Setting up a Complementary Practice
Once qualified, the reality of setting up a complementary practice can be a little overwhelming. It’s scary, how many established practitioners don’t have the basics in place, many of which are designed to protect them.
Before I get started, I am not a qualified accountant or solicitor and information is provided based on my experience and the UK market. Please seek professional advice before making any decisions. These considerations are provided to give you an overview.
This will define your legal responsibilities such as paperwork, taxes, how personally you receive profit. It also defines your personal responsibility, should the business make a loss.
Most practitioners are self-employed, or sole traders. You are responsible for the running of your business, you bear the risks and take the profits, or losses. As a sole trader, you can employ staff, it doesn’t mean you have to work alone.
This is an organisation that you set up, to run your business. A limited company is responsible, in its own right, for everything it does. Its finances are separate to your personal finances. Company directors aren’t personally responsible for debts the business can’t pay, if it goes wrong, as long as they haven’t broken the law!
Two or more people work together under a partnership agreement. The relationship is outlined in the agreement as well as the share of the risk and reward.
An organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximise improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximising profits for shareholders.
More information on business structures can be found here.
Register with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
This is a legal requirement, whatever your business structure. You are required to submit tax returns and pay National Insurance and income tax as part of running your business. The Government website (link as above) has full details and you can register there too.
Professional Body Requirements
Your professional body will have a ‘code of conduct’ that you will have to work to. Depending on your discipline, you will also need to follow the guidelines of certain agencies such as the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
If you belong to more than one professional body, work on the side of caution and follow the one with the strictest regulations.
Register for Data Protection
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) was set up to uphold information rights in the public interest. If you are handling personal information, you have a legal requirement to sign up to and maintain strict data protection processes. Website
With effect from 25th May 2018 The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is superseded by The General Data protection Regulation (GDPR). Website
In today’s society, we have warnings on bags of peanuts stating: “this bag of nuts, may contain nuts”! Seriously!!! It’s crucial that you are fully insured before you start working with clients, even if you are a student practitioner.
Insurance is there to protect you, your clients and the public. In the event you have a complaint made against you, your insurer is there to advise and support you.
It’s very important to ensure you have the right cover for business. For example if you work from home, your home contents insurance is unlikely to cover anything related to your business.
Different types of insurance include:
Professional Indemnity Insurance
This is to protect you, if a claim is made against you for injury or loss resulting from the modality you practice. This needs to cover you, wherever you choose to work.
Public Liability Insurance
This will protect you if a claim for injury or loss is made against you by a third party. It is known as the ‘trip or slip’ cover, so you are protected if an unforeseen accident occurred. If you work in a clinic, they may have cover, but this will only protect you if the owner is deemed legally liable.
Employer Liability Insurance
If you employ staff, this will protect you against claims from an employee.
Content and Buildings Insurance
This will protect you from theft and damage to, or from your property as it does with your house insurance at home.
Imagine these are you, setting out your metaphorical stall. They are the rules of engaging with you and are there to protect you and your business. T&Cs are so important, but is something many complementary practitioners overlook. If you can’t afford to employ a solicitor, you can join a body like the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) who have templates that you can use.
Again, this is about making sure the rules of engagement are set out whether it is with a client, or with a supplier. They will include everything from outlining the service to payment terms.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
HSE provide regulatory framework for health and safety within the workplace. You are responsible for health and safety in your business. The laws are there to protect you, your employees and the public from workplace dangers. If you have under five employees you don’t have to write down your risk assessment and health and safety policy but it is good practice to have them whatever the size of your business. Website
Your finances need to be kept separately from your personal finances. You need to ensure you get a business bank account so that you have the functions you need to run your business efficiently such as taking card payments.
There are many hats you have to wear as a practitioner. It is important you make sure you have secure foundations in place to allow your business to flourish.
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