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Free / Low fee

The budget is often tight when you first start your business.  There are a few things you can do to help yourself for free or for a low fee.


Consider joining associations or networks of similar businesses.  They may offer a central repository or regular updates with free advice, a forum to share concerns, or regular networking events.  For example, IPSE is great for independent professionals and the self employed:

Brand & Marketing

  • Include your business name on Google Maps at no cost.

  • Customer survey: try using free surveymonkey. 

  • Choosing a business name: check this is not already registered by a limited liability company using the Company's House free public registry, and check the name is not already registered as a trade mark (see Copyright, Etc. below).

  • Get networking: seek out local business hubs and go along to regular events to meet potential customer, partners, service providers, etc.

  • Help others and they are more likely to help you: on social media, actively follow and 'like' posts of other businesses and they may well reciprocate and help to bring your website up the search rankings or otherwise help with your business publicity.

Copyright, Etc.

  • Log your design for free with non-profit organisation ACID (Anti-Copying In Design) to demonstrate you were the author/creator and the time of creation to help prove copying by others.

  • Check for others copying you: register for free Google Alerts service.

  • Avoid infringing other people's registered UK or EU trade marks or design rights by carrying out a search via the UK Intellectual Property Office website.  However, please note that for a tailored search, and advice on what to do on the basis of your search results, you should really instruct a professional IP attorney to assist you.

  • Be strategic with your IP protection expenditure.  Engage an IP attorney to advise on where/how to seek IP protection in key territories  in the most cost-effective manner possible - to protect your business now but also to pave the way for business growth and associated expansion of your IP portfolio over time.

Selling Your Stuff

  • Company incorporation: the Companies House fee to register a company is minimal and, so long as you do not need to introduce any specific requirements, voting rights or preferential status for any shareholders, you may feel comfortable doing this yourself. If you do need to prepare a bespoke shareholders' agreement etc., you should really seek legal advice.  If you do this yourself, remember to put the various Companies House reporting obligations in the calendar: see Records, Tax & Reporting for more information.

  • Customer Relationship Management: look for cheaper, perhaps even free, software solutions that may be useful, at least in the short term, to help keep track of sales and interactions with customers.



  • Email: if you have a small number of subscribers, you may be able to find a free email service.

  • Domain Name: register a name yourself, and consider using a cheaper 'top level' domain (such as '.net' or '.org') or a 'second level' domain (such as '') rather than '.com'.

  • Use the WHOIS website to find details of the owner of a domain name, although recent Data Protection regulation means it may now be harder to obtain the owner's name and contact information unless they have consented to it being published on the site.

  • Website: consider designing this yourself using one of the free service providers such as Wix, although see Website for some considerations to bear in mind. 

Office & Staff


  • Consider using a communal office workspace.  These 'hubs' often provide some basic office support on-site as part of the package.

  • For some basic guidance on employment legal issues, the non-profit organisation ACAS may be able to help



The Money

  • Accounting Software: you can find free or very low cost software packages available that may be good, at least initially.

  • VAT registration: you can do this yourself and make your quarterly VAT returns and payments yourself online.  However, depending the scale and complexity of your operations and accounts, it may make more sense financially to engage an accountant to assist with this.

  • Bank account: before opening an account with any particular bank, shop around to see which offers the best deals for businesses of your anticipated size - now and also when that tempting introductory deal/rate ends.  

  • Look for grants/donations or competitions that may offer your business a welcome boost: see Funding for more information.

Legal Ease

  • Employment issues: as mentioned above, ACAS may be able to offer some free initial guidance.

  • Citizen's Advice Bureau is another potential source of free legal guidance

  • Local start-up/business/workspace hubs sometimes offer 'legal surgeries' where local law firms will attend to offer free advice for a certain number of hours each month.  This is something Venture Adventures is looking into organising - watch this space for more!

  • Instruct a lawyer to advise and assist on critical legal issues that need to be addressed to ensure your business is compliant with relevant legislation and is well placed to manage key legal risks.

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