A few years ago I had an idea for an online business, its going to operate as a freemium model and simply deal with information no tangible goods. since then I have been creating the site learning html, css, rails etc etc from knowing nothing (hence the few years bit).
My site still isn't completely ready but the free side is usable. I would like to deploy it soon and see if it can get some traction and implement the premium side a little later.
Ideally I would like to setup as a private limited, payments will eventually (hopefully) be taken through a payment gateway such as PayPal Website Payments Pro, Sage Pay or WorldPay Global Gateway linked to my business bank account.
Can anyone advise as to how to set up an online business in the UK as regards to the law, company registering, setting up a business bank account and any other bits which needs to be done?
Thanks very much for any help its much appreciated!
Off the top of my head legals and regulations wise:
For your own sanity set up a separate account for business use - even if it's just a personal savings account with bank to take payments into and keep separate from personal things. You might prefer a "doing business as" account so you can use the trading name.
You will need to let the Revenue know (when you start taking income, or within 3 months) or they hit you with an auto £100 fine :
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/register-selfemp.htm For payments also take a look at http://www.nochex.com/ over Paypal - UK based, their terms are better, and they have a business option to entirely free you from the risk of card fraud. (They're quite selective who's eligible for that option though). Good to get started with until you outgrow them.
If you're in the UK, selling to the UK also be aware of the Advertising Standards Regs as they now apply to websites, Distance Selling regs and Ecommerce requirements which say what you must have on the site. See here:
If it's a serious business idea then it's always best to see an accountant concerning whether or not you actually incorporation or not. You have the option of trading as a sole trader, or a private limited company. The limited company has the advantage of separating the financial dealings of your company and yourself more clearly, but the disadvantage of additional administration.
We're UK based and the process for registering with Sage Pay is pretty horrific if you're small. The key issue here is what will be the average size of payment, that determines, to an extent, which payment provider(s) are best suited.
But when you say you're ready to deploy soon, is this business idea entirely untested? If so, I'd run some kind of test before worrying about the admin side. If it goes nowhere, you can save yourself a lot of time and money.