How to set up and run a small business

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New parental leave legislation came into effect in April 2015, giving men and women the option to share child care over the course of a year.

Increased flexibility provided by shared parental leave will enable more men to be involved in child care and bond with their babies. It will also give women the freedom to return to work earlier if they wish, which could enhance their career prospects.

However, not everyone has welcomed the new legislation with open arms. Some of the harshest critics have been the Small Business Federation and The Institute of Directors who claims the legislation could create a “nightmare” for employers, particularly small businesses.

So what are the implications of shared parental leave legislation on a business and how can you overcome the practical challenges it brings?

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As a start-up or small business, you may feel that you don’t have the necessary funds to create a luxury office environment that fuels employee creativity and impresses your clients. However, instead of thinking from an interior design perspective, you should be working from a psychology angle to ensure you get the most from your office design.

The look and feel of your office can have a direct impact on the output of your employees, so here’s how to create a workspace that boosts efficiency and productivity without costing huge amounts of money. Continue…

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Making the decision to become self-employed can be daunting, especially if you’ve been an employee on a regular salary with all the perks that can bring, like a pension, holidays and sickness pay.

The transition from this relative security to going it alone is not always easy, but there are steps you can take to help protect you financially should the need arise, allowing you to concentrate on growing and developing your business. Continue…

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According to new research commissioned by the Government’s Cyber Streetwise Campaign, SMEs are putting a third of their revenue at risk because they are downplaying the threat of cyber-attacks, leaving them exposed and vulnerable.

With this in mind, here’s what small businesses need to watch out for, and 10 clear steps that can be taken to protect against future attacks. Continue…

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When it comes to selling a business, the most important question you need to ask is – how much is it worth?

There is no single formula that can be used to precisely value every private business. The seller will want to drive the price up, and potential buyers will want the opposite.

Although there are relatively easy ways to value certain parts of the business – such as stock, fixed assets (land, machinery, equipment etc.), there will very probably be a sizeable intangible element to the value of a business.
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Building a successful new business is a roller-coaster. There will be days you know you couldn’t do anything else, and days you wish you did. Sometimes you’ll be on top of the world, but at other times it will be a struggle to drag yourself out of bed.

In the high-stakes world of starting a new business, only one thing is certain: everyone will make mistakes, but only those who learn from them will succeed.

So, to help you learn from these common errors, without making them yourself, here are 8 mistakes that startups frequently make;
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Small business accounting software has changed massively in recent years. Thankfully, the advent of cloud computing has consigned the days of buying book-keeping software in a box and installing it on your own computer to history.

Nowadays, start-ups and small business can choose from a whole host of online accounts software packages. The technology helps to ease the pain of book-keeping and accounts for small business owners and provides a range of other benefits too.

But with so many different web-based accounting solutions out there, how do you choose the right system for you and your business?

That’s where this guide comes in. If you follow the advice, and ask these questions, you should be able to quickly narrow down the field, and ultimately choose the best online accounting software for your needs.

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Being an employer comes with all manner of responsibilities, not least ensuring the happiness and safety of your staff.

So when an employee approaches you, or the person responsible for HR within your organisation, with a problem or complaint (a grievance) you need to ensure you have the necessary procedures in place to resolve the situation efficiently and fairly.

Failing to recognise and deal with a grievance properly could result in the complaint going to an employment tribunal, which would likely prove to be costly, not to mention a huge strain on time and resources on any small business.

To help ensure, your business avoids such costly distractions, here’s how to prepare for, and manage staff grievances.
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It’s natural to want to protect your business. After working hard to get where you are today, you want to do all you can to safeguard your company against any potential threats.

While many companies are cracking down on criminal attacks from burglars, they often disregard the threat of fraudulent attacks from their very own staff, which can have even worse consequences for their business.

Cases of fraud cost businesses the equivalent of 5% of their annual revenue, a report by the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse revealed.

While loss of short-term profits is detrimental to any business, it isn’t the worst consequence of internal fraud. Imagine if an employee gained access to sensitive customer data and used it to their advantage. This could result in terrible repercussions for your customers, a badly damaged brand reputation for your business, and cause lasting, long-term harm to your firm. Continue…

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You may have attended presentations that dragged or others that gripped people throughout. Perhaps you have given talks yourself and wondered what really makes the difference.

Whatever the situation, there are numerous factors that affect your chances of success. Everything you do contributes to the overall audience experience and even small things make a big difference.

This guide gives you 9 proven, practical tips to deliver more engaging and more effective presentations. Each one makes a positive impact, and you will know best which will be most useful in your own presentations. Continue…

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Facebook is the second biggest site in the world, with us Brits being some of its most prolific users. 59% of UK residents use Social Media on a daily basis; which means that Facebook presents some great marketing opportunities for businesses.

If you can get your users to share information about your products and services in their feeds, you can reach a massive audience of consumers – at a time when they are relaxed and receptive to marketing messages.

If you are a start-up or small businesses, the low-cost and high-potential make Facebook a very attractive option to promote and grow your venture, but how do you do this effectively? Continue…

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We live in a connected age where you can purchase pretty much anything you want at the touch of a button on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.

With this in mind, you may find it surprising to learn that not all businesses are tapping into this, or even quite know how to.
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Good communication is often essential for success on any project. In fact, lack of communication is probably the single most common problem affecting any website development.

But communicating your desires and goals to a designer for a new website, or with regards to any amendments to your current site, can often be a challenging task. You’re focused on what works for your business, and designers are focused on creating something that looks great in their eyes.

It’s understandable that problems can and do develop.

