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For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

Q&A: Company directors' responsibilities

Andrew Millet of Wisteria Formations provides an introduction to company directors' key legal responsibilities

Are there rules governing company directors' actions?

Indeed there are - and failure to live up to those responsibilities can bring serious consequences. To an extent, a company's articles of association should set out what directors are allowed to do. Furthermore, the Companies Act 2006 verifies previous case law and means directors must act in a manner likely to promote their company's success. They must also employ due skill and care in their duties, acting reasonably and in good faith.

What does that mean in practice?

Well, they must show an expected level of skill, knowledge and judgment while running the company and act as any reasonable person looking after their own business. This means, for example, they cannot act recklessly by endangering others; or act illegally through committing fraud.

Acting in good faith might mean declaring conflicts of interest - it would certainly mean not accepting bribes or otherwise making personal gain at the company's expense.

Are there any legal obligations company directors must comply with?

Under company law, you must produce proper accounts and file specific documents with Companies House before a deadline. The information you submit must be accurate. Obviously, then there are other laws that apply to all businesses, such as tax, health and safety and employment legislation. Get it wrong and you could be left facing large fines, disqualification as a director, personal liability for company debts or even a criminal conviction in the most extreme of cases.

What if one of my staff 'late files' with Companies House?

You're still responsible, I'm afraid. And it leads to an automatic civil penalty of between £150 and £1,500 for a private company - more for a public company (£750 to £7,500).

Failing to file accounts or the confirmation statement (previously known as the annual return) by the deadline or at all is a criminal offence. If it goes to court and you lose you could end up with a criminal record and the company can be struck off the public record. You could also be disqualified from acting as a company director.

What documents must my company submit to Companies House?

Post registration, crucially, your confirmation statement, which confirms or updates the information Companies House has about your directors, shareholders, etc. Obviously, your company must also file an annual report and accounts.

What other requirements must I comply with?

You must advise Companies House if you change your registered office address, or if you appoint a new director/secretary or one gives up such a position at your company. Or if any of your personal details change, such as your address or the name of a director who gets married. Fill out and submit the necessary form, which should be available to download from the Companies House website.

Why are some directors disqualified?

Reasons vary, some carry on trading while knowing their company is insolvent; others fail to file proper accounts or send returns to Companies House. Failing to file tax returns and pay tax is another reason. Directors who act improperly risk a criminal conviction, as well as hefty fines and being made personally liable for their company's debts. It's never worth the risk. If the courts or the Insolvency Service find against you, you will be disqualified for a period of between two and 15 years.

What are the consequences of disqualification?

If you are disqualified, you must not be a company director or act as a director. You can't aim to run a company through other directors. Obviously, you cannot form a new company, either. If you are caught willingly ignoring disqualification, you will be fined and could even end up in prison.

Written with expert input from Andrew Millet of Wisteria Formations.

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