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Your business should register for VAT if your “taxable supplies” over the past 12 months has exceeded the VAT registration threshold.
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raise funding through alternative financeSince the recession of 2008/2009, there has been a significant reduction in the ability of banks to lend to British SMEs.

Whilst mainstream finance is still great for some businesses, many banks now have lending criteria that small businesses are unable to fulfill.

Fortunately, ‘alternative finance’ can offer a viable substitute for entrepreneurs looking for innovative and flexible ways to fund their business growth.

But before blindly assuming alternative finance is the answer to all your financial woes, there are six things you need to understand before you approach an alternative finance provider looking for funding. Continue…

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According to Bloomberg’s infamous, mythical study, 8 out of 10 businesses fail in their first 18 months.

The Bloomberg figure has been shown to be nonsense, but business failure statistics given by other sources still report business closure rates of 20-40% within the first 2 years of trading, which is still a very high failure rate.

In this article, I’m going to explore one of the ways to avoid the financial pitfalls many businesses find themselves in. I’m going to talk about not just having a financial plan – but understanding the discipline of testing it.

There are myriad reasons why such a large proportion of businesses don’t succeed, but for small businesses cash flow problems are one of the most common reasons. There are practical ways to stave off cash flow problems – but much better if they can be avoided in the first place. Continue…

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People learn through observing others – how they act, how they react, how they make others feel. They do it so they can work out how to be successful, or to survive. They do it so they can emulate them, or avoid their mistakes.

When we are leaders, it means they are observing us and making judgments about whether to be like us, or not.

As a business leader, your actions can have a profound effect on your business. Not only does it set the tone for your company culture but it shapes how you and your business are viewed by potential customers and partners.

You therefore need to ask yourself, ‘What can I do to be the kind of person that people want to emulate and do business with?’
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Striving to find a meaning in life is the most powerful driving force in humans. Acknowledging this as the key motivator for everyone involved in your business will help you to nurture the best achievements and results.

Neuroscientific research taking place around the world is beginning to piece together connections between the brain and behaviour, especially at work. This research is providing valuable insights into how to be a more effective leader. Continue…

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If you’re a start-up, chances are you are going to have to get out there and tell people about your new venture. What you say, and how you say it, is a lot more important than you may realise.

When it comes to communicating what you do, you don’t want to make a rookie error, just because your business is new. And the last place you want to miss the mark is when it comes to your pitch.

Preparing a powerful presentation is one of the best ways to communicate your start-up’s mission and vision. Deliver it well and you’ll earn a reputation as “one to watch”. Nail it, and your chances of success will increase exponentially. Using the “Power of Three” will help you to do just that.
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The days of a “job for life” are long gone. Millennials are starting their careers in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, but they are also equipped with the skills and attitude to react quickly to changes and spot new opportunities.

The trend of young people changing jobs more frequently is one perhaps one result of a growing desire by young people to take control of their own destiny and pursue their passions, after being inspired by other young people they see doing the same online.

Just having one single “job” in the traditional sense may no longer be satisfying enough for the new generation. They increasingly want to feel passionate, engaged and motivated by their work.

Consequently, there are now thousands of young people who transfer skills between a day job (that pays the bills) and their own personal business and creative projects. Continue…

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You may have heard the expression: ‘Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is reality’. If ever there was a philosophy which I passionately believe in, it is this.

However, there are three important financial measures, which we need to unpack in this expression. Let’s look at each of them in turn; Continue…

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Business is a complicated old game sometimes. Just when you think you’ve got your head round one thing, you realise there’s another rule you didn’t know about!

Here’s a good example. Did you know it’s possible to get your business into serious financial trouble by selling too much?
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Having set up my company, I won a handful of decent clients and achieved an annual turnover of £500,000. Initially this felt good, but 2-3 years later it no longer did.

As many small businesses can find, it seemed like I was up against a glass ceiling and could not break through. I had problems finding quality staff and just like many entrepreneurs oscillated between feast and famine – masses of work for several months and then a gap with very little.

However, my situation changed when I began to understand the workings of the ego and how I was effectively blocking my own progress.

I learned several techniques for dealing with this and managed to implement them to positive effect. As a result high quality staff started to appear and we achieved year on year growth of +40%. The following is my own definition of the ego, and how to stop it from holding you, and your business, back.

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Financial reports are standardised measures of a business’ financial health. They are a necessity for publicly traded companies, but this does not mean that they are only useful for large organisations.

