How to set up and run a small business

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employing staff from outside UKIn all businesses, the focus is on employing the right person for the role.

When the person you intend to hire is not a UK citizen, you need to be aware of the legal requirements to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

If you get things wrong you could be fined £20,000 for every worker you’ve wrongly employed. Some cases could even result in an unlimited fine and a 2 year prison sentence.

With such a lot at stake, we asked HR expert, Peter Done of Peninsula Business Services, to explain what employers’ need to know about taking on people from outside the UK. Continue…

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second business broadband lineRedundancy is a word many businesses would prefer to avoid, except for those businesses where redundancy means the inclusion of components to safeguard against the failure of vital equipment/services.

For example, radio stations build in redundancy at every level of their business that involves broadcasting their content: back-up microphones in studios; back-up studios; back-up transmission links; back-up power. Having these back-ups in place ensures the station can stay on air when some technology fails.

If your business relies on access to the internet, Nolan Braterman of Frontier Voice and Data argues that you should have a redundancy plan, to ensure your business doesn’t suffer when there is a broadband outage.

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questions to ask yourself before starting own businessThe inspiration to start a business can come anywhere at any time: in the pub, in the shower, in the supermarket, walking the dog.

How many times has someone you know announced they’ve had a great business idea? And how many of those eureka moments ended up getting no further than a few notes on a napkin?

Why was this? Too much hard work involved? Concerns over starting a business being too risky? Worries about it needing too much commitment?

But those aren’t barriers to every business idea taking off; some ideas do make it from conceptualisation to conclusion. The difference? Dedication and passion. And perhaps necessity. Continue…

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Tips to choosing the best telephone package for your businessAs a start-up business you have a lot to think about but not a lot of time. Although a phone line and broadband connection are essential, you may feel that ‘all the providers are basically the same’ – so are tempted to just go with the telecoms provider that’s the easiest or the cheapest.

If this is your thinking – you are not alone.

Unfortunately, however, there are many costly traps for the unwary. It’s therefore worth spending a little time considering which telecoms package is right for you and your business – now and throughout the duration of the contract. Continue…

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long term business planningLong term planning is an oft-ignored aspect of running a business. Why is it so ignored? Because people think…

  1. It’s not useful.
  2. It’s not possible.

In this article, I’m going to explain why long term planning is both useful and possible, and also provide some practical advice about how far ahead you can look when devising your long term plan. Continue…

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designing and developing website for new businessHaving an online presence is crucial for any modern business so that potential customers are able to find you online. However, many small businesses are missing out on the opportunities that being online bring.

So if you’re yet launch your business online, or are thinking of starting a new business and want to make the best of your website, here are a few handy tips and tricks from Li-at Karpel Gurwicz of Wix, to help you do it successfully: Continue…

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tips on DBS checking staffWhether you are a small or large business owner, it’s likely you will welcome any method that cuts down the level of effort and time needed to successfully perform a given activity.

Employee recruitment and security checks can be time-consuming and laborious, so it’s helpful to know whether there are quicker routes that will benefit you and your business.

The Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS, gives organisations the opportunity to identify who might, or might not, be a suitable employee, so many businesses now run a DBS check as a matter of course when recruiting staff.

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Making memorable communication with storiesFrom primitive cave-paintings, etched long before words were first recorded, to modern-day classics such as Harry Potter, the power of stories has been used to move people.

Stories we heard as a child – whether it is Aesop’s Fable of the Hare and the Tortoise, or fairy tales such as Cinderella – can create created ever-lasting memories, so the power of a good story should not be under-estimated.

And when it comes to business, there are lots of ways we can use stories to really get our message across. Whether it’s to our colleagues in a team meeting, an audience at a speech, prospective customers at a trade show, or potential investors at a pitch, you can use the skills of a great story-teller to win people over.

But how exactly can we do this? We asked Christopher Hirsch of Toastmasters International, to tell us his story. Continue…

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Developing an onboarding or inductoio process for new employeesOnce the recruitment process has completed with your chosen candidate accepting your job offer and agreeing their starting date, this should not signal the end of your plans for the new recruit.

To give the new employee the best opportunity to flourish you should set up an induction process.

But what is an induction, or onboarding, process, and what should you do to help your new staff members settle in quickly? We asked Peter Done, Managing Director of employment specialists, Peninsula Business Services to explain. Continue…

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ow to attract investors to back your tech businessVenture capital money going into technology companies in the UK is at an all-time high. A year post-Brexit referendum, British tech firms attracted £2.4bn in funding.

