5 Tips When Setting Up An SME

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Starting your very own business is very appealing in the UK, with seven out of 10 of us pondering the idea, according to surveys. Back in 2023 there were over 5.8 million businesses within the private sector. 

In the UK, the idea of setting up your own business is greatly appealing. Surveys have found the seven out of 10 of us have pondered with the idea, while four out of five 16-21-years-olds would like to be their own boss. In 2024, there was a four per cent increase on the previous year, with over 5.7 million private sector businesses in total. 

There are so many businesses starting up, from a side hustle to a full-time project. But as a huge number are ultimately failing, we’re here to look at the laws you must follow and how to give your business the best chance of success through advertising. 

Here are 5 top tips for setting up your new SME on a budget.

Business Registration 

Business registration can be a more in-depth task that it sounds due to the various options available to new owners. Mostly business owners will set up as a sole trader, partnership or limited company. It may be easier to set up as a sole trader initially but in the long run it can end up being tougher; this is because you’re deemed responsible for any debts that the business builds up over time. 

On the flip side, a limited company helps you to keep your personal finances away from your business assets, but this usually means a lot more reporting and management tasks involved. 

If you’re going into business with someone else, it makes sense to go down the route of a partnership. This is the simplest way to set up your new business if there are two a more people involved. 


Often overlooked but Licensing is an integral part of the process when setting up an SME. Certain small businesses may not require a licence, but you should always check at the earliest opportunity to avoid fines or being shut down before you have really began. 

There is also the issue of a licence to play music, sell food or even trade in the street. Use this Gov.uk tool to find out which licences your concept may require. 

Employing Staff 

Several points need to be considered if you intend on employing staff. First of all you need to make sure you’re paying them the National Minimum wage and must set up National Insurance payments. It is worth noting here that you’ll be able to claim an allowance to reduce your bill. You must also make sure that they are actually legally entitled to work in the UK, so don’t just presume — be sure to do thorough checks, including a possible DBS check if needed. 

Then there is employment insurance, as mentioned previously, and the need to write up a legally binding statement of employment for any members of staff that will be employed for more than one month. HM Revenue and Customs must also be informed via registering as an employer. 


Insurance for your business basically covers you and your company against any unexpected costs. It doesn’t matter if you run a large multinational company, a small business, or are self-employed, it is important to find the right insurance for you. For example, insurance for dog kennels will greatly differ from catering insurance or retail insurance, so be sure to properly research your options. 

Business insurance protects you against mistakes, damage and legal costs, known as liability insurance. Certain insurances are required by law, such as employers’ liability insurance. This will cover the cost of any injuries or illnesses any employees may suffer due to work. Elsewhere, if your company will be using vehicles, you must have commercial motor insurance, while some professions must also have professional indemnity insurance that has been provided by their professional bodies or regulators. 

Cyber insurance and commercial property insurance are two examples of optional policies, but depending on the nature of your business, could well be worth purchasing. If you are going to be working from home, while it’s not a requirement to have business insurance, you should consider updating your home insurance as you’ll need to have the appropriate commercial property insurance. 


Once everything is up and running, it’s essential that you advertise your services or business if you want to succeed. A solid marketing plan is crucial in order to outline where you want your business to go and how you can progress. It will look at how much advertising will cost. A great cost-effective way for any local start-up to take advantage of is leaflet delivery services. 

Research has found that nine in 10 people remember receiving door-drop mail, with almost half confirming that they keep ahold of these leaflets, making it an effective method of advertising if you utilise it correctly. It is recommended that you keep your content simple, include your business name and logo, telephone number, email address and the services you are offering. 

Similarly, newspaper advertisements can be a very cost-effective way to promote your business — if they have been properly written. Make sure you don’t neglect your online presence, either. This is a significant area in advertising at present, and social accounts are a great way to promote your business to your intended audience. 

If you are opening a new office space, outdoor banners can direct people’s attention towards your business. These relatively cheap and durable displays can be used outside your workspace and research has found that the majority of a local business’s regular customers live within a five-mile radius of where you are based. This means that each potential customer could see your banner up to 60 times each week. Digital printing services can be a strong addition to your companies marketing efforts. 

Be Smart When Setting Up Your SME

With so much to think about when you decide to set up your own company, it is crucial to plan meticulously if you want your brand to be remembered and not end up another failed start-up. By fully researching the above points, you will stand yourself in good stead from the offset. 

I hope you enjoyed this blog post about top tips when setting up an SME or other lean startup venture with long term success.

Interested in more articles about starting a new business now?

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