you don’t register straight away you may face a penalty.

When you register as self employed HMRC will then automatically register you for Self Assessment, meaning that you will have to submit your own tax return every year. You will also have to arrange to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions (unless you expect your self employed income to be very low in which case there is an exception).


A big part of your time will be spent promoting your business and attracting new clients and customers. To do this, you should have a marketing strategy in place.
There are lots of ways you can market your business, including:
• Via word of mouth – referrals from friends, family and existing clients are a great way to get business without spending a fortune on advertising
• Website – A good quality website is crucial in the modern age. You may sell your goods or services through the site or use it to tell potential clients about the benefits of your business
• Social media – Promoting your business through websites such as Twitter or Facebook can be a good way to gain customers
• Advertising – You may choose to advertise your business in a local magazine or newspaper

Looking after your finances

One of the most important issues when you consider ‘how to be self employed’ is how to look after your finances.

As a business owner you will be responsible for ensuring you pay taxes which may include income tax, VAT and corporation tax, depending on the size of your business. As we saw above, you also have to pay your own National Insurance contributions.

Many small business owners hire a local accountant to look after their financial affairs for them. This ensures that all income is declared and that any taxes due are paid in full. To do this, you normally need to be organised and to keep receipts, invoices and other documents which show your businesses’ income and outgoings.

You may also have to open a business bank account, insure your new business and set up a payroll system if you plan to employ staff.

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If You’re An Electrician You Can Now Get A Fresh Start With Your Taxes Tue, 21 Feb 2012 18:15:50 +0000 admin If you’re an electrician and you haven’t told HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) about all your income, now’s the perfect time to do so. Until May 2012, you can use the Electricians’ Tax Safe Plan (ETSP) to get your tax affairs back on track.

But what is the Electricians’ Tax Safe Plan? Who is eligible to use it? And how does it work? Keep reading to find out.

Are you eligible for the Electricians’ Tax Safe Plan?

HMRC defines an electrician as ‘anyone who installs, maintains and tests electrical systems, equipment and appliances under stringent safety regulations.’

If you do qualify under these criteria, you may not yet have told HMRC that you have started working for yourself. You may also not have disclosed all your income. If one of these applies, you probably won’t have paid the right amount of tax.

The purpose of the ETSP is to help you get your tax affairs up to date. And, there are a number of advantages to taking part in this scheme. By telling HMRC about any income you haven’t previously disclosed:

• You may be able to pay what you owe in instalments
• You may only have to pay for a maximum of six tax years
• You can tell HMRC how much penalty you should pay

By using this scheme you are effectively wiping your tax slate clean and benefiting from a fresh start. You can stop worrying about what might happen when HMRC find out that you’ve not been telling them about all of your income. And, it’s a great opportunity to start getting your tax right from now on. And, you’ll know exactly how much it’s going to cost to sort out things for earlier tax years.

What to do to take advantage of this scheme

To take advantage of this campaign you must get in touch with HMRC by 15 May 2012. You can do this by post, telephone or online. Initially, all you have to do is let HMRC know that you want to use the scheme.

Once you have notified HMRC< you then have until 14 August 2012 to disclose your income and to pay any outstanding tax that you owe.

If you’re not sure how to use the scheme, feel free to ask questions in the comments box below. The HMRC website has more information about the Electricians’ Tax Safe Plan.

What if I’m not an electrician but want to get my taxes up to date?

There may be instances where you’d like to get a ‘fresh start’. Perhaps you want to get your tax affairs in order or pay what you owe in instalments?

In this instance, only electricians covered by the definition above can take part in the scheme. However, if your undisclosed income is not covered by the ETSP campaign you can still get in touch with the Campaigns Voluntary Disclosure Helpline on 0845 601 5041.

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When Do I Start Paying Tax As A Self Employed Person? Mon, 05 Dec 2011 10:29:23 +0000 admin If you’re self employed then you’re responsible for ensuring you pay the correct amount of tax and National Insurance contributions. But, with lots of different rules and regulations it can be tough to work out exactly what you should be paying.

