Financing your business
Get started with banking and find out what VAT, tax and insurance mean for your startup
Choosing a bank account that suits your business takes some shopping around. We’ve listed a few options below but it’s worth taking the time to do you own research.
Choosing your bank account
Many leading banks offer startup business accounts for businesses less than a year old. These accounts usually last for 6-12 months. Many websites will let you compare business bank accounts so you can choose what's best for you — for example Money Supermarket lets you explore startup accounts, interest rates, monthly fees, overdraft limits and perks. Money Saving Expert also provides some simple advice on choosing a business bank.
Alongside traditional banking you should also consider online and ethical banking solutions. Please note as a University we do not endorse any specific bank accounts.
Startup bank accounts
There are lots of funding and grants available to start-ups. Some funding has strict criteria like the age of your company, type of business or how you can spend the money so you should always check the details before applying. Don't forget to read the small print and make sure to check the terms of any accelerator funds who ask for a share of equity in your business in return for participation.
Find out more about starting up how to secure funding:
- 65 Questions Venture Capitalists Will Ask Startups (Forbes) — A list of key questions entrepreneurs may be asked when applying to funding.
- The Ultimate Pitch Deck to Raise Money for Startups (Forbes) — A guide to raising money for your business by using investors.
There is lots of funding available to startups. Browse some examples here:
- Student StartUp team — We offer startup funding is periodically throughout the academic year to help you test and develop your startup ideas.
- Startup Funding Club — Network of business angels and early-stage investment fund supporting UK-based startups. For young companies looking to raise up to £500K of SEIS/EIS funds.
- Britbots – High Growth Robotics Fund — The British Robotics Seed Fund, specialising in UK-based robotics start-ups.
- Seedcamp — Tap into a global network of advisers and apply for funding.
- Big Lottery Funding — National Lottery good cause money, distributed to community groups and charitable projects around the UK.
- Kickstarter — A crowdfunding website full of projects, big and small, that are brought to life through the support of people like you.
- Unltd social enterprise funding — A range of funding opportunities for social startups.
- Prince’s Trust — Supporting you to apply for a low interest loan of up to £4,000 for a sole trader and up to £5,000 for a partnership to help you to start your business.
- Start up Loans — A government funded scheme to provide advice, business loans and mentoring to startup businesses.
- Informi Funding Finder — If your startup or small business is looking for funding, one option is to apply for a small business grant.
Keeping up with your finances
For your business to be successful your earnings need to be higher than your outgoings. Earnings are also referred to as revenue, turnover or income, and should be greater than your outgoings, overheads or costs.
Hiring an accountant can be expensive (usually over £60 per hour) so it can be a good idea to do your own accounts when you start out. This can also be a great learning curve.
Once you’ve learnt the basics you can continue to do your accounts yourself, but we suggest getting them looked over by someone trained before submitting them to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Guidelines and support
- A freelancer's guide to bookkeeping — This handy guide helps freelancers manage their invoices, bills and payments and stay in control of cash flow.
- Mazuma Money — Accountancy support for startups and small businesses.
- Addo Accounting — A local accountancy firm that offers support packages to startups.
Find out more about VAT:
- HMRC VAT (Early stage, when to register…) — Resources about VAT for your startup including information about when to register, rates of VAT, and more.
- HMRC VAT (Next stage – charging, reclaiming…) — Resources about VAT for your startup including information on charging VAT, reclaiming, recording and more.
Use a personal survival budget to track of your finances and how your business is performing.
Making sure that your business has the right insurance can cover you in a variety of situations. Not all businesses need the same cover so you should research the insurance needs of your particular business or industry to make sure the cover you are taking out is right for you before you commit.
Types of insurance you may need include:
- Public Liability Insurance
- Product Liability Insurance Employer Insurance
- Content Insurance
- Building Insurance
- Professional Indemnity Insurance
Companies that provide insurance include:
- Low-cost, flexible and fair freelancer insurance — Flexible freelancer insurance; you can even turn your insurance on and off as you need it. Dinghy are offering University of Portsmouth students and alumni a £15 Amazon Voucher with your insurance policy.
- PolicyBee Insurance Brokers — An independent insurance broker providing insurance services and products to consultancies, freelancers and contractors.
- Tradesman Insurance — We offer public liability insurance and various extras to hundreds of types of trade around the UK.
- Protectivity insurance — Specialised insurance for sports related business and pet businesses.
- I’m starting a business: What insurance do I need? — Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business, looks at some essential business insurance products and the types of business that they're suited to.
- The Post Office – self employed insurance — Information on self employed insurance from the Post Office.
- Hiscox — Business insurance offered by Hiscox.
- Zurich — Insurance for small and medium businesses.
- Insurance Octopus — Business insurance provided by Insurance Octopus.
- AXA business insurance — Business insurance for small and medium-sized businesses, sole traders and self-employed people, landlord insurance and van insurance – for business or personal use.
- Business insurance comparison tool - Insurance tool offered by Compare the Market
Starting your taxes can be daunting at first. The simplest, and often cheapest, way to find out what you need to pay and when is to ask HMRC in person. They are generally helpful and can answer specific questions too. HMRC’s advice is free. They are there to see that the law is carried out, and wont charge you unnecessarily.
You should insist on a written answer to your questions so that you can confirm what you were told and refer back to the information.
- HMRC YouTube — A range of videos about tax for your startup.
- GOV.UK – tax information — Find out about business tax and tax reliefs that you maybe able to claim.
- HMRC webinars, email alerts and videos — Webinars and advice about tax.
- HMRC E-Courses — A short e-course for if you are looking to set up as self-employed/sole trader.
Guidance on staying on top of your finances if you're self employed:
- How do I pay back a student loan when I’m self-employed? — As a freelancer, contractor, or small business owner, your student loan repayments will need to be included on your annual Self Assessment tax return. Find out more.
Accountancy support for startups
Get advice on a range of accountancy related topics at our Accountancy Clinic.
Areas of support can cover but are not limited to:
- Start-up accountancy advice
- Accessing funding
- Basic accounts - how to set up basic spreadsheets
- Responsibilities for end of year reporting/taxes
- What can you claim as an expense
- VAT advice
- Tax planning
- Setting up financial processes and automation
- Payroll and pension (auto enrolment) advice
These are bookable appointments, which can be booked via the events calendar.