How to set up and run a small business

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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.

So to get you started on the right path, here are 10 business planning tips to help you produce an effective plan; Continue…

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If you need to submit a Self-Assessment Tax Return (SATR) it’s imperative you get it in on time and free of any mistakes.

There are penalties for not submitting your tax return on time and you may have to pay a fine if HMRC deem you have not taken enough care in completing it.

With regard to the deadlines, paper tax returns need to be filed with HMRC by 31 October and tax returns submitted online by 31 January. So, if you complete your tax return online, you get a few extra months.

This article explains how to get started with your tax return, and how to avoid common mistakes that people make on their self assessment tax return.
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This week marks the launch of Apple’s latest attempt at changing the way we interact with technology, as Apple Pay, the company’s version of mobile contactless technology, debuts in the US.

Whilst this launch is currently limited to the US, the chances are if all goes to plan it will launch in the UK within the next 6 months.

But what exactly is Apple Pay? And is it going to affect your small business?

There’s a slim chance it could be another fad which flops, but it could also be the system which pushes widespread adoption of mobile payments. So the question is, as a small business, should you look into preparing for Apple Pay?
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The simplest way to start a business in the UK is to become self employed. This is also commonly referred to as becoming a sole trader.

There is minimal paperwork to take care of, and you don’t have to pay any company formation costs. However, you do need to formally register as self employed with HMRC, and assume responsibility to pay your own income tax and National Insurance liabilities.

Here are the steps you must take to if you want to become self employed, plus the other aspects you will also need to consider when working for yourself: Continue…

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Starting a new business is fun. It’s a world of learning and discovery as you set out on your own and try to build a brand new business from scratch.

Many people are so caught up in building their business that they don’t really consider where they want it to go in the long-term. And very few people are forward thinking enough to plan the finish – their exit strategy – when they are starting up.

Yet it’s an essential part of your start-up planning. Not only will there have to be a day when you walk away from the business, but when you know where you ultimately want it to go, you are much more likely to make the right decisions along the way.

Here’s why you need to plan your exit before you launch your new venture;
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Aside from the sole trader route, the limited liability company is the most popular business structure in the UK.

With a limited company, the liability of company directors is ‘limited’ in that the company’s finances are separate from the personal finances of the business owner. This is not the case for those who run their business as a sole trader (self employed).

Limited company shareholders are not responsible for any debts run up by the business, although banks may ask company directors to provide loan guarantees for commercial loans or credit taken out in the company’s name.
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As with owning a car, you are legally required to have certain insurances to run your business (third party fire and theft), and it’s advisable to have others in place (fully comprehensive) to cushion you from nasty shocks.

There are dozens of different types of insurances available for business. Here we look at the main insurances that businesses ‘must have’, some insurance cover you ‘should have’, and several ‘could have’ policies that will add protection to your business. Continue…

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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.

Without clear credit control procedures to ensure your customers pay you promptly, your business won’t be able to grow and could jeopardise your ability to pay your own bills in a timely manner. That’s the start of a slippery slope that can end in the destruction of years of hard work.

Don’t let your business die this way. Here’s how to build good credit control procedures into your operations from day one, with ByteStart’s seven ways to make sure your customers pay you on time, every time. Continue…

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National Insurance is a deduction from earnings, set up originally to fund various State benefits such as the NHS, the State pension and other welfare-related schemes.

In reality, it is just another tax. In fact, as standard income tax rates have remained constant for many years, NI rates have soared.

In this guide we look at how National Insurance works, and what your National Insurance Contributions (NICs) will be as a small business person. The guide has been updated with the 2014/15 tax year NIC rates. Continue…

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While “entrepreneur” may occasionally be a euphemism for “out of work”, there are more and more individuals working in earnest to start a business of their own. Indeed, statistics show no fewer than 400 million such individuals globally, with over 2 million in the UK and 20 million in the US.

Sadly, many of these ventures will never get off the ground at all. Of those that do, the majority will fail. Of those who submit business plans to venture capital investors, less than one percent will get the funding they seek.

Those elite few who do raise finance have to give away large portions of their company and control in return. Worse still, many business founders who do receive venture capital money get fired within a year of the investment.

Despite the challenge of raising money, and the serious potential downsides, there is a widespread notion that if you are an entrepreneur looking to build a successful, growing business, you need to write a business plan and raise a few million pounds. But this vision is essentially wrong.
Despite the challenge of raising money, and the serious potential downsides, there is a widespread notion that if you are an entrepreneur looking to build a high potential business, you need to write a business plan and raise a few million pounds. But this vision is essentially wrong. Because, if you are smart you can get your customers to fund your business.

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One of the most useful bits of advice that established entrepreneurs give to people starting their own business is this: ‘cash is king’.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in and how profitable it is, if you run out of cash, your business will struggle to continue. If you can’t pay suppliers you’ll have nothing to sell, and it’s a quick, vicious circle from there to insolvency.
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Popular media would have us believe that the legendary entrepreneurs are born that way, concocting profitable deals with their schoolmates from a young age, and that you either have those elusive qualities or you don’t. I disagree.

From what I have experienced over the years, you can acquire the qualities of those successful business owners, if you want to. Continue…

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Setting up a new 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 starting and running your own business.

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 that you should ‘pilot’ your business idea before you launch your new venture for real.
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HMRC are running a series of live webinars throughout October to help those that are new to, or considering; going self employed, starting a business, employing staff or becoming a limited company director.

Each hour-long webinar covers a distinct topic and will help you to understand the legal implications and the responsibilities involved with the steps you are considering. You will also be able to submit questions to the presenter during each webinar

The webinars that will be of interest to new business start-ups, both sole traders and limited company directors, those thinking of employing staff for the first time are detailed below. Continue…

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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.
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Ever since social media became so prominent, companies have seen a huge online fan base as something of a marketing holy grail, with the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers becoming a benchmark for success.

Unfortunately, lots of companies jump into social media with energy and enthusiasm but quickly get disappointed or frustrated when the results aren’t quite as big as their ambitions.

The road to building an online fan base that is both big, and crucially, of value, is a long and winding with very few shortcuts, but here are five steps to think about in order to succeed: Continue…

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In this concise guide, we look at the taxes you will encounter if you start your own business as a sole trader, and other things you should bear in mind before taking the plunge and becoming self employed.
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When it comes to selling a business, the most important question you need to ask is – how much is it worth?

There is no single formula that can be used to precisely value every private business. The seller will want to drive the price up, and potential buyers will want the opposite.

Although there are relatively easy ways to value certain parts of the business – such as stock, fixed assets (land, machinery, equipment etc.), there will very probably be a sizeable intangible element to the value of a business.
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A dormant company is one that doesn’t trade and has no accounting transactions.

There are two main situations where owning a dormant limited company can be useful for start-ups and small business owners;
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It’s all too easy to get to the end of a project and feel completely exhausted. Sapped of all energy and enthusiasm we can miss what’s really important.

To overcome this, change leader, Ian Coyne reveals a new approach to project management which will help you to manage projects and hit deadlines without grinding yourself into the ground.
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