How to set up and run a small business

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As an employer you are required by law to give your employees a certain number of days holiday during the year. The amount of annual leave employees are entitled to depends on several factors.

This guide to leave entitlement for small business owners explains the amount of holiday you are required by UK law to give your employees, and how to calculate this for workers not working a normal working week.

Also covered are the laws regarding bank holidays, carrying over unused leave days, imposing a period of annual leave on staff e.g. over the festive season, and when you can refuse employees’ requests to take holiday;

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When the bank won't fund your businessPROMOTED GUIDE – This is a promoted guide from Funding Xchange – the business funding marketplace where lenders compete to fund your business. Get Funding Now

 

If you have approached your bank and found it difficult to secure the funds your business requires, you’re in good company. Banks are declining up to 50% of loan requests from some smaller businesses.

Banks’ lending decisions have very little to do with you or the prospects of your business. And their outdated processes and high costs of capital make it difficult for them to lend to smaller businesses.

Business owners are also being frustrated by the inability of banks to provide flexible forms of credit to businesses. This is highlighted by the fact that the availability of business overdrafts, long a favorite tool for businesses to smooth cash flow, has shrunk by more than 30%.

So where else can you get funding for your business?

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We’ve all heard it; “You just have to be using social media marketing.”

And the response from many business owners is; “I’m keen to try using social media to promote my small business but I’m not sure where to start.”

If this sounds like you, here are ten simple but effective tips that will help any business starting out with social media, no matter how big or small your budget.
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Co-creation is the joining together of people to produce a mutually valued outcome.

In business, it is the cultivation of win-win solutions where efficiency, success, and staff fulfilment march hand in hand. Co-creation brings many benefits to businesses, such as;

  • Team members feel respected and honoured, and they know their contributions make a difference.
  • Job satisfaction and creativity is ignited, there is a positive flow of ideas, and problems get solved in surprisingly simple and practical ways.
  • Staff remain loyal and stay longer because they love what they do.

For the entrepreneur, co-creation can be a challenge, a real anathema. The building of a business demands resolve and determination to push through ideas in the face of disbelief and scepticism.

For business owners who have honed such skills, co-creation may not come naturally. They struggle to let go of being in charge, and risk blocking further evolution of the business. Maybe this is due to a subconscious belief that no one can do the job as well as them – or indeed, a dread that others may do it better.

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Negotiations can often be a mysterious process. Maybe the conversation has reached a sticky point, no one is budging and tempers are beginning to rise. Then one person says something and the whole situation transforms. You strike a great deal and everyone is best friends.

How did that happen? How did they know just what to say?

With negotiating being such a key skill in starting and running your own successful business, Simon Horton, author of The Leader’s Guide to Negotiation, reveals 5 phrases that you can use to get any negotiation back on track. Continue…

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Parents, politicians, pundits, pub philosophers. They all have something in common – an arsenal of adages, aphorisms, proverbs, mottos and maxims. But of all the oft-used phrases you’ve heard in your life, which do you think sticks with people most?

  • Give a hundred and ten percent
  • Never say never
  • Game of two halves
  • Winter is coming

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A website can be a very powerful marketing tool for start-ups and small businesses. An effective site helps smaller firms to reach out to a huge audience of potential new customers and take on bigger rivals.

However, the battle to be found online can be fierce, so if you want your small business website to be successful, you will need to look at search engine optimisation, or SEO as it’s commonly referred to.

With SEO becoming more complex and specialised, many small businesses look to outsource the work to an agency. But with so many practitioners and firms out there offering SEO services it can be tricky to find the reputable providers.

To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here are the 5 questions you should ask an SEO agency before you think about hiring them. You should also read: When to get SEO for your website, and when not to
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You may think that giving presentations is something that happens in a big corporate, but not in your start-up or small business. Not true!

We’re all giving mini-presentations and pitches several times a day, and getting your message across in a digital world where everyone is mildly ADHD is more vital for business success than ever.