Each of the various types of financial reports in this article takes a different view of the business. These reports can seem intimidating at first, but you don’t need to be an accountant to understand them. With a little knowledge you’ll find new ways to look at and analyse your business.

To help you get a fresh insight into your business, I’m going to show you what the purpose of each financial report is, and the kind of information it can reveal about your business. Continue…

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Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, of course, but many of the most innovative entrepreneurs are creative contrarians. They are outsiders, gainsaying the doubters that say it cannot be done. In fact, many entrepreneurs are introverts, which can be a major barrier when it comes to that vital part of the entrepreneurial process: pitching.

Entrepreneurs are suddenly asking to be judged by their doubters, which is certain to raise their defences. Yet, painful as it is, the only way to make their creativity profitable is to present their work to those that hold the keys to their future.

Luckily, there are plenty of books, advice and personal experience that can guide us through this important process, which are distilled here into 10 key pitching principles; Continue…

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These 7 Guiding Principles to business growth have been developed through my 20 years of experience in working with thousands of organisations. Their purpose is to stimulate your thinking about the critical challenges and opportunities in growing your business and how you can avoid some of the errors that might otherwise stifle your growth potential or, worse, derail your ambitions.

As you read through these Seven Guiding Principles, score the current performance of your business against each on a scale of 1–10. How does your business shape up? Continue…

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guide to content marketing

When you are looking for ways to promote your new start-up or small business you will, without doubt, soon hear the words, “content marketing”.

There’s a lot of buzz about content marketing at the moment, but what does it actually mean and how can small business owners use content to help grow their business?

This guide answers those questions, and also offers useful, practical advice for businesses that are interested in developing a content marketing strategy of their own. Continue…

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In 2016, the EU passed legislation governing the standards by which companies collect and secure personal data (so-called ‘controllers’ and ‘processors’).

The aim of this legislation was to encourage companies across the European Union to think seriously about data protection. In practice, the new General Data Protection Regulation lays down some fairly stringent requirements for both large and small businesses as regards data protection.

Although the UK subsequently voted to leave the EU, the UK government has since confirmed that it will abide by the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is due to come into effect from 25 May 2018. To help UK businesses understand how they could be affected by the new laws, here’s a guide to the GDPR legislation. Continue…

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With age comes wisdom, but all too often in the business world, hubris can come along for the ride too.

After finessing business decision making for decades, executives naturally begin to conclude that their specialised knowledge, expertise and business skills mean that they always know the best way to solve a client problem, to win a major account, or to drive a workplace innovation.

After all their past successes confirm this. Subconsciously survivorship and confirmation biases are at work; good decisions are reinforced, and poor ones are forgotten – which distorts their real importance.

So, can these experienced executives learn something from Millennials? Absolutely! Continue…

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Just a week after the 2017 Spring Budget when Chancellor, Philip Hammond announced an increase in Class 4 National Insurance Contributions for the UK’s self employed workers, he has decided that the proposed tax increase isn’t a good idea after all!

Responding to wide criticism from Tory MPs and the perceived attack on millions of self employed workers, including the ‘white van man’, Hammond has written to MPs informing them of his decision to reverse the proposed NI hike.

His letter reads; Continue…

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For most employers, setting in place rules and responsibilities for employees during their time with the company is their most important consideration. This can be achieved through having effective contracts of employment, alongside employee handbooks.

Employers should, however, be putting thought in to what happens once employment ends to ensure that they are protecting their business interests. After the employee has resigned, or been dismissed, they are no longer bound by their contractual terms.

Restrictive covenants are an effective tool for restricting damaging activity by the ex-employee but employers need to carefully construct these covenants to ensure they are enforceable. Continue…

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Over 600,000 business were started in the UK in 2016, and that number is expected to be exceeded in 2017.

