Registered Design FAQ’s

WHAT CAN BE A REGISTERED DESIGN? 

A registered design can be the particular look, shape, configuration or ornamentation of a product(s).

DO I NEED TO REGISTERED DESIGN? 

This depends on if you have something unique that you would like to protect. A registered design may become essential to your business in the future and save a lot of headaches down the road. If you are unsure regarding anything to do with registered designs our expert team with over 30 years’ brand protection experience are on hand to advise. Call us on 0800 069 9090 or drop us an email to mitch@start.biz to find out more.

ARE ALL REGISTERED DESIGNS REGISTERABLE? 

No, a registered design will not be accepted if it is not distinctive enough. We will advise in our report ways in which you can make your design more distinctive and help you with your application.

IS A REGISTERED DESIGN EFFECTIVE WORLDWIDE? 

No, a registered design is only effective in the country where the design is registered. However, there are several International Conventions that exist which assists clients who wish to register a design in more than one country with one single application which are more cost effective than obtaining separate national registrations.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE REGISTERED DESIGN CLEARANCE SEARCHES? 

Registered design novelty searches are particularly important as they are the first step to determining whether the design you wish to use, and register is available to do so. We strongly recommend that, to avoid any potential conflict between your proposed design and any existing confusingly similar designs, that you instruct us to carry out a comprehensive registered design search on your behalf.

CAN I AMEND MY REGISTERED DESIGN AFTER SUBMISSION? 

No, once an application has been submitted it cannot be altered except for the owner’s name and address. It is important your application is as accurate as possible.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN A DESIGN REGISTERED IN THE UK? 

The initial registration process takes around 2-3 months to complete.

HOW LONG DOES A DESIGN REGISTRATION LAST? 

A registered design is renewable every 5 years for a maximum registration period of 25 years.

HOW MUCH DOES A REGISTERED DESIGN COST? 

The application fee is dependent on the number of designs included in one application. For example, it is possible to file a multi-design application in the United Kingdom. A UK design application containing one design costs £300; a UK multi-design application containing up to 10 designs costs £550 and UK multi-design application containing up to 20 designs costs £750.

Questions to Ask Yourself when Writing a Business Plan

A considered business plan will not only help you get organised and crystalise your vision, it is also essential if you are seeking outside funding.

1. What should be at the beginning of my business plan? 

The executive summary, this should be 6 short paragraphs on the following subjects to give an overview of your business. This is your big opening number so keep it concise, professionally presented and attention grabbing!
What the name and function of the business is.
What makes you unique within your industry.
How you are going to become known to your target audience.
How you will structure your business.
Top line finance facts outlining when you expect to break even, potential revenue and profit projections. Have detailed reports to back up these attention-grabbing figures. Note you will have chance to go into more depth in your analysis section (see point 2).
State how much money you are asking for and what the investor(s) will get in return.

2. What analysis should I do? 

After your executive summary should come your analysis section full of facts to make your potential investor realise this is their one-way ticket to private island ownership!
There are many areas and types of analysis you can carry out either before starting your business or prior to writing your business plan. It is good to decide which you think are necessary/most helpful, consider if it is possible for you to gather useful/accurate data for the report and how long to spend on the process. Add attractive headline statistics from your findings to your business plan and have the in-depth reports to back your figures up if questions are asked.
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. This is usually presented in a grid format on one page with bullet points. This kind of breakdown can be applied to many different areas of your business as well as your competitors and the industry as a whole.
Quantitative data and qualitative findings. It is best to have a mix of these within your business plan, ignoring either can leave serious blind spots in your presentation and business strategies.
Financial projections. You may need a professionals help with this one but if you are asking for any fiscal input, investors will need to see that their contribution will eventually yield a return. Be honest, adjust your plans inline with the numbers and be certain you can achieve what you say.

