Key contacts and organisations for start-ups

Key contacts and organisations for start-ups
Grow London Local

Grow London Local

Posted: Thu 4th Apr 2024

Before you start trading in London, your first port of call should be to reach out to all the relevant organisations that oversee business operations in your sector and beyond.

This will make sure your new business is keeping to all necessary regulations and has the right permissions in place to allow you to trade and grow with confidence.

You could end up in legal trouble if you fail to do this, so allow enough time to contact and receive responses from all these organisations before you begin your activities.

This guide takes you through all the key contacts and organisations you should get in touch with as a new business.

Key contacts for businesses in all sectors

The following organisations are relevant to all businesses, regardless of sector or legal structure.

HM Revenue & Customs

All sole traders and ordinary partnerships must contact HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to register for tax self-assessment when starting up. If you don't register, you could face a penalty of £100 and further penalties for trading illegally and not paying tax.

If you're planning to employ staff, you need to register as an employer with HMRC before the first payday. This applies even if the business employs only one person, or the business is a limited company and you are its sole employee.

You may also need to register for VAT, depending on your business' projected turnover. Penalties for late registration include fines and liability for VAT that should have been charged. Find out more about how and when to register for VAT.

Companies House

When starting up, private limited companies, limited liability partnerships and community interest companies must be registered with Companies House.


If there's anything you're not sure about when starting up, the government offers support and guidance to assist UK businesses with everything from finance and tax to exporting and creating a business plan.


If your business is a limited company, you'll need to set up a business bank account so that your business and personal finances are separate.

If you plan to operate as a sole trader under your own name, you can technically use a personal account. However, even as a sole trader, it can be good practice to keep your business and personal transactions separate. This is both for practical purposes and to avoid any problems if HMRC ever needs to investigate your business.

Charity regulator

If you want to register as a charity, you need to:

  • Determine your "charitable purpose".

  • Decide on a legal structure.

  • Draw up your governing document.

  • Appoint trustees.

In England and Wales, organisations can apply to register as a charity via the Charity Commission for England and Wales, using an online application form.

Required contacts depending on your business sector

Sector regulators

If you plan to operate in a strictly regulated sector, you'll probably need to register with the appropriate regulator before you start trading.

Some regulatory bodies are UK-wide, while others are specific to particular areas of the country.

Examples of businesses that need to register with a regulator include:

  • Financial services, such as insurance brokers and accountants.

  • Care providers, such as nurseries and residential care homes.

  • Healthcare services, such as community pharmacies and occupational therapists.

  • Legal services, such as solicitors or patent attorneys.

Local authority contacts

Local authorities enforce regulations concerning a wide variety of business activities. You might need to contact one or more local authority departments depending on your business sector or activity.

You should consult your own local authority for advice and guidance, as local rules and responsibilities can differ from area to area.

Some of the main regulatory functions of local authorities include:

  • Business rates.

  • Planning and building control.

  • Alcohol and entertainment licensing.

  • Food hygiene and safety.

  • Waste disposal.

As well as issuing compulsory licences and permissions, local authorities can be a useful source of business and trading advice.

Organisations you may need to contact

Insurance providers

Your new business will need to have the right insurance. You can contact insurance providers directly for quotations and policy details, or get this information from an insurance broker.

Some types of insurance cover – such as employers' liability insurance and vehicle insurance – you must have by law. Other insurance requirements vary according to the type of business you run.

You should also contact your insurance provider if you're planning to trade from home, as most regular home insurance will not cover you for business activities.

Mortgage provider or landlord

If you're planning to run your business from home, you should inform your mortgage company or landlord to check whether or not you're allowed to do so under the terms of your mortgage or tenancy agreement.

Information Commissioner's Office

Your business may need to process personal information (such as customer records) or use CCTV for security purposes. In that case, you must pay a data protection fee to the Information Commissioner's Office.

Environmental regulators

Waste water your business produces is classed as "trade effluent" and you might need formal consent from your water company to dispose of it in public sewers. You can check whether you need trade effluent consent by contacting your local water company.

You must dispose of any trade waste you produce properly and safely. If you plan to dispose of it yourself by transporting it to a waste collection centre, you must register with the Environment Agency.


When you're attempting to abide by regulations and entering into various contracts, it's always a good idea to seek advice from a qualified and regulated solicitor.

Solicitors cover all areas of law, including property, finances, employment, litigation and many others. It's always better to pay legal fees upfront than risk falling foul of some regulation or being ripped off by a dodgy contract, which could end up costing you much more.


Accountants can help with all aspects of financial management. Whether you need tips or advice on managing the cash in your business, setting up the right type of bank account, paying your tax or following any filing rules, an accountant is a crucial contact for a new business.

Next steps

Check out this business licence finder tool to search for all the relevant licences, permits and certifications for your business.


Your cultural and community space toolkit

If you're reading this guide as part of the toolkit for opening, running and growing a cultural or community space, next look at step 4: hiring and employing staff, covering how to attract and retain the right talent and right to work checks as an employer


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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this content is solely that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the view of Grow London Local. Grow London Local accepts no liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from action on any of the contents of the content.

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