How to set up and run a small business

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In an increasingly competitive business world, nurturing your existing staff can help you avoid a high turnover rate. If you’re constantly losing staff you find yourself spending a lot of valuable time training new staff, but not reaping the rewards down the line.

In any small or start-up business, one of the most important aspects is to find the right staff for the company. Employees need to be a good fit for any business, and in a start-up environment staff need to have the drive, innovation and determination to ensure that they make any venture a success.

While training may be a big upfront cost, it is vital to retaining new employees and ensure that the investment you make in recruitment and training are not drained from the business as employees leave the company.

So what staff benefits can you introduce to help you draw high-calibre employees to your start-up or small business? Continue…


When people talk about ‘gearing’ in a business, they are usually referring to one of two types;

  1. Financial gearing
  2. Operational gearing

Here’s a guide to what gearing is, and how you can use it to increase the returns your business makes;



For most business owners, selling their business is a once in a lifetime event. It’s also often the culmination of decades of hard graft so it’s important you get it right.

When building up your business, you will have invested a huge amount of your time, energy and money so you will want to make sure you maximise the return when it comes to selling up. But without any previous experience to draw upon, it’s all too easy for business owners to sell their company for less than it is worth.

With so much at stake, we asked Clinton Lee of UK Business Brokers to help explain how you can get the best possible price from a buyer, when you are selling your small business;


If you’re starting a business then chances are money is tight – so anything you can do to increase sales without spending a fortune is worth looking at.

It’s easy to imagine that you need to employ a crack sales team – but the truth is, if you’ve made one sale, then you already have one sales person – that customer. And more often than not, the best people to sell your products and services are your customers.

Customers have already gained benefit from you and because they are impartial, they can provide legitimate social proof. So how do you get your customers selling for you? Continue…


One of the main benefits of becoming self employed is the ease with which you can start up and run your new business.

You can even become a sole trader (another term for self-employed) whilst working as an employee for someone else, so you can test the water and see if you’re suited to working for yourself.

Here are 5 things you need to do when you decide to go self employed: Continue…


If you’re launching a new business, or looking to grow your existing business, then the chances are you’ll need to do some cold calling at some stage.

However, despite its importance within their business and the doors it can open, many business owners shy away from cold calling and find it extremely stressful.  To help you overcome such cold-calling anxieties, here are six techniques that can help you become a more confident, far less stressed, and much more effective cold caller:



A change is afoot for the UK’s self-employed workers, and it’s good news for some 1.7million one-man bands!

From 1st October 2015, if you are self-employed and your work activity poses no potential risk to the health and safety of other workers or members of the public, then Health and Safety law will not apply to you.

So are you one of the sole traders that no longer has to worry about complying with Health & Safety legislation? Continue…


When you are starting a business, sitting down and grappling with Health & Safety legislation isn’t one of your top priorities. It’s fair to say that it’s not one of the more exciting parts of running your own business, and it doesn’t bring in any money.

However, with the average fine for Health & Safety prosecutions being over £30,000, it can be very costly if you don’t stay on the right side of the law. With so much at stake, we asked Louise Hosking of Hosking Associates to explain what small businesses need to do; Continue…


There is a lot to be gained from business planning but many businesses will search for a million reasons to avoid it. However large or small your business is, planning for the future is critical to its success.

Apart from the obvious benefits of setting your stall out for the year ahead, creating an annual strategy will motivate, inspire and focus you on what needs to be done and when.


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 arrangements.


In April 2016 the National Living Wage legislation will come in to force. From this date all employers will be required to pay staff over the age of 25, a minimum rate of £7.20 per hour.

With experts suggesting that National Living Wage (NLW) could be a step into the unknown, many business owners are rightly feeling nervous about the new legislation.

Lord Wolfson, the boss of Next, for example has stated that prices at the retailer could be driven up by the legislation, which would mean an extra £27million being spent on wages each year. Similar soundings have come from businesses like Whitbread, owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, too – warning that the National Living Wage would cost them an extra £20million.

