How to set up and run a small business

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How can you be at your most efficient each day? What efficient or inefficient routines have you grown accustomed to in your everyday life?

Improving personal efficiency is not about forcing yourself into a daily regiment of torture, it is about creating awareness of what you want and discovering a few natural steps that lean more in the direction of where you want to go.
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A key skill for business owners is the ability to deliver a successful business pitch. A pitch can take many different forms, it might be pitching for contracts with possible new customers, highlighting potential opportunities to new partners, persuading talented individuals to join your team, or trying to win investment to grow your company.

With the ability to pitch being such an important tool in a business owners armoury, here are some simple steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of succeeding with your pitch and getting that handshake.
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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. From April 2014, the VAT registration threshold is £81,000 (previously it was £79,000).
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Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax on the final consumption of certain goods and services in the home market but is collected at every stage of production and distribution. Most business-related goods and services will therefore be subject to VAT.
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Chris Robson, author of Confessions of an Entrepreneur provides some helpful tips on how to survive the initial stages of starting up a new business.
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Culture is the intangible glue that binds us. It shapes attitudes and behaviours. It generates tone and identity. And, it is the lens through which we make-meaning of the world around us, and our place as an organisation within it.

Building a culture of innovation in your business brings many benefits, including helping to give you a competitive advantage and making it easier to recruit new talent. Continue…

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Following George Osborne’s delivery of the 2014 Budget, here is a summary of the main tax changes and announcements that will be of interest to those that own and run small businesses: Continue…

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Running a business means you always have plenty of problems to overcome and issues to deal with. It’s part of the fun of being in business, but when you’re busy it can be hard to be creative and to find innovative solutions.

Your brain is always coming up with solutions to problems and providing a constant stream of innovative ideas.  But if you aren’t tuned in and ready to receive them as they bubble up from the depths of your subconscious and surface in your conscious – they will quickly disappear again? If you need solutions, it is vital that you’re in the right state of mind to receive them.

When trying to be more creative, there is a technique called “dunking” you can try. It’s an approach inspired by the brilliant engineer Thomas Edison whose inventions truly changed the world.

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To create a successful business you need four things – a good plan, a good product that people actually want, good people who can make things happen and a good supply of money.

Running a business is also a way of life, which invariably takes up a lot of your time, so when you are starting a business choose something that you enjoy doing, something you have a real passion for. Continue…

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Most organisations and their leaders acknowledge that their reputation – establishing it, defending it, building it – is critical to their success in today’s always-on, connected and often very transparent world.

Reputation is really created by two things: what you say and what you do. This is heavily influenced by your approaches to brand management (what you stand for, what you promise, the products and services you provide) and talent management (the people who design, manage, and deliver the products and services you provide).
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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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One of the beautiful things about running a small business is that it’s so much easier to motivate your staff.

As the leader of a small team, you will have the opportunity to get to know exactly why each employee is working for you – and use that knowledge to press the right buttons and positively influence productivity.

Managers of large companies can’t do that, especially when their hands are tied by daft schemes “sent from head office”. You can therefore use the advantages of a well-motivated team to sharpen your business’s performance against your bigger rivals.
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Setting up a 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 the job.

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 to access the power of the ‘pilot’ factor!
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As more and more people choose to work from home, the question of how you can reclaim any home office expenses is frequently asked.

The general HMRC rule for claiming tax relief on business expenses is that you can only reclaim costs that have been ‘wholly and exclusively’ incurred in connection with your trade.
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Free publicity is a great way to spread the word about your business. If you can get your business featured regularly in the newspapers and magazines your target audience reads, it brings your business to the attention of potential customers, and at no cost.

Another advantage of being featured in articles written about your business is that editorial coverage gives you a huge amount of credibility. It’s an independent trusted person talking about your business – the total opposite of an advert, where you are delivering your message.

The good news is that getting free publicity for your small business isn’t difficult if you know what you’re doing. Continue…

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As a small business owner you may not have lots of money sloshing around. You know your staff are your most important asset, but you may not be able to afford to give them a pay rise. So how can you be an attractive company to work for, motivate and reward staff and promote loyalty without increasing your pay bill?

Believe it or not, introducing employee benefits may be the answer. There is a range of benefits which won’t be a cost to your company and will actually provide savings by reducing your tax liability. These are known as salary sacrifice schemes.
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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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Tax isn’t the most exciting part of running your own business, but it is an issue that you will have to tackle at some point.

To help you to quickly get to grips with the subject, here are some handy tax tips based on our findings of working with small businesses over the past decade, and from our own personal experience at the ByteStart team.
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Writing a business plan is an important step in the business start-up process. And, if you want to raise funding for your new business, you simply must produce an up-to-date business plan to show potential backers.

Even if you don’t place much importance on the business planning process, the simple act of writing down your thoughts can help focus your mind on aspects of the business which you may otherwise have neglected. Here are 10 business planning tips to help you produce an effective plan;
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Cash is the lifeblood of any business. And in the first few years of your start-up, the ability to get cash into your bank account faster than it goes out again will be one of the main measures of whether it is a viable business.

Every year, many small businesses fail, simply because they run out of cash. Even profitable businesses can be brought down by cash flow problems caused by slow-paying customers.
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