Whether you’re speaking with a potential customer over the phone or pitching your start up idea to investors, you have a choice between doing it in a forgettable way – like elevator music – or making it rock!

If you want your message to be remembered, then just recall how a well-crafted three-minute song stays in your mind forever. So to let’s pick apart the techniques that songwriters use to achieve this effect and look at how we can apply them to make our presentations rock!

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When considering great customer experience (CX), it can be helpful to picture a shopkeeper.

The more we visit the shop, the better the shopkeeper gets to know us. After a few visits, the shopkeeper initially learns our name; then what products we like and have previously purchased; when we’re likely to need more of them; and finally to the stage where they can make recommendations of what we might like to try.

Such a role is now expected, and even demanded, of all the brands consumers interact with. The days of a one-size-fits-all approach to customer communications are long gone. Today, brands need to forge personal relationships, similar to that which people enjoy with their favourite local store. Continue…

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You’ve got to be a bit of an optimist to start a new business. This positive outlook undoubtedly helps you to get through the ups and downs of starting your own business, but it’s worth investing in a bit of negative thinking too.

When astronaut Chris Hadfield described his preparation to go into space, his focus was not on how fantastic it was going to be when he got there but on being ready to deal with the things that could kill him, so he could get to come back again.

This approach has parallels for how we start up too – we can dream of the big fabulous destination, but we have to expect that we will need to overcome challenges to be a success.

Running a startup is about stepping up to run a messy marathon, not hunkering down to run a perfect sprint. We have to make sure we can go the distance and this means we need to talk about embracing failure, affordable risk and filling the weak spots.

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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?
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People who run their own business have a multitude of priorities to contend with every day. When you’re in the thick of it, it can be easy to lose sight of the simple truth that the people you depend upon for your business’ success are, like you, only human. But they are, and it’s well worth taking a proactive approach to safeguarding their psychological wellbeing. It’s good business.

There are stressful times in virtually every business, and we all know it’s virtually impossible to run a business and not get stressed at all. However, too much stress is bad for us.

And for business owners it can be a double-whammy. It can cause more significant mental health problems for you as an individual and also affect your ability to successfully manage and run your business.

To help business owners understand more about stress, how to spot the symptoms and how to tackle it, we asked Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services, AXA PPP healthcare to share some of his knowledge and advice on the subject with ByteStart; Continue…

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Traditionally, tradesmen have thrived on word-of-mouth recommendations, but in today’s marketplace online referrals can have a big influence on whether a customer decides to employ your services.

By the nature of their work, trades people cannot be expected to be experts in generating business online so we asked Jonny Lawrence, a digital marketing expert at Logic4training, to give an insight into how online referral sites and social media can work for the trades. 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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Becoming a sole trader is the simplest way to get your new business off the ground.

You can start trading immediately, subject to any industry-specific licences or insurances you might be required to have.

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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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 NIC rates for the 2016/17 tax year. Continue…

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Nobody goes into business to make staff redundant. However, it is a task that many business owners will need to undertake at some point

Redundancy is a potentially fair reason to dismiss an employee, but it is vital that you get this procedure right as failure to do so could result in an unfair dismissal claim at the employment tribunal.

Here’s a step by step guide to the redundancy process, and how to negotiate it safely.
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Human history provides countless examples of leadership be it in the political, economic or military sphere. But no two leaders are alike and some leaders have left a far more distinctive mark on history than others.

To lead other people you need to be able to communicate clearly. Indeed, many successful leaders such as Winston Churchill have been able to inspire others through the power of the spoken word.

But inspiration also requires another ingredient besides communication. It requires a vision.

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New start-ups and small businesses often fail to give much thought to their standard “Terms and Conditions of Business” (T&Cs). That is, until there is a dispute with a customer, by which time it may be too late.

Business owners who are unaware of the importance of T&Cs can even find that they are conducting business on their customer’s Terms and Conditions of Business. This can happen when a customer successfully substitutes their own T&Cs for yours. If this is the case, you could be in for a very nasty shock when a customer complains.

