Company formation - just as it should be

The company formation industry today is very different to the one I joined more years ago than I care to admit to here.

Back then, incorporating a limited company was a long, slow, rather languorous affair that could last several weeks. These days, it’s barely a one-night stand!

Even the 1985 Companies Act did little to speed up a process that had remained largely unchanged for more than a century. Company formations still enjoyed a seemingly unending love affair with copious amounts of paper, forms and red tape. All this was surrounded by an aura of complexity, largely unfathomable to the outside world but deeply satisfying (and profitable!) to those “in the know”.

It was a brave entrepreneur indeed who would dare to attempt his or her own company formation.  In those days, such maverick behaviour was viewed by the establishment with the surprise and disdain reserved for those choosing to represent themselves in court.  It was considered a foregone conclusion that it would all go horribly wrong and they would soon realise the error of their ways.

In fact it was not until the introduction of electronic filing at Companies House in 1998 that the love light began to fade.  Admittedly it encompassed relatively few forms to begin with and was slow to take off but the cracks had begun to appear. 

Before long, incorporating a company electronically really did seem a reality and our little corporate hearts were a-flutter with the excitement of it all.  Even so, many thought it a fanciful notion.  When the first company was formed electronically in 2001, there were those who believed it would never catch on.  Many others felt unable to sever their ties with their bulging, paper files and so began a surreal period of dual working in both paper and on-line - just to be on the safe side. 

Bright young things, unfettered by a paper addiction, entered the market place, bringing with them whizzy websites and cheap prices.  A company formation became a commodity.  Consumers had more choice but less service, quicker responses but fewer real answers. 

Today’s company formation consumers are more savvy – they look for value. High quality as well as quick service.

We’ve come a long way and the truth is that, like many things, today’s company formation process bears little or no resemblance to that of a few years ago. It’s faster, slicker and more convenient - just as it should be.


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