How to set up and run a small business

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If Alexander Armstrong gave 100 business owners 100 seconds to name words describing the kind of boss they are, the chances are, “cruel” would be a pointless answer.

But some of the 100 would be wrong. Why? Because many well-intentioned business owners continue to employ some members of staff who, because of their results and/or attitude, quite simply shouldn’t be there.

Here, HR expert and author of Fire Well, Sue Ingram, explains to ByteStart how a small business owner should deal with problem staff and how letting an employee go, can be the most considerate action an employer can take;



Dealing with late payment can be tricky for small and medium sized businesses. Handle it wrong and a customer could be lost, ignore the issue and it can stifle business growth, have a huge impact on cash flow and even cause a company to go bust.

Staggering figures published in a government paper in May, revealed that small businesses spend around 130 hours a year chasing late payments, equating to an average cost of £1,500 per business.

The problem is endemic with two thirds of SMEs suffering according to research by the IOD, but follow this 12-Step plan and you’ll be able to minimise the damage late payment causes.



Being a business owner, and your own boss, is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life, but it can come with some drawbacks such as long hours, stress and a poor work/life balance.

If you’re running your own business and want to stay on top of your game for the long-term, you need to look at the way you integrate work into your life. If you work too hard, you can run yourself into the ground and actually end up damaging the business, you so desperately want to succeed.

So here are 9 thing you can do to help strike the right work/life balance while running your own business; Continue…


Business growth can be characterised in several ways – sales, profit, employees…. and looking to make the business scalable and capable of achieving sustainable profitable growth is a fully understandable objective.

However, whichever way you look at it, the underlying driver is likely to be that the founder wants to look beyond funding his or her lifestyle and start seeking value creation. Continue…


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…


With Global Entrepreneurship Week in full-swing, businesses are being urged to submit their entries for the 2016 Shell Springboard Program before the deadline for applications closes on Friday 20th, November.

The Shell Springboard Program offers funding awards of up to £150,000 to small enterprises with innovative, commercially viable business ideas that reduce carbon emissions and help in the move to a lower carbon economy.

Successful applicants will also enjoy the benefits of networking with the key players in the low-carbon sector and exciting publicity opportunities.


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.


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, we’ve asked Simon Cox of Forbes Watson Accountants to share 10 of the best ways small business owners can look to pay less tax. 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?


Although the sole trader route, which is commonly referred to as being self employed, is the most popular way of running a business in the UK, there are significant advantages of operating as a limited company.


Being able to persuade people to come around to your point of view is a very valuable skill to have, and particularly so when you are starting and running your own business.

When you’re launching a new venture you might need to convince potential investors to fund your fledgling business, persuade suppliers to give you favourable terms, encourage great people to join you and entice new clients on board. To do all of these successfully, you will need to be able to influence others and their views.

So with this ability being so crucial in helping you to grow your business, how do you get people around to your point of view?



It’s estimated that almost one in every three small businesses maintain their own website, and with that comes a whole host of potential challenges to overcome.

Alongside the usual cost of building a new website, getting the right designer and managing your hosting prices, there are other factors which many small business owners do not consider when managing or monitoring their website.

In fact, there are a number of common mistakes which SMEs often make, but which are easy enough to overcome.

Here are the seven errors we most often see with websites designed for startups and small businesses.


When we are starting up and running our own business there are extraordinary demands on our time. We need to spend time on getting our product right, finding customers, seeking finance, managing staff and dealing with the latest legislation, such as the new auto-enrolment pension laws.

With the sheer range of tasks and every day duties to tackle, we can all find that our business goals can get lost in the frenzy and the frustration of not meeting our aims can get us down.

To achieve long-term success we need stay focused on our goals. And to achieve those goals, we need to keep quite a degree of discipline to ensure that our time doesn’t get sucked away and evaporate like a puddle on a sunny day.


Employers and employees talking to each other is a good thing… right? Of course it is, but only if they’re actually listening. Key to the success of any start-up is effective communication between everybody in your team. But that means more than merely ensuring that all your staff know what’s required of them.

An employee can often feel their role is that of a worker bee, and all that’s asked of them is to get on with it. While this relationship can work to an extent, it usually results in frustrated staff because they know the business and can see how to improve aspects of their work, but there’s no outlet for them to share their unique understanding, insights and ideas.

So, if you’re starting a business, (or running an existing business), and want to harness the full talents of all your staff, you need to learn to listen actively.



If you decide to recruit your first employee for your small business, one of your legal obligations is to present all staff members with a written statement of employment particulars.


When a member of your staff takes a holiday, do you feel like you’re the one having a break? While they’re away, does your time at work feel less stressed? Do things run more smoothly? Is being at work just more enjoyable? And does the workplace in general seem lighter? Do the people around you seem more contented, even though they’re taking on the workload of their vacationing associate?


That can’t be right.

Well it’s not. And you need to do something about it. Otherwise, you’re effectively paying someone to sabotage your business. But how do you fix it? Continue…


Companies often look to improve collaboration in order to help streamline their processes and encourage strategic pace in their organisation. Collaboration is seen as an important element in helping organisations approach their customers and industry from a more judicious standpoint, rather than striving to get ahead by mere speed.

