Guide to opening a businesses in Bath

Starting your own business in Bath can be as exciting and rewarding as it is challenging. The following in an overview of information you need to know about opening a new business in the city, from accessing support to paying business rates.

Starting a Business

Once you have developed your business idea and plan, there are several steps you need to take in order to start your business in Bath. Starting a business involves a number of important steps, from securing financing to researching your market to securing a premises for your business. Once you have determined a legal structure for your business, you need to register for tax purposes before you start trading. This can be done online with HM Revenue and Customs. You must also register as an employer, even if you are a sole trader. Before opening your business, you must also ensure that you have any applicable licences.

Certain businesses are required to apply for licences before operating in Bath. A premises licence is needed for businesses that serve late night refreshments or entertainment such as live or recorded music, films, places, dancing and indoor sports such as boxing and wrestling. Similarly, a personal licence is needed for businesses selling alcohol. Licenses are also need for a business that keeps animals, such as pet shops or establishments for dog breeding, animal boarding or riding. Licences are also needed for businesses keeping performing animals and dangerous wild animals. Bath and North East Somerset Council also issues licences for businesses interested in making charitable collections or providing gambling and lottery services. Street Trading stalls, taxis, skip operators, sex establishments, scrap metal dealers, and other types of businesses also require licences.

Business Rates

Businesses that occupy commercial premises must pay business rates. Business rates are collected annually and are based on the value of the property. The multiplier used to calculate the rateable value is set by central government and the value of the property is assessed by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) each year. Rate relief is available for small businesses if their property is valued at less than £12,000. The amount of relief depends on the rateable value of the property. Business owners with properties valued at between £6,001 and £12,000 get a percentage discount based on a sliding scale.

If a business property is valued at £6,000, an exemption from paying the business rate is provided. Certain specific types of properties are also exempt from business rates. These properties include agricultural land and buildings, buildings used for training or welfare of disabled people, and buildings registered for religious worship or as church halls. If your property becomes vacant, the business rate is waived for the first six months for industrial properties and for the first three months for other business properties. After this period, business rates must be paid unless it is a listed building or has a rateable value of less than £2,600.

Accessing Support

There are a number of professional business consultants in Bath who are able to help new and established businesses in the start up, diversification and growth phases.

The Bath and North East Somerset Council provides a range of support services to help businesses in the city. A free business support and advisory service is available for anyone considering starting a business. It is also open to established businesses that are looking to grow or are facing challenges. The service is delivered by Cool Ventures, which also provides additional fee-based services. Guidance and feedback is provided on various aspects of starting a business, including business planning and financing. Information is also provided on government initiatives designed to help start-ups.

The West of England Growth Hub provides businesses with a network of knowledge and partners that can support businesses as they grow. The government-funded Growth Hub helps businesses find solutions to the challenges of starting and growing operations. Services include finance assistance, access to skills supports, research advice, export support, and other help. The Growth Hub's one-window web portal operated by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnerships provides access to information and supports, including initiatives designed especially for start-ups.

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