Setting Up a Small Independent Business in London

So, you’re a small business owner looking to set up shop (so to speak) in London? First of all, congratulations! It takes true entrepreneurial spirit to take the first step in turning your vision into a living, breathing venture. It also requires real guts.

Finding support for your new London business

As one of the world’s largest cities, London offers plenty of potential, with a diverse pool of talent, and opportunities for investment. The city is a thriving hub of new business, with lots of support available – you just need to know where to look.

At this point in your journey, you’re likely collating as much guidance as possible because hey, there’s no denying that it’s tough out there. If you’re going to stay ahead of the competition you need to be well-equipped.

Consider joining the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)

Joining the LCCI comes with a number of business benefits, such as:

  • Being on the guest list for hundreds of networking events and opportunities year-round.
  • Access to free expert advice and services from qualified professionals in your industry (and in those that can support you)
  • Connecting with peers using the LCCI community app to build your connections and establish a local support system of people
  • Free access to the LCCI’s Members Lounge, which is available as a co-working space or private meeting location when you’re in the city.

As a new small business, you might not have much cash to splash on things like fancy subscriptions. The great news is that the LCCI offers free London Chamber Community Network membership, so it doesn’t have to cost you a penny. You might also want to read our article about starting a business in London as cheaply as possible!

This membership tier still grants you access to invaluable resources like business support webinars, the community app, a subscription to the London Business Matters magazine and the Chamber Finance Finder.

Find a good accountant who you can rely on

Accountants aren’t just there to file your tax returns and make sure your invoices and receipts are all in order. They’re also a valuable resource when it comes to setting up your business, making better decisions as an entrepreneur, and helping you to keep your cash flow in good health.

Hiring an accountant will save you precious time working out how to manage your finances and tax returns.

With their help, you could reduce your tax liability, cut costs, limit errors, and ensure you stay on the right side of HMRC. They’ll also provide you with the analytical insight and financial knowledge you need to make the right moves with your small business.

An accountant might also be able to point you in the direction of potential investment and funding opportunities such as loans and grants. Finding out what funding is available to you could help take your business to the next level, rather than bypassing potential cash injections.

These days it’s possible to use an online accountant, so even if your business is London-based, geography doesn’t have to stand in the way of finding the perfect partnership for you.

A quick note on online accountants

An online accountant doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean an outsourced accountant. Not all practices work to this principle, but do your research to find a professional accountancy firm who you can access online.

Build good habits with your bookkeeping from day one

It’s a no-brainer for a new business owner trying to navigate their first venture – good bookkeeping is essential. If you’re not ready for a bookkeeper, there’s a good array of software out there that can help you keep your accounts accurate and up to date.

Sadly, letting this slip means you run the risk of making errors in your accounts which can easily lead to penalties from HMRC, not to mention issues with your cash flow.

We recommend selecting cloud-based bookkeeping software which allows you to access your financial records at any time, from anywhere in the world.

Cloud-based bookkeeping also makes life easier if you do choose to work with an online accountant.

Do your market research and identify your target demographic

Who will use your services or buy your products? How will you let them know about your business? Good market research will help you answer these questions, and get the most out of your marketing activities, even if you’re only planning to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations.

Don’t knock the benefits of good old-fashioned networking

With the world wide web at your fingertips, attending an in-person networking event to exchange real-life conversation with a room full of face-to-face people can seem a little old hat. This rings particularly true in a post-pandemic era, where communication and connection through our devices is so easy and accessible.

There’s still much to be said for good old-fashioned networking. It puts you in front of likeminded entrepreneurs you might not cross paths with otherwise.

Networking expands your network of contacts (as the name suggests), diversifies the talent pool open to you, builds your confidence as a business owner and, most importantly, helps grow your customer base and brand reach. So, get out there!

Find more help with accounting and finance for your London-based business in our information centre.