How to set up and run a small business

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Although it does not necessarily herald the end of a small business, decline into insolvency can bring significant changes in company structure, operations and management style.

It’s worth checking your company for characteristic signs that, if spotted and acted upon early enough, could help you to steer the business away from danger.

Here are 8 early warning signs that indicate your small business could be heading for financial trouble, and the actions you can take to overcome them. Continue…

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If you need more finance to grow your business, there are a number of options which you might wish to consider. You could turn to your own personal savings, ask family members for help, get a bank loan, issue shares, or speak to some business angels or venture capitalists.

Or you could consider peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.

P2P lending is fast becoming the norm for businesses needing finance to get an idea off the ground or raise the capital necessary to expand and take projects to the next level.

But whilst it’s become a more common financial avenue for SMEs to pursue, it’s still not as well-known as it could be. According to a 2014 Nesta Report, only 44% of UK small businesses have heard of P2P lending.

So what exactly is peer-to-peer lending and how can small and growing businesses use it to finance growth?
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SEO has become an integral part of online marketing. If you want your business to be seen online, the general consensus is that SEO is absolutely essential.

Committing to a high quality SEO campaign can take up a lot of time and make demands on a startup’s budget that not everyone can meet. But seeking cheaper alternatives could mean you soon find yourself facing a Google penalty (the worst of which is your website being complete removed from their index), which can put your entire online presence in jeopardy.

The good news is that SEO need not always be a lengthy commitment and if you have some in-house capacity, it is possible to take on a large portion of the work yourself.

This in-depth guide explains what you can expect from a SEO campaign, and will help you determine if you can do some of the work yourself or whether you’ll be better off outsourcing everything from the start. Continue…

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As with owning a car, you are legally required to take out certain insurances when running a business. If you don’t you can be fined heavily and could put your entire operation at risk.

It’s also sensible to have some of the many optional business insurance policies available to cushion you from nasty shocks.

With dozens of different types of insurance cover available for businesses, here’s ByteStart’s review of the main insurances that businesses ‘must have’, some insurance cover you ‘should have’, and several ‘could have’ policies. Continue…

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According to research, around 7% of working age adults in the UK expect to start a business in the next three years.

Many of these aspiring new business owners will be envisaging a multi-million pound business, or even a multi-billion pound business. But, statistically, only 4% of business owners ever reach the £1million turnover mark.

So, what’s holding back more than 2.5 million UK businesses from breaking that £1million barrier?
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If you’ve just started your own business, you might be making the mistake of overestimating the scope of publicity you wish to achieve.

Chances are, if you haven’t got a unique business idea that’s going to revolutionise the world, then you’re probably wasting valuable time dealing with national media outlets, especially when you can reap the rewards and credibility of local media instead.

Although it might seem like you are downplaying opportunities when targeting your local area, what needs to be remembered is you are only competing for coverage with other local businesses which ultimately presents a far greater chance of your story succeeding.
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Taking on your first employee should be an exciting time. It means your business idea is working and you need help to expand. But while employees will help your business grow, they will also bring new stresses you may not have encountered before.

When you are employing new staff, there are all sorts of costs that you must take into account. Plus the way your business runs with just you and any business partner, may not continue to be appropriate when employees are on board.

This guide will help you identify the true costs of an employee, and build a plan to manage the impact on your business. Continue…

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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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Looking for an investor to help fund your business? You’d better make sure they’re an angel, not a dragon!

Most businesses require outside investment at some point in their development. Whether you are a new business needing a cash injection to get started, or an established company looking to launch a new product or move into new markets, attracting investment will be essential to your venture’s success.
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If you are thinking of starting out as a freelancer or a contractor, you will very quickly need to get a basic understanding of the IR35 rules.

The tax avoidance debate in the UK often focuses on the misdeeds of certain wealthy individuals and large multinational companies. But away from the national press there is another tax avoidance battle going on between HMRC and the UK’s freelancers and contractors.

The crux of the argument is a piece of legislation called IR35. IR35 protects hundreds of millions in tax revenue, HMRC claims. However, the UK’s freelancing and contracting population contends that IR35 is a millstone around their necks, and which puts disproportionately high compliance costs on one-person businesses.

So what are the IR35 rules that you need to know about if you are new to contracting?
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2014 was a huge year for privacy and security on the Internet.

There were several high profile security issues which were serious enough to make the leap from technical news sites to the mainstream press, and ongoing revelations about how easily everyone’s connections can be spied on have made the major players in the web industry take action.

If you have an e-commerce website, given all the coverage around SSL and website security, now is a good time to check the security of your site, or to consider getting a site certificate if you don’t already have one. This guide explains all.
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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 area of tax for small businesses is not straightforward, in fact it can be a real minefield for the unwary. However if you take a little time, and work with your accountant, it’s usually possible to find ways to save some tax.

To help you think about ways you and your business could pay less tax, here are 10 tax-saving tips. They are designed to make you stop and think. Are you doing everything you can do to save tax? Is your advisor helping you to do so?
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ByteStart has teamed up with Crunch Accounting to bring you a very special offer.
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As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard of the phrase “Intellectual Property”, or IP as it’s commonly referred to. But studies show that despite knowing what Intellectual Property is, many small businesses assume that protecting their Intellectual Property is only something that larger, well-known businesses need to worry about.

