November 29, 2012

Starting up a Business 101 - III

Working as a sole trader

Are you going to go it alone? You can establish yourself as a sole trader very easily. You don’t have to fill out a lot of forms, and you’ve got only yourself to answer to.

Most people who work on a freelance basis are sole traders, doing what they know best for a range of clients, as and when those clients need their services – say, a photographer who wants to work for himself rather than an employer. You can leave your job, make up a portfolio of your work or a brochure advertising your particular skills, and market your services to anyone you think might pay for them.

As a sole trader, you make your own business decisions; you answer only to clients, and the profits (and any losses) you make are yours. If you do make losses and run up debts, you’re personally responsible for those debts. If things go badly wrong, you may ultimately have to sell some possessions, perhaps even your home, to pay off your debts. Basically, as a sole trader, you’re running your business on your own. If you expand, you may decide to take on other people to work for you – as employees or as freelancers on short-term contracts – but the business is yours.

Most sole traders are self-employed and are taxed as such by the regulated and appropriate tax office. You need to register with the regulated and appropriate tax office within three months of starting up. You can find more information on its Web site or from your local tax office, which is listed in the phone book.

You have to be careful because if you’re a sole trader and you do most of your work for just one client, the local tax office may not accept that you’re self-employed. It may decide that you’re an employee of that client.


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