How do I choose a legal structure for my business

When setting up your own business, there are three possible structures you can choose to adopt:

Sole trader

This is the most straightforward way to set up your own business.

  • As a sole trader, you are the owner of the business
  • You are legally liable for the business and do not have any protection if the business fails
  • If the business is not successful, all of your assets (business & personal) can be used to pay off your creditors

Private limited company

  • A legal entity, separate from its shareholders
  • If the business fails the shareholders are only liable for any amount outstanding on the share capital they subscribe


  • An agreement between two or more people to go into business together
  • If the business fails, each partner is liable for all losses
  • A ‘Deed of Partnership’ is usually drawn up outlining the obligations of each partner

Please note: it is highly recommended that you consult an accountant or solicitor before choosing an ownership structure for your business