How to set up and run a small business

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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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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 everything you can to encourage them to stay there – and ultimately, to convert.

Fortunately, there are a few techniques – some tried and trusted, others a little more advanced – that you can adopt to boost your conversion rate. Read on for our top five tips to transform your website into a deadly selling tool; Continue…

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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 by the European Commission.
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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 of their care responsibilities.

This means that all of your employees, provided they meet the length of service criteria, can potentially seek to exercise their statutory rights to request flexible working.

Here’s what every small business owner needs to know about flexible working rights, and how to handle flexible working requests from staff so that you don’t end up in front of an Employment Tribunal; Continue…

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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 cock-up if you don’t learn marketing communications”.
How to get your new business noticed
But what can a small business do to get themselves noticed?

There are two options: pay lots of money to a marketing company, or do it yourself. The DIY route costs less (if anything at all) and lets you use your unique insight to create the kind of personalised, precision-targeted marketing message that an external marketing consultant could never pull off.

So let’s dip into the marketing communications pic ‘n’ mix to see what methods are at your disposal;

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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 stuck in and repair the pipe – don’t you?

Yet this is exactly what business owners often do when tackling the issue of building their teams. Continue…

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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 Life’ that the ‘long-hours culture’ has now been replaced with an ‘always-on culture’ – with devices such as smart phones and tablets allowing people to be at work all the time, checking emails, answering calls wherever they are. 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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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 month, it’s also an invaluable marketing tool, capable of reaching the kind of audiences that TV ads sandwiched between slabs of prime time soap can only dream of.

Of, course, if it were as simple as plastering the web with marketing videos and waiting for your inbox to fill with sales enquiries, everyone would be enjoying the fruits of their YouTube labours.

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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).
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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 tasks we intended to do at the start of the day.

There are many tips, tools and guides online and in print that deal with the age old issue of time management. Most seem to over-complicate something that really shouldn’t be that complicated in principle, but Covey’s Matrix has stood the test time and is something that all business owners can benefit from. Continue…

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The simplest way to start a business in the UK is to become self employed. This is also commonly referred to as becoming a sole trader.

There is minimal paperwork to take care of, and you don’t have to pay any company formation costs. However, you do need to formally register as self employed with HMRC, and assume responsibility to pay your own income tax and National Insurance liabilities.

Here are the steps you must take to if you want to become self employed, plus the other aspects you will also need to consider when working for yourself: Continue…

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A Guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners

April 1, 2016

From 1st April, 2016 all employers will need to comply with the new National Minimum Wage regulations. To help you understand exactly what the National Living Wage is, and what you need to do to comply with the new legislation, here’s a guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners;

Your business isn’t ‘yours’, and your problems aren’t all about ‘them’

March 31, 2016

When you start and run your own business, your company inevitably means more to you than anybody else. As a business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in everything and become frustrated with staff that don’t understand ‘your’ business like you do. This mindset can lead to you spending too much time and effort […]

Why “Change Management” is the most overlooked driver for executive success

March 30, 2016

Uber has a new logo. And many people don’t like it. There are things we don’t mind changing – seasons, governments, underpants – but most of the time, most of us resist change. For every innovation, from skinny jeans to a black Bond, there are plenty of us instinctively asking why? Why change? Why do […]

Five questions that will add value to your bottom line

March 29, 2016

As a business owner, you are always looking for greater efficiencies, more productivity and some general cost savings. One of your key jobs is to make sure you are always looking for ways get your business running more smoothly and more profitably, but before you jump in and make wholesale changes t0 the way your […]

How to recover from a business failure, fast

March 24, 2016

Nobody enjoys failure, but everyone experiences it at least a few times in their life and especially as a small business owner. While it’s one of those things that most people like to gloss over, failing is actually a hugely valuable experience, as long as you know how to make the most of it. Leigh […]

When should you outsource your payroll and what are the benefits of doing so?

March 23, 2016

One of the first things new business owners often say to me is how bewildering it can be getting their heads around all the different aspects of running a business. From marketing and IT to tax and finance, it’s a case of having to quickly get up to speed on a huge range of things. For […]

How to handle disciplinary issues in the workplace

March 22, 2016

Despite every effort, even the best-run businesses may encounter disciplinary problems with employees from time to time. Although it is always best to focus on effective management practice and preventative measures, having clear and fair disciplinary procedures is a good first step in avoiding difficult employment tribunals. Here’s what you need to consider, the procedures […]

The sales strategy secrets that drive sustainable, profitable sales

March 21, 2016

A key part of any business development goal is creating an efficient sales strategy that gets your products or services in front of the right people and invites them to make a purchase. Successful business leaders understand that the sales process is the lifeblood of the company. Without an efficient, productive means of making sales, […]

How employers can help change attitudes to mental health in the workplace

March 18, 2016

A recent survey about mental resilience of almost 2,000 workers found that nearly a third of UK employees feel unsure about who to talk to or where to find help or support regarding mental health. And, nearly 40% of people find it hard to talk to or open up about their mental health to anyone. […]

Landmark Supreme Court ruling could see businesses prosecuted for employees’ negligent behaviour

March 17, 2016

Businesses could be liable if an employee commits a negligent act while at work, the Supreme Court has ruled. The landmark judgement, which was confirmed this week, will have considerable consequences on the way employers train and monitor their staff, according to North West law firm Kirwans, who say the judgement is “extremely significant” and […]