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Becoming A Business Owner In Bromley


As a borough, Bromley is the perfect home to launch your new venture – and take it to the next level.


Want to set up your start-up in Bromley? You’re in the right place. This comprehensive guide is designed to cover all the major concepts of business ownership, as well as point you in the right direction of additional support such as Funding, Licensing, Taxation, and Marketing.


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Our community leaders act as an excellent example of collaboration and shared success, with libraries offering workshops for budding entrepreneurs and local authorities providing information on bidding for council contracts.

This guide is an extension of that collaboration and aims to help you over the course of three chapters:

1. Set up your business
2. Ensure your business is compliant
3. Launch your business!

You’ll also find hints and tips for getting your brand in front of your target market and converting those who engage with you.

Combine these insights with your appetite for growth and you’ll be well on your way to joining the countless other successful business leaders within the London Borough of Bromley.

We look forward to seeing what you create.


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BECOMING A BUSINESS OWNER IN BROMLEY

Chapter 1: Set up your business

Understanding the basic concepts of business ownership is essential if you hope to build a successful organisation. The following sections delve into each of those concepts and explore the very foundations of creating a start-up in Bromley – and the UK as a whole.

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to evolve your idea into a fully realised business, starting with your legal structure and overall business plan.


1.1: Deciding on a business structure


Once you’ve settled on your business idea – and a name to suit it – it’s time to look at the structure. And by structure, we mean the legal structure of your business. After all, there’s no point putting together a business plan or performing market research if you’re still unsure where you’ll stand in terms of tax and liabilities.

There are a variety of legal structures in the UK. This guide will focus on the three most common here in Bromley. They are:

Sole trader

This is what’s considered self-employment – it has no set-up costs, and simply requires you to register with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for Self Assessment once you start trading.You can register on the GOV.UK website. Make sure to do this well in advance of your Self Assessment deadline as it can take up to 10 days (21 if you’re abroad) to receive your Unique Taxpayer Reference number. You’ll need both this and your account activation code in order to log in and file your tax return.

Pros

  • – Quick and free to get started
  • – Minimal reporting obligations
  • – You receive all profits after tax

Cons

  • – Any profit you make is taxed as personal income
  • – You are personally responsible for any debts incurred
  • – Restrictive in terms of scaling up your operation Limited liability company

This is one of the most common legal structures, and involves a private company that is incorporated and limited by shares. This means that the company has shareholders, and the liability of the shareholders to creditors of the company is limited to any money they invest.

As with self-employment, you can register your company with Companies House through the GOV.UK website. You should also bear in mind certain rules around your name choice. After registering, you’ll receive a ‘certificate of incorporation’, which confirms that your company legally exists and shows your company number as well as the date of formation.

It costs £12 in total, which can be paid by debit card, credit card or PayPal account. Once payment has been made, your company will typically be registered within 24 hours.

Pros

  • – More tax efficient to maximise your take-home pay
  • – Limits your liability if the business fails
  • – Ability to claim on limited company expenses

Cons

  • – Costlier to set up and run
  • – Greater obligations for ongoing reporting

Partnership

If you’re going into business with a partner, you may decide to legally share responsibilities, profits and tax costs.

All partners must register as self-employed and submit separate tax returns as individuals. This is done through the Self Assessment gateway. You need to complete this process by the 5th October in your business’ second tax year, or you could be charged a penalty.

Pros

  • – Easy to get started
  • – Shares the administrative burden
  • – Fewer legal obligations

Cons

  • – The business has no independent legal status
  • – Perceived lack of prestige
  • – Potential for conflict

Whichever legal framework you decide to opt for, Bromley Council has support to match all three. Choosing any of the above arrangements still allows you to access our resources, but the one you land on may affect your financial structure and scale-up opportunities.

If you would like support on choosing a structure, you can contact business@bromley.gov.uk at www.bromleybusinesshub.org for more information.

1.2: Choosing a target audience


Who your target audience is depends entirely on your product or service. They’ll also affect many aspects of your business, including:

  • – Your budget
  • – The price you charge for your product or service
  • – How you market your product or service
  • – Where you market your product or service

Let’s use an example. Imagine you’re hoping to launch a taxi firm that boasts the traditional experience of getting a cab as opposed to using an app. That venture has a specific type of audience – they have specific interests, needs and values that you need to map out and base your business around.

The same is true of opening a flower store in Orpington. Plenty of shoppers will prefer the other options to an independent, brick-and-mortar store, such as:

  • – Online flower stores (convenience)
  • – Supermarkets (price)
  • – Larger chains (trust)

But there will be an audience for your brand. You just have to work out who it is, and why they would use you over your competitors. This is all information that should be included in your business plan.

Unsure exactly what it is your business does yet? Turn the question on its head and instead ask yourself what people are in need of right now. Is it an alternative to construction companies in West Wickham? Or are people looking for a broader retail experience closer to home? You could answer that demand by introducing an affordable clothing store on the Bromley Town high street.

Target audience examples

Below are some audience persona examples to help you get the ball rolling:

Taxi firm audience

  • Age range: 40-70
  • Gender: 70% male, 30% female
  • Common job titles: Owner, Self-Employed, Health and Safety Lead, Technician
  • Preferred channels: Print, Radio, Facebook
  • Motivation to buy from you: Prefer a traditional taxi experience over an app-based transaction.

Flower shop audience

  • Age range: 28-40
  • Gender: 80% female, 20% male
  • Common job titles: Marketing Executive, HR Manager, Creative Lead, Operations Manager
  • Preferred channels: Instagram, Twitter, Email
  • Motivation to buy from you: Feel a local shop offers a more personal experience and are invested in the success of small, local businesses.

