Startup People

"Starting a business is an exciting prospect and a daunting challenge. But, with the help and assistance of BRAVE, you’ll have the confidence to develop your ideas into a real business success."

On this page we feature some questions that we have been asked recently.

I came up with a really good name for my business but a friend thought the name seemed familiar. Could this cause a problem?

Quite possibly. As it is often difficult to find a truly original business name you should take steps to ensure that the name you choose does not lead anyone to believe that you are part of, or associated with, a business that is already established as this could lead to legal action against you for ‘passing off’. If you intend to be a limited company then you should check with Companies House for available names. There is legislation including the Business Name Act 1985 that regulates business names and disclosure of ownership.

Having recently started up my own business I was really pleased to win a big order recently. However the problem is that I'm having trouble getting payment. What tactics do you suggest and how can I avoid this kind of problem in future?

Late payers present a problem for all businesses and in particular smaller companies – customers who don’t pay invoices on time can play havoc with your cashflow and unless you have proper systems in place, they can threaten the future of your business.

You mustn’t ignore late payers as the longer you leave it to chase them, the more difficult it will get. If you do not receive payment before the due date, you must issue a reminder notice straightaway. If payment is still not made, you must resort to sterner measures. In the first instance, a telephone call may be enough, as there might have been a query that can be sorted out immediately. If, after calling, payment still has not been made, you should put your request in writing, pointing out that unless immediate settlement is made, you will use your rights under late payment legislation and take legal action if necessary.

To prevent this happening in the future you should carry out thorough checks on customers to whom you intend to offer credit. You must develop credit terms and conditions that specify exactly when you require payment.

The website www.payontime.co.uk has plenty of credit management advice including relevant legislation, as well as document templates for terms and conditions, invoices and reminder letters.

I'm planning to set up in business with my brother in law and he has suggested that we become a partnership. What is a partnership?

A business partnership is a relationship between two or more persons working together with a view to making a profit. The partners are jointly and severally liable for the debts or other liabilities that may arise if anything goes wrong. Therefore each partner’s personal assets may be at risk, although if the appropriate insurances are in place and borrowings are low that risk may be small. To avoid the possibility of disputes it is essential to draw up a deed of partnership to clarify the important issues in the relationship. It would be sensible to talk this through with an adviser who could explain this in more detail and discuss other options.

What financial help can I get to start-up a business in Bristol?

First and foremost it’s essential you have a very good idea what money you need. The best way to do this is by preparing a well-researched business plan. You should then talk to your bank and establish how they can help you. Remember that Banks want to see you bear some of the risk-be sure what money or assets you are putting into the business.

There are a number of loan funds that provide start-up finance. Bristol Enterprise Development Fund can provide up to £10,000, repayable over three years. A similar fund is run by the Fredericks Foundation. If you are under 30 years of age then you should also contact the Princes Trust.

I am about to set up a mobile auto repair business for small commercial vehicles and a friend asked if I would be charging VAT. Do I need to consider this?

Yes, you should look at this. If your VAT rated sales reach the compulsory registration threshold then you must register. Currently this is £77,000 in any rolling 12 month period although it normally increases each year. Even if you don’t anticipate hitting this figure there may be a good business case for voluntary registration as it may marginally improve your profitability. Furthermore, as it appears that your customers will be businesses it is likely that they will registered themselves so can reclaim the VAT that you charge. A business plan with financial forecasts will help you understand the impact of VAT more easily and if you need help with this you should contact your local business advice agency