How to set up and run a small business

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We live in a connected age where you can purchase pretty much anything you want at the touch of a button on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.

With this in mind, you may find it surprising to learn that not all businesses are tapping into this, or even quite know how to.
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Young businesses and start-ups that are looking to raise funding have a dizzying array of choices nowadays. In fact, there has probably never been a bigger range of places to go for early-stage finance, from crowdfunding and angel investors through to government-backed start-up loans and P2P lenders.

But before we take a look at the options in more detail, it’s important to think about what sort of funding you’re after for your business, and what you’re prepared to offer in return. The basic division here is between equity and debt. Continue…

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Many small business owners are now tackling Auto-Enrolment for the first time. The subject is throwing up lots of questions, and with deadlines looming, small businesses need to ensure they get their Auto-Enrolment Pension Scheme in place in time.

To help, we asked Paul Budgen of NEST, which has been set up by the government especially for auto enrolment, to answer 5 of the most common questions small businesses are asking about auto-enrolment pensions; Continue…

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Lead generation is absolutely crucial to identifying potential customers that are interested in you business’s products and services.

With online leads coming from various sources such as search engines, email marketing, banner advertising and social media, you need to take an informed approach so you can reduce waste and focus your marketing budget on the sources that are driving the most high-quality leads.

Not only this but they need to prove the return on investment (ROI) from marketing to justify the budget in the first place.

So how can companies use data to identify exactly what drives lead generation, isolate the ultimate source of leads and streamline their marketing strategies? We asked Daniel Reilly, director at Ruler Analytics, to explain; Continue…

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Your business is growing and you’ve taken on one or more additional staff members – but are you really maximising their skills and getting the best out of them?

Or, if you’re honest, do you find yourself still doing some of the things you employed them to do?

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Research shows that people with ‘emotional resilience’ will have the best chances of not only surviving critical business events but thriving in life.

With emotional resilience being such an important factor in whether you and your new business start-up will be able to survive and thrive, we asked Geetu Bharwaney, Author of, “Emotional Resilience” to explain how you can build your emotional resilience to help you and your business succeed Continue…

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If you’re in the midst of starting a new business, then the bookkeeping requirements are unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind. At this stage there can be far more pressing things for you to think about.

However, once your business is taking shape, you will need to start thinking about keeping up-to-date and accurate accounting records of your income and expenses. More than just a legal requirement, basic bookkeeping is an essential part of your ability to manage your business effectively.

But what kind of details are you going to need? Continue…

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You’ve done your market research, you’ve got a solid business plan, you’ve registered your company and pulled together funding, suppliers and everything else you need to start your new business. You’re ready to trade – you just need some customers.

However, not all customers are created equal; some are a delight to deal with, while others seem to have crept from the depths just to torment you.

When you’re building up your customer base, you obviously want more of the former and fewer of the latter, especially if you’re in a service-provision industry where customer relationships are key; but how can you achieve this? Continue…

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Making the decision to go it alone and leave the relative security of life as a PAYE employee is a big one, but it can pay dividends (quite literally) when it comes to your potential earning power.

If you’re thinking about whether becoming a contractor could be the right career move for you, we have put together this guide to cover the key things you need to know before you make the move.

If you want to become a contractor, the good news is that there are plenty of different roles available, with everything from IT specialists and engineers, to management consultants and even locum doctors engaged on this basis.

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Negotiations are something all of us need to do every day. Whether it is securing a sale, negotiating a discount with a supplier or simply making arrangements with friends and family (children make particularly good negotiators!), the kind of questions we ask influences the final outcome for everyone.

The quality of the questions you ask will determine the quality of the answers you receive, so next time you are facing a negotiation situation, follow these 5 steps to make sure you are asking the right questions:
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Every year, hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs make the huge leap from working for somebody else to running their own business.

Launching your own venture is a leap into the unknown, and many new business owners discover that much of what they thought was true about starting their own business, turns out to be completely false.

There are many common misconceptions about running your own business, and being caught out by some of these can prove very costly indeed. To help you separate truth from fiction, here are 8 common myths about starting and running your own business;

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In a world dominated by ever-updating newsfeeds and 140 character exchanges, it seems that the traditional practice of direct mail has no place in modern communication, particularly as businesses look to utilise cheaper, faster ways to communicate with their consumers.

However, overloaded inboxes and newsfeeds that update faster than you can blink means that direct mail still delivers impact in a digital world.

Direct mail may be one of the oldest marketing methods but it is also one of the most adaptable. Here are 7 key factors for any direct marketing campaign., combine these successfully and you can transform your return on investment (ROI):

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The transition from being a manager to becoming business leader, is one that many new business owners will need to make. Often, the success or failure of your business depends on how well and how quickly you can adapt to this fundamental role change.

Never more so than in times of challenge, are leadership skills going to make the difference between a galvanized team of people and a disparate group. Here, Kate Tojeiro reveals 7 tips that will help you transform from a manager to a successful business leader; Continue…

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It is virtually impossible to eradicate staff sickness absence entirely. However, for small businesses, the costly nature of absenteeism can be extremely disruptive to the day to day running of the business.

There are many costs associated with staff being off sick, including compensation to the absent employee, the additional expense of finding temporary workers and the possible decline of productivity due to other employees being tasked with additional workloads.

