Start a Business

Whether you want to be the next Richard Branson or simply want to make money doing what you love, LUSU can help you start a business from scratch. LUSU gives you the opportunity to set up your own business, social enterprise or project to get you involved in enterprise activities.

What support does LUSU offer?

  • Start Up Funding – We offer you the chance to get money to make your idea a reality.
  • Accountant - A chance to talk a professionally trained accountant about any tax or admin worries
  • Solicitor - Several times a term a solicitor is available to talk to you about any worries or problems concerning your business.
  • Business Advisor - Our external business advisor can work with you on your business on a one to one basis.
  • Web Hosting – If you business is an online venture, we offer free web hosting for the first year.
  • Networking Opportunities - Throughout the year we have events and conferences that you can attend that can act as a great opportunity to meet new contacts.
  • Contacts – business professionals and highly successful entrepreneurs who are looking to work with you.
  • Support and Guidance – a dedicated group of people that have a lot of experience in supporting students to set up their own businesses.


How to get support from LUSU for your idea

If you have an idea that you think could be turned into a successful business, project or social enterprise please go to this link to register and book a meeting with us! We have had some incredible success stories over the last few years, so don’t be shy about coming forward with your idea. Read about some of our students’ recent successes in these case studies.

Why should I start a business?

Our expertise, contacts and funding can help provide you with the ideal base from which to launch your business. Uncertain about getting involved? Hopefully these reasons may help.

  • Fun – Attempting to make your idea a reality is extremely exciting and satisfying for both you and us.  We enjoy doing it and are passionate about it and so are the students we work with. You will meet some amazing people through our workshops and events.
  • Money – we are not here to encourage unrealistic dreams – not all of the students we work with are successful in bringing their ideas to fruition and those that do are not always successful in business. That’s ok –  its to be expected.  For those that are successful however there is the opportunity to make a healthy amount of money.  And all of them agree that making money your way beats doing it someone else’s way!
  • Skills Development – you will be given the opportunity to attend workshops designed to equip you with business skills and knowledge in a very short period of time.  Not only will you be developing new skills you will also get the experience to back them up! Oh. and everything you do with us goes towards the Lancaster Award.
  • Support and Guidance – For many students the idea of attempting to set up their own business alongside their degree will seem like madness.  Its actually one of the best times to try!  Not only do you have little to lose you will receive our support and guidance the whole way.  Even when you graduate and for up to 2 years after that we will be there to help you.
  • Getting a job – it may be that you don’t want your own business forever but you do want the experience.  That’s great!  Imagine sitting in an interview and the interviewer asking you what else you did besides your degree.  Imagine being able to say “I set up my own business and it succeeded/failed and I picked up a lot of skills and experience and that’s why I would be invaluable to you and your company”. What a powerful statement!

laura kenny

Support from Lancaster University

Support for business and social enterprise ideas is also available from the University itself. The Enterprise Team sits above the Learning Zone and provide workshops, mentoring and advice to students and graduates who want to take their business idea further. To find out more, visit the Enterprise Centre website.

Legal Advice

To have a chat with our solicitor, please click here to book an appointment.

Business Advice

To meet with Paul our business advisor, please click here to book an appointment.

Booking a farmers market stall

If you wish to book a stall at the weekly Farmers Market in Alexandra Square, please email our Marketing team. For student businesses, this costs £15 per week.

HMRC Guidance

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is a department of the UK Government responsible for the collection of taxes, the payment of some forms of state support and the administration of other regulatory regimes including the national minimum wage. The HMRC website has relevant information for starting your own business, such as Tax, National Insurance, Business Records and Expenses.There are also several webinars available from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), to give tax help to businesses and the self-employed.

Registering your business

When you start a business in the UK you must choose a structure for your business. Most businesses in the UK are:

  • sole traders
  • limited companies
  • partnerships
Sole traders

The easiest way to start a business in the UK is to become a ‘sole trader’. This means that only you own the business and you can work alone or employ other people. You will need to register for ‘self-assessment’ tax, which means you (or your accountant) calculate your own tax.