3. Have you thought about the day-to-day running of your business? 

You may have already started your business and are writing a business plan when looking for investment. If this is the case explaining the operational factors behind your business will be easier, but this is a good chance to review them and see how you could improve them. Do this and add it after the analysis section of your business plan.
Alternatively, if you are writing your business plan pre-start up or during the beginning of your journey to going full-time with your venture, this is where you get into the inner workings of your business to help investors visualise the dream. This part is relatively straight forward but demonstrates you have considered the practicalities of your operation.
Staffing, team members, contractors, freelancers, mentors, outside advisors. It is good to have these laid out in a hierarchical flow chart and to briefly outline what each person’s experience will bring to the business.
Premises. Even if you are an online business you will need to state where stock will be stored and shipping will be done from.
Record keeping. Explain how the administration of the business will be kept up to date. Include details of your accountant here.
And hey presto, you have your business plan! We would always advise putting this together pre-start up, even if you are not looking for outside investment just yet. It does not have to be super slick or go into minutia detail if you are not presenting to people outside your business, it can be a great opportunity to take a step back and see the bigger picture to ensure you are on the right track and have not missed anything.

How to Start a Business (Limited Company)

8 steps to set up your limited company 

These steps will ensure you are compliant and correctly set up with the UK government as a limited company. You can operate as a sole trader which just requires you to register differently with HRMC.

1. Decide if forming a limited company is right got you 

Advantages of setting up as a limited company include; limitation of personal liability, professional status, beneficial tax efficiency and planning. However, drawbacks include; needing to do a more administration, publish your personal details publicly and you will have legal accounting requirements as a limited company. If you are looking to commit to a full-time, more professional venture that you will invest substantial time and effort in growing forming a limited company is a great option.

2. Register your business 

There are several steps to registering your business officially with the government, for advice and help with the process you can use a formation agent. They will save you time, money and stress so you can get to the fun part of running your new company! National Business Register have over 35 years experience forming companies, read more about their services here. You will need to decide on the name of your company, who and how many directors you will have and how many shares each director will have.

3. Employing someone as a limited business 

You will need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions for each employee so will need to set up a PAYE. This government resource is a good directory for what you will need to cover if you have employees, it also takes you to details regarding your tax self assessment form – get bookmarking!
In terms of employment law – know your basics. A great site for basic legal documents is Rocket Lawyer.
ACAS is a goldmine of informative articles on everything from employment law to workplace Covid advice.
If you’re looking to contact a solicitor our accredited partners, Thursfields have the experience and legal expertise to guide you throughout the life cycle of your business. Read more here.

4. Get an accountant 

It is advisable you get an accountant as a limited business. You are legally required to submit yearly accounts to HRMC alongside your self-assessment forms and Confirmation Statements. Ask friends, fellow business owners and find out more about our accredited accounting partner, Stewart Associates, here.
Remember to keep organised and maintain detailed financial records of everything to do with your business. It may be boring and the last thing you want to do at the end of a busy day but future you (and your accountant!) will love you for doing it. Download your accounting software to your phone to keep organised even on the go.

5. Do you need to register for VAT? 

If your businesses turnover exceeds £85,000 per annum you have to be VAT registered, register here. If you are under this threshold registering is an extra process however it does mean you can claim VAT back on goods and services you use for your business. If you are setting up as a limited company you are probably quite serious about making a go of your business so if you don’t register for VAT (which gives you the ability to claim VAT back on items purchased for your business) you are effectively paying 20% more than you should for anything that includes VAT (which is most things). Just remember to keep those receipts!

6. Understand your tax 

Tax is one of the main factors that sway people to form a limited business. As a sole trader you can pay between 20%-45% tax on your profits whereas a director of a limited company will pay 19%. However don’t go mad spending 81% of your profits, there are other costs, especially with employees (see point 3) limited companies are responsible for. This is where having an accountant comes in really handy. Also having accounting software such as Xero, QuickBooks or Sage will keep things organised on the go.

