How to set up and run a small business

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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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With 2015 fast approaching, an important year in the political calendar, employers are sure to be turning their mind to preparing for any changes set to come in over the next few months.

It’s clear, if last year is anything to go by, employment law will not remain the same for very long and so there are a number of changes that businesses can expect in 2015. Continue…

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If you’re about to launch your new business and need premises, or have started up successfully at home and now need space to expand, this is an exciting time!

Moving into an office or retail premises for the first time says something about a business. It can make your operation seem more “real”, meaning your dreams are actually happening.

But getting business premises brings a whole new set of pitfalls that you have to watch out for. You shouldn’t allow these to put you off; but you do need to be aware of these potential dangers so that they don’t sour the experience and hamper the growth of your new venture. Continue…

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Year on year, the e-commerce industry continues to boom with more and more companies moving to the web.

The rapid pace of business is amplified online, with the proliferation of apps, new technologies and seemingly daily digital changes affecting how you operate.

Analysts and experts are always attempting to predict the latest trends and developments which could make the most difference to online retailers, so we’ve pulled together some of the most talked about, and hotly anticipated predictions for the e-commerce marketplace in 2015.

We’ve focused on the developments we think could affect your business the most in the next 12 months. Whilst some of these online retailing trends have been developing year on year, others may just be set to explode in 2015 Continue…

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When you’re starting or running your own small business, you have an endless list of jobs to do. One of the most crucial is generating interest in your business and creating awareness of your products and services.

Big companies can have a team of people to do this and hire a PR agency but as a small business you will probably need to do all your PR yourself. There’s nothing more demotivating when you’re doing your own PR than spending hours getting the perfect press release put together… only for it to be completely ignored by all the journalists you’ve sent it to.

But don’t take it personally, it’s a very common occurrence. And when you hear that 99% of all press releases sent to the media end up in the bin you realise it happens a lot more often than you think.
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Most small business owners have an opinion on networking. For every person who enjoys and values it – you’ll find another who visibly shudders at the mere mention of the word.

But why does networking seem to polarise small business owners? Is it a massive untapped opportunity, or is it an uncomfortable evening in the company of strangers and cocktail sausages?
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The phrase ‘cloud computing’ has already been around for a number of years. However, plenty of small business owners are only just discovering what the ‘cloud’ actually is and more importantly, how cloud computing can be used to their advantage. Continue…

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If there’s one piece of advice to hold above all others while running your business, it’s this: cash is king.

It doesn’t matter how much you are selling or the size of your profit, if your business doesn’t have enough cash to pay staff and suppliers you are in big trouble.

Even successful and profitable businesses can be struck by cash flow problems because as they grow, more working capital is tied up in the business.

Without proper cash flow planning good businesses can suddenly find they don’t have enough money to buy resources to fulfil the orders coming in.
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Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s not just the big corporates who are offering their staff the chance to work away from the office. Savvy small business owners are now looking to enjoy the benefits it can bring to their ventures.

Recent changes in the law mean that employers are now legally obliged to consider flexible working requests from all employees. A flexible working request could, for example include, working from home or from different locations, working flexibly, or staggered hours.
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All limited companies in the UK must submit an Annual Return form (AR01) to Companies House every year.

The Annual Return provides a snapshot of general information about your company, including details of directors and company secretary if you have appointed one, the registered office, share capital and shareholdings.
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As long as brands have existed, consumers have loved to talk about them. While 90% of conversations about brands are happening offline, today millions of people talk about companies on social media, and these online conversations now offer a new dimension in marketing.

Whether consumers are aware of it or not, these branded conversations are increasingly being watched by businesses.

Being faced with so many conversations happening in real time can be a daunting prospect, particularly for small businesses, but ignoring them can be a huge missed opportunity to influence how the world sees your brand.
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Employers liability insurance is a type of business insurance policy that virtually all firms employing someone must take out.

As an employer, the health and safety of your employees when they are working for you is your responsibility. Having an employers liability insurance policy ensures that your business has a minimum level of protection should an employee get injured or become unwell while in your employment, and seek compensation from your business.

The fines for not having a suitable policy can be huge, so here’s what every business owner needs to know about employers liability insurance. Continue…

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Every business – even yours – has a brand.

One common misconception is that your brand is your logo. Your logo is a single visual representation of your brand, but it is not your brand. Continue…

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2.1 million businesses are run from home according to research and 60% of new businesses are started at home – that’s 1,400 a week.

It’s no wonder really. Starting a new business can be costly, but when you launch it from home you immediately remove a large layer of cost and risk. You can use existing rooms, computer, electricity, phone and internet access.

One thing that many people don’t think about with their home-based venture is insurance. Existing house insurance policies are designed to cover domestic arrangements, and may actually be invalidated by you working at home.
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What is a sole trader?

November 11, 2014

There are around 2.8 million sole traders in the UK. It is the most popular, and simplest, way of starting and running a business.

In this guide, we take a look at what exactly a sole trader is, the key things you need to know about becoming a sole trader, and whether it is the right business structure for you.
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In recent years, the number of businesses embracing social media has grown rapidly, and this trend is set to continue in the coming years.

The businesses that are successfully using social media as a promotional tool have recognised the importance of delivering valuable content on a regular basis, and the value of stimulating, and engaging with online conversations around their brand.

With the opportunity to connect with such a vast online audience, social media integration is no longer a choice for business owners but indeed a necessity. To help you on the way, here are 5 tips to help your business succeed with social media;
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For the majority of small businesses buying business travel is unstructured and unmanaged, with travellers operating without policy costing the company time and money.

By following these five fundamentals of travel management, smaller firms can successfully buy travel smarter, cut costs and get more for their money;
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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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If you are dealing with a new customer or supplier and want to check whether the VAT registration number (VRN) they have supplied is valid, there are two ways you can do so.

One method is to call the HMRC VAT Helpline, the other is to use the online VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) run by the European Commission.
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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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