How to set up and run a small business

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Small business accounting software has changed massively in recent years. Thankfully, the advent of cloud computing has consigned the days of buying book-keeping software in a box and installing it on your own computer to history.

Nowadays, start-ups and small business can choose from a whole host of online accounts software packages. The technology helps to ease the pain of book-keeping and accounts for small business owners and provides a range of other benefits too.

But with so many different web-based accounting solutions out there, how do you choose the right system for you and your business?

That’s where this guide comes in. If you follow the advice, and ask these questions, you should be able to quickly narrow down the field, and ultimately choose the best online accounting software for your needs.

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If you are thinking of starting out as a freelancer or a contractor, you will very quickly need to get a basic understanding of the IR35 rules.

The tax avoidance debate in the UK often focuses on the misdeeds of certain wealthy individuals and large multinational companies. But away from the national press there is another tax avoidance battle going on between HMRC and the UK’s freelancers and contractors.

The crux of the argument is a piece of legislation called IR35. IR35 protects hundreds of millions in tax revenue, HMRC claims. However, the UK’s freelancing and contracting population contends that IR35 is a millstone around their necks, and which puts disproportionately high compliance costs on one-person businesses.

So what are the IR35 rules that you need to know about if you are new to contracting?
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2014 was a huge year for privacy and security on the Internet.

There were several high profile security issues which were serious enough to make the leap from technical news sites to the mainstream press, and ongoing revelations about how easily everyone’s connections can be spied on have made the major players in the web industry take action.

If you have an e-commerce website, given all the coverage around SSL and website security, now is a good time to check the security of your site, or to consider getting a site certificate if you don’t already have one. This guide explains all.
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If you can develop a better understanding of the selling process, you’re more likely to make those all-important sales. And by knowing more about the seven specific steps you need to take before you can close the deal, your sales efforts will be more richly rewarded.

Here’s what you need to know about the seven steps of the sale;
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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, here are 10 tax-saving tips. 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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ByteStart has teamed up with Crunch Accounting to bring you a very special offer.
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As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard of the phrase “Intellectual Property”, or IP as it’s commonly referred to. But studies show that despite knowing what Intellectual Property is, many small businesses assume that protecting their Intellectual Property is only something that larger, well-known businesses need to worry about.

The fact is that IP protection is something that many start-ups and small businesses can benefit from considering early on, because without the right protection businesses could lose some of their most valuable assets.

To help you get to grips with the subject, this guide looks at some of the key intellectual property rights small business owners need to know about.
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The Brompton Bicycle is a great example of how a simple idea can be transformed into a global business. Today, the company behind the bike is a well-known British business success story, but it wasn’t always the case.

Back in the 1970s, having looked at the folding bike designs already on the market, Brompton founder Andrew Ritchie, decided he could do something better.
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If you are in business, or are starting up a new venture, and are providing any type of professional service to clients, you will need to look at taking out Professional Indemnity Insurance cover.

Professional indemnity insurance is an insurance policy that will protect you from claims made by clients who are not satisfied with the work you have done for them.

It can also cover, dishonesty, loss or damage to the customer’s data, defamation, and any alleged breaches of your client’s intellectual property.

Whether you are starting out in business, freelancing for the first time, or simply wondering if you should take out a professional indemnity insurance policy, this guide covers everything a business owner needs to know. It explains how this type of insurance works, whether it’s relevant to you and gives you tips on how to choose the right type of policy for your business.
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When you buy certain new equipment, invest in buildings or research and development, you can deduct a proportion of the cost from your taxable profits and reduce your business tax bill, through Capital Allowances.

Capital Allowances take the place of commercial depreciation, which is not allowed for tax. Using them effectively can be a huge boost to your business, especially if you need to invest to fund growth.

Here’s a look at the main elements of the various capital allowances schemes and how your business can qualify to take advantage of them. Continue…

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Running your own business sometimes seems to be a series of successes followed by setbacks.

You win a big client, then lose an existing client. You hire the perfect employee and their current employer offers them more money to stay. You make a nice fat profit, and the taxman comes along and takes 20 per cent of it! Talk about three steps forward, two steps back.
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Automatic enrolment is looming large on the horizon for hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the UK.

With many small firms unfamiliar with company pensions, tackling auto enrolment (AE) can feel daunting, so this guide has been designed to help small business owners get to grips with the subject.

It outlines they key issues for small businesses, including what auto enrolment is, what’s happening, the implications for you and your employees and the steps you need to take to ensure you comply with the new rules.
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As a start-up, you often don’t know the best ways to market your new business, or what works and what doesn’t.

The good news is; whether you’re selling to a market of ten or ten million, one of the most effective ways to learn how to improve your marketing is to talk with a single person and sell something to them.

Here’s how you can develop stronger sales messages, build your customer base and grow your new business by harnessing the power of one-to-one marketing.
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Are you a young entrepreneur, or do you think you have the potential to run a growing business?

