Sole traders

A sole trader describes any business that is owned and controlled by one person - although they may employ workers. Individuals who provide a specialist service like plumbers, hairdressers or photographers are often sole traders.

A hairdresser typically works as a sole trader which means they make their own business decisions, work long hours and get to keep the profits

Sole traders do not have a separate legal existence from the business. In the eyes of the law, the business and the owner are the same. As a result, the owner is personally liable for the firm's debts and may have to pay for losses made by the business out of their own pocket. This is called unlimited liability.


  • Easy to set up
  • Small capital investment means reduced start-up costs
  • Freedom to make decisions


  • Responsibility
  • Long hours
  • Unlimited liability