Useful Tools: Business Tools

Free planning tools

Download a free business plan template from Microsoft.
Read example business plans on the Bplans website.
Get detailed information about how to write a business plan on the Start Up Donut website.
Free Business Plan template from People Plus
Cash Flow Forecast
A guide to writing business plans from COBRA (Available via Ask About Business, or access it online using a library ticket from one of our partners).

You will find lots of information to support your business plan through libraries, including industry-standard market research – see Business Resources

Companies House

All limited companies in the UK, and overseas companies with a branch or place of business in the UK need to be registered with Companies House. The primary function of Companies House is to be the registrar of UK Limited companies.

Unlike sole traders, which are people, Limited companies are created as entities in their own right.


When you start a business you need to let HMRC know that you’re self-employed and if your company is liable for Corporation Tax within 3 months of starting any business activity.

Try the HMRC E-learning tutorial ‘Starting your own Business’. Use this self-paced e-learning tool from HMRC to help you get to grips with tax when starting your business.

Find an accountant

An accountant can help with things like financial advice and managing growth. You can also appoint them as an ‘agent’ to deal with your tax affairs, submit your VAT returns and deal with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on your behalf.

‘Chartered’ accountants are fully-qualified members of a professional body. There are several UK professional accountancy bodies and you can find chartered accountants through them:

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

Small Business Commissioner

Launched in December 2017 to ensure fair payment practices for Britain’s 5.7 million small businesses, and support them in resolving their payment disputes with larger businesses and bring about culture change.

Running a business from home

An increasing number of new businesses start from home, are you one of them? If so have a look at our useful links which provide guides on setting up, advantages and disadvantages of running a business from home. You will also find information on key issues such as planning permission, business rates, mortgage and insurance.

Running a business from home
Q&A: Setting up a home-based business
COBRA: Running a Business from Home + key issues – A Guide


Finding the right premises to run your business is an important decision and should not be taken lightly. Have a look at our key links including a video guide on what you need to consider.

StartUpDonut: Business premises
Choosing your business premises
YouTube video by Gov.UK
COBRA: Commercial Premises – A Guide
Pop Up Britain Pop up shops are an increasingly popular way of starting to trade.
Office Space

Trading Standards

ERWIN (Everything Regulation, Whenever It’s Needed)
The site provides interpreted, simplified and prioritised information, which covers all major Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Licensing and Fire Safety legislation across England and Wales.