Our guide will help you work out when you should start paying tax as a self employed person. Keep reading to learn more.

Income Tax

Income Tax is a tax on income. However, not all income is taxable and you’re only taxed on ‘taxable income’ above a certain level. And, you can also claim other tax reliefs and allowances which reduce your income tax bill.

Your self-employment earnings are counted as ‘taxable income’.

Nearly everyone who is resident in the UK for tax purposes receives a ‘Personal Allowance’. This is an amount of income you are allowed to earn each tax year before you start paying tax.

In the 2011/2012 tax year the basic Personal Allowance is £7,475. So, if your total taxable earnings in this tax year are under £7,475, you will generally pay no income tax.

You may also be able to claim a higher Personal Allowance if you’re aged 65 or over. There are also other allowances that you may be able to claim – for example if you are blind.

National Insurance contributions

If you’re self-employed you will also pay Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions are paid by all self employed people at a flat rate of £2.50 per week. However, if your profits are expected to be less than £5,315 you may not have to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions.

Class 4 National Insurance contributions are paid as a percentage of your annual taxable profits. If your self-employed profits are between £7,225 and £42,475 you will pay 9 per cent. You will also pay a further 2 per cent on profits over that amount.

If you earn under £7,225 you will pay no Class 4 National Insurance contributions.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

If you are self employed, your business may also have to pay VAT. If you’re a VAT-registered business, in most cases you will charge VAT on the goods and services you provide whilst simultaneously reclaiming the VAT you pay when you buy goods and services for your business.

The main threshold for registering for VAT is £73,000. This means that if your turnover of VAT taxable goods and services supplied within the UK for the previous 12 months is more than £73,000 (or you expect it to go over that figure in the next 30 days alone), you must register for VAT.

If your turnover is under £73,000 you won’t pay any VAT. However, you won’t be able to reclaim the VAT you have paid when you buy goods/services for your business.

If you are VAT registered you will normally complete a VAT return on a quarterly basis. There are three rates of VAT:

• Standard rate of 20 per cent
• Reduced rate of 5 per cent
• Zero rate of 0 per cent

VAT is paid on most goods and services in the UK at the standard rate.

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16 Easy Ways To Market Your Small Business Sun, 27 Nov 2011 20:50:24 +0000 admin Whatever your self-employed business, part of your job involves selling your goods or services. While many people don’t like sales and marketing, it’s one of the most vital areas to consider if you want to make your business a success.

There are dozens of simple ways to market your business. Keep reading to learn 16 great ways.

1. Blog – If you have a website then you should write a piece on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This can help to attract regular readers to your website and also helps to make you an authority in your specialist field.

2. Focus on your customers – always use ‘you’ language when talking to clients or potential clients. Always think about what can your business do for them not for you.

3. Ask for referrals – if you have satisfied customers then why not ask them to refer you to their friends, family and colleagues? Always include a business card or marketing leaflet with any sales for people to retain at home or to pass to someone they know.

4. Diversify your marketing – pumping your entire marketing budget into one advertisement or one website may not be the best option. Try lots of different ways to get your message across.

5. Reward regular clients – can you offer discounts or extras to people who buy regularly from you? Can you reward their loyalty so they keep coming back?

6. Use ‘calls to action’
– what do you want people to do when they see your marketing? Call you? Visit your website? Buy your goods? Make it clear what you want people to do next.

7. Proof read your marketing – always spell-check and re-read your marketing. Avoid spelling and grammar errors as they make you look unprofessional.

8. Know your competition – if you know what your competitors offer then it makes it much easier to explain to potential customers why they should choose you over them.

9. Read other adverts and marketing – make notes of why adverts and marketing materials from other companies appeal to you. What is it about other marketing that worked on you and how could you incorporate these techniques into your own marketing?

10. Use social media – do your customers follow you on Facebook or Twitter? If they do, you can keep them up to date with offers and news quickly and easily.