To become a sole trader you must:

Limited companies

You can set up a private limited company to run your business in the UK. You must appoint people to run the company (called ‘directors’) and register (or ‘incorporate’) it with Companies House. As a director of the company, you are also an employee. This means that personal income and business income are separate when it comes to paying tax.

To set up a limited company you need to:

Business partnerships

In a business partnership, you’re running a business as an individual but all the partners share responsibility for the business.

With a business partnership you need to:

  • register for self-assessment with HMRC
  • name your business according to certain rules
  • run the business as an individual
  • share profits between partners

Business Banking

To set up a bank account for your business in the UK you can either:

  • open a new account in the UK
  • use the account you already have in your country
  • open a UK sterling account in your country

It may be cheaper to open a UK account or to set up a UK sterling account with your own bank, to avoid transaction and currency exchange fees. You’ll need a UK address before opening a UK bank account. InterBanks gives information on UK banks and how to choose and open an account.

Companies House

Fees and how long it takes

Online takes 48 hours and costs £15 (paid by debit or credit card or Paypal).

Postal applications take 8 to 10 days and cost £40 (paid by cheque made out to ‘Companies House’). You can get a same day service by post. It costs £100 but you must get your application to Companies House by 3pm.

National Insurance

You may need to pay National Insurance if you’re self-employed, depending on how much you earn. If you have employees you need to deduct National Insurance contributions (NICs) from their wages and pay those as well.

If you’re employing workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, and they have an A1 form, you’ll have to deduct according the the rules of their home country and not pay NICs.


You must register for VAT with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if your business turnover is more than £79,000.

Employing staff

Here are 6 things you need to do when employing staff for the first time.

  1. Decide how much to pay someone – you must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage.
  2. Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You may have to do other employment checks as well.
  3. Apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, eg with vulnerable people or security.
  4. Get employment insurance – you need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
  5. Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than 1 month.
  6. Tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) by registering as an employer - you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.

Zac & Kitson

Start up funds

If you have a great idea and need support with funding then come and see us. We guide and help you to ensure you have all of the information needed when applying for funding.  We will help get you into a position where you are ready to ask for money and we will work to your timetable. There are several different forms of funding available for both enterprises and social enterprises:

LUSU Funding

LUSU funding is to help support businesses in the pre start stage. You can apply for funding through an application, which will then be taken to a panel for approval. The panel is comprised of our Innovation team, our Commercial Director and a Full Time Officer.
The application will be centered around the following questions;

  • How much money are you asking for and how do you intend to use this money?
  • How will you ensure that this start up support is used in a sustainable way?
  • Have you received funding from elsewhere? If so how much? How much money have you put into this business yourself?
  • Why are you the right people to take this business forward?

If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to contact Josh Dean for more information.

We are no longer accepting funding applications for the 2013/2014 year. Further information on applying for funding will be published in August 2014.

UnLtd Funding

For social entrepreneurs and social enterprise projects, the university has been granted a pot of money of £25,000 by UnLtd; a company whose mission is to support a huge variety of social entrepreneurs. There are various sums of money to take from this funding to support social eterprise experiments, ideas and businesses.
To be eligible your idea must:

  • Have a real social impact
  • Fulfil a clear need and demand
  • Have clear outputs and goals
  • Provide a learning experience or opportunity

Please contact Amanda Brooks for more information.

Activities Funding

If you want your group to do more this year, LUSU is here to support ideas you have to expand, develop and improve your student group. There is Activities funding available to help student groups every year. Come share your ideas with us and we will support you in any way we can. Our online guide explains our funding applications and procedure.

Explore our online funding guide and make an appointment to come see us in LUSU. For more information please contact Ann Jones.

Student Innovation Fund

The Student Innovation Fund is available for projects and business ideas that are centred around benefiting students and the local community.  If you would like more information please contact Josh Dean.

O2 Think Big

O2 think big has been set up to help young people between 13 – 25 to launch their ideas that benefit the places that they live. You are able to apply for up to £300 in funding.
For more information visit O2 Think Big.


Part of the Northwest Enterprise Champion project, part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund