To set yourself up as a sole trader, where you run your own business as an individual and are self-employed, there a number of things you must do. Ensure that you:
- Register for Self Assessment with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) so they can set up your tax and National Insurance records. See understanding Self Assessment and your tax return.
- Obtain any planning permission that you may need from your local council. Find your local council in Northern Ireland.
- Obtain any licences or permits that you may need. Use the licence finder tool to find out what licences or permits your business may require.
- Contact the Land and Property Services to find out whether you need to pay business rates. See business rates: the basics.
- Contact HMRC to register for VAT if you expect to have turnover of more than £85,000 a year. See registering for VAT.
- Register with HMRC for PAYE (Pay As You Earn) if you employ staff. See registering and getting started with PAYE.
- Register with HMRC if you are a contractor or subcontractor in the construction industry. See contractors and the Construction Industry Scheme.
- Set up a financial record-keeping system. See set up a basic record-keeping system.
- Put your name on all your business stationery, including letters, invoices, receipts and cheques. See name your business.
- Set terms and conditions for your customers, such as when your invoices are to be paid. See ensure customers pay you on time.
- Ensure all business insurance requirements are in place. See business insurance: the basics.
It's worth remembering that this is just a start. As you continue in business, you may have other legal and tax issues to bear in mind.