11. Redo your business card – is it effective? Would a different shape or colour make it stand out?

12. Search Engine Optimise your website – where does your website feature for common online searches? Can you improve the ranking of your company’s site?

13. Maximise your testimonials – always ask satisfied customers for a testimonial and display these prominently on marketing material or on your website. Testimonials build trust and credibility.

14. Consider using a consultant – marketing consultants can help you develop your brand and assist with writing a comprehensive marketing plan for your company.

15. Regularly keep in contact with your clients – can you send them a newsletter, your catalogue or even a Christmas card to stay in touch?

16. Network – meet local business leaders and industry associations in order to get your name known in your field.

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How To Become A Self Employed Nurse Mon, 21 Nov 2011 11:44:15 +0000 admin Thinking about becoming self employed but not sure where to start?

Leaving the NHS or an independent organisation to become a self employed nurse can be daunting. However, becoming a self employed nurse can let you specialise in areas you enjoy and to make the most of your particular talents.

Keep reading for vital information you’ll need to know if you’re thinking of becoming self employed.

Choosing to become self employed

The Royal College of Nursing suggests that you will need the following experience, skills and professional qualifications to become a self employed nurse:

• Continuing education relevant to your specialist area of practice
• 3-5 years nursing experience
• Knowledge of legal, insurance and tax matters
• Competence in time management, negotiation, marketing, public relations and accounting skills

It is also important that you nothing that could compromise your ongoing professional qualification. Luckily today there are many online college classes and courses that can be taken to go towards your continuing education. The RCN suggests that you keep the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Code of Conduct in your mind at all times and that the work you do is within your level of competence.

What type of business do you want to establish?

One of your first decisions will be to work out exactly what type of business you want to set up. To do this, there are lots of factors that you should consider, including:

• Is there a market for these services?
• Who will your customers be?
• Are you providing services that are necessary in your local area?
• Who is your competition?

You will also have to decide on the type of business that you set up. Many self employed nurses start as a ‘sole trader’ where your main obligation is to send an annual Self Assessment tax return to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Don’t forget the finances

While you may be excited about setting up your own business and spending your time doing a job that you enjoy, being self employed also involves much more than just your day to day profession. You have to consider marketing your business as well as dealing with all the financial obligations that you will have.

Firstly, you will have to submit your own Self Assessment tax return every year. This means that you will have to keep invoices for work that you have done as well as receipts for expenses that you have incurred as part of your work. You also have to register as self employed and start paying National Insurance contributions.

Many people choose to employ an accountant to help them with their tax affairs and there will be lots of qualified accountants in your area with experience of looking after newly self employed people.

You will also have to consider opening a business bank account to handle the income and expenses from your self employment.

Finally, you may have to consider insurance for your business. This can range from insurance for expensive equipment that you may use as part of your work to ‘public liability insurance’ to protect yourself against claims for damage to property or people arising from the operation of your business.

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3 Financial Considerations Every New Self Employed Person Should Worry About Mon, 07 Nov 2011 13:13:38 +0000 admin Being self employed can be tough. As well as marketing your business to ensure you have enough work and clients to be profitable you also have the responsibility of managing your finances. If you’ve never run a company before, this can seem daunting.

However, it need not be a scary prospect. Our guide looks at the three main financial areas you should consider when you set up your own business.

A business bank account

It is useful to have a bank account specifically for your business. Many banks offer incentives to companies if you open a business account with them, particularly if you’re a start-up. You will often find that you benefit from a year or two’s free business banking when you open a new account.

Shop around for accounts and make sure that you find out what fees and charges apply to each account and what interest rates or payable. And, it’s worth finding out what service you can expect from your bank; for example do they have a dedicated business advisor at your local branch?