7. What insurance do I need? 

There are legal requirements for insurance but this decision is also influenced by the type of business you have and how much ‘peace of mind’ you want to pay for. We’ve outlined a few basic forms of insurance below to get you started.
Employers Liability Insurance – this is the only legally required form of insurance for a small business owner. This is to cover any employees that are injured whilst working for you. If you operate with no insurance and have staff working for you, there can be a penalty of £2,500 per day.
Management Liability Insurance (Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance) – this covers the individual directors personally rather than the business as a whole. This can be helpful if things do go wrong as directors are open to having claims of malpractice brought against them with potential fines, disqualification (this will mean you won’t be able to be a director of a future company) and even prison sentences. When taking out this insurance check your policy covers insolvency and large shareholders (over 15%) as many policies do not protect you in these cases.
Public Liability Insurance – this is to cover customer injury. Accidents do happen and not having this insurance if you have a shop/salon etc could be costly. Also note some clients and suppliers may request you have this insurance as part of your contract with them.
Contents and Portable Equipment Insurance – this covers all the technology and physical belongings you use to operate your business. If you are running your business from home and have contents insurance it’s worth checking the wording of your policy as some do not cover equipment used in a commercial capacity.
Professional Indemnity Insurance – this is for businesses that offer advice or consultancy services. This insurance will cover you if a client of yours makes a claim against you stating they have incurred financial loss after acting on your advice. In these industries clients may insist you have this form of insurance and it will help bolster your professional reputation if you do.
Cyber insurance – this will insure you against any claims made if you have a data breach. You should consider this insurance if you hold large amounts of customers data and/or sensitive customer data. This may become more important as you grow and will be valuable to have as you build the data on your customers to optimise your marketing strategy and potentially increase your product/service offering.

8. What are your responsibilities as director? 

The term director does come with some legal responsibilities. Alongside ensuring your business is compliant e.g. has licenses with the local authority and/or the correct insurance for your employees there are some actions you will need to do.
Ensure your corporation tax is paid
File annual accounts with HRMC
Write the companies ‘articles of association’ when you form the company and then follow them. These can be updated after registering
Keep detailed company records and report any changes in a timely manner
Notify other shareholders if there is a possible conflict of interest where you will personally benefit from a purchase the business makes
If you follow these steps you will have a compliant and solid foundation from which to grow your business. If you’re still unsure, we’ve outlined the main differences between being a sole trader vs limited company for you. Alternatively if you’ve decided becoming a sole trader is the best option for you read our guide on how to set up as a sole trader here.

How to Start a Business (Sole Trader)

7 steps to set up your business as a sole trader 

These steps will ensure you are compliant and correctly set up with the UK government

1. Decide if being a sole trader is the right set up for you 

76% of businesses in the UK are sole traders and this is how many people setup. Advantages to being a sole trader include; keeping things simple in terms of administration, you can employ people and it’s a relatively straight forward process with HRMC. However, there are also draw backs; you will be personally liable for any debts the business incurs and will have limited access to external finance options. If you are just starting out and are setting up a low-cost business becoming a sole trader is a great option.

2. Register with HRMC 

Once you have decided you are going to operate as a sole trader you will need to let HRMC know by registering for a self-assessment tax. HRMC will then send you a letter with your 10 digital Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) which will allow you to go online and set up your account.
If you have done a tax return online before grab you UTR (unique taxpayer reference) and fill out this form – CWF1. If you’ve forgotten your UTR find it here.
If you have a business that you run alongside being employed by another company it is still worth looking into whether you should register. The Gov website has a test page here. Alternatively speak to an accountant for advice, more on that later.

3. What to do if you employ someone as a sole trader 

A common misconception of being a sole trader is that you can’t employ people however as long as you have the correct set up you can. You will need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions for each employee so will need to set up a PAYE. You will need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions for each employee so will need to set up a PAYE. This government resource is a good directory for what you will need to cover if you have employees, it also takes you to details regarding your tax self assessment form – get bookmarking!
In terms of employment law – know your basics. A great site for basic legal documents is Rocket Lawyer.
ACAS is a goldmine of informative articles on everything from employment law to workplace Covid advice.
If you’re looking to contact a solicitor our accredited partners, Thursfields have the experience and legal expertise to guide you throughout the life cycle of your business. Read more here.

4. Get an accountant 

You can do your books yourself however unless you particularly enjoy this aspect of running your business getting an accountant is not only a good idea, it’s essential. When you are just starting out and trying to keep costs low it may seem like an unnessccery outgoing however if you make a mistake, file something incorrectly or just miss something from HRMC having an accountant is a life saver. Ask friends, fellow business owners and find out more about our accredited accounting partner, Stewart Associates, here.
Remember to keep organised and maintain detailed financial records of everything to do with your business. It may be boring and the last thing you want to do at the end of a busy day but future you (and your accountant!) will love you for doing it. Download accounting software to your phone to keep organised even on the go – Xero, QuickBooks and Sage are all popular and user friendly solutions.