There are many challenges for every one of these business start-ups, but some new businesses make it harder for themselves by making basic mistakes with their telecoms.
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Due diligence – A Jargon free guide on what it is, and how to do it properly

March 13, 2017

Due diligence is a term bandied around quite a lot. However, not many people understand what it means or how it’s can be used to help. If you ever consider buying or selling a business, or investing in a business, then you’ll need to know precisely what due diligence means, what the process involves and […]

“Can you do it cheaper?” – Giving great answers to tough questions about your prices

March 10, 2017

“Will you give us a discount on that figure?” “Can you match the lower price I can get down the street?” “Can’t you do it cheaper?” These are the kind of questions people running start-ups and small businesses get asked an awful lot. But what are the best answers to give? Here, we look at […]

21 Costly VAT Mistakes businesses make on their VAT Returns

March 9, 2017

Is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit or a cake? Now if you think this is some playground joke, think again. This is a real question that judges were asked to consider in a landmark VAT case. The fact it took a court case to work out the answer to this question gives you an insight […]

Small business owners hit by tax increases in Budget 2017

March 8, 2017

Millions of small business owners will see the amount of tax they pay go up following the Spring 2017 Budget. Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his Budget speech, plans to increase the taxes paid by the self-employed and limited company directors.

7 Steps to starting your business on firm financial foundations

March 7, 2017

When you are starting out in business, you need to quickly grasp that the three key factors that determine a company’s financial success, or failure, are: Sales Control of costs Cash management Two out of three simply won’t work – you need to have complete control over these three crucial aspects, otherwise your chances of […]

How to be a leader rather than a manager

March 6, 2017

The transition from being a manager to becoming business leader, is one that many new business owners will need to make. Often, the success or failure of your business depends on how well and how quickly you can adapt to this fundamental role change. Never more so than in times of challenge, are leadership skills […]

Achieving sustainability in business – managing the complexity of profit, planet and people

March 3, 2017

Business sustainability is a great opportunity for start-ups and small businesses to focus on. Not only is it a way to create long-term, sustainable success, but it’s also a way to attract employees (younger generations expressly value sustainability), investors and business partners. Let’s briefly look at what business sustainability is and then get into some […]

Why “Artificial Intelligence first” is replacing the “mobile first” approach in 2017

March 2, 2017

You don’t have to think back very far to remember the time when disruptive start-ups and forward thinking businesses were championing a “digital first” strategy. Digital technology had been adopted by mainstream consumers and companies that failed to recognise it were being left behind. More recently, that slogan has been replaced for many businesses by […]

Can dual sim phones solve a common problem for small business owners?

February 28, 2017

As the name suggests, a dual sim phone allows you to have two sims in a single phone. There are a variety of reasons why people may want access to two different phone numbers on a single device. A dual sim phone could be of particular use to self employed people, freelancers and business owners […]

How to create a gold medal winning business culture

February 27, 2017

For many business owners and entrepreneurs, it can be hard to motivate your employees and encourage them to perform to optimal levels, especially when resources are limited. Olympics athletes not only have to train extremely hard but are also faced with huge financial burdens and limited resources and often rely on sponsorship to maintain a […]

How start-ups can get the most from digital marketing

February 24, 2017

Starting your own business means you suddenly become the owner of several hats – one for selling, one for bookkeeping, one for planning, one for looking after customers and one for marketing to name but a few. The marketing element of a start-up is one of the most complex, especially given the changing ways small […]

Why trust-based selling will accelerate your business growth

February 23, 2017
Thumbnail image for Why trust-based selling will accelerate your business growth

We live in incredible times of change; there’s no disputing that. Old business models are dying out, new business models and disrupting technologies are being born every day that are turning industries on their head. At the same time, trust is at its lowest level ever. We no longer trust politicians, we no longer trust […]

A step by step guide to auto enrolment for small employers staging in 2017

February 21, 2017

The roll-out of auto enrolment is well into its fifth year. Having started with the largest organisations back in October 2012, it’s now the turn of small and micro sized employers. If you’re one of these, you’re in good company. During 2017, hundreds of thousands of organisations just like yours will need to get to […]

The 10 Steps you need to take to turn around a struggling business

February 20, 2017

Most companies will face some kind of cash flow problem at some point. Temporary cash flow problems or financial squeezes usually arise out of matters that are outside of the immediate control of the directors, but when problems like this happen it’s vital you take the right steps and move quickly to ensure the issue […]

How to minimise non-billable time

February 17, 2017

“Time is money” isn’t just an adage when running a small business, it’s a way of life. When your business model is to sell your time and expertise, it’s important to monetise every moment of every working day. There are plenty of hacks to help freelancers and contractors get more and more efficient with reducing […]

The secrets of getting a business bank loan

February 16, 2017

Borrowing money from a bank to finance your business is a lot harder than getting a loan to buy a new car or to improve your home. Banks have a number of tough rules that you need to know before you approach them for a business loan, and these rules have become even more stringent […]