Are you ready to start your own business but have no idea where to begin? This guide will share with you the most important aspects to focus on at the beginning of your journey, including:

  • Choosing your company name
  • Creating a business plan
  • Checking if you need a business licence
  • Getting a business current account
  • Signing up for the right business insurance

Whether you’re embarking on a new adventure as a sole trader or starting your own company, Countingup can help you manage your business quickly and efficiently.

What are the main things I need to start a business?

To help you get started, we’ve listed five things you need to start your business.

1) Choose a company name

Naming your business can be as simple as using your own name. If you’d like to build a more distinct brand rather than being the face of your business, you can choose to use a company or trading name instead. 

Companies are required to register with Companies House to be allowed to trade. Registering a company name is simple to do with Companies House via the online portal or by post. As you register, you’ll need to provide some personal information of any shareholders your company has, along with some key financial and operational details.

We have a separate guide on how to register a company name where we explain in more detail how to register and what you need to consider.

2) Create a business plan

Before starting a business, it’s a good idea to have a plan to guide you towards success. A business plan is also a crucial document if you want to secure funding later down the line.

Your business plan should summarise your business idea, including what services or products you will supply and what market gap you will occupy. Other aspects to include are as follows:

Market research

Gather information about your sector from research and your personal experience. Look at your competitors (big brands and local companies) and identify what makes your business different. 

Think about who your audiences are and where you can find them. Will you reach them online, via post, or local word of mouth? Finally, investigate if there are any current market trends in your area of expertise.

SWOT analysis

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Try to identify these areas for your business to prepare you for any risks and chances to grow.


To start trading, you may need to purchase equipment, furniture or stock. Drafting up a budget for your start-up costs will keep your accounting and expenses organised from the start.

Items you may need to consider in these start-up costs are:

  • Workspace furniture and equipment
  • Broadband and phone services to accommodate your business needs
  • Business cards or initial marketing materials
  • A dedicated website and email address
  • Software subscriptions or updates

You can learn more about setting up a budget in our ultimate guide on how to start a business from home

3) Check if you need a business licence 

Depending on your sector, you may need an industry-specific licence to carry out your trade. Therefore, it’s a good idea to contact your local authority to find out if there are any permits or restrictions that could limit your business activities.

For instance, any business selling alcohol will need an alcohol licence. If you’re in a building, you’ll also need a premises licence.

Other business activities that require special licences include, but are not limited to:

  • Childcare
  • Taxi driver
  • Fitness coach/personal trainer
  • Pet shop owner
  • Credit and financial services
  • Goods hauling (HGV)
  • Import and export
  • Food businesses
  • Tattoo parlour
  • Beauty salon

You can use the government’s licence finder to find out what licences and permits you need for your business.

4) A business current account

As a sole trader, you have no legal obligation to use a business current account for your finances. That said, there are many reasons to consider opening a business account, including: 

  • Simplifying your financial admin – keeping your personal and business finances separate helps you stay organised and can save you a lot of hours digging around for the right receipts when planning your taxes.
  • Building your credit rating – a business current account helps you stay on top of your expenses so you can pay them on time and avoid any negative outcomes. Countingup will send you notifications about tax estimates so you always know what you owe. 
  • Looking more professional – opening a business current account shows your clients that you’re serious and indicates that their money will go to a trustworthy source. 

Countingup makes it easy to sign up for a business current account online in minutes. Usually, applicants only need to provide their name, proof of address, a photo of their passport or other ID, and a selfie. As long as you have this information on you, you can even sign up for a Coungingup business account on the go.

The Countingup app comes with free accounting software to help you manage your finances with ease. You’ll receive insights about pending invoices, your cash flow, taxes, and profits to help you run your business. 

5) The right business insurance

It’s also important to have the right insurance for your new business venture. The type of insurance you need depends on the nature of your business. 

Most businesses will need public liability insurance to protect them from customer claims. You also need employers’ liability insurance cover if you have employees or work with freelancers or volunteers.

It’s also worth investigating any specific insurance that provides extra cover protection within your sector. If you’re opening a shop, you may want insurance to cover your inventory and equipment. 

Make sure you have your insurance sorted before starting your business. You’ll be grateful you did in case anything ever goes wrong. 

Now that you know what you need to start a business, we hope you feel confident to set out on your new journey. If you need more information, we also have guides that tell you how to register as a sole trader, how to register a company, and how to set up your business as a sole trader or limited company. 

Countingup makes business management easier from the start

Setting up a business has its challenges. Countingup can help. Our business current account and accounting app make it effortless to keep on top of your financial records. Our intuitive system automates expense categorisation and prompts you to take photos of receipts to store as records when you make a purchase. 

Start your business on the right track. Find out how Countingup can help here.