Consider establishing as a sole trader (if there is one owner) or a partnership (if there are two or more owners)

It sounds like this is primarily a commercial venture, although it may have a social purpose.

Sole trader

Sole traders do not need to prepare any documents to establish their business, and do not register their business with Companies House. Sole traders can simply start trading or carrying out their business activities immediately.

Download guidance about setting up a Sole trader

What next? Get in touch with TrustLaw if you need advice.


Case Study: Sole trader

Well Grounded is a social enterprise established by UnLtd Award Winner, Eve Wagg, which provides unemployed young people with a career in the coffee industry, training them as baristas and finding permanent work within the hospitality industry. Building on the success of a pilot scheme, Well Grounded is rolling out a 12 week Speciality Barista programme in September  to provide more young people with the opportunity to gain a career in one of the fastest growing markets in the world.
 
Eve initially ran Well Grounded as a sole trader, as she wanted to test the concept and value proposition of the business quickly, in order to identify demand from her target customer base before incorporating.
 
After the pilot, Eve decided to incorporate Well Grounded as a CIC in January 2016 as she had found that operating as a sole trader was restricting the funding and investment she could obtain.
 
Eve chose the CIC model as she wanted the legal structure to make the venture’s social impact very explicit, while still developing a commercially viable business. Further, Eve feels that being a CIC provides entry into a wider movement and community that is committed to proving that business can be social.
 
She considered charity status too, which would have enabled her to access a number of other funding grants and gift aid, but ultimately decided that charity status is not consistent with Well Grounded's long term business model.


Next steps

Now that you have an overview of what structures may be most suitable for your social venture, you should seek legal advice to ensure the structure meets all your organisation’s needs.

TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation global pro bono legal programme, connects social enterprises with leading law firms to provide free legal assistance on issues such as a structuring. In the UK alone, TrustLaw supports over 250 social enterprises with free legal assistance.

Apply to join TrustLaw to request free legal advice for your social venture.