Complying with Legislation

Health and safety, public liability, consumer protection and obligations on record keeping and tax, and taking on staff are just some of the areas to be aware of. You need to investigate if any other legal issues may impact on your business. Common issues pertinent to many businesses include:

- Provision of disabled access, see www.gov.uk/rights-disabled-person/overview

- Protecting personal data you may hold about your clients, see www.gov.uk/data-protection-your-business.

Employing People

Once started and growing you may want to employ people. A toolkit outlining the steps an employer must take when employing someone for the first time can be found at www.gov.uk/employing-staff. It applies to most first-time employers who have already decided who they want to take on. More information is provided at each step of the tool for employers who may have further legal obligations.

Employing an apprentice can be a good way of developing your workforce. www.gov.uk/take-on-an-apprentice.

Always remember, the people you employ represent your business and will determine your success or failure in the way they serve your customers.

Health and Safety

You must assess the risks involved with your activity – what harm your activity might pose to yourself, the building, and the people around you. This includes any offence that may be caused as well as physical harm. See www.hse.gov.uk/risk for examples of risk assessment basics, policy and templates.

Further advice on Health and Safety compliance can be obtained from your local council website.

Emphasis must be placed on preventing fires and reducing risk. It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone who uses your premises and in the immediate vicinity. As an example see www.avonfire.gov.uk/business-safety


Once you have the keys to a property, you immediately become responsible for all the people who enter the building. If you want the public to enter your building, you must get Public Liability Insurance for a minimum of £5m per claim. It is best to compare different insurers to get the best quote for your activity. Other types of business insurance that may be needed include:

- Employers liability (needed if you have staff)

- Product liability (desirable if you make products)

- Professional indemnity (desirable if you give advice)

- Stock /contents insurance (for items in the premises)

- Motor insurance, which ensure your vehicles covered for business use

- If you’re planning to start an online business (or hold substantial computerised data related to your business), insurance to protect against data loss, inappropriate access or data corruption, and the costs of restoring information.

Trading Standards

Trading Standards protect consumers and honest traders by ensuring that trade is carried out lawfully, fairly and safely. They give information and advice to traders and consumers, investigate complaints, regularly visit trade premises and check the goods and services being sold, when necessary they take action against traders who break the law and warn the public about unsafe goods or unfair trading practices.

The UK Government provide useful guides on laws applying to selling, pricing and product packaging, as well as consumer protection, see www.gov.uk/marketing-advertising-law. Local information will be available from your council website

Food Hygiene

If you are opening a food related business, you need to gain a food hygiene certificate. There are a number of different food hygiene training courses you can attend, depending on which sector you work in e.g. retail, catering etc. You will need to find out which course is best suited to your area of business. It is your responsibility to make sure that food manufactured, sold and consumed in your business satisfies all legal requirements and is safe to eat. You can find questions and answers about food hygiene legislation at www.food.gov.uk.

Generally the three requirements when starting a food business are:

  • Register with your local authority
  • Have training in food hygiene
  • Have a food safety management system in place

For further enquiries, checklists, etc visit your local council website and search for start-up food business or try www.foodsafety.gov


Your business will need a license to sell alcohol, for entertainment (e.g. plays, films, indoor sporting events, live music, recorded music, performance of dancing) and to sell hot food or drinks between the hours of 11pm and 5am. Further information can be found at www.gov.uk/licence-finder

Music in your business

If you play recorded music on your business premises e.g. a radio, CD or music channel, you are likely to need a licence from the Performing Rights Society for Music. Do not get caught out by not thinking you need a PRS licence and a PPL licence; it is easy to overlook and could be an expensive mistake if your business is fined for any infringement of licensing requirements. See www.prsformusic.com/users/businessesandliveevents/musicforbusinesses/Pages/becomelicensed.aspx.

The environment

There is money to be saved by going green and discovering what you can do to eliminate, reduce, reuse and recycle waste and other resources. Visit www.gov.uk/green-taxes-and-reliefs/overview to see what may apply to your business. It may be worth considering joining a local Carbon Challenge network; these organisations are committed to reducing their environmental impact. The networks work on the same principal as a fitness club. Exercising alone can be frustrating and isolating, but joining a group allows you to share tips, best practice, and benefit from support and encouragement. 


Like it or not, at some time you are likely to need to respond to crime of one sort or another regarding your business. How you respond to this is dependent on the type of crime committed and the contingencies you have put in place from the beginning. By far the majority of high street/community crime is in the form of shoplifting.

Advice on security including personal safety is available. Without the right measures in place you could end up seeing all of your profit margin disappearing due to thefts. Get to know other traders and discuss security as well as your local police officer/crime prevention team. See www.crimestoppers-uk.org/keeping-safe/business-and-retail.

Contingency Planning

Consider the benefits of writing a Business Contingency Plan. This is all about working out how to continue with your business operations under adverse conditions that include any event that could impact operations such as building fires; theft; vandalism; power failure; floods; supply chain interruption; loss of or damage to critical infrastructure or computing/network resources. You will also need to consider how the business will cope if you are off sick or hospitalised and all the business operational details are in your head and nowhere else. Make sure that you store a copy of your plan away from your place of business – not much use to you if your only copy is in your business premises if it goes up in flames! See www.gov.uk/resilience-in-society-infrastructure-communities-and-businesses.