How to set up and run a small business

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Business development is much more than just about marketing, sales, pitching, online wizardry, mailings, advertising, branding, social media strategies, glossy brochures, discount deals, promotional gimmicks or special events.

Every single thing a business does has a potential impact on how your business performs. Following these 10 business development truths, will help your business to grow and give you an edge over your competitors.
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The development of a strong relationship between consumers and your company is one of the keys to achieving a good level of customer retention.

Now, with the increasing possibilities offered by digitalisation, it is even possible to make the customer a part of the company, allowing them to play an active role in its activities and build a genuine emotional connection through the four following options Continue…

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To create a successful business you need four things – a good plan, a good product that people actually want, good people who can make things happen and a good supply of money.

Running a business is also a way of life, which invariably takes up a lot of your time, so when you are starting a business choose something that you enjoy doing, something you have a real passion for. Continue…

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If you are a limited company shareholder, you may have to pay personal tax on any dividend income you receive. This article outlines how company dividends are taxed.
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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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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 difference.

This guide gives you 9 proven, practical tips to deliver more engaging and more effective presentations. Each one makes a positive impact, and you will know best which will be most useful in your own presentations. Continue…

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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 cards and marketing collateral, your website or even the name of your company, these things really make a difference when it comes to winning business. Continue…

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Statistics from HMRC show that around 80% of companies registering for VAT cease trading within three years, and this statistic has held true for many years now.

With the chances of survival so slim, it’s a wonder so many people decide to take the plunge and start their own business. Anybody that manages to steer a start-up safely through these crucial early years, has done so against the odds and should be heartily congratulated on this achievement.

So what are the secrets to surviving the start-up years, and thriving beyond? Continue…

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HMRC are running a series of live webinars to help those that are new to, or considering; going self employed, starting a business, employing staff or becoming a limited company director.

Each 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 can also submit questions to the presenter during a webinar.

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

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Free publicity is a great way to spread the word about your business. If you can get your business featured regularly in the newspapers and magazines your target audience reads, it brings your business to the attention of potential customers, and at no cost.

Another advantage of being featured in articles written about your business is that editorial coverage gives you a huge amount of credibility. It’s an independent trusted person talking about your business – the total opposite of an advert, where you are delivering your message.

The good news is that getting media coverage for your small business isn’t difficult if you know what you’re doing. Continue…

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If you could have lunch with any businessman or woman in the world, (alive or dead), to discuss your commercial/professional situation, whom would you choose – and why?

Chances are that you’d choose someone you admire or are intrigued by, perhaps because of their achievements, their values or their reputation/personal brand.

Most of us recognise the need to learn from the life experience and wisdom of others. We also aspire to accelerate the pace towards our own success, or at least smooth a few of the bumps in the road. A business mentor can be an invaluable asset to enable us to identify relevant principles of success and adapt them for our own situations and use.

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If you are starting a new business, or your business is still in its infancy, it’s tempting to grab any deal that offers something for free – after all you need to save as much money as possible and look after your cash flow.

But if you are offered a free phone or other telecoms equipment – you may find it ends up being anything but free.

Sadly, many small businesses have fallen prey to a scam where they are offered free phones for their business, but are then tied in to overpriced, long-term contracts that can cost them thousands of pounds.
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When you decide it’s time to get your business started, you’ll find the first piece of advice given by most experts is to “get a business plan written”.

And they’re right; that is the first step to turn your business dream into a reality. But many people find it the hardest step to make.
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Cash flow is arguably one of the most important parts of managing your small business. So any tax incentives, or potential tax relief opportunities which are available should always be grabbed with both hands.

But then, you often hear stories about how great these incentives and reliefs are, only to find that there are lots of conditions and qualifying factors, which mean you can’t actually benefit from them.

Thankfully, Research and Development tax relief isn’t like that. As long as you are genuinely investing in R&D projects, there’s a great opportunity to cut your corporation tax bill, or even get tax credits from HMRC in the form of an actual cheque!

So, what do you need to know about Research & Development Tax Relief Incentives? Continue…

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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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No matter what business problem you have to solve right now, there’s a powerful way of finding the answer quickly and efficiently… and it’s called networking.

That’s a word that makes many people’s hearts beat faster. The idea of getting out to events and meeting a bunch of strangers is not something that seems natural!

Yet networking is a powerful marketing and business tool.
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There’s nothing worse than being told by a customer that your website is not working. Or logging on yourself to check something, and finding the page you want to see is not displaying.

Website downtime can have a direct impact on your business and on your profits – particularly if you have an e-commerce website – so it’s important to know what you need to do if your website goes down.

Even the most robust websites suffer technical glitches happen, so the chances are you will experience it at some point. Often, it might only be down for a few minutes, as part of wider technical problems or updates to a global server.

But sometimes, there might be a specific problem with your website individually. If you do experience website downtime, here are the five things you should do;
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A key skill for business owners is the ability to deliver a successful business pitch.

A pitch can take many different forms, it might be pitching for contracts with possible new customers, highlighting potential opportunities to new partners, persuading talented individuals to join your team, or trying to win investment to grow your company.

With the ability to pitch being such an important tool in a business owner’s armoury, here are some simple steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of succeeding with your pitch and getting that handshake.
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Good public relations are essential for any business, but especially so, for small and start-up businesses. If you can persuade editors to run a story about your business, it’s worth a dozen adverts or mailshots. And there’s also the huge added benefit of it not costing you anything!

However, writing a press release isn’t as simple as dashing off a letter to the editor of your local paper. For it to work, your release needs to be carefully crafted and put together.

Here we look at how you should structure your press releases to grab editors’ attention and maximise your chances of getting that elusive, but highly-prized free press coverage.
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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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