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Company formation basics

Should I form a Sole Trader or Limited Company?

Most people require a standard limited company which is suitable for nearly all types of trading. However, if you are a not for profit, a sole trader or a charity, then we can offer you a different service.


Limited Companies

your company name will be registered and protected at Companies House. The company will be recognised as an independent (of you) body in which people can own a percentage (hold shares) and be employed by. You are protected from the liabilities of the company as it is independent of you.


Sole Traders

Sole trading is popular with people who are the business and want total control and unlimited responsibility for their own business and its debts.

Because you don’t have shareholders or other company directors, do not have to keep Companies House informed of your company details. However, you are still liable for taxation, so you must complete self-assessment tax return annually and register with HM Revenue & Customs within 3 months of starting your business.

Because you are not a limited company, you are personally liable for all your company’s debts. Remember, should your company become insolvent your personal assets (such as your house) will NOT be protected.

Your company name is also not secured at Companies House. This means that another individual may register the trading name you are using.



  • you may want to consider trading as a limited company. This would protect your personal assets and the brand (company name) you may be using and developing
  • you can use our name reservation service to protect your company name. This will prevent anyone else using or taking your name, and also will be very useful if you decide you want to upgrade to a limited company at a later stage
  • make sure that you take advice from a good accountant about the trading structure that best suits your specific business circumstances

Reserved company name

If you are thinking of registering a company, have decided on a name but are not ready to take it on as a Ltd company yet, Duport can register the name on your behalf. This will ensure that no-one else can form a company under your chosen name. We will take care of it for you as a dormant company for as long as you choose to continue to renew your registration (£65 per year). When you are ready to take ownership, we will also give you a discounted rate of £59 for the formation.


Charities and guarantees

These sorts of companies are for non-profit organisations. Charities promote awareness of a particular cause or issue whereas guarantee companies are created to hold funds for a group or organisation such as residents’ associations or sporting clubs.

If you are forming a not-for-profit company, you need to make sure that the company’s earnings are dedicated to the it’s “charitable objects” or defined non-profit objectives or aims.

These companies may hold funds and bank accounts.

Not-for-profit companies don’t have shares or shareholders, but have members (trustees) who oversee the running of the organisation and subscribe to a nominal guarantee.

Your liability as a trustee is limited to the nominal guarantee (which is usually £10), and trustees cannot be paid dividends.

Every trustee has just one vote in the company.


Limited Partnerships

Limited partnerships are very similar to limited companies in that they both offer a limited liability to their company’s members. However, there are two very important differences:

  • a limited liability partnership (LLP) is taxed as a partnership, and can be organised as flexibly
  • LLPs don’t have directors or shareholders, but can have as many members as you choose. Members should be formally appointed at the point of formation, or by the other members at a later date

LLPs are designed for the types of profession that have traditionally insisted on a partnership format such as lawyers and doctors. For most normal trading businesses a standard limited company is usually preferable.


still not sure?

If you have any questions or uncertainties about the best kind of company for you, give one of our friendly advisors a phone call on (0117) 330 8910.

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