How to set up and run a small business

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International bodies seem to be falling over themselves to upgrade their growth forecasts for the UK. The IMF recently hiked its predictions to 2.9% this year and the OECD to 3.2%. This is all good news. But what does it mean for business owners?

An interesting phenomenon occurs as economies race out of deep recessions; there is a rush for new and innovative products as buyers and consumers seek radical new solutions. This comes at exactly the time many companies are still in ‘recession mode’; blinkered, inwardly focused and slow, so creates a great opportunity for nimble and brave businesses. Continue…

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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 owned by third parties.
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Becoming a sole trader is the simplest way to get your new business off the ground.

Once you have told HMRC of your intention to become self employed, you can start trading immediately, subject to any industry-specific licences you might need.

As a sole trader, you will have complete control over your business and finances. You can adapt quickly to any changes in your business, without having to concern yourself with a great deal of bureaucracy.
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Professional indemnity insurance is an insurance policy that will protect you from claims made by clients who are not satisfied with the work you have done for them.

If you are starting a new business, freelancing for the first time, or simply wondering whether you should take out a professional indemnity insurance policy, this concise guide will help explain how this type of insurance works and whether it’s relevant to you.
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Marketing your business should be fun and simple. Surely there can be no better way to spend a day than working on something which is going to help you achieve your objectives more quickly?

Sadly many business owners don’t see marketing that way. They see it as a necessary evil; something that “must be done” rather than something to look forward to and clear time for.

Often this is because they’re not really sure where they should be spending their time and marketing spend.

If this is you, you need a plan. And the good news is you don’t have to spend hours on it. You can put together a very good marketing plan for your business in just 60 minutes. It’s just a case of answering a few simple questions, doing a little bit of thinking, then adding the magic ingredient: Continue…

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Few people start a new business so they can do paperwork. Spending time adding up receipts or pushing invoices around a desk is nobody’s idea of fun (unless you’re starting up as a book-keeper or accountant!).

Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil and something you need to stay on top of in your new business. Being disorganised and putting off paperwork just isn’t an option.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will fine you if you’re late getting essential information to them. And the longer you leave it, the worse the problem gets. So here’s what every small business owner needs to know about book keeping.
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The Summer holidays are fast approaching and if you are an employer, you may soon be inundated with holiday forms from your workforce, as staff begin to prepare for their holidays.

Although a lot of businesses have a workforce structure that enables adequate cover during holiday season, there are some that struggle due to the lack of staff and or financial resources to provide cover, during the holidays.
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Business development is much more than just about marketing, sales, pitching, online wizardry, mailings, advertising, branding, social media strategies, glossy brochures, discount deals, promotional gimmicks or special events.

Every single thing a business does has a potential impact on how your business performs. Following these 10 business development truths, will help your business to grow and give you an edge over your competitors.
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With an estimated 2.1 million businesses based at home (a number which is growing fast), many of them operating in a family environment, more and more small business owners are torn between concentrating on a successful career and meeting the needs of a family.

Many small businesses are successfully started up from home, and there are huge advantages of doing this while you get your business off the ground.

The biggest benefit for a small business is that you do not have to fork out on the cost of premises in the early days. You also save huge amounts of time in looking for premises. Another advantage is that you can create more time to work on your business because your commute will be taking a few steps from the kitchen!

But the downsides are huge too. Continue…

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There’s no doubt that entrepreneurs need spark, grit, creativity and a huge amount of drive and commitment. However, adversity can be a helpful companion to an entrepreneur: it may be the catalyst for that light-bulb moment or it may create resilience. Continue…

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How do you define leadership? There are thousands of books, resources, classes and experts, together forming what might be described as a leadership industry. So it’s not surprising that leadership definitions abound.

Most definitions of leadership are likely to combine a number of words or ideas, such as: vision; belief; action; motivation; inspiration; intuition; or charisma. But how many would use the words legacy or loyalty?

Thinking about leadership in these terms implies an upside-down interpretation of what it means to lead.
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Small businesses, and the individuals who run them, are subject to a wide array of taxes – from Corporation Tax to National Insurance. Here is an overview of the main taxes you will encounter as a small business owner, together with links to our more in-depth guides.
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Invoice finance and factoring are two terms you may have heard thrown around in relation to business finances – but what exactly are they?

Well, they’re not quite a loan, but they are a source of funding – and they’re secured against your outstanding, unpaid client invoices, so you might prefer to think of them as a kind of secured loan.

At their most basic, both methods allow you to unlock the value of your unpaid invoices, closing the gap between the invoice date and the due date – for a fee, of course! Continue…

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There are a few certainties in life; death, taxes and skills shortages. However you’ll notice that some companies suffer more than others when it comes to hiring and keeping great employees.

So, how can you be one of the smug employers that attracts and retains great people when everyone else is struggling? And how can you keep the down costs of recruiting staff?
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If you can develop a better understanding of the selling process, you’re more likely to make those all-important sales. And by knowing more about the seven specific steps you need to take before you can close the deal, your sales efforts will be more richly rewarded.

Here’s what you need to know about the seven steps of the sale;
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The Brompton Bicycle is a great example of how a simple idea can be transformed into a global business. Today, the company behind the bike is a well-known British business success story, but it wasn’t always the case.

Back in the 1970s, having looked at the folding bike designs already on the market, Brompton founder Andrew Ritchie, decided he could do something better.
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With the plethora of tax rates, thresholds and allowances changing every year, here is ByteStart’s summary of the main tax rates, tax bands, and allowances for the 2014/2015 tax year. We focus on the figures that are of relevance to business owners.
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Hundreds of thousands of new businesses are formed each year. Some will be a great success, but the vast majority will no longer exist in five years time.

So if you are thinking of starting a business, what can you do to increase your chances of success? Continue…

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Most small business owners have an opinion on networking. For every person who enjoys and values it – you’ll find another who visibly shudders at the mere mention of the word.

But why does networking seem to polarise small business owners? Is it a massive untapped opportunity, or is it an uncomfortable evening in the company of strangers and cocktail sausages?
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HMRC have provided a range of special schemes that apply to smaller businesses. They are designed to reduce administration, but also (in some cases) to assist cash flow.
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