When you start your own business you should consider making sure you have the right insurance in place for you, your income and your business assets. Insurance you may want to consider includes:

• Life insurance – you may have lost ‘death in service’ benefits when you left a previous employer and need to ensure your dependents have sufficient protection
• Income protection – if you can’t work due to accident or sickness then your business profits may suffer
• Home insurance – many traditional home insurance policies don’t cover business stock or equipment and so you may need specialist buildings or contents cover
• Liability insurance – if the public visit your home/business then you should insure yourself against any injury or damage to a third party resulting from your company. Additionally if you employ staff you should take out employers liability insurance

Tax and National Insurance

When you set up your own company you will be responsible for paying your tax and your National Insurance contributions.

You have to register as self employed with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) when you set up your new business and if you don’t, you may have to pay a penalty. You will be registered for Self Assessment (if you don’t complete your own tax return already) and you will start to pay National Insurance contributions on a weekly basis.

As you have to complete your own tax return every year, you will need to keep good records of your business income and expenses. These can include:

• Invoices for work you have done
• Receipts for expenses relating to your business
• Business bank statements

Many self employed people employ the services of a bookkeeper or accountant to help them with their tax affairs. An accountant will process your receipts, invoices and other documents on your behalf and can calculate the amount of tax and National Insurance that you are liable to pay.

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How To Become A Self Employed Graphic Designer Mon, 24 Oct 2011 12:34:55 +0000 admin With more and more people having access to excellent computer hardware and software, it has never been easier to set up in business as a graphic designer.

If you are considering setting up your own self employed graphic design business, here are some top tips to help you get started.

Make sure you have the capital/equipment

Your most important business asset is likely to be your PC and your graphic design software. Buying a brand new top of the range Mac or PC isn’t necessarily essential though – starting small and upgrading can help you build up your business gradually without a large, initial capital outlay.

Your system is likely to need a decent amount or RAM in order to work with large graphic files and you should have some decent quality software. Many graphic designers use the Adobe Creative Suite although the basic package can be expensive.

Consider starting with a ‘retainer’ client

David Airey, a leading graphic designer based in Northern Ireland, believes that starting out on a self employed basis with a ‘retainer’ client can be key. This is a client for whom you work on a regular basis – perhaps two or three days per week – and who you invoice every month.

He says: “While those three days per week brought in just enough cash to get me by, they allowed plenty of time to work on the build of my website and blog (my main self-promotion tool).”

Marketing yourself

When you set up your own business you should have some ideas of how you will market your business. Do you have existing clients who you can approach for work? Do you know people in related industries that can refer clients to you?

At a very minimum you should have some professional business cards and a good quality website containing examples of your work. You may also want to consider some targeted, local advertising to build up a client base.

Organising your finances

When you set up your own business, looking after your administration and finances may well be one of your biggest challenges.

As a self employed person you will have to consider opening a business bank account and any appropriate insurance for your company.

In addition, you will have to consider your tax affairs. In the UK you are obliged to let HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) know immediately that you become self-employed and you will start paying National Insurance contributions. You will have to keep track of all your business earnings and expenses in order to complete your tax return every year. Many small businesses hire a local accountant to help them look after their tax.

Be positive

When you consider starting your own business you will probably come across people who don’t think it will be the right thing for you. Common concerns include:
• A perceived lack of experience
• Worries about securing a regular income
• Your ability to handle all aspects of running a business
When you are considering self employment it is important to take advice but also important that you don’t let negative people get you down and stop you setting up your business.

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4 Types Of Self Employed Insurance You Should Consider Mon, 17 Oct 2011 13:41:06 +0000 admin Once consequence of becoming self employed is that you may lose lots of insurance benefits that you took for granted in your PAYE job. For example, you may lose sick pay and ‘death in service’ life cover when you leave your paid job and set up business on your own.

So, it’s vital that you consider insuring yourself when you become self employed. Our guide looks at four of the most important insurances you should look at.

Life insurance

If you have any debts or if you have a family, life cover should be a top priority. Experts normally recommend that you have sufficient life cover to pay off any debts (mortgages, loans, credit cards) in the event of your death and you may also want to leave a lump sum to your family.

Michael Rothman from financial advisors Best Advice, says: “’If you have a family or dependents it is important to make arrangements to ensure debts could be paid if something happened to you as the main breadwinner.”

