Starting a business in 2024 - what might catch you out?

John Carpenter, Director of Quality Company Formations, points to three errors to trap entrepreneurs
John Carpenter
2024 plans document

Launching a business in 2024 is like strapping yourself into a rollercoaster of possibilities, with twists, turns, and the occasional loop-de-loop. It's an exhilarating ride, with a landscape that is being constantly reshaped by legal changes, technological advancements, and shifting consumer behaviours.

There are pitfalls to dodge, so being equipped with the right knowledge is essential for a successful entrepreneurial adventure. If you are in the process of, or are considering setting up your own business this year, here are some of the things that it’d be wise to have on your radar.

Upcoming changes to UK company law

The Economic Crime and Corporation Transparency Act received royal assent in October last year, and some of the most significant changes coming out of the act will become UK company law in March.

From 4 March 2024, new companies must provide a registered email address to Companies House when they incorporate. Limited companies and LLPs must also use an ‘appropriate address’ as their registered office at all times.

In this sense, ‘appropriate’ means an address where documents sent by hand or post would be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company, and where successful delivery can be recorded by acknowledgement. Scrap PO Box office addresses — they’ll no longer be valid.

Without going into the small print, it’s worth reading up on the other changes that will come into law later down the line. We’ve put together a handy guide here.

Choosing the wrong company name

It’s often said that a name can make or break a business, so finding your company name shouldn’t just be a casual stroll through the dictionary.

A memorable name is key. If your company name is easy to remember, it becomes more likely that customers will remember you when they need your product or service. It can also be a way of setting you apart from your competitors and conveying the values and personality of your business.

But beyond good branding, what many people don’t know is there are certain words and expressions that require prior approval before they can be used in a company name. Some words are deemed sensitive in nature or meaning, such as those that imply a connection with the UK government (for example ‘King’, ‘Parliament’) or those that suggest pre-eminence (e.g. ‘British’, ‘Society’). To use a ‘sensitive’ word, you need to obtain authorisation from the relevant body.

So, before you set your heart on a company name, make sure to check what you can and can’t use here.

Your company’s address is important, but where you work isn’t

Most companies start out with one or two people working from their bedrooms, due to lack of initial investment and the need to keep costs low.

But to the outside world, first impressions count. New businesses should look to promote an established corporate image and attempt to make themselves look bigger, and therefore more successful, than they actually are. The general public, including buying managers who may buy your new company’s products or services, tend to gravitate towards size, because size suggests previous success and engenders trust. These initial impressions could be the difference between winning or losing your first large contract.

New company owners should consider using a virtual office provider’s address as their registered office and business address. This will provide your new business with a prestigious location you can advertise on your website, stationery and other mediums to prospective customers and business partners. This will also allow you to operate from your bedroom, without lifting the corporate veil to the outside world, enabling you to benefit from an enhanced corporate image without the costs of being physically located at a prestigious office address. It will also mean your home address is kept off the Companies House public register.

Virtual Office providers will normally forward your mail to you, as well as allow you to hire out Meeting Rooms at your registered office address location, allowing you to maintain the corporate veil as you grow your company and enter into contracts with business partners.

Written by
John Carpenter