Follow these 9 tips however, and you’ll be well on your way to being understood by your web development company, and will hopefully be able to enjoy good communication and a pain free process!
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If two or more people wish to go into business together, and don’t wish to set up a limited company, a partnership offers a simple way to get started; it is similar in many ways to going the sole trader route for an individual.
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Employers liability insurance is a type of business insurance policy that virtually all firms employing someone must take out.

As an employer, the health and safety of your employees when they are working for you is your responsibility. Having an employers liability insurance policy ensures that your business has a minimum level of protection should an employee get injured or become unwell while in your employment, and seek compensation from your business.

The fines for not having a suitable policy can be huge, so here’s what every business owner needs to know about employers liability insurance. Continue…

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Every business – even yours – has a brand.

One common misconception is that your brand is your logo. Your logo is a single visual representation of your brand, but it is not your brand. Continue…

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I used to think I used a coaching style with the teams I led. Then I went on a coaching course to learn a little bit more. Imagine how disappointed I was when I found out that I hadn’t been coaching at all!

It turned out that all I had been doing was being vaguely encouraging while I told them what to do and how do it. And I was so busy because I always needed to know everything they were doing, so I would always know what to tell them to do.

I discovered that getting people to do things my way, no matter how nice I was while I was doing it, was nothing like coaching.
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Setting up a new business is an exciting, thrilling and all encompassing challenge! Personally, I think it is the best and most stretching form of personal and professional development that a person can do.

Creating and selling your own products and services, building a network of happy customers and managing your own time are just three of the perks that come with starting and running your own business.

But all too often, I meet entrepreneurs who are burnt out, stressed and lacking in sufficient income. This is often because they did not trial their business ideas before they got stuck in. So today, I want to convince you that you should ‘pilot’ your business idea before you launch your new venture for real.
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You are ready for your big speech: you’ve crafted the talk, you’ve tailored the content for the audience and you’ve rehearsed your words. That’s great – but have you thought about the body language you will use when delivering it?

When we are preparing for presentations and speeches, we tend to focus on our words because vocal language is a conscious activity, whereas body language is a more unconscious activity. We pay attention to saying the right words but we need to extend this attention to our body gestures which unconsciously could be communicating a different message.

If your body language isn’t aligned with your vocal language you are missing the opportunity to deliver the full impact of your message. Worse still, you are at risk of creating confusion among your audience.

Here’s how to use body language to capture your audience’s attention and ensure you get your message across when you are giving a speech or making a presentation;

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It was Mahatma Gandhi who once famously said, “There’s more to life than increasing its speed.”

And his observation applies to business as much as it applies to life. Businesses that have the most success are the ones willing to take the time to slow down and think about what they are doing.

This is borne out by an Economist Intelligence Unit study that found companies who slowed down made, on average, 40% more sales and 52% higher profits than companies who had set getting faster and faster their main priority.

So what aspect of your start-up will benefit from you slowing down?
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How you can build your business in 90 minutes a day

May 22, 2015

Whether you have just launched your new start-up, or are the owner of an existing business, to be successful you need to make the best use of your valuable time. With so many different aspects of the business to think about, and a host of demands on their time, it’s easy for small business owners […]

Leased or serviced office space – which is the best fit for your business?

May 21, 2015

Your new venture might have first spread its wings in the comfort of your own home, but most start-ups need to fly the nest at some point. Whilst sending emails from your sofa in your onesie undeniably has its charms, there comes a time when moving your business forward requires giving it its own four […]

7 clever copywriting secrets for business owners

May 20, 2015

If there’s one marketing skill you should focus on developing above all others it is copywriting. The ability to passionately sell a product or service in the written word is something that will never go out of fashion. And the reality is that few people will be able to do it as well for your […]

Cashflow Forecasting – top tips to produce a better cash flow forecast

May 18, 2015

When you are starting a new business, you will most likely need to produce a cashflow forecast. If you’re looking to raise money, from either a bank loan or outside investors, a cash flow will be one of the financial forecasts that you will need to produce for prospective lenders and investors. As your business […]

A Digital marketing guide for small business owners

May 14, 2015

For many small business owners, the term ‘digital marketing’ could very well generate a concerned or baffled look, and the temptation to turn around and hide in a darkened room. As an established small business, or even someone setting up a new business, you might know all about offline marketing like posters and billboards, flyers […]

10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media

May 12, 2015

We’ve all heard it; “You just have to be using social media marketing.” And the response from many business owners is; “I’m keen to try using social media to promote my small business but I’m not sure where to start.” If this sounds like you, here are ten simple but effective tips that will help […]

What is public liability insurance? – A 60-second guide for businesses

May 11, 2015

Public liability insurance will protect your business if you cause an injury to a member of the public, or property belonging to another business or individual. You should consider taking out public liability insurance if members of the public visit you at your place of work, or if you perform work at places of work […]

5 questions you should ask a prospective SEO agency

May 7, 2015

A website can be a very powerful marketing tool for start-ups and small businesses. An effective site helps smaller firms to reach out to a huge audience of potential new customers and take on bigger rivals. However, the battle to be found online can be fierce, so if you want your small business website to […]

3 out of 10 employees have taken drugs at work

May 7, 2015

Nearly a third of workers have admitted using drugs at work, and virtually every employee say they’ve been drunk in the workplace. These are the incredible figures from a new survey carried out for Protecting.co.uk, which also found significant numbers of staff are “under the influence” every working day.

How to grow your start-up by developing your mind-set

May 6, 2015

There is so much that a small business owner, or potential entrepreneur, can do with just a shift in how we think, and what we focus on. When you start to look back at what you have achieved and where you are in your life, work and business, you would begin to realise that success […]