Construction company (home improvement) audience

  • Age range: 30-65
  • Gender: 60% male, 40% female
  • Common job titles: CFO, Systems Architect, Head of Sales, Recruitment Manager
  • Preferred channels: Radio, Print, Email, Facebook
  • Motivation to buy from you: Looking to make some home improvements after purchasing their property or recently becoming empty nesters. Prefer a local firm to a national brand.

Clothing store audience

  • Age range: 16-28
  • Gender: 90% female, 10% male
  • Common job titles: Retail Assistant, Bar Manager, Copywriter, Sales Executive
  • Preferred channels: TikTok, Facebook, Email, Print
  • Motivation to buy from you: Want to enjoy a retail shopping experience but uninterested in travelling to central London.

While these audiences might not match your product or service, it should offer a good starting point. From there, you can decide on the messaging, marketing channels and branding that will resonate with your prospective customers.

Once you’ve finalised your target audience, you’re ready to create a well-researched business plan.

1.3: What a business plan is and what it includes


A business plan is a written document that outlines the aims of your business and how it generates income.

They’re used in pitch meetings with potential investors or loan applications from banks. You can also share them with potential customers, suppliers and employees to demonstrate your value proposition.

But a great business plan doesn’t just cover your strengths – it also reveals your weaknesses, and suggests ways you can overcome them. It does this by including the following information:

1. An overview of your business

This section needs to grab the reader. It should summarise how your business functions in a way that’s clear and immediately tells your audience how you intend to turn a profit. Include here your primary aim and how your business will achieve it.

2. An overview of the industry landscape

Investors won’t always be familiar with your industry, so make it clear in this section who the big players are, what threats and issues they face, and what there is to gain by investing in a challenger brand in this space.

3. The problem consumers in that industry face

This is where you make it clear where your competitors are failing. People who read this business plan need to know why the space is calling out for a new business. So ask yourself, what is the current demand in your industry? And in which ways are your competitors not addressing it?

4. How your business will address that problem

In this section, you’ll answer how your business will supply the demand in your current market. Bear in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean a product. For example, Airbnb’s answer to this question would be to build an online marketplace and provide an alternative to overpriced hotels and legacy bed and breakfast venues.

5. The audience you intend to target

Of course, not every customer in your current industry is going to purchase from you, so this section requires you to hone your audience to your primary target market. Who is most likely to buy from you? And why? What is it about your product or service that speaks to them?

6. How you’ll reach that audience through marketing

A marketing plan is a key part of your business strategy. Here, you need to be explaining how you intend to reach that audience, and through what channels. For example, does your audience use social media? If so, will you run social media ads to bring them to your site? Or will you partner with affiliates who share your audience? Try to be as comprehensive as possible, listing every method you would choose and why.

7. A breakdown of your company financials

When writing this section, you may not have secured the funding you need to achieve your goals yet. In which case, detail how much investment you need to secure and how much money will be invested. Include your expectation of profit and how, over time, you intend to invest that profit back into your business.

8. An overview of your company structure

Again, when you write this, you may not have any other individuals lined up to work for you. However, you can still describe the roles you believe necessary to make your business a success in both the short and long term.

9. A SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is a breakdown of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You should carry this out for your business, as well as that of your competitors. It shows a comprehensive understanding of the market you’re hoping to penetrate, and acts as an entry point to your industry for investors struggling to see your unique selling proposition.

Businesses present this information in different ways. If you’d like some guidance, you can download free templates from the Invest Northern Ireland website or The Prince’s Trust website. The Start Up Loans programme also has a business plan template you can use, along with a cash flow forecast template.

Even if you prefer to take a unique approach, it’s worth referring to these resources to ensure you include everything that a reader would expect from a business plan.

1.4: Setting up a limited company


There are five steps to registering your limited company, and while we touched on other business structures earlier, limited companies are unique in how they are created. Follow the below process, though, and you’ll be square with Companies House and other authorities.

1. Choose a company name

If you’re setting up a private limited company, your name cannot be the same as another registered company’s name. You may even have to change your name if it’s considered too close to another business’. This typically refers to businesses where the only difference between their name and another is:

  • – Certain punctuation
  • – Certain special characters
  • – Words or characters that are similar to another word from the existing business
  • – A word or character used commonly in UK company names (for example, ‘Bromley IT’ and ‘Bromley UK IT’ are effectively the same name

Companies House will tell you if they believe your name is too similar to another business. If they don’t, just be conscious that a business you aren’t aware of could raise a complaint further down the line.You can check if your preferred name is available by using Companies House’s availability checker. Additionally, you can check for any trade marks that could prevent you from using a certain phrase or name.

It’s also worth noting that you can’t register your name with an offensive word or phrase. These don’t just include curse words.

What’s more, your name can’t include terms such as ‘accredited’, or other words that suggest a connection with government or local authorities, unless you have explicit permission. If you need additional guidance on the terms you cannot use, read up more on incorporation and names on the GOV.UK site.

And finally, you can trade with a name that’s different to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’, and it has its own rules too. It shouldn’t:

  • – Infringe another company’s trade mark
  • – Include ‘limited’, ‘ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership’, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’, or ‘plc’
  • – Contain a sensitive word

2. Choose directors and a company secretary

You must appoint a director, but you don’t have to appoint a company secretary. A director is legally responsible for running the company and making sure the accounts and reports are properly prepared.

