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After deciding to start my own business, I was faced with a conundrum. How? Who do you talk to in order to set up your own company? Did I want a company or partnership? I had no idea where to begin.
Luckily my mum runs her own business and was able to share some of her knowledge with me. However, seeing as she ran her own business, she didn’t have lots of time to sit with me and run through the step-by-step process and I’m quite an impatient person once I have a goal in sight.
After talking to my mum, I realised I needed to open a limited company, and I needed to register with the Companies House. But first of all, I needed a name for my company.
I was a little bit stumped. I wanted to have something that was unapologetically me. It sounds ridiculous but I have a strange name and I wanted to be able to finally own something that had my name on it. With that in mind, I came up with Faith Stratton Cakes. It does what it says on the tin, my name is Faith Stratton and I make cakes, nothing more, nothing less.
Once I had my name I knew I needed to register with Companies House. My mum had achieved this by hiring someone but I wanted to be registered as soon as possible, as I've already said, I'm impatient.
So, after a lot of internet research and furiously googling phrases like ‘Ordinary A shares’ and ‘Preferred shares’. Figuring out how I could be the owner, director, and secretary of my own company and paying the pricey fee of £13, I became incorporated. I received my prized company certificate with my company number and I set to work.
In England, you can run a food business from your home as long as you follow guidelines and are able to have your kitchen inspected by the local authority. Luckily, in cookery school we had, had an entire day learning about the paperwork needed to be completed in order to have your own food premises. After filling out a lot of lengthy forms I was able to register my home as a food premise, ta-dah!
At this point, I had my company and my kitchen but now I needed capital. In order to store this capital, I needed a business bank account. I thought this would be a simple process. I grabbed all of my company’s legal documents and made a trip down to the bank. When I walked in I was approached by the bank manager who asked how he could help.
"I would like to set up a business account please."
"A business account?"
"Yes, that’s what I said."
The bank manager looked incredibly confused and asked me to take a seat. I watched as he ran around the bank talking to the bank tellers, whispering to them, then looking at me, looking back at them and running across the room to another teller. I became a sort of phenomenon.
I should explain before we continue—I have a very young face. To the point where I am now 20 years old and I get asked for identification when going to see certificate 15 films. I don’t blame this bank manager at all for being confused, I didn’t look old enough to have completed my GCSE’s let alone run my own business.
Eventually, the manager came and sat down next to me and asked me a couple of questions about whether I had actually incorporated my company (yes), whether I had my registration number (yes) and how long ago I had incorporated my company (what?).
"For the credit check."
"In order to give you a bank account we need to be able to run a credit check on your company. For this, you needed to have had your company incorporated for at least a week."
"Ah." Now I was the confused one. At this point my company had been incorporated for all of three days, I had no idea about any sort of credit checks. I mean, I don’t even own a credit card!
Luckily, for some reason, a credit check had already been run on my company and a report was able to be printed out and I was whisked away to talk to a bank employee.
As I sat down to talk to her she asked me if I wanted anything to drink, I asked for a glass of water. When she walked away I couldn’t help but notice that my credit report was sitting on the other side of the desk. I wouldn’t say I’m a nosey person but when it comes to information about me, I have to know. So, whilst I was left alone a snuck a peek across the desk, what I saw wasn’t exactly ensuring:
ODDS OF FAILURE: 6:1
Six to one, my chances of failure were six to one. As far as the bank was concerned I was screwed. I had absolutely no chance of making this business work. This was a bit of a gut punch, to say the least.
With that being said, I persevered and sat for an hour going over the details and financial operations of my business. There were endless and impossible questions like, how much do you expect to make in a year? How many clients do you hope to have? How, how, how.
However, at the end of the meeting I had a business account and by the end of the week, I had a business card. I managed to register my own company without hiring any legal advice, register my house to be a food premise and secure a bank account. All in the space of just over a week and with limited help and all at the age of 19. By the end of the week I couldn’t help thinking:
6:1? I like those odds.