Benefits of limited company vs sole trader
The age-old conundrum facing those who work for themselves is: should I operate as a sole trader or establish a limited company? Each structure is unique, especially when it comes to taxes. Continue reading this guide to learn about your choices so you can choose the one that’s best for you: sole trader or limited company.
First, what is the difference between a sole trader and a limited company?
It’s crucial to grasp the distinction between operating as a sole trader and a limited company. Sole traders and their businesses are considered to be a single legal entity, but limited companies are different legal entities from their shareholders and directors.
In the event of financial difficulties, a lone proprietor may be required to sell personal assets in order to satisfy company debts. In contrast, a limited company’s finances are kept separate from the personal finances of the shareholders or directors, who are solely liable for the amount of money they invest in the firm.
There is also a notable difference in the amount of paperwork required. Limited companies have significantly greater reporting and management duties, such as registering with Companies House, submitting accounts, and complying with rigorous record keeping standards, compared to sole traders.
Which business structure is better?
Your unique situation will determine which business structure is best for you. Being a sole trader or a limited company both have their benefits and drawbacks.
Although starting a business as a sole trader involves the least amount of red tape and legal formalities, this structure might put you at a disadvantage when it comes to getting your foot in the door with investors, taking advantage of tax incentives, and gaining new clients.
Despite the increased difficulty, expense, and paperwork associated with forming a limited company, the benefits it affords are substantial, such as; raising funding, establishing your reputation among clients, and being more tax efficient.
The benefits of operating as a sole trader
You can get started right away
As a sole trader, you don’t have to go through the process of registering with Companies House, so you can get started as soon as you’d like.
You have complete control over your business
Given that it is just you running your business, you get to make all the calls without having to get approval from anybody.
Little paperwork is required
Without paying corporation tax or filing company accounts with the government, all you have to do is submit a self-assessment tax return each year. The need to maintain records is also far lower than it is for limited companies.
You get to keep everything
After paying the necessary taxes, you are free to enjoy all of your company’s earnings.
Contrary to limited companies, whose financial information is available to anyone through Companies House, your financial information is kept private.
The drawbacks of operating as a sole trader
You are solely responsible for paying the company’s debts and bearing any risks connected with its operations. To settle your financial obligations, you may have to sell valuable personal assets like your home.
There are fewer funding options available.
Limited companies are preferred by lenders and investors, making it harder for sole traders to get financing. As a result, your company may develop more slowly than it would under a limited company structure.
Some businesses avoid working with sole traders because they provide less legal security than limited companies.
Your business name isn’t protected
Your company’s name will not be protected in the same way that it would be with a limited company. This opens the door for duplication and might lead to consumer confusion if two businesses use the same name.
The benefits of forming a limited company
If you form a limited company, the company is treated as a separate legal entity from the shareholders and directors, protecting you from personal liability.
More funding opportunities
The formation of a limited company increases the company’s access to various types of funding. Limited companies provide more legal protection and tax advantages than sole traders, making them more attractive to business lenders.
If you’re a limited company, your clients and suppliers will have greater confidence in your business. To avoid potential legal issues, some businesses may avoid doing business with sole traders.
The drawbacks of forming a limited company
Difficult to set up and operate
Being a limited company entails more administration and paperwork than being a sole trader. You must register with Companies House, pay a fee, file yearly accounts, file company accounts and tax returns with HMRC, follow PAYE (Pay as You Earn) processes, and file a Confirmation Statement with Companies House, among other things.
Due to the public nature of the accounts and other records that limited companies submit with Companies House, which are accessible to anybody, they have less privacy than sole traders.
It’s not a simple call, but hopefully this guide has shed some light on the different business structures and how they could work for you.
If you need any more assistance, our team based within South East London will be more than happy to discuss the best company structure for you and your business, please do not hesitate to contact our helpful experts today.