Despite its unpredictability, there are steps small business owners can take to minimise the negative effects of absenteeism. This guide provides you with advice on how to effectively manage the different aspects of sickness absence. Continue…

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In recent years, giant corporations such as eBay, British Airways and Linkedin have fallen victim to hackers accessing their data. That such huge companies can be on the receiving end of data breaches, despite their astronomical IT budgets, shows that without the right protection, no company is safe.

So, what does this mean for smaller businesses?

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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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In a world where over three billion people use the internet, and no one can put down their smartphone or tablet, it seems obvious that startups and small businesses would look to advertise their products and services online.

Paid advertising puts your brand in front of a defined audience, and encourages them to make a purchase or a decision of some kind. In addition to increased sales, it can increase social media followers, newsletter sign ups, and brand awareness.

To help you get to grips with online advertising, and to ensure you make the most out of every penny you spend, here’s a beginner’s guide to paid advertising online.

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If you want your business to grow, it will mean employing more people. And to give those new members of staff the best chance of helping you break through to a whole new level of sales and productivity, it’s important to set up systems.

These systems need to be scaleable, understandable, and effective. Don’t charge ahead and introduce systems blindly as you may find they are largely ineffectual, doing little, if anything to boost your company’s performance.

To construct clear, simple, effective systems. that will optimise your output, you need a foundational knowledge of the three basic layers of systems. Shweta Jhajharia, of The London Coaching Group explains;

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“Networking is always important when it’s real, and it’s always useless when it’s fake.” – Seth Godin

 

When I decided to investigate how some of the most successful networkers operated both online and offline, I was desperate to know the “differences”.

Some of the greatest teachers of our time encourage their followers to look for the distinctions in life – the greater your knowledge of these distinctions, the greater your capability to deal with life’s challenges.

Interestingly, regardless of whether the experts I interviewed were using offline events, clubs and conferences to build their networks, or whether they were joining digital communities and groups online, their actions were underpinned by the same operating principles and many of the same activities.

From interviews with leading business experts, I’ve identified their Top 10 tips for networking success. I’ve called them the “Magic 10″ because they kept appearing in interview after interview, seemingly from out of nowhere. If you can integrate these tips into everything you do, you will have a thriving business network in no time. Continue…

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Guide to Employment Contracts for small businesses

July 12, 2016

When you start taking on employees you will be faced with a fair amount of legal responsibilities. It’s important you understand all your obligations as an employer as if you don’t comply with UK employment law you can easily find yourself in front of an employment tribunal. As a small business owner, your legal responsibilities […]

How to avoid death by PowerPoint – 9 Practical tips to captivate an audience with your presentation

July 7, 2016

You may have attended presentations that dragged or others that gripped people throughout. Perhaps you have given talks yourself and wondered what really makes the difference. Whatever the situation, there are numerous factors that affect your chances of success. Everything you do contributes to the overall audience experience and even small things make a big […]

Making sure staff know their position and purpose within your business

July 5, 2016

Red tape… compliance… ticking boxes… costly… time consuming… frustrating… not my job! Be honest, when you think about HR (Human Resources) in your business, are these the kind of phrases that first spring to mind? If you ask any small business owner what frustrates them in their company, most will include HR and talk about […]

“Can you do it cheaper?” – Giving great answers to tough questions about your prices

July 4, 2016

“Will you give us a discount on that figure?” “Can you match the lower price I can get down the street?” “Can’t you do it cheaper?” These are the kind of questions people running start-ups and small businesses get asked an awful lot. But what are the best answers to give? Here, we look at […]

10 advantages of running your business as a limited company instead of being self-employed

July 1, 2016

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.

Leaders tell people what to do – don’t they?

June 30, 2016

As a leader, it’s your job to decide what kind of behaviour you would like in your organisation. But, how do you find your own style as a leader and set the tone for everybody who works with you? Here, Kate Mercer, author of ‘A Buzz in the Building – how to build and lead […]

How to grow your start-up by developing your mind-set

June 29, 2016

There is so much that a small business owner, or potential entrepreneur, can do with just a shift in how we think, and what we focus on. When you start to look back at what you have achieved and where you are in your life, work and business, you would begin to realise that success […]

Competitive Advantage for small businesses – How it can boost profitability, growth and drive long term success

June 28, 2016

If you can develop a competitive advantage for your small business, you will be able to sell your product or service more easily and more profitably. Ultimately a good competitive advantage will mean that your business is more likely to succeed and is able to grow. With the ability to develop a competitive advantage being […]

How to keep your head and cope with change in your business

June 24, 2016

Whether you’re in the early start-up phase or you’ve been around a while – running a business will inevitably mean coping with change. This could be the need to deal with new regulations, an ageing customer base, a new competitor, or even your company growing and expanding faster than you planned. Whatever it is – […]

Persons with Significant Control (PSC): What are they and how do you create a PSC register for your business?

June 23, 2016

Since 6th April 2016, nearly all UK companies have been required to maintain a register of Persons with Significant Control (also known as a “PSC register”). The PSC register obligations were introduced as part of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015. The government’s intention was to enhance corporate transparency where complicated ownership structures […]