The essential guide to becoming a sole trader

Becoming a sole trader, where should you start?

When you make the decision to leave employment to set up your own business, the initial excitement might get overshadowed by a number of questions around how you go about getting started. This might include queries around insurance for business, how you should promote your services and even branding. We’ve created a no-nonsense guide to help get you off the ground.


Creating your branding and business identity

Marketing is an essential component of promoting your business or service to your target audience. Your offer needs to stand out from competitors, especially if you are freelancing or contracting and don’t have a physical space to use as your business base. Competition amongst freelancers and sole traders can be fierce, with potential clients sizing you up based on your online presence. So, spend time before you launch thinking about your messaging, USP and branding. You may have designers in your creative network who can help; this can have a cost benefit and also help with cross-promotion between businesses.


Do I need a website or social media?

As a new small business, having an online presence will allow potential customers to learn about you and the service you are offering. Therefore, it’s a great idea to have a website to promote your business.  This is particularly relevant in the creative sectors as you will be able to showcase previously created content, imagery and add testimonials about your work.

Social media helps with the on-going promotion of your service, with regular and relevant posting helping you gain a ‘voice’ in the marketplace. If you have an active social presence, your business or service will standout against competitors and give you a space to share updates, your expertise and work that has been completed by you for clients.


What is business insurance and do I need it?

Insurance may not be on the top of your to-do list when starting a business, however it’s crucial part of your business security, and peace of mind. Business insurance – and specifically self-employed insurance – is vital in providing financial protection. The best options for the self-employed working in the creative sectors includes:


  • Professional Indemnity Insurance: if errors or omissions in the service you provide has caused or is alleged to have caused a third party a financial loss, you will be covered for the defence costs and any damages awarded as a result (up to the limit of indemnity). An example would be an unintentional infringement of intellectual property in the imagery or copy created by you which the business you are working for is then sued for.
  • Public Liability Insurance: this protects you against an individual or business who brings legal action against you for any physical injury or even damage to property alleged to have been caused while you are working for them. This policy will cover the costs of defending your case as well as compensation owed as a result.
  • Tax Enquiry Insurance: sometimes HMRC investigates the tax affairs of limited company contractors and freelancers operating as sole traders. Our Tax Enquiry Insurance protects you with the cost of expert defence, and expertise needed for such enquiries. We handle the case from start to finish giving you the confidence that your case is managed appropriately from day one.


Qdos Contractor provides a comprehensive range of policies for those seeking sole trader insurance, specifically in the creative and marketing sectors. It understands the requirements of this industry and can provide information and support specifically for your personal business needs. View the complete range of policies .


Tax and registering with HMRC

When you are employed, paying tax and national insurance is not something you have to think about – it is a monthly deduction from your wages. However, when you are a sole trader, you are responsible for paying tax on the money earnt from services provided, plus national insurance, so you need to register your business with HMRC.

The amount of tax is dependent on factors such as expenses and outgoings such as equipment and car costs, however it is important that you pay the right amount of tax to HMRC. To avoid any pitfalls, and to focus on building your business, we would recommend employing an accountant (this does not have to be a big cost). They will not only be able to advise you on what you should be paying, but savings that can be made as a sole trader. In addition, they will file your accounts and ensure that all the right paperwork is with HMRC meeting any payment deadlines.


Do I need a business plan?

Even if you are not looking for investment in your business, having a business plan will help you to create your strategic goals, business objectives and growth plans. It will help you to identify the right target audience, help conduct market research and also any potential issues your business may face. If you are looking for financial input, it will show your investors the value you can offer them.


Qdos offer a range of low-cost policy options. Get your quote today based on your business and policy requirements.

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