We know that starting your own business is an exciting time, and that you’re likely to have lots of questions relating to funding, customers, suppliers, legal matters, premises and much more.
We’re here to help businesses in and around York with signposting to initial start-up advice. You’ll find useful links and suggestions below for setting up a business, and we can introduce you to local experts when you need specialist guidance.
Your first step is to research and write a business plan. A good business plan keeps it simple. You can find templates and further guidance here.
You need a business plan if you are looking to secure any funding to support your start up. Even if you don’t require funding, a business plan is an essential working document to go back to and reflect upon once you have started trading.
Use your plan to:
This is the first step to focus on when developing your business plan. Think about the information that you need and the best way to collect it.
Market research helps you identify your target customers. Does your product or service fulfil their needs in a volume that enables you to operate a business? Compare your proposition to what already exists in the marketplace.
You can find more useful information here
There are different funding options to consider for your business, depending on your circumstances. Here are some suggestions to help you find out more about what support you can access and what might be right for you:
Start Up Loans
Government-backed Start Up Loans of £500-£25,000 are available to start or grow your business. Unlike a business loan, this is an unsecured personal loan. Free support and guidance is available to help write your business plan, and successful applicants can get up to 12 months of free mentoring.
AD:VENTURE supports start ups and young businesses (in the first three years of trading) within the Leeds City Region, primarily working with B2B sales. The programme offers practical advice, coaching, outcome focused events, academic support, incubation work space, finance brokerage, low rate loans and help to apply for AD:VENTURE start up and growth grants.
The Prince’s Trust works with 18 to 30-year-olds living in the UK, including support for start ups.
Find out more here.
It’s important to know your legal requirements from the beginning of your business journey. Seeking guidance from relevant professional services organisations will help you establish your business in the right way from the start. There may be legal requirements that are necessary to start your business. You can find more information about some of these areas below.
One of the first questions you need to answer is the legal ownership structure of your business. Will you set the business up as a self-employed individual, limited company or partnership with others? Whatever structure you decide upon, be sure to obtain confirmation this is the right structure for you and any others connected with the business.
Discuss your plans with an accountant on so you are aware of your legal responsibilities to HMRC in terms of tax and VAT. You'll find some local firms listed in our Business Directory* Please note this is not an exhaustive list.
Leases and contracts
It is advisable to seek legal support when entering into any lease to ensure that the terms and conditions you are signing up to are appropriate for your needs.
Most leases will generally require a minimum three months’ rent up front along with a bond. Many leases will provide you with an option to exit the lease part way through the term, known as a break clause. Consider asking your landlord to agree to one if it isn’t in your lease already. [link to further info?]
City of York Council Public Protection and YES teams work in partnership with local businesses, offering a wide range of advisory and regulatory based services to enable them to reach their full potential. Find out more here or contact City of York Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
Food safety standards
City of York Council provides guidance on food safety standards when starting a food business, from food hygiene and handling to suitable premises and registering your business. Find further information here.
Property classifications (changing from 1 September –check links)
Depending on the property that you are interested in, you may have to apply to City of York Council for change of use to enable you to trade. More information is available here.
You can use this Planning Portal to check that the existing classification of the property matches what you intend to do.
We recommend that you always seek legal advice prior to entering into any agreement on a property that requires you to seek change of use permission.
Commercial planning permission
You can find information on all aspects of the planning process, including when to apply, pre-application advice and guidance for completing an application form, from City of York Council by clicking here.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need premises. It’s worth thinking through at this stage why you might need them and how will you use them to help you find the best solution for your needs.
Office or shared space: do you need your own office or can you take a desk in a shared space? If you only require space for a few hours per week then you could look at co-working or hot-desk spaces. [link to Trusted Supplier suggestions on VY pages?]
Working from home: if you could work from home but would like a professional address then you could take on a virtual office space (remember to amend your home insurance to take into account the fact you are also using it as a place of work).
Commercial premises: if you are looking for retail or commercial premises there are a number of factors to consider, such as footfall if you rely on passing trade, transport links for deliveries and what your budget is. You will also need to take into account the rateable value of the premises: if it is above £12,000 then you will be liable for business rates. Find out more here.