For those regular readers here, you will have noticed that I have been somewhat quiet on the blog of late.
There is a good reason, I have been trying, and I say trying, to set up a new business. Another week or so should see this result in an ‘Open for Business’ conclusion, but getting to that stage in what is now one of the most regulated countries in the world is a nightmare of disproportionate scale.
I am not looking to set up a new Siemens or Tesco, this is going to be a small on-line business, selling a product that will enable people to redress some of the government wrongs with regards to data sharing and retention, but as I have discovered, you have to bare your soul in order to do it.
The first step is of course sorting out a business plan, that done, work out how you are going to take this to market, market analysis, legal stuff, website, premises, insurance, equipment, marketing and advertising, raise the necessary money and away we go….
NO. I am beginning to wonder who will be running this business, me or the state. Let us just take a look at the first part, the business plan. For a start up it really is a best guess, based upon market conditions, market analysis, what the competition does with the same product, is their room to break in and take their business, or to generate completely new business. Profit & loss projections, operating capital, costs, tax overheads etc.
Go to see your bank, they have all the help you will need…and more, but… they also deal direct with all the government departments who are going to regulate you, monitor you, decide when you suddenly move into a new size or cost category, not based on facts, but on the projection of your business plan, and if the state box tickers and the bank don’t approve it, no business account.
A new business does not need to be VAT registered, but if you project that in the first year you are remotely likely to reach or exceed the £70,000 threshold, the bank have to inform HMRC and your account is put on a watch flag.
As part of the ever changing businesslink.gov.uk, the government’s all-encompassing site for business info and support which the bank insist you sign up to, a new single interactive form will be introduced to enable businesses to register for multiple taxes online. What they dont tell you, but my friendly bank advisor did, is that your Business and private accounts go on an interactive watch list, which the Bank is obliged to comply with, which is monitored periodically to ensure that you are paying all the right taxes.
This will cover PAYE, NI, Corp Tax and any other taxes they deem relevent, and also those all important withdrawals for ‘expenses’. Now I have to ask at this point if they go to all this trouble for me, why can’t they do this with MPs.
Employees. Well let me say straight off, I wont be having any. This legislation is a nightmare. Tell the Bank that you may get big enough to want to take on staff, and bang, more government involvement. Minimum wage, pensions schemes, holiday schemes, sickness schemes….and a whole new army of box tickers get involved.
What all this means is that the cost of regulation has nearly overtaken the potential for operating a small business. If I ever get to 5 staff, this takes the business into a whole new category and the new regulations imposed are likely to sink it.
Personally I find the intertwined interference between Banks and Government disproportionate, and the data exchange inexcusable in what is essentially a private contract between me and the bank.
Then we get to the legal stuff. Business registration. Was a time when you could just buy a company off the shelf, inform Companies House of change of directors etc and no further contact was needed until it was time to file accounts.
Companies House is now just a commercial enterprise with legislative powers & protection, and they are there to make money, lots of it. Last year my previous company was arbitrarily struck off by Companies House, (my role as the Leader of the Libertarian Party meant that I had put my business on hold and not traded for over 12 months) and they were happy to charge me a fee for the pleasure. So, here we go again.
As of this year it is all on-line, no real people to speak to, emails back and forth advising to change this or that, but as soon as your registration is accepted, a tsunami of spam emails from advisors, solicitors, accountants, insurance companies just hits the email inbox, and the same from another bunch by snail mail through the letter box. Then the phone calls start… well sorry people, I already have it all sorted and none of you are in the frame.
Privacy? there is none, these company registration chasing sharks have all your details, all your company details, phone numbers, email addresses virtually every piece of data that you have given to Companies House under pain of penalty, so either Companies House is selling it or its open house to the sharks.
All I am waiting for now are the calls from the Regional Development Agency, the local government sponsored charities and the voluntary busy bodies and any other government approved, sponsored or legislated pen pushers with whom my personal details have been shared.
Again, I find this sharing of personal data intrusive, disproportionate and immoral.
There is still the local authority involvement to go, office inspections, health & safety, fire, smoking inspector, bin charges, business rates, and all the green policy adherence as well as all those locally imposed EU regulations and other planning guff and they all want your money up front. It’s like they don’t trust anyone..
I am trying to use as much Common Law as possible rather than Statutory Law in setting this up, but if you are thinking of setting up a small, family owned, private ltd company… remember that nothing is private in the UK anymore, and in terms of man hours and effort put in, you will be forced to do more for the state than you will ever do for yourself. I just hope they see the irony of the product set…