They must be aged 16 or over and have a UK registered office address. They also must provide a correspondence address. If you are the director of your business, your personal information will be publicly available from Companies House.

Specifically, a director is responsible for:

  • – Following the company’s rules, shown in its articles of association
  • – Keeping company records and report changes
  • – Filing your accounts and your Company Tax Return
  • – Informing shareholders if they personally benefit from a transaction the company makes
  • – Paying Corporation Tax

The records that the director keeps include those about the company itself, as well as financial information:

Information about the company:

  • – Directors, shareholders and company secretaries
  • – The results of any shareholder votes and resolutions
  • – Promises for the company to repay loans at a specific date in the future (‘debentures’) and who they must be paid back to
  • – Promises the company makes for payments if something goes wrong and it’s the company’s fault (‘indemnities’)
  • – Transactions when someone buys shares in the company
  • – Loans or mortgages secured against the company’s assets

Accounting information:

  • – All money received and spent by the company
  • – Details of assets owned by the company
  • – Debts the company owes or is owed
  • – Stock the company owns at the end of the financial year
  • – The stocktakings you used to work out the stock figure
  • – All goods bought and sold
  • – Who you bought and sold goods to and from (unless you run a retail business)

While you can have an accountant to handle some of these tasks, it is still the director who is legally responsible for each of them.

Need help choosing an accountant? Bromley Business Hub’s directory lists all the local practices that can take the complexity out of managing your own finances.

3. Decide on your shareholders or guarantors (and identify those with significant control over your company)

Most limited companies are ‘limited by shares’, meaning that they’re owned by shareholders. You can be limited by guarantee and have guarantors with a ‘guaranteed amount’ instead.

There are multiple ways to allocate shares, but what’s important is that you understand that you may need shareholders to vote and agree when you’re making changes to the company.

A person with significant control (PSC) is someone who owns a large part of, or controls, your company. This is an individual (or individuals) with the most sway when it comes to your business, and you must record who they are. Most PSCs are those who hold:

  • – More than 25% of shares in the company
  • – More than 25% of voting rights in the company
  • – The right to appoint or remove the majority of the board of directors

If you don’t have a PSC, you won’t be required to provide this information.

4. Prepare documents on how to run your company

As the owner of a limited company, you have to prepare a ‘memorandum of association’ and ‘articles of association’.

A memorandum of association is a legal statement signed by all initial shareholders or guarantors agreeing to form the company. If you register your company online, you don’t need to write your own memorandum of association. Instead, it will be created automatically as part of your registration.

Articles of association are written rules about running the company that are agreed by directors, the company secretary, and shareholders or guarantors. These could be standard articles, otherwise known as ‘model articles’, that were prescribed by the Companies Act 2006.

In both instances, you could be the sole author of these documents.

5. Register your company

You register your company through the government website. You’ll receive a ‘certificate of incorporation’, which confirms that the company legally exists and shows the company number as well as the date of formation.

You’ll need at least three pieces of personal identification, as well as information concerning your shareholders or guarantors, for example:

  • – Town of birth
  • – Mother’s maiden name
  • – Father’s first name
  • – Telephone number
  • – National Insurance number
  • – Passport number

It costs £12 to register your company and this can be paid by either debit or credit card or a PayPal account. Your company is usually registered within 24 hours.

Finally, you must provide a registered office address when you set up a limited company. This is where all written communication must be sent. The address must be:

  • – A physical address in the UK
  • – In the same country your company is registered in (for example, a company registered in Scotland must have a registered office address in Scotland)

You can use a PO Box, but you must still include a physical address and postcode.

1.5: Registering your limited company for taxation


When you register with Companies House, you should also register for Corporation Tax. Corporation Tax is what you pay on your profits from doing business as a limited company.

If you registered your company by post, or by using an agency or third-party software, you can register for Corporation Tax here. You must do this, otherwise you will be seen to be avoiding tax.

Once you’re registered, you must work out your Corporation Tax on your own. To do this, you’ll need to keep records and use them to prepare a Company Tax Return. This displays your profit or loss, and can be handled by an accountant.

Once you’ve prepared your Company Tax Return, you should be able to work out your total Corporation Tax amount. At this point, you pay said Corporation Tax no later than nine months and one day after the end of your accounting period. You can pay here, or alternatively through methods such as:

  • – Online banking
  • – CHAPS
  • – Direct debit

Once paid, you submit your Company Tax Return. The deadline is 12 months after the end of the accounting period it covers.

You’ll have to pay a penalty if you miss the deadline. Initially, you’ll be charged £100 for being a day late. After three months, you’ll be charged an additional £100. At six months, HMRC will estimate your Corporation Tax bill and add a penalty of 10% of the unpaid tax. And at 12 months, you’ll be charged an additional 10% of any unpaid tax.

BECOMING A BUSINESS OWNER IN BROMLEY

Chapter 2: Ensure your business is compliant

Once you’re set up, you need to understand the responsibilities of running a business in the Bromley area.

In this chapter, you’ll discover how to take your enterprise from a name and a legal structure to an operating organisation – with licences, insurance and employee contracts. You’ll find contact information for industry-specific experts in Bromley, and discover more about your obligations as an employer.


2.1: Meeting the requirements of your sector


A number of industries require you to hold licences in order to sell products or services – whether that’s an alcohol licence for your bar or industry accreditation for your haulage business.

Below, we’ve broken down a list of popular business categories that require licences and included the relevant contact information for each.