To help make sure you protect your business, and only work on the basis of your Terms and Conditions of Business, we asked Sheren Thiara, of Wright Hassall Solicitors, to explain why T&Cs are so crucial for businesses and to give some practical advice on how you make sure the work you do is under your standard T&Cs.
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For a small business, email marketing offers an inexpensive but effective and efficient way to engage with your customers, and attract new ones – so long as the right planning has been put in place first.

It creates and maintains communication, helping to keep your brand front of mind and build customer loyalty. Campaigns can be designed around a specific purpose, e.g. to boost sales, or to increase website traffic, and they can be targeted – you decide who receives which email.

Most importantly, and unlike many other marketing options, its results are measurable – the best email marketing platforms will even provide you with reports outlining how successful your campaign has been, and what aspects worked best.

This makes it an excellent choice for small businesses with a limited marketing budget. As long as you take the time to really think about what you want to get out of it, it is also simple – follow these 6 steps for planning and implementing your campaign, and you won’t go wrong. Continue…

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Turn your website into a deadly selling tool with these 5 steps

April 21, 2016

It’s a jungle out there in the big, bad world of ecommerce. You’re having a hard enough time bringing potential customers to your website in the first place, what with your competitors striving to undercut your prices and outrank you in Google searches. That means when people do visit your site, you want to do […]

Checking to see if a VAT registration number is valid – Why it’s important, and the best way to do it

April 20, 2016

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 […]

A practical guide to flexible working rights for small businesses

April 19, 2016

Statutory flexible working rights become available widely to all employees when they complete 26 weeks of continuous employment. Previously, a request to work flexibly had to be made for the purposes of taking care of dependants e.g. children, however, this requirement has now been removed, giving all employees the right to request flexible working regardless […]

How to get your business noticed – Self-marketing for start-ups

April 17, 2016

Your business may offer amazing products and a fantastic service. It may have a clear, determined vision of what it is doing and where it is going. But if your potential customers don’t know it exists, your wonderful business is likely to disappear without trace. As Alan Sugar put it: “Your start-up will be a […]

Team Building – The best way to train your staff to really work as a team

April 14, 2016

Who do you call if a pipe is leaking? A plumber, right? You don’t call an electrician. And when he turns up, you don’t expect him to build a hypothetical model of the structure of your pipework and work on that, leaving you to sort out the actual problem yourself. You expect him to get […]

A few small changes that can really boost your productivity

April 13, 2016

Technology is the modern day malaise. On the one hand it has helped businesses become more efficient, but on the other it often means people are switched on 24/7 – something business owners need to overcome to improve productivity. The Chartered Institute of Management (CIM) suggested in a report called the, ‘The Quality of Working […]

7 Brilliant branding tips for start ups

April 11, 2016

Your brand is your identity and in a tough market place it can be the thing that separates you from the competition and grabs the attention of potential new customers. Remember you’ve only got a very short space of time to capture the attention of new customers, so whether it’s the design of your business […]

Marketing your small business through YouTube – The 4 essential steps to success

April 7, 2016

No longer uniquely the home of shaky phone cam footage of comedy pets, YouTube has become a truly global broadcasting powerhouse. Sure, there are still grainy home videos aplenty, but these days YouTube is as much about film trailers, news channels, comedy sketches and even dedicated web series. With one billion unique visitors every single […]

VAT registration – when should you register for VAT?

April 6, 2016

Your business should register for VAT if your “taxable supplies” over the past 12 months has exceeded the VAT registration threshold. From April 2016, the VAT registration threshold is £83,000 (previously it was £82,000).

Covey’s Matrix: The Simple secret to great time management

April 5, 2016

Managing time effectively is vital if you are to prosper as a business owner, especially when it comes to running a small business when just a few people have to deal with every aspect of the business. Despite best intentions though, we’ve all got to the end of a day without achieving any of the […]