If so, the New Entrepreneurs Foundation’s (NEF) annual Enterprise Programme could be the stepping stone you need, to turn your dreams into reality.

The 12-month programme, which starts in September, is the only one of its kind in the UK, and gives aspiring business owners a great head-start in their new venture.

Designed to teach young people the ropes of becoming a successful entrepreneur, the programme aims to give young talent the skills, experience and contacts needed to succeed in business.

And the NEF, which has already helped 100 young men and women through the programme, is now calling on the UK’s bright minds and aspiring entrepreneurs to apply to be one this year’s intake. Continue…

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With late payment problems a constant burden for small business owners, we look at the most common delaying tactics used by customers, and how you can overcome these late payment excuses.
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A staple of business life for decades, the spreadsheet was adopted on a mass scale in the late 1980s and 90s alongside desktop computers. The fact that it is still used today is testament to the fact that it really was one of the killer apps of its time.

Increasingly, however, in the age of cloud-based software and connected devices, the spreadsheet and PC-reliant tools like it are being rapidly overtaken by advances in technology, leaving legacy business users at a competitive disadvantage.

Switching from spreadsheets to cloud accounting software allows small business owners to access more up-to-date figures for sales and cashflow, and view analysis and reports on a broad selection of other essential business performance indicators.

With a wider range, and more current information to-hand, cloud accounting can help business owners to make quicker and better-informed decisions.
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Take a close look at any business that has been thriving over the last few years, and there’s a very strong chance you’ll see it has a clear USP, or Unique Selling Point.

It’s something you need to develop as you start your own business. A USP is much more than just a way of positioning your business in marketing materials. It’s something that needs to be at the very core of what you are doing – part of your business’s DNA, if you like.
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The term mobile commerce is another digital marketing phrase which often gets thrown around. For many small businesses, it can certainly be difficult to understand the technologies and the benefits which m-commerce can bring to your company.

In this guide, we look at the basics of going mobile, how it can be profitable for your start-up or small business, and include some tips on what you need to look out for when taking your business into the world of mobile commerce.
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If you are taking on a new employee, you need to be aware of a whole range of issues. With staff come a range of responsibilities that you, as an employer, are required to fulfil.

Taking on the first employee in your small business is something you should take real care doing. What many employers don’t realise is that small errors in an employee’s early days can cost them thousands of pounds.

To help you successfully hire your first member of staff, here are 4 key things that you must get right.
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Giving your customer a great experience is not just about customer service. It goes far deeper than that. It’s also essential if you want to increase your sales and make your marketing budget go further.

The reason people don’t want to do business with organisations that aren’t customer focused is because it’s so difficult to do business with them! As a start-up or small business the last thing you want to do is make life difficult for your customers!

This is why it is important to understand that delivering great customer experiences is about the WHOLE customer journey.

From website design, product design, and marketing to finance, operations, HR, procedures and policies. You name it, and it should be linked to delivering a WOW customer experience.
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A Guide to mindfulness in the workplace – how it can help staff wellbeing and productivity

February 11, 2015

When it comes to the subject of employee wellbeing, it is very easy for employers to push it to the bottom of the agenda, or shrug it off as a waste of valuable time. But with many firms now taking staff wellbeing seriously, and beginning to recognise the benefits of a focus on ‘mindfulness’, this […]

Travel and accommodation expenses for the self-employed

February 10, 2015

Are you a self-employed individual? Do you have to travel on business, and does that travel ever entail an overnight stay away from your home? Do you know exactly which of the travel and accommodation expenses you can legitimately claim back? If you get it wrong, you could pay too much tax, or worse still […]

Chance for 10 female entrepreneurs to take part in research study and get 2 free business coaching sessions

February 8, 2015

Entrepreneur and psychotherapeutic executive coach, Bec Howard is giving 10 women leaders and entrepreneurs the chance to take part in her research study, “Therapy in the boardroom”. As part of the research, the successful applicants will receive two, 3 hour one-to-one psychotherapeutic coaching sessions over the course of three months. Any woman in business, anywhere […]

7 clever copywriting secrets for business owners

February 6, 2015

If there’s one marketing skill you should focus on developing above all others it is copywriting. The ability to passionately sell a product or service in the written word is something that will never go out of fashion. And the reality is that few people will be able to do it as well for your […]

5 ways to get the most out of offline marketing

February 5, 2015

When it comes to promoting your business, the focus these days seems to be almost exclusively on online marketing. Of course, since the social revolution it’s important for businesses to have a strong ‘digital footprint’ but what about the traditional offline marketing methods? Does the proliferation of Twitter, Facebook and co. mean that you should […]

5 e-Commerce trend predictions for 2015

February 2, 2015

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 […]

The 10 business development truths that will give you an edge over your competitors

January 30, 2015

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 […]

Wisdom of Crowds: 4 ways customers can improve your company

January 29, 2015

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 […]

Learning to grow – the early years of your new business

January 28, 2015

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 […]

How are limited company dividends taxed?

January 26, 2015

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.