Accident/sickness insurance

When you are in a PAYE job you will normally benefit from sick pay if you are unable to work for an extended period due to ill health. However, as a self employed person you will often find that if you can’t work due to illness your income will soon dry up.

Roderic Rennison, financial planning director of financial adviser Charcol, advises making income protection a priority. He told the Guardian: “You are not likely to need life cover in your twenties and thirties but you may well need help if you are unable to work. Income protection should be factored in as part of your business plan.”

Permanent Health Insurance (PHI) is one of the most common types of insurance used for this purpose. You can make the cost of PHI cheaper by increasing the excess period – the amount of time you have to be off work through accident or illness before you make a claim. However you’ll need to make sure you have sufficient cash or savings to cover this initial 3-6 month period.

Buildings and contents insurance

Many standard home buildings and contents policies won’t cover you if you run your business from home.
For example, your home contents policy may not pay out for flood damage or theft of business stock if you keep it at home. Similarly, any business equipment such as the IT in your home office may not be protected under a traditional home insurance policy.

Dedicated ‘working from home’ insurance can help you ensure your business is protected.

Public/employee liability insurance

Peter Smith from financial advisors Inter-Alliance told the Guardian: “In some professions you need indemnity cover before you start working. If you are a scaffolder, builder or IT contractor you need to ensure that you can’t be sued by the people you are going to work for, or that if you injure someone you have the right cover in place.”

Public liability insurance makes sure you are covered for damage to third parties or their property from the operations of your business. And, if you employ staff, employer’s liability insurance covers you against any claims made by your employees for accidents etc at work.

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Common Expenses The Self Employed Can and Cannot Claim Mon, 10 Oct 2011 15:10:01 +0000 admin If you’re self employed then there are lots of expenses you will incur in running and managing your business. And, you can claim many of these as tax expenses when you submit your tax return every year.

Our guide looks at what expenses you can and cannot claim if you’re self employed.

Common tax expenses you can claim

There are lots of tax expenses you can claim if you’re self employed. These include:

• Salaries and benefits that you pay your employees
• Employee training costs
• Employers’ National Insurance contributions
• Rent or interest payments on your dedicated business premises
• Related premises costs such as cleaning, heating, lighting, water
• Business rates
• Insurance and pension benefits for employees
• Employee redundancy payments

If you work from home you can also claim a proportion of the costs you incur such as insurance, mortgage interest, council tax, water rates, gas and electricity and cleaning. The proportion of costs you claim is normally based on the number of rooms in your home that you use for business purposes.

You can also claim the running costs of a vehicle that you use for your business. This may include petrol, car tax, insurance, repairs and servicing. If the vehicle is used for both business and personal use then you can normally only claim a proportion of these expenses.

Petrol expenses can normally be claimed for travel between different places of work (such as deliveries to clients).

Common tax expenses you cannot claim

While there are lots of expenses linked to your business that you can claim, there are many that you cannot. Common tax expenses that you cannot claim include:

• Your own salary – if you are self-employed you cannot claim your own wages, salary or any other money drawn from your business
• Costs of building work – you cannot claim the initial costs of buildings or improvements to your property (for example you could not claim the cost of an extension to your home in order to provide an office from which to run your business). However, such work may qualify for annual investment allowances or capital allowances
• You cannot claim your own National Insurance contributions and neither can you claim the income tax you have to pay, the costs of your pension or the costs of your life insurance

If you work from home, you cannot claim the proportion of your household bills that relate to the private use of your property.

In terms of travel expenses you cannot claim the petrol for a journey between your home and your normal place of work. You also can’t claim the cost of buying a vehicle (although this may qualify for capital allowances).

You also cannot claim any meals except for breakfast or an evening meal on an overnight business trip.

Simple rule

There is a simple rule for determining whether an expense can be claimed.

If you can divide an expense between business and personal cost (using your home as an office, for example) then the business proportion is deductible.

If the nature of the expense means it cannot be divided (such as the cost of an overseas flight), then no deduction is allowed.

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