Continuing our Freelance Stories series, we talk to retoucher and print production pro Bill Greenwood. After 20-years working for top design studios Bill has decided to go it alone and tells us what it is like to start your own limited company.

“I am a London based image retoucher, creative artworker, reprographics and print production workflow specialist offering my skills mainly to advertising agencies, photographers, reprographic studios, design consultancies and printers.

“For over twenty years I worked for some of the country’s top high-end design, reprographic and production studios. My work has won awards and I have produced all sorts of imagery, brochures, advertising and packaging for national and international brands.

“Early this year I felt it was time for a change and resigned my position to start Bill Greenwood Ltd.”

Why leave the comfort of a regular wage and risk it all?

A number of reasons really. For me it was about the challenge, my skills paying for me and not lunches for someone else; also the freedom and flexibility of working for who I wanted to and when I wanted to.

How did you start the process of going limited?

I pitched the idea of me going solo and starting to trade as a Limited company to a few trusted friends and industry people and the support and response was amazing, I had a lot of great feedback and even the promise of projects to work upon once the business was up and running, all of which so far have come to fruition.

So I was convinced.

It was a matter of sorting out the company formation, accountancy and of course dealing with the taxman.

So now to deal with the administration headache!

How did you decided to go limited? What research did you do?

Over three months I did a lot of research. Visited many forums and websites that dealt with company formation, accountancy, bookkeeping, Corporation Tax; VAT, PAYE: the list goes on and on.

I must have read hundreds of articles online covering all these topics. The HMRC website became my homepage for a while and virtually every PDF relevant to what I wanted to do (setting up a limited company with me as the sole director) passed my eyes. I became a bit of a tax geek!

Having never set up a limited company before I was confused by some of the websites I visited. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there and although I could have carried out the paperwork myself I decided that I would get a professional company with all the right credentials to sort it all out and get it right first time.

How did you choose an accountant?

Accountancy and bookkeeping was another area that was vital to get right. It’s not my core skill and I admit to being a newbie in this area. I wanted to be able to see instantly how my business was running financially but was not keen to spend valuable time learning and managing an accountancy application. Ideally I wanted an online solution where all my information was available to me wherever I was. I looked at a few online systems, made some calls but was not totally convinced that the packages I looked into so far were right for me.

A colleague mentioned Crunch Accounting and I got busy looking into them. I signed up for a demo and was very impressed with the online software, it was just right for me. A call to the Crunch offices put me in contact with Ed Hopkins who really knew his stuff and fully answered all my questions. Ed took me through the whole process and offered me some great advice to save the business and me money.

The bonus of a dedicated account manager and of a fixed monthly price that the company could budget for with no tied-in contract definitely helped influence my decision. I was confident that signing up with Crunch was the thing to do, so I did. Crunch also carried out my company formation for me and also became my registered office. All the services I required in one place.

What about choosing a bank account?

Santander offer free business banking for life. My branch in Camden set me up with an appointment with a local business banking manager David Barter who was first class and excellent getting the paperwork sorted. Everything went smoothly.

How did you find clients and work?

In my case, even though I have been in my industry for a long time, have built a decent reputation and many contacts it was still like starting over. During my initial investigations I was lucky to have been offered some projects and these have been realised with others still to be carried out. So this gave the business a great start.

Of course for all businesses, marketing and promotion is an ongoing and necessary task. I’m always looking for new and interesting projects. I utilised LinkedIn and other online forums associated with my trade as well as the tried and trusted methods of meeting contacts and attending functions to promote my services and skills.

I put together a website to showcase previous projects, this is still a work in progress for me as I have been quite busy and still have so much more to put on it.

What’s the best part of being freelance?

Being your own boss, it’s great fun and quite exciting. An ongoing story!