5. Do you need to register for VAT? 

If your businesses turnover exceeds £85,000 per annum you have to be VAT registered – register here. If you are under this threshold registering is an extra process however it does mean you can claim VAT back on goods and services you use for your business. Don’t forget to keep those receipts!

6. Understand your tax 

This is where the accountant will come in useful however a good rule of thumb is put aside 25% of your income. Don’t touch this until the end of the financial year (sole traders need to pay their tax for the previous year by the 31st January every year) and you should be golden. Alongside your income tax you will have to pay National Insurance Contributions throughout the year. Here are the thresholds
Annual profits below £9,568 (2021/22) = £3.05 per week.
Annual profits between £9,568 and £50,270 = 9%
Annual profits over £50,270 = 2%

7. What insurance do you need? 

There are legal requirements for insurance but this decision is also influenced by the type of business you have and how much ‘peace of mind’ you want to pay for. We’ve outlined a few basic forms of insurance below to get you started.
Employers Liability Insurance – this is the only legally required form of insurance for a small business owner. This is to cover any employees that are injured whilst working for you. If you operate with no insurance and have staff working for you, there can be a penalty of £2,500 per day.
Management Liability Insurance (Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance) – this covers the individual directors personally rather than the business as a whole. This can be helpful if things do go wrong as directors are open to having claims of malpractice brought against them with potential fines, disqualification (this will mean you won’t be able to be a director of a future company) and even prison sentences. When taking out this insurance check your policy covers insolvency and large shareholders (over 15%) as many policies do not protect you in these cases.
Public Liability Insurance – this is to cover customer injury. Accidents do happen and not having this insurance if you have a shop/salon etc could be costly. Also note some clients and suppliers may request you have this insurance as part of your contract with them.
Contents and Portable Equipment Insurance – this covers all the technology and physical belongings you use to operate your business. If you are running your business from home and have contents insurance it’s worth checking the wording of your policy as some do not cover equipment used in a commercial capacity.
Professional Indemnity Insurance – this is for businesses that offer advice or consultancy services. This insurance will cover you if a client of yours makes a claim against you stating they have incurred financial loss after acting on your advice. In these industries clients may insist you have this form of insurance and it will help bolster your professional reputation if you do.
Cyber insurance – this will insure you against any claims made if you have a data breach. You should consider this insurance if you hold large amounts of customers data and/or sensitive customer data. This may become more important as you grow and will be valuable to have as you build the data on your customers to optimise your marketing strategy and potentially increase your product/service offering.
If you follow these steps you will have a compliant and solid foundation from which to grow your business. If you’re still unsure, we’ve outlined the main differences between being a sole trader vs limited company for you. Alternatively if you’ve decided forming a limited company is the best option for you read our checklist on how to set up a limited company.

Sole Trader vs Limited Company

What are the pros and cons of setting up as a Sole Trader vs a Limited Company? 