To date this year, UK fintech companies alone have seen £825m of VC investment.

So, what do investors look for in tech start-ups and how do you get a slice of this funding for your technology venture? Continue…

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Offsite and onsite SEO tips for small business websiteFor startups and small businesses, getting down to the nitty gritty of SEO can be incredibly daunting; there are over 200 signals that Google looks for when ranking your website, and few small business owners will even have ever heard the term ‘offsite SEO’ before.

With attracting customers to your website becoming an ever-more crucial task for small businesses, we asked Magnus Linklater, MD of content and SEO agency, Bespoke Digital to outline what you need to know about onsite and offsite SEO. Continue…

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Getting finance for your business is no longer just a case of approaching your high street bank manager and asking for a loan.

The market is now much more varied, and boasts a huge range of products which have been tailored for more specific purposes. This means that depending on your requirements, it’s easier than ever to find funding that fits your business – if you know where to look.

Asset finance is one such funding solution, but what exactly is asset finance and is it a good option for your business? Continue…

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business leadership tips

So you’ve decided to take the leap and start your own business. Does this mean that all the leadership stuff you learned about on your mini-MBA gets tossed out the window?

Ah, the joys of throwing away the corporate policies manual, the bliss of not worrying about reporting lines and organizational structures.

Well, yes and no. Leadership structures are there for a reason. They might look like it, but they’re not just there to keep people in jobs. Continue…

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gold mine or moon shotWe are living in an exciting time… a time where technological changes are booming.

Digitalization, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, 3D printing and the Internet of Things are just a few examples of these amazing technologies that are opening up a world of completely new opportunities.

However, in order to turn the technological possibilities into economic success, you need to identify the emerging market opportunities, and to carefully evaluate their future value, to make sure you are betting on a winning option.

So how do you evaluate whether your big business idea could be a gold mine, or a waste of time?

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How to get funding for your startup businessEverybody understands that starting up a business from scratch is not a simple process or an easy challenge to take on.

Regardless of how lofty your ambitions are or whether you’re aiming to establish yourself as a sole trader or as a the boss of a burgeoning new enterprise, finding access to initial and early-stage sources of finance is a vitally important step along the way towards sustainability and success.

Here’s a look at some of the most commonplace and most viable routes to finance currently available to startup businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them.

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Customer Loyalty Service

In marketing, there a million ways to reach your customers. You can go big with a billboard, or far with a Facebook post, targeting potential customers city-wide, nationwide and globally.

The internet has allowed us more reach than ever before, and while powerful, this means that we can easily lose the humanity of our marketing.

When it comes to retaining your customers, this humanity is crucial. Will your customers still be with you once serious product competition appears on the horizon, ready to snap up your valued buyers with slashed prices and easier delivery means?

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avoiding mental health problems in business

According to Unum UK’s “Mental health as a workplace asset” report in partnership with The Mental Health Foundation and Oxford Economics, 15 percent of UK employees – 4.9 million people – are affected by common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Such issues are fast becoming a top priority for businesses both large and small, especially as it’s clear mental health challenges have no boundaries when it comes to the world of work. Continue…

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helping staff with mental health issuesEach year around ten million adults in the UK will experience mental ill health, meaning one in four of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lifetime.

Over the past decade, mental health awareness has accelerated, and more and more employers now understand that mental health is not only a serious issue for society but for businesses too.

With ‘mental health in the workplace’ as the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, we asked Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, to share her advice on how to look out for, and respond to, signs of mental ill health in your employees. Continue…

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what to include in your business planEvery start-up company needs a good business plan and an effective business strategy.

They’re distinct but equally necessary and you shouldn’t confuse one with the other.

You can’t expect to get past first base without a plan. A clear, well-written explanation of what you intend to sell and when you intend to sell it, is the document you will take to your bank manager if you want to get a business loan and to investors if you’re seeking financial backing.

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Artificial Intelliegence and human touch in customer contact

Customer service is accelerating towards ever greater automation. In some sectors we’re already seeing chatbots and virtual assistants transforming the customer experience.

But at what point do the cost efficiencies that technology provide become less compelling, and can the human touch ever be fully replicated or replaced?

We asked Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing at outsourced customer contact specialist, Echo Managed Services, to assess the changing consumer communication landscape and to explain how businesses can incorporate new solutions alongside traditional methods of customer contact. Continue…

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Small Business and AI: Now, Next and Future

October 4, 2017

The kind of technological disruptions we are seeing raise questions for businesses of all sizes. What will work be like in the future? How will organisations adapt? How will they navigate their way to the ‘next horizon’? How small businesses, in particular, respond to the challenges and exploit the benefits of smart technologies such as […]

Short term planning – how to balance your time and detail when planning

October 2, 2017

In a previous article, I described the differences between short term and long term planning. A challenge to both types of planning is how much detail to go into. I’ve seen accountants trying to create perfect 30 year financial models based on the level of detail they use for tracking the day to day running […]

‘The ideal leader’ – Is there such a thing? What are the qualities of great leaders?

September 29, 2017

Some people say that the ‘ideal leader’ is a myth. They argue that there are leaders that suit some situations but not others. The notion of ‘good’ leadership is always relative to the need. There is no single ideal leader. Yet there is a common theme to good leadership: access to a particular set of […]

Tax rates, thresholds & allowances for small business owners 2016/2017

September 26, 2017

To clarify the various tax rates, thresholds and allowances that self employed workers, business owners and company directors need to be aware of for tax calculations, here is ByteStart’s summary of the main tax rates, tax bands, and tax allowances for the tax year from 6 April 2016 to 5 April 2017. These are the […]

Using Research & Development tax relief to reduce your corporation tax bill

September 22, 2017

Cash flow is arguably one of the most important parts of managing your small business. So any tax incentives, or potential tax relief opportunities which are available should always be grabbed with both hands. But then, you often hear stories about how great these incentives and reliefs are, only to find that there are lots […]

7 Tips to help you find the perfect office and create a great new workspace

September 21, 2017

In recent years, co-working space or a small office in a serviced office environment has been where many young businesses establish themselves. But for those who are outgrowing space with new staff and new capital, it may be time to look towards a permanent office address. So where do you start? What do you look […]

How to get rid of your Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

September 19, 2017

The digital age is showing no signs of slowing down and there is now a greater range and scope of technology on the market than ever before. As the demand for and the production of the latest technology increases, so does the need for efficient and eco-friendly disposal methods of old electronic equipment. This is […]

How to create your own support team and increase your startup’s chance of success

September 18, 2017

Starting up and growing your own business can be extremely exciting and exhilarating, but it can also at times be quite lonely and overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have a business partner to share the experience with. When you are sitting alone at your desk it can be hard to know where to turn for […]

Making a contractual job offer to a new employee

September 14, 2017

Following a successful recruitment and selection process, employers will be able to identify which candidates they wish to employ. Making a job offer to the successful candidate appears to be a straightforward area of law, however, there are several factors that employers should consider to put themselves on the best path.

A small business guide to Fee for Intervention (FFI)

September 13, 2017

Whatever industry you’re in, Health & Safety is a critical part of running a business. And with substantial fines if you get it wrong, it’s not something to be taken lightly. In 2015/16 alone, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and – in Scotland – the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) prosecuted 696 […]

How to make your small business a big hit online – A Digital Marketing guide for small business owners

September 12, 2017

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 […]

How to choose the right till system for your business

September 11, 2017

Point of sales systems have been around for hundreds of years, and for most of that time they were not much more than a cash drawer and calculator. That was until now – huge leaps in technology have taken the humble till a long way forward in the last few years. Today, point of sale […]

A guide to Personal Liability Notices (PLNs) for company directors

September 8, 2017

Personal Liability Notices or PLNs first came into effect in April 2009. Originally, PLNs were predominantly used by HMRC to tackle “phoenixism”, where the assets and the operations of an insolvent business that has run up significant tax debts are transferred to a new company operated by the same management team that has a history […]

What can you learn from Industry Awards?

September 7, 2017

No matter what industry you’re in, there are organisations that recognise and reward those that excel above the competition. When you’re concentrating on finding your feet as a business, you may think that awards should be put on the back-burner. However, you can learn a lot by paying attention to industry awards.

The real business case for inclusion

September 6, 2017

As a small business owner, you may think ‘inclusion’ is an issue for big corporates, with large HR departments. This misperception assumes that inclusion is a cost, when in fact, done properly, inclusion is one of the best free resources available to smaller businesses. Here’s how being an inclusive business can help you succeed and […]