Food And Drink

Anyone starting a new food business or taking over an existing food business is legally obligated to register their premises at least 28 days before trading. Do not register if you aren’t ready to trade within 28 days.

This applies to all businesses that prepare, store, sell and even distribute food and drink, including:

  • – Food brokers
  • – Mobile catering trailers or vans, and ice cream vans
  • – Market stalls
  • – Vehicles used to transport food
  • – Home producers, home bakers and home caterers
  • – Charitable and community food providers
  • – Childminders

For in-depth information on each of these areas, read our full guidance here.

You can register your food business with Bromley Council here. You’ll receive confirmation upon completion of the relevant form, and you’ll also be allocated a food safety officer who will either make an unannounced visit to your premises or contact you when they are ready to do so. You can learn more about food safety management procedures by checking out the Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) manual for caterers and retailers.

As for alcohol, Bromley Council is the licensing authority for organisations that are starting up in the Bromley area and will be selling or supplying it. We’re responsible for granting premises licences, club premises certificates, temporary events notices and personal licences in the borough.

If you’re looking to apply for a premises licence in Bromley, you can apply here. There is a fee so you will need a debit or credit card when you register.

To authorise the supply of alcohol and regulated entertainment in a qualifying club , you need a club premises certificate. You can apply for one here, although you’ll need a premises plan, copy of the club rules and a declaration, along with your debit or credit card for the fee.

If you have any questions regarding your licensing, please email licensing@bromley.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can call 0208 313 4218 or reach us at Public Protection, Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH.

Construction and architecture

If you wish to build, change, extend, demolish or develop a property in Bromley, you may need to apply for planning permission.

You can find out what kind of work requires planning permission from the planning portal website. Through their interactive guides, they determine the building regulations and other relevant legislation that will apply to your project.

To make a valid application for planning permission, you need:

  • – A completed application form
  • – To comply with national information requirements
  • – The correct application fee
  • – Provision of local information requirements

In preparation for your planning application, you should also consult examples of well-drawn, accurate plans that meet Bromley Council’s validation requirements. Take our site location plan, for example – this is what we are looking for when processing your proposed development.

Once we receive your application, our approval process typically takes up to two weeks. This process starts with us allocating you an application number. This number is your planning application reference and should be quoted whenever you contact us about your application. You’re then assigned a planning officer who will undertake validation screening to make sure that the application meets national and local validation requirements.

If your application is approved:

  1. The validation team processes the application and sends you an acknowledgment letter with a site notice and guidance notes.
  2. The validation team creates a list of neighbours to consult (if appropriate).
  3. Letters are sent to neighbours.
  4. A number of statutory external and internal consultees are contacted for their comments on the application, e.g. Thames Water, conservation officers and the Environment Agency.
  5. The application is uploaded to our website.
  6. It is then given to the planning officer for assessment and to make a recommendation. It is not possible to keep applicants informed of their application’s progress and we’re unable to negotiate or meet to discuss the application generally.

We’ll contact you if we require anything specific to enable the determination of the application, and you’re able to track the progress of an application on our website.

If your application is refused:

  1. You’ll receive an email or letter stating the reasons why it’s invalid.
  2. The application is then suspended until the requested information is received. Information required to address invalid reasons must not be submitted via the planning portal as we are unable to retrieve this information. It must be submitted via email to planning@bromley.gov.uk or by post.
  3. The time limit for suspending the application is 21 days. After this period, the application is withdrawn and this is confirmed by either letter or email.
  4. Once an application has been withdrawn, you’ll need to submit a new application.

If you have any questions regarding your proposed development, please email planning.admin@bromley.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can call 020 8313 4956.

Hairdressing and beauty

As with hospitality businesses, premises used by hairdressers or beauty salons need to be registered with the council.

When we’ve received your application, we’ll perform a risk assessment. It is your job to ensure that:

  • – The premises, instruments, towels, materials and equipment used are all clean
  • – The staff working at your premises, as well as their clothing, are clean

Registration is free of charge. Simply complete the application form, print it out, and send it back to us at Public Protection, Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH.

For any additional information, please consult our guidelines for registering as a hairdresser or therapist through Bromley Council.

Childcare

There are two forms of childcare business that will require Bromley Council approval.

Childminding

When registering as a childminder, you need to be at least 18 years old. You also need to register with Ofsted or a childminder agency before you can look after children under the age of eight for more than two hours a day.

Registration can take 12 weeks, and it is an offence to provide such childcare without being registered or on premises that have not been approved.

There are two registers to choose from:

  1. The Early Years Register – For providers caring for children from birth to 31st August following their fifth birthday.
  2. The Childcare Register – For providers caring for children from 1st September after the child’s fifth birthday up until their eighth birthday. This register is also for providers caring for children aged eight and over.
    1. To apply for either register, head to the government website. There, you’ll find additional guidance on what other requirements you must follow in order to be approved.

      Nursery or pre-school (childcare on non-domestic premises)

      Childcare on non-domestic premises is where childcare is provided on premises that are not your home or somebody else’s. This could be in a village hall, youth club or other purpose-built premises.

      Like childminders, anyone who cares for children under the age of eight for more than two hours a day in England must register with Ofsted unless they are exempt. For more information on the two registers you can sign up to, please refer back to the Childminding section.

      To register, you’ll need to apply at Ofsted’s official site. The application forms contain guidance notes throughout to help you complete the required sections. Applicants must also sign up for a Government Gateway account so that they can communicate and transact securely via email with Ofsted.