Effective collaboration is much more than just ‘working together’ – it’s a strategic choice too. But what does this mean for start-up businesses? We asked William Buist, founder of xTEN to answer some common questions business start-ups ask about collaboration; Continue…


A lot of thought goes into choosing the right company cars, or vehicles for your business. In finding the right vehicle for your needs, you need to take into account a whole host of factors, including, cost, availability, reliability, your brand image, and emissions.

In recent years electric cars have become more and more commonplace for environmentally aware drivers. Boasting zero emissions, a silent cockpit and advanced technology, they certainly possess some attractive qualities – but are they right for the day-to-day needs of you and your business?

If you’ve found yourself asking this question, these are some of the key issues for you to weigh up if you are considering buying an electric company vehicle: Continue…


If you are looking to start a new business, there is a good chance that you will need some funding to get it off the ground. Most businesses will have start-up costs, whether it’s securing premises, stock, equipment or hiring people, and they will all need paying for.

Some people might have savings, or a redundancy payment, they can use to fund their start-up, but others will need to find funds before they can launch their new business. However, as many prospective business owners find out, getting start-up finance can be difficult.

For someone who just wants to start their own business, negotiating the finance maze can be confusing and take up a lot of valuable time. So to help explain the different options, and how to increase your chances of success, we asked Carol Cheesman of Cheesman’s Accountants to answer some common questions on how to fund a new business; Continue…


UK graduates interested in freelancing or self-employment feel their university should have done more to support them, according to a new study by business insurance broker PolicyBee.

The study, which surveyed just over 1,000 recent graduates, found that 62% of graduates said freelancing or self-employment was not discussed at all by their university’s career department. Continue…


Small business owners look to technology to help them achieve their goals and grow their business. They expect it to help them speed up the way they work, make operations more efficient, reduce costs and generally enable them to do more things better. Technology should and really does help achieve these things. However, on the flipside it can also be confusing, expensive, restrictive and require ongoing maintenance.

It’s a vexing problem for the small business owner or entrepreneur. They may not be an IT expert and may not want to be. This year’s DNA of an Entrepreneur survey revealed that Britain’s entrepreneurs are planning to spend much more on innovation over the coming year but, from the constantly evolving technology smorgasbord, how do they decide what to pick and what to leave? Continue…


How to publish a book guaranteed to help build your small business

October 28, 2015

Many business owners now recognise what a powerful tool a book can be to help them build credibility for their brand and raise the profile and visibility of their business. A book gives you a terrific platform from which to share your purpose and your vision. In the main, people who have written books about […]

Sealing the deal – How to close a sale

October 27, 2015

The path from initial interest to confirmed sale hardly ever runs smoothly, especially in today’s tough marketplace. When sales targets are high and prospects are scarce, it’s essential for salespeople to hone their skills and fine tune their approach for a successful close. There are many organisational challenges facing salespeople, but most of these can […]

5 tips to help you create a great team at your start-up

October 26, 2015

It is often noted that a business is nothing without its people, but how do small business leaders create a winning team when their time and resources are often taken up with getting the business up and running? The key is to remember that a great team with an average plan will be far more […]

How peer-to-peer lending offers start-ups and small businesses a new funding option

October 24, 2015

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) […]

How businesses can encourage a healthy work/life balance and benefit from more engaged and productive employees

October 22, 2015

Working is a balancing act. Whether its deadlines or internal demands, we all have plates to spin. This is particularly so in small businesses where there are fewer resources to draw on when the pressure is on. Being busy at work is the norm for most of us, and often leads to an imbalance between […]

Team reboot: How to achieve employee engagement

October 21, 2015

One of the big problems for businesses today is that fewer than 20% of employees are fully engaged at work. This is, of course, a huge waste; for the individual, the team and the company. As a company, you pay for 100% of employees agreed work time. If your employees are not fully engaged, this […]

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

October 19, 2015

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 […]

6 ways to protect your brand and grow your business reputation in a social world

October 16, 2015

It’s fair to say that the digital landscape has given us all a platform to air every thought that warrants sharing, and also many that don’t! Unfortunately for businesses, customers will often bypass customer services and immediately go online to air their views. While channels such as Facebook allow you to brush criticism under the […]

How to motivate employees and create a loyal workforce on a budget

October 15, 2015

A recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management (iLM) suggested more than a third of UK workers (37%) were hoping to leave their current job inside 12 months, and that a quarter of people planning to change jobs were doing so because they felt underappreciated by their current employer. Other studies have shown […]

Tweets that get you followed and your business noticed – How to build a loyal following, 140 characters at a time

October 14, 2015

If you are not already an avid tweeter, Twitter is an online tool for creating short messages (tweets) that can be read by anyone who wants to receive them (followers). Sometimes your followers will forward your tweet to their followers (retweet), and so on, until your original message is being read by everyone on Twitter […]