Want to leave the corporate life to start up my own business - sole trader vs. company?

Question posted by Ali Zaidi, on behalf of Excelsior in SW18

Hello everyone,

I have this new found urge to leave the corporate world (I'm a marketer with almost 10 years of experience within the financial services sector) and start-up my own business. Simplicity is my new motto.

Having lived abroad most of my life abroad, I have a lot connections in the Middle East and China. I though maybe becoming an export trader in the UK would be good start. However, I know nothing about exporting or importing.

My question is - would it be wise for me to take some courses. For e.g. the ones below:

- Wade world trade certificate, or
- Import/export international trading course - ICI

1. Would you recommend the above courses for someone looking to become a sole trader? Is it worth the money spent?

2. Do the credentials gained hold any value with suppliers and buyers?

3. Will the above actually help me get my business going?

4. In order to become a trader, is it advisable to be a sole trader or setup a company? (Be more professional)

5. Is it worth working in a niche market, such as the ideology to trade green products only

I'm scared of taking this leap of faith and not being able to draw any income. I don't know where to begin so any help will be much appreciated!

Thanks in anticipation,


Report inappropriate content

I would strongly suggest you take some training. This is not just because I am a provider of training but because in my experience (I have been in the import export business for over 35 years) if anyone is to be successful as an exporter they need to have a good idea of what is required. This is true no matter whether they are an individual or a company.

A company tends to work better as you can control tax more efficiently both for yourself and your customers which makes you more competitive.

It is not the name of the training course that will necessarily impress your customers it will be your level of knowledge and ability that will win them over.

From my own range of courses I would recommend the Introduction to Export or the Comprehensive Guide.


Report inappropriate content

Hi Ali
I don't have a training course to offer , but I would most certainly recommend that you should go on one, for the obvious reasons that you need to gain some experience.
Exporting or Importing can sometimes have complications.
Either courses as the ones that Susan suggests or also courses run by the Institute of Export.

It can sometimes be more tax efficient to form a limited company rather than being a sole trader, but that could also depend on what your earning expectations are in your business plan .

There is a wealth of knowledge also on this website as well as http://www.ukti.gov.uk/
best wishes

Report inappropriate content

Ali Zaidi, on behalf of Excelsior in SW18.

Thanks Susan and Gilio for your advice - much appreciated.

I guess this gives me a place to start - I will explore the courses and setup/register a company as the first step.

Susan - will have a look at your courses and I'll be in touch with any questions.

Thanks again for your help both.

Report inappropriate content

Hi Ali,

As a consultant in international trade I often see exporters doing costly mistakes, most of the times due to the fact that they overlook fundamental things that should be taken care of before starting to export (choosing the wrong market for their products, for example). They do this because they do not know or they do not understand the importance of certain steps that should be done before actually starting to export (understanding how big the potential of their product/service on a certain market is, for example). You can see some examples in my article here: http://www.thebrc.co.uk/why-do-exporters-fail-a-true-story/
So, yes, I advise you to get on a course and understand the basics at least.

For this kind of trading is good to set up a company. It is better from the taxes point of view as well as from the point of view of personal liability in case something goes wrong. HMRC website is very helpful in this respect.

Good luck!

Best wishes,

Lorela Corbeanu

Report inappropriate content

Ali Zaidi, on behalf of Excelsior in SW18.

Thanks Lorela.

Bill, thank you - extremely valuable advice. I will take your advice and do my research and think of exactly what I want to do and how. I definitely need to plan and ahead, weighing all the pros and cons, so I know exactly what I'm getting into. I guess after working 12 years, I feel like I'm ready to take some risks in life, but certainly planned risks.

Thanks again.

Report inappropriate content

David Bill, on behalf of ChemPlex Ltd in EH48.

You probably do not need a course in the "Nuts & Bolts" of exporting because there are plenty shippers, freight forwarders, export credit companies that can advise what to do when actually making a shipment or an import.

Much more important is to study the target market, identify a niche product & focus on this.

If you try to be a general trader you will be up against everyone & their dog.

I wish I knew all this when I started out on my own all those years ago!


Report inappropriate content

Sarah Carroll, on behalf of Grow Global Limited in BN1.

Ali -

Another route you may like to consider is selecting a product that you can export online, so you could set up your website part-time alongside your current job until you had enough income to take the leap.

We offer a series of training courses on how to set up an international website, an international e-commerce system and international social media profiles so that you can sell your products around the world: http://www.growglobal.com/events

Let us know if you need any help at all!
Have a good weekend

Report inappropriate content

Ali Zaidi, on behalf of Excelsior in SW18.

Thanks David and Sarah.

Will certainly take your advice onboard. I guess the difficult part is just that, trying to identify a niche product - then finding buyers is another.

Will also look at the courses you suggest Sarah.

Many thanks.

Report inappropriate content

To respond to this question, please Login or Register