      After you’ve registered, you will:

      • – Be contacted by one of our quality improvement officers who will offer advice and support until your first Ofsted grading inspection
      • – Be invited to workshops specifically designed to meet aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage
      • – Be invited to attend a Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP)
      • – Be invited to information sessions to update you on local and national issues and to network with other childminders
      • – Have access to all local authority documents to support curriculum planning and the development of your setting

      Provided you’re registered, you can get to work choosing a premises. You can find a list of planning requirements here, where you’ll also find guidance for submitting your application.

      Taxi Driving

      Unlike other industries in our list, opening a taxi business within the London Borough of Bromley requires you to apply through Transport for London (TfL) by securing one of their licences.

      There are two types:

      1. A small operator’s licence – For up to two vehicles for private hire bookings
      2. A standard operator’s licence – For as many vehicles as you like

      Each licence has a fee and lasts for five years. You can apply for a licence by calling TfL on 0343 222 4444 or emailing tphoperators@tfl.gov.uk to request an application pack.

      Your application pack will contain:

      • – A cover letter with details about the application process
      • – A PHV/101 application form
      • – A PHV/103 personal declaration form
      • – A PHV/108 operating centre information form

      To submit an application, you must include:

      • – A completed PHV/101 application form
      • – A PHV/103 personal declaration form completed for each individual associated with the application
      • – A PHV/108 operating centre form completed for every operating centre
      • – The full application fee for the appropriate tier, based on the number of vehicles available to you at any one time
      • – Evidence of planning permission for every proposed operating centre or centres

      Before applying, it’s worth consulting TfL’s guide to applying for a London private hire operator’s licence. In it, you’ll find guidance relating to:

      • – Key definitions in London PHV legislation
      • – Fit and proper person criteria
      • – Operator drivers
      • – Exemptions
      • – Operating centres and offices
      • – Fees and how to select the correct tier
      • – Duration of licence
      • – Record-keeping requirements
      Other businesses

      Don’t see your industry in this list? Contact our helpdesk today, and they’ll put you in touch with the relevant department.

2.2: Creating staff contracts and employee handbooks


When you’re in a position to hire staff, you’ll need an employment contract. This is a legal obligation, and not having one can result in a tribunal should the relationship between you and your employee deteriorate.

This contract is an agreement that sets out your employee’s:

  • – Employment conditions
  • – Rights
  • – Responsibilities
  • – Duties

The moment your employee accepts the job offer you sent, the contract begins and doesn’t end until they leave your service.

To ensure both you and your employee are on the same page, it’s important that you include:

  • – Names and addresses
  • – Job title
  • – Agreed salary
  • – Location of work
  • – Hours of work
  • – Employee benefits (such as additional annual leave, sick pay, flexible working, etc.)
  • – Disciplinary procedures

You’re also expected to outline the responsibilities of the role. However, some business owners are sparing in detail in this section and instead include phrases such as ‘all employees are expected to carry out any other duties that may reasonably be required’. This is to allow the business to grow, and the roles to adjust, in an organic manner.

Acas, the independent body that manages relationships between employees and employers, has a series of templates you can use for your contracts. It’s important that this document is lean and not overburdened with company information. This is what your staff handbook is for.

Your staff handbook contains all the information about your company that you believe staff should know. It also contains your expectations for staff conduct, often saying out loud what the implied terms of your contract do not. It will typically include detail around:

  • – Health and safety
  • – Equal opportunities and anti-discrimination
  • – Data protection
  • – Time off and absence
  • – Email, internet and social media policies
  • – Drug and alcohol policies
  • – Termination policies
  • Whistle-blowing and bribery

When you’re ready to hire, you can upload your vacant role on the Bromley Business Hub website to get in front of the region’s top talent.

2.3: Choosing the relevant insurance


Choosing your business insurance is one of those tasks that too many entrepreneurs overlook. As a result, they are prone to unforeseen risks and other vulnerabilities.

There are some policies that are essential depending on your services, and one that’s a legal requirement if you’re an employer, regardless of your sector or offering: employers’ liability insurance (EL).

EL insurance protects your business in the event that one of your staff members claims they’ve suffered an illness or injury as a result of working for you. It covers the expense of legal and compensation costs involved in defending the case.

Failure to have EL insurance can result in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fining up to £2,500 for every day you go unprotected.

Other policies you should consider are:

Public liability insurance (PL)

PL insurance is one of the most popular policies for small businesses. It covers you against claims made by members of the public.

If you or one of your team accidentally causes injury or property damage to a member of the public, your business could face staggering legal fees and compensation costs. PL covers those costs and allows you to continue working.

Clients and suppliers may even request that you have PL as a condition of working for them. This is to cover their back should your efforts result in public harm.

Contents and portable equipment insurance

As the name suggests, this policy relates to the equipment and technology you rely on. Contents cover is designed to protect this equipment from theft, fire, flooding, loss or damage. This includes things like:

  • – Smartphones
  • – Laptops
  • – Tablets
  • – Cameras
  • – Furniture
Cyber insurance

It’s not only your physical equipment that can be damaged. The rise of cyberattacks has meant that protection online has become essential.

Cyber insurance allows businesses to mitigate the risk posed by attackers by covering the legal claims, compensation costs and fines under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) where legally insurable.

Professional indemnity insurance (PI)

PI cover is designed for businesses who offer advice or a professional service. If you make a mistake or your client claims to have suffered a financial loss on account of your work, PI covers the legal costs.

And, as with PL insurance, PI insurance can sometimes be a requirement of your partners or clients.

Directors’ and officers’ liability insurance (D&O)

Also known as management liability insurance, D&O cover protects the individuals who have management responsibility in the business. It covers them for any claims against them personally, including breaching health and safety laws, misadministration of the company pension, or errors in financial reporting.

For each of these situations, the penalties are high. D&O defends your corner by covering legal and compensation costs.

It is sometimes expected at the investment stage, as potential investors see it as a must-have.

Product liability insurance

If you’re producing a product en masse, you may want to seek out product liability insurance. This cover is suited to businesses that design, produce or supply products, and it protects them in the event that their product causes injury or damage to a third party or their property.

If this were to happen, your business could be faced with a substantial cost, depending on the scale of the damage as well as the associated harm to your reputation. Product liability insurance reduces the significance of the penalty and gives you reassurance that the majority of the costs will be covered.

2.4: Seeking legal documentation support in Bromley

If you’re struggling to make sense of and modify legal document templates, you can always reach out for support from local commercial and employment law experts. There are a number of firms here in the London Borough of Bromley that are well equipped to look after your needs.

Judge & Priestley on West Street are one of the oldest firms in the area, having provided legal services for over a century. There’s also the Citizens Advice Bureau on South Street, which offers free advice for any individual seeking legal support.

Beyond that, you can check out comparison sites to find a solicitor who accommodates your budget and/or is located close by. These sites include:

Once they’ve supported you in the creation of your documentation, you’re free to draw up contracts, assign tasks, and get to work.

BECOMING A BUSINESS OWNER IN BROMLEY

Chapter 3: Launch your business!

Now you’ve got all your processes and procedures in order, it’s time to open your doors, start speaking to your audience, and make the most of the business support provided by the likes of HMRC, Bromley Council and other groups.

In this chapter, you’ll decide on a marketing strategy, identify where you can secure funding locally, and discover the tax benefits of owning your own business.


3.1: Choosing the right location for your business


While you might have already listed your home as your initial business premises, it may be that you decide to conduct your work in a shared office space, or cafés, before eventually deciding on a more permanent location for your company.

Not everyone starts this way. However, for most entrepreneurs, the first phase of your business ownership occurs in your back room. Even those in hospitality look to build awareness of their brand before they open their doors.

Office-based spaces

For office-based professionals, organisations like Instant Offices have a number of co-working spaces you can rent in the Bromley area. Co-working spaces typically have 24-hour access, along with a kitchen, meeting rooms and fast internet connection. They’re low-cost, require minimal commitment and are easy to scale up – making them perfect for business owners just starting out, or those with a small team or flexible working arrangements.

Becoming a member of Start-Up Bromley also gives you access to their two business lounges at Bromley Central Library and Orpington Library. These act as safe and secure environments for small businesses and start-ups, with rooms available for the use of private meetings, sales pitches and consultations. These all come equipped with PCs and plenty of desk space. Plus, you can review the library’s dedicated selection of business books in between meetings to brush up on everything from management styles to marketing techniques.

If you’re leaving your equipment in these premises overnight, it’s worth investing in contents insurance to cover you in instances of theft or damage. This may be something that’s included in your contract with the co-working space manager.

As time goes by, you may feel that you’ve outgrown a shared workspace. Whether that’s as a result of your size or the type of work you’re undertaking, you will then require a physical space that you can call your own…

Physical spaces

For hospitality businesses or those with a physical presence, you’ll need to purchase or rent a commercial space in your chosen area. That depends on what land or lots are available to you, as well as your initial budget and cash flow forecasts.

Generally, there are two paths you can take:

The sure thing – A new brand in an already established area

Pros:

  • – Increased foot traffic outside your premises/good transport links
  • – Brand awareness of your neighbours draws customers to you
  • – You can charge more for your product/you have access to a larger talent pool

Cons:

  • – Property is more expensive
  • – Greater competition/potentially louder, busier area
  • – Harder to distinguish yourself from other brands

The disruptor – The first brand of its kind in a lesser-visited area

Pros:

  • – Lower rent prices
  • – Little to no competition/quieter working environment
  • – Attract individuals that want to visit an area before it becomes popular

Cons:

  • – Less foot traffic outside your premises/poor transport links
  • – Requires a greater marketing spend to boost brand awareness
  • – Less of a motive for customers to stay in the area/less of a draw for top talent to work for you

Whichever of the two options you choose, factor in how difficult it will be for customers or staff to get to your premises. Is it tucked away in a back street, or located next to multiple construction sites? Is it easy to find on Google Maps?

If you’re a bar, large office or retail store, you may be less concerned about parking but more concerned about strong public transport links. As for restaurants, depending on your audience, it may be worth choosing a location that families can easily get to – perhaps just outside a main town or city, with plenty of free or affordable parking.

Due to the type of care being provided within a childcare business, it is easy to understand why the requirements of the premises are different to those of offices and restaurants. And it’s also for this reason why multiple business owners in this industry partner with council-run organisations to ensure they meet these requirements.

Venues such as village halls or primary schools can accommodate a childcare business. Once you’re registered with the relevant authorities, it’s worth consulting the groups involved in managing these facilities and proposing your business idea directly to them.

If you prefer to purchase or rent a space of your own, consider the following:

  • – The number of families near your venue
  • – Commuter routes (people dropping their children off to you)
  • – The proximity of your business to adult venues (bars, nightclubs, etc.)
  • – The outdoor space (as well as the capacity to grow)
3.2: Choosing which channels to advertise through
Regardless of your industry, you need to be marketing yourself to customers if you expect to hit the ground running in your first quarter.

Yes, there are some businesses in high demand that will naturally generate sales without a huge amount of effort. But an effective marketing campaign is crucial if you want to scale up or get the edge over your competitors.

But what is a marketing strategy? In simple terms, it’s a plan that maps out how you’ll target your audience through a certain platform or platforms, and which messages you’ll serve them to encourage them to buy from you. It factors in the content you use – say, guides, videos or other freebies – and suggests the methods of distributing this content to achieve your marketing goals.

The type of content you produce depends entirely on your industry. If you’re a bar, you might want to share drink offers online, or put an ad on nearby billboards. If you’re a nursery, you may opt to use social media to specifically target those who live in the London Borough of Bromley. Likewise, tradespeople can quite often be heard between radio shows, so you might wish to get your name out in the same way.

Below, we’ve listed a selection of the most popular marketing channels and how you can use them to promote your business.

Local newspapers

Groups like Kent Online and News Shopper have a considerable readership in Bromley. Their focus on the borough gives readers an insight into local matters that papers like the Evening Standard tend to miss.

Although their following is naturally much smaller, the benefit is that it’s much cheaper to advertise, and as a result can be paired with other methods of advertising to create a more comprehensive marketing strategy.

Bear in mind that these papers get their readership by focusing on civic matters, so your ad would need to do the same. Think: what is it about your venture that speaks to people locally? Is it a new gym offering fair rates to locals? Or maybe a restaurant offering a unique cuisine?

Bus stops and billboards

Some brands like to go big. And by putting your name over local (or national) advertising spaces such as billboards, bus stops and similar places, you’re definitely going to be seen.

Bromley Council will naturally help you in this process, provided you don’t breach our advertising rules. For billboards, you’ll have to use groups such as Billboard Advertising, who can walk you through the costs to advertise in various spaces in Bromley.

The pull of this channel is that you get seen by a broad number of commuters, some of whom may be members of your target audience. The catch is that advertising locally only helps a small number of businesses. If you’re a company that sells to other companies (business-to-business, or B2B) and want a national platform, you’d need to spend considerably more on billboards to attract your audience.

Radio stations

Often overlooked but never underwhelming, radio advertising is a channel for spend-savvy entrepreneurs who want a more varied strategy. That’s because, on average, radio brings in £7.70 for every pound spent.

Due to the short lead times and relatively low-cost product, it’s ideal for creating tactical advertising at a short notice. It also allows you to target audiences based on age, social grade, gender and geographical region. The only other medium to do this to the same extent is social media, which can be more expensive.

It’s not for every business, but radio does boast a large audience that you can reach at a typically lower price than other channels. If you’re interested in exploring this marketing method further, Radiocentre can help you launch campaigns as soon as you’re ready to go live.

Email campaigns

Provided you have their email addresses, you have a direct line to your prospective and existing customers. Tools like Mailchimp are free to use, and allow you to create, schedule, send and measure the results of your emails. The challenge lies in getting the email addresses themselves.

For a restaurant, you can request a customer’s details at the booking stage in order to send them a confirmation. If they opt in to marketing emails too, this allows you to store their information legally and target them with future correspondence.

For a retail operation, you could encourage customers to sign up to your newsletter. You could advertise on your website that subscribers get a 10% discount, for example.

Whichever way you do it, when you build your own mailing list, you then have a regular means of communication with your customers. This makes it easier to promote new products and services.

Your website

Speaking of your website, there’s no getting around it: you need one. Whether you rely on an agency to set one up for you or you use services like Squarespace, Shopify or WordPress to build your own, a website has come to be expected by customers – no matter the size of your business or the industry you’re in.

This is also where you’ll direct social media traffic to initially, as well as any prospective customers that have seen your billboards or other advertising, to find out more about you and your offering.

Your website will be host to everything your audience needs to know before they make their purchase decision – from your opening hours and prices to your team members, values and corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Networking

In a way, you yourself are an advertising asset to your business. In the early days, it will be you who sells it – so you need people to buy into you.

Networking events are usually where this kind of pitch takes place. They occur all over the country, with some events being industry-specific and others being a free-for-all of local enterprises all exchanging information and boosting the success of each other’s businesses.

If your organisation would benefit from meeting other business leaders, you can check out the list of upcoming events on the Bromley Business Hub events page. Be sure to bookmark this page as it’s regularly updated.

Of course, we’re missing social media. That’s because social media acts as so much more than a channel of marketing communication. And in the next section, we explain why.

3.3: Building a social media presence


Social media is where the majority of customers speak to businesses. Even in B2B circles, companies treat social media as an essential tool in their communications arsenal.

It’s one of the best places to build up brand awareness among your target audience, and it’s one of the first places people head once they’ve seen your advert to decide whether or not they want to buy from you. As such, how businesses behave on social media can make or break their success. Indeed, it can often have a greater impact than the product or service that the business sells.

To create a strong social media presence that attracts customers and generates sales, there are a few steps you can follow:

Grow your audience
  1. Follow people that are influential in your space. Not only will their posts inspire yours, but they may follow you back and share your posts to their following.
  2. Follow news sources in your industry so that you’re able to share or comment on relevant stories and increase activity on your accounts.
  3. Follow potential customers and interact with their posts.
  4. Participate in trending topics and Twitter hours, and include links to your social media accounts on your website and other marketing collateral.
Keep your posting regular and varied
  1. Share industry stories or information that’s relevant to your audience.
  2. Post original thought leader opinions from your senior team.
  3. Mix up the content you post to keep your feed engaging for your audience. This could include videos, links to articles, offers and cross-promotion to your partners.
  4. Encourage people to comment on your posts, either through competitions or polls.
  5. Be consistent with your tone of voice. Choose a way that you want to portray yourself, and apply it to all your content.
Continue to update your accounts with the latest information
  1. Include a direct link to your website along with a contact number.
  2. Ensure the information you post doesn’t conflict with information on other forms of marketing.
  3. Have someone actively in charge of your social media accounts, and include contact hours relating to their availability.