We’ve gone through the basic considerations for both and directly compared them so you can get a clearer picture on which is best for you. Areas to consider when setting up your business include:
Financial Liability
Status & Professionalism
Finance Options
Publishing Personal Details
Business Name Protection
Tax Requirements
Administration Requirements
Employment
Insurance
Sole Trader 
Limited Company 
Financial Liability 
If your business runs up any debt you are legally required to cover it, this may mean even selling personal assets.
Financial Liability 
By setting up a limited company your business becomes a separate legal entity. Therefore if the business does run up debts the business, rather than you personally, are responsible.
Status 
You can build a great reputation as a sole trader and many customers won’t know the legal ‘status’ of your business or, to be honest, care! They are there for your amazing products and service after all.
Status 
Having said that, some suppliers & clients may feel more secure dealing with a company that has gone through the formation process. Once you get larger and becoming more prominent it may be time to form a limited company.
Finance Options 
Along with being financially liable for the business, raising funds may be more difficult. Options as a sole trader include; savings, friends & family lending, go fund me pages, and some banks will loan you money however you may be considered too ‘high risk’ and refused. But if your over-heads are low and your cash flow good this may not be a concern for you.
Finance Options 
You will have more financial options open to you and be more likely to be approved for a loan from a bank or lending organisation. All the options of a sole trader will be available to you along with more official routes. If you need a premises to operate from, need to buy equipment or require some start-up cash to get you going forming a limited company will make it easier when applying for finance.
Personal Details 
Increased privacy. Your personal details won’t be published on Companies House.
Personal Details 
You will have to publish your name (as a director), the names of fellow directors and your business address on Companies House. You can limit the amount of information out there by registering with a secretarial business service eg business address but some details have to be made public.
The Name of Your Business 
Business name protection. As a sole trader you may be worried about others operating with a similar name to take advantage of your good reputation, advertising efforts and word of mouth promotion from customers. You can take out Business Name Protection here with NBR to stop this from happening.
The Name of Your Business 
No one can use the exact same business name as you, they legally won’t be able to form the company. However this doesn’t cover you in every situation, they could add an ‘s’ to the name or ‘solutions’ etc so their name ends up being very similar to yours. You can take out business name protection to stop this, find out more here.
Tax 
Tax can be substantially higher for sole traders, especially when you’ve established the business and are pulling in a good amount of money. Sole traders can be charged between 20%-45% tax on their profits (minus allowable business expenses).
Tax 
Tax for limited companies is lower and they are generally considered more ‘tax efficient’. They are required to pay only 19% on their total profits (minus allowable business expenses).
Administration Requirements 
There is less paperwork to do as a sole trader. You will still want to have an accountant but in terms of legally required documentation there’s less than a limited business.
Administration Requirements 
More paperwork to do with legal annual documentation having to be submitted. As with being a sole trader getting an accountant is a great idea, they will be able to help you with all the paperwork and requirements.
Employment 
You can employee people as a sole trader. Make sure you have insurance and are set up correctly with a PAYE scheme and pensions with HRMC. This is were an accountant will come in handy.
Employment 
As with a sole trader you need to set up a PAYE scheme with HRMC for any employees you have and take out the right insurance to cover them.
Insurance 
As a sole trader you are less likely to have to need different kinds of insurance but check out our ‘Sole Trader’ article where we outline the basic forms of insurance to consider.
Insurance 
As a limited company you may want to take out insurance. We have covered the basic forms of insurance in our ‘Limited Company’ article. One to particularly consider, as a limited company, is individual director insurance.
We hope our battle of the businesses has helped you make the decision which is best for you. Remember the hardest part is taking the first step, get out there, even if everything isn’t perfect and try!
Start.Biz have packages to suit any size and type of business. Get in touch here with our friendly, expert team today to discuss your personal circumstances and set up a solid infrastructure for your business.

What Should I get Legal Advice on as a Small Business Owner?

We’ve consulted our legal experts and complied the 5 areas of what the essentials are for business owners when it comes to legal compliance and safeguarding.  

There are other areas you may look into depending on your particular industry but this covers the fundamentals.

1. Intellectual Property (IP) protection 

Protecting your businesses intellectual property can come in many different forms and should be done as early as possible when setting up your venture. It’s also essential you check you’re not infringing on anyone else’s IP accidentally. Types of IP protection include:
Business name protection – when another business copies your name or has a similar name and / or branding to you, even if your company isn’t limited, this falls under common law and is called ‘Passing Off’. You can take action against the other business if you have prove they have caused you financial lose.
Limited Formations – by forming a limited company no one can form a limited company with the exact same name as you after you have registered. However they can register a company with a very similar name, still causing confusion with customers and therefore you can take out business name protection for your limited company to assist you in this case.
Trade marks – can be words, names, initials, logos, monograms, shapes or signatures, numerals and designs customers associate with your business.
Watching services – these are conducted once you have taken out a trade mark and contest any new trade mark applications that may infringe on your registered mark. Without a watching service your trade mark may become compromised and end up invalid.
Registered design – protects the appearance, physical shape, configuration and the decoration of products whereas trade mark registration protects the names of your products or brands.
National Business Register, as part of Start.biz, offers services that cover all of the above. We have more than 35 years experience protecting businesses and brands. Click on each service to apply or contact us today for advice.