All businesses with employees will be affected, but those that employ staff with pay rates at, or near the existing minimum wage will be hit hardest. So what can employers do to prepare themselves for the National Minimum Wage legislation? Continue…


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…


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.


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.


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?


Poor posture at work can lead to serious long-term health problems for many individuals, often triggering severe stress and anxiety in sufferers.

There is compelling evidence to indicate people who sit for more than four hours at a time are at greater risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes – a condition that has risen by almost 60% in the past 10 years.

Back pain caused by bad posture is an issue affecting around 70 per cent of the nation’s workforce and is now the second most common complaint among employees. Few will be aware that poor posture can also contribute to knee pain, fallen arches and even cause poor bladder control.

With back pain damaging the health of employees and costing businesses in sick days, it’s clear that employers should do everything they can to eliminate poor posture in their workplace.


There are restaurants that have people queuing up to dine, products that you have to pre-order months before they are released, tickets that sell out within hours and shares that shoot up in value right after they float.

There are cars that are snapped up before they are constructed and apartments that are sold before the first brick has been laid.

But, why are a select group of people and products in such high demand? And more importantly, how can you recreate a similar desire for your business?


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;


The short answer is yes. But most business owners and managers seem to think that it is currently impossible to fire anyone, let alone be thanked for doing so.

Too many owners and managers hold these two beliefs about firing staff: Continue…


A fire or flood can prove crippling for a small business, and therefore business owners should have a plan of action in place, should they fall victim to such a disaster at their business premises. Failing to do so could prove to be an extremely costly, or potentially fatal oversight.

Here are some practical steps businesses should take when disaster strikes; Continue…


10 Top tips to ensure your crowdfunding efforts are rewarded

September 10, 2015

Newcomers to Alternative Finance can sometimes struggle to distinguish between ‘crowdlending’ and ‘crowdfunding’, not least because they sound remarkably similar. Both describe ways of raising business finance, but there are huge differences between the two which need to be clearly understood to avoid any tears at a later stage. So how do crowdlending and crowdfunding […]

The start-up survival guide – 6 tips to get beyond the early years

September 9, 2015

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 […]

The risks and rewards of being a unique business

September 8, 2015

Apple, Netflix, Nike. Leaders in very different industries. They didn’t get there by doing what everyone else was doing. Apple adds crafted design to desirable functionality and makes it fashionable. Netflix goes beyond being a digital LoveFilm and creates high quality, polished, original programming that goes toe-to-toe with Game of Thrones and Mad Men at […]

Guide to writing a winning business proposal

September 6, 2015

If you’re starting-up or running a small business the ability to put together a persuasive business proposal will really help you to succeed. If you have impressed a prospective client or partner after an initial meeting, phone call or email, you will frequently be asked to submit a business proposal. This is not the time […]

How to structure your press release to grab attention and get free press coverage

September 2, 2015

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 […]

How to prepare for and handle an employee grievance

September 1, 2015

Being an employer comes with all manner of responsibilities, not least ensuring the happiness and safety of your staff. So when an employee approaches you, or the person responsible for HR within your organisation, with a problem or complaint (a grievance) you need to ensure you have the necessary procedures in place to resolve the […]

How to plan and implement a successful email marketing campaign

August 28, 2015

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 […]

10 ways small businesses can cut the cost of office printing

August 27, 2015

The cost of printing, scanning, and copying can quietly mount up for small businesses. But by making some straightforward adjustments to the way your business approaches printing you can save money, reduce environmental impact and increase staff productivity. Here are ten ways small businesses can save money by making a few simple changes.

What to do if your company is running out of cash

August 26, 2015

Starting up and sustaining a company is a tough challenge for even the most gifted of entrepreneurs or the brains behind the business world’s biggest and best ideas. Within that context, the margins for error tend to be slim, particularly when it comes to financial matters and the business of balancing your books. Here are […]

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

August 25, 2015

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 […]