Provided you follow the above steps, your business should have a solid foundation from which to run social media and multi-channel advertising campaigns.

3.4: Claiming tax relief for business expenses


As you start to incur running costs as a business, you may be relieved to hear that there’s a way to alleviate some of the financial burden. Simply put, you can reduce the amount of tax you owe by claiming back on some of your expenditure, as well as applying for various other allowances and reliefs.

As long as this expenditure was incurred entirely for the purposes of your business, it is what’s known as an ‘allowable expense’. That means that you can deduct it from your total profit amount and therefore reduce your Corporation Tax liability.

Examples of business expenses include:

  • – Rental costs of your property, along with utility bills
  • – Salaries of your employees
  • – Office costs, including stationery and phone bills
  • – Insurance costs, such as your PI insurance premium
  • – Travel and accommodation costs for business trips
  • – Advertising and marketing costs

AXA has some great guidance on what you can and cannot claim, as well as the various rules you need to follow.

You need to keep records of these expenses in case you are investigated by HMRC. That means holding on to the receipts, invoices and other relevant documentation so that you’re able to demonstrate your eligibility to claim a business expense for your limited company.

To declare that you have claimed this relief, you must include it in your company accounts. The first time you file your records will be approximately 21 months after the date you registered with Companies House. You then file your annual accounts with Companies House nine months after your company’s financial year ends.

Your accounting period for Corporation Tax is the time covered by your Company Tax Return. It’s normally the same 12 months as the company financial year covered by your annual accounts.

3.5: Accessing funding in the Bromley area


There are multiple grants available to businesses who open up shop in the London Borough of Bromley. Not only are you eligible for our support, but you may also be able to access various awards and other funding schemes nationwide.

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This funding is separate from the investment you receive from private stakeholders. That being said, for some of the funding opportunities listed below, you may be expected to produce a business plan or other commercial literature during the application process.

Some of the funding bodies available to you include:

The London Business Hub

No matter what industry you are in, or what business objectives you have, the London Business Hub has support tailored to you.

From manufacturing to film and TV, you’ll find financial support listed on their website that’s specific to your trade and capable of taking your business from start-up to industry contender.

The Bernard Sunley Foundation

If your business works on certain capital projects, you can get one-off grants starting from around £1,000 from the Bernard Sunley Foundation. Roughly 80% of the grants they award are less than £5,000.

The foundation typically awards grants to the community, education, health and social welfare sectors, and the projects they fund generally revolve around:

  • – New buildings
  • – Extensions
  • – Refurbishments
  • – Recreational spaces
UnLtd

UnLtd offers awards of up to £20,000 for social entrepreneurs – that is, businesses looking to help build employability in an area, create resilient communities, and offer solutions for our aging society.

Their aim is to encourage more businesses to address the issues we face today. If that sounds like your venture, you may be eligible to receive considerable funding to get your idea off the ground.

Greater London Investment Fund

This loan fund is for businesses looking to build their brand in the Greater London area. You can request between £100,000 and £1,000,000 provided you’re a growing SME with a viable business proposal that can’t be funded by the private sector.

The funding you receive should be invested into activities that will deliver growth impact, including:

  • – Sales and marketing activity
  • – Hiring new staff
  • – New product development
  • – Entering new markets
The Fidelity UK Foundation

This foundation works on strategic transformation projects. Their aim is to help organisations increase their impact, reach, effectiveness, earned revenue, operational efficiency or long-term financial sustainability.

Grants are made for capital improvements, technology projects and planning initiatives. Most awards made are between £25,000 and £150,000. They are generally awarded to organisations with an annual operating budget in excess of £250,000.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is encouraging more groups in Bromley to apply for funding. Their aim is to pass history on to future generations by encouraging:

  • – Nature projects
  • – Designed landscapes
  • – Landscapes and the countryside projects
  • – Restoration of oral history recordings
  • – Projects concerning cultural traditions
  • – Community archaeology
  • – Historic buildings and monuments
  • – Museums, libraries and archive projects
  • – Commemorations and celebrations of community icons
  • – Industrial, maritime and transport projects

If your business operates in any of these areas, or is looking to launch a campaign that treads in these areas, you may be eligible for funding. Grants range from £3,000 up to millions of pounds.

We regularly update the financial support available to you here. There, you can find grants relating to things like your energy consumption as well as temporary forms of government relief.

3.6: Accessing other forms of support in the Bromley area


You can access additional support in the form of full-day workshops and practical support with Start-Up Bromley. Their team run regular courses, including:

Browse their full list of upcoming workshops, webinars and events here.

Your Next Steps


This guide should act as a jumping-off point for your business. The rest is up to you. However, should you need any additional assistance, our business support team can be contacted at business@bromley.gov.uk, with extra resources available on the dedicated resources section of the Bromley Business Hub website.

We advise any start-up or established business to regularly check back in with our guide for updated advice on funding, licensing and other council information. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest insights direct to your email inbox – simply scroll to the bottom of this page and fill in the form.

We look forward to seeing the difference you make in the London Borough of Bromley, and are excited to play a part in your success.

The Borough