2. HR 

Setting clear guidelines and rules between yourself and any employees from the out set will help keep you both on the same page. Please note the below is based on an employer/employee PAYE agreement, not when instructing freelancers, contracts, sub-contractors etc. We will cover those separately.
This process will not only manages expectations, on both sides, but can legally protect you in the future. You’re wording and ethos should be consistent throughout these documents alongside adhering to statutory employment law. You can find templates for most of these documents online, and some of them are free, we’ve liked to a few sites for you. Alternatively you can hire HR freelancers to help you set everything up or advise on a particular issue.
Job Description – this can be written for advertising the role you’re employing for but the internal one will be more detailed. When writing this to attract applicants you may keep it top line and add some extras about company ethos however the internal job description will go into a lot more depth about the role and not include things like the applicant must love dogs or make an amazing cup of tea!
Offer Letter – this should clearly state title of the role, company name, salary or pay, bonus scheme if applicable, basic holiday allowance, required start date and notice period. This should be sent as soon as the decision has been made to employee an individual.
Employment Contract – this should be drawn up and given to the employee whilst they are waiting to start with you or on their first day. It’s good practice to let them have a few days to read through it and discuss any questions. This is where you need to make sure you are compliant with the law so having a template and doing a little bit of research is good.
Disciplinaries / settlement agreements – these should be covered in the above but we wanted to mention them separately as they are important. Of course, you don’t want to think the worst and wouldn’t employ someone you thought you would have disagreements with but it happens. Having clear steps set up for bringing grievances and disciplinaries will make awkward situations easier to navigate. Also informing the employee and knowing the law when it comes to letting people go is essential.
Company handbook – this is where you can go into more detail about your policies and terms within the contract.
Template resources – 

3. Shareholder agreements comprising of Shareholders Agreements, Memorandum and Articles of Association 

This is clearly setting out what each partner can and can’t do. Again, like when employing someone, you wouldn’t go into business with someone that you envision having problems with but having clear guidelines make situations easier to navigate for everyone. There are many subjects that can be covered in these agreements, some examples are:
Perimeters of how you value shares.
Permissions on spends. For example, one shareholder can’t spend £15,000 of the businesses money without it being signed off with the other shareholders.
What happens when sell business, also what happens when one of you wants out.
On top of the headache of trying to negotiate when in a tense situation, if you don’t have a shareholders agreement it may cause problems when selling to someone else, they may even ask for one to be drawn up. If you go through formation agent, you’ll get standard memorandum and articles but a shareholders agreement is a bespoke piece that you can go more into detail.

4. Business Documents – Terms and Conditions (T&C’s), Privacy Policy, Partner Agreements 

All of the above have been focused on internal affairs of the business but now it’s time to think about your customers.
Terms and conditions – are obviously really important, especially if you are a sole trader providing service. We don’t recommend writing a get out of jail free clause for everything but be honest about the limitations of the service or product your providing. Keep it in plain language and reasonable; this will help with customer disagreements. A rule book of what you are providing so you and the customer are on the same page.
Privacy/cookie policy – it’s important if you store any customer information you have a privacy policy on your website. Standard templates are easy to download and need to be displayed where users can easily find them. They also need to include a clear way to contact you.
Partner agreements – if you want to set up networks, referrals, kick-backs, commercial arrangements you will need partner agreements. These are pretty straightforward and not everyone will ask for one however we advise drawing up a short agreement for both parties to sign so everyone is on the same page.

5. Buying and Selling Businesses 

If you’re not setting up your own business but rather buying one, you will have to cover the above but what about the legal element of the buying / selling process? Best practice includes:
Offer Letter – this is the ‘heads of terms’, it should include the top line details of the transaction and shows your serious intent to buy the business.
Due Diligence – this is when you get into the business to find the skeletons! Share holder agreements, current employment contracts, T&C’s, the money structure of the business will all be gone through.
SPA (Sale and Purchase Agreement) – this is the most detailed, legally binding document that is agreeing to the transaction, once this is signed the sale in final.