The fact is that IP protection is something that many start-ups and small businesses can benefit from considering early on, because without the right protection businesses could lose some of their most valuable assets.

To help you get to grips with the subject, this guide looks at some of the key intellectual property rights small business owners need to know about.
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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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If you are in business, or are starting up a new venture, and are providing any type of professional service to clients, you will need to look at taking out Professional Indemnity Insurance cover.

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.

It can also cover, dishonesty, loss or damage to the customer’s data, defamation, and any alleged breaches of your client’s intellectual property.

Whether you are starting out in business, freelancing for the first time, or simply wondering if you should take out a professional indemnity insurance policy, this guide covers everything a business owner needs to know. It explains how this type of insurance works, whether it’s relevant to you and gives you tips on how to choose the right type of policy for your business.
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When you buy certain new equipment, invest in buildings or research and development, you can deduct a proportion of the cost from your taxable profits and reduce your business tax bill, through Capital Allowances.

Capital Allowances take the place of commercial depreciation, which is not allowed for tax. Using them effectively can be a huge boost to your business, especially if you need to invest to fund growth.

Here’s a look at the main elements of the various capital allowances schemes and how your business can qualify to take advantage of them. Continue…

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Running your own business sometimes seems to be a series of successes followed by setbacks.

You win a big client, then lose an existing client. You hire the perfect employee and their current employer offers them more money to stay. You make a nice fat profit, and the taxman comes along and takes 20 per cent of it! Talk about three steps forward, two steps back.
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Automatic enrolment is looming large on the horizon for hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the UK.

With many small firms unfamiliar with company pensions, tackling auto enrolment (AE) can feel daunting, so this guide has been designed to help small business owners get to grips with the subject.

It outlines they key issues for small businesses, including what auto enrolment is, what’s happening, the implications for you and your employees and the steps you need to take to ensure you comply with the new rules.
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How One-to-One marketing can help start-ups to promote, pitch and sell more effectively

March 4, 2015

As a start-up, you often don’t know the best ways to market your new business, or what works and what doesn’t. The good news is; whether you’re selling to a market of ten or ten million, one of the most effective ways to learn how to improve your marketing is to talk with a single […]

Last chance for budding entrepreneurs to grab one of 35 places on 12-mth NEF Enterprise Programme

March 2, 2015

Are you a young entrepreneur, or do you think you have the potential to run a growing business? If so, the New Entrepreneurs Foundation’s (NEF) annual Enterprise Programme could be the stepping stone you need, to turn your dreams into reality. The 12-month programme, which starts in September, is the only one of its kind […]

10 late payment excuses used by customers – and how to deal with them

February 27, 2015

With late payment problems a constant burden for small business owners, we look at the most common delaying tactics used by customers, and how you can overcome these late payment excuses.

How switching from spreadsheets to cloud accounting can help small business owners

February 25, 2015

A staple of business life for decades, the spreadsheet was adopted on a mass scale in the late 1980s and 90s alongside desktop computers. The fact that it is still used today is testament to the fact that it really was one of the killer apps of its time. Increasingly, however, in the age of […]

How to develop a strong USP and how to use it to attract more, high-value customers

February 23, 2015

Take a close look at any business that has been thriving over the last few years, and there’s a very strong chance you’ll see it has a clear USP, or Unique Selling Point. It’s something you need to develop as you start your own business. A USP is much more than just a way of […]

A Survival guide to mobile commerce

February 19, 2015

The term mobile commerce is another digital marketing phrase which often gets thrown around. For many small businesses, it can certainly be difficult to understand the technologies and the benefits which m-commerce can bring to your company. In this guide, we look at the basics of going mobile, how it can be profitable for your […]

Taking on an employee for the first time – 4 things you must get right

February 17, 2015

If you are taking on a new employee, you need to be aware of a whole range of issues. With staff come a range of responsibilities that you, as an employer, are required to fulfil. Taking on the first employee in your small business is something you should take real care doing. What many employers […]

Why every business needs to give its staff autonomy

February 12, 2015

Giving your customer a great experience is not just about customer service. It goes far deeper than that. It’s also essential if you want to increase your sales and make your marketing budget go further. The reason people don’t want to do business with organisations that aren’t customer focused is because it’s so difficult to […]

A Guide to mindfulness in the workplace – how it can help staff wellbeing and productivity

February 11, 2015

When it comes to the subject of employee wellbeing, it is very easy for employers to push it to the bottom of the agenda, or shrug it off as a waste of valuable time. But with many firms now taking staff wellbeing seriously, and beginning to recognise the benefits of a focus on ‘mindfulness’, this […]

Travel and accommodation expenses for the self-employed

February 10, 2015

Are you a self-employed individual? Do you have to travel on business, and does that travel ever entail an overnight stay away from your home? Do you know exactly which of the travel and accommodation expenses you can legitimately claim back? If you get it wrong, you could pay too much tax, or worse still […]