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business leadership tips

So you’ve decided to take the leap and start your own business. Does this mean that all the leadership stuff you learned about on your mini-MBA gets tossed out the window?

Ah, the joys of throwing away the corporate policies manual, the bliss of not worrying about reporting lines and organizational structures.

Well, yes and no. Leadership structures are there for a reason. They might look like it, but they’re not just there to keep people in jobs. Continue…

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gold mine or moon shotWe are living in an exciting time… a time where technological changes are booming.

Digitalization, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, 3D printing and the Internet of Things are just a few examples of these amazing technologies that are opening up a world of completely new opportunities.

However, in order to turn the technological possibilities into economic success, you need to identify the emerging market opportunities, and to carefully evaluate their future value, to make sure you are betting on a winning option.

So how do you evaluate whether your big business idea could be a gold mine, or a waste of time?

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How to get funding for your startup businessEverybody understands that starting up a business from scratch is not a simple process or an easy challenge to take on.

Regardless of how lofty your ambitions are or whether you’re aiming to establish yourself as a sole trader or as a the boss of a burgeoning new enterprise, finding access to initial and early-stage sources of finance is a vitally important step along the way towards sustainability and success.

Here’s a look at some of the most commonplace and most viable routes to finance currently available to startup businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them.

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Creating loyal customers

In marketing, there a million ways to reach your customers. You can go big with a billboard, or far with a Facebook post, targeting potential customers city-wide, nationwide and globally.

The internet has allowed us more reach than ever before, and while powerful, this means that we can easily lose the humanity of our marketing.

When it comes to retaining your customers, this humanity is crucial. Will your customers still be with you once serious product competition appears on the horizon, ready to snap up your valued buyers with slashed prices and easier delivery means?

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avoiding mental health problems in business

According to Unum UK’s “Mental health as a workplace asset” report in partnership with The Mental Health Foundation and Oxford Economics, 15 percent of UK employees – 4.9 million people – are affected by common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Such issues are fast becoming a top priority for businesses both large and small, especially as it’s clear mental health challenges have no boundaries when it comes to the world of work. Continue…

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helping staff with mental health issuesEach year around ten million adults in the UK will experience mental ill health, meaning one in four of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lifetime.

Over the past decade, mental health awareness has accelerated, and more and more employers now understand that mental health is not only a serious issue for society but for businesses too.

With ‘mental health in the workplace’ as the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, we asked Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, to share her advice on how to look out for, and respond to, signs of mental ill health in your employees. Continue…

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what to include in your business planEvery start-up company needs a good business plan and an effective business strategy.

They’re distinct but equally necessary and you shouldn’t confuse one with the other.

You can’t expect to get past first base without a plan. A clear, well-written explanation of what you intend to sell and when you intend to sell it, is the document you will take to your bank manager if you want to get a business loan and to investors if you’re seeking financial backing.

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Artificial Intelliegence and human touch in customer contact

Customer service is accelerating towards ever greater automation. In some sectors we’re already seeing chatbots and virtual assistants transforming the customer experience.

But at what point do the cost efficiencies that technology provide become less compelling, and can the human touch ever be fully replicated or replaced?

We asked Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing at outsourced customer contact specialist, Echo Managed Services, to assess the changing consumer communication landscape and to explain how businesses can incorporate new solutions alongside traditional methods of customer contact. Continue…

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How new technologies affect small businesses

The kind of technological disruptions we are seeing raise questions for businesses of all sizes. What will work be like in the future? How will organisations adapt? How will they navigate their way to the ‘next horizon’?

How small businesses, in particular, respond to the challenges and exploit the benefits of smart technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) will be a key determinant of their success going forward.

So what should you do to make sure your business benefits from new technologies like artificial intelligence, and doesn’t become obsolete? Continue…

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Business planning - how to plan for the short term

In a previous article, I described the differences between short term and long term planning. A challenge to both types of planning is how much detail to go into.

I’ve seen accountants trying to create perfect 30 year financial models based on the level of detail they use for tracking the day to day running of the business.

Needless to say, they quickly find an already large job turning into a mountain of work. When the time comes to update the plan (1-12 times/year depending on the organisation) the battle to ensure accurate detail in the plan needs to be taken up again.

So how do you get the right level of planning for your business? Continue…

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Leadership qualities - Sir Winston Churchill

Some people say that the ‘ideal leader’ is a myth. They argue that there are leaders that suit some situations but not others.

The notion of ‘good’ leadership is always relative to the need. There is no single ideal leader. Yet there is a common theme to good leadership: access to a particular set of energies and skill-sets.

None of us has all these naturally: becoming a leader means having to grow. But it means growing in a clear direction, acquiring certain qualities that we need but don’t have enough of.

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2016/17 Tax rates and allowances for business owners To clarify the various tax rates, thresholds and allowances that self employed workers, business owners and company directors need to be aware of for tax calculations, here is ByteStart’s summary of the main tax rates, tax bands, and tax allowances for the tax year from 6 April 2016 to 5 April 2017.

These are the rates and thresholds that you will need to use for completing self assessment tax returns for 2016/17.

The deadline for filing a paper tax return for the 2016/17 tax year is 30 October 2017. If you are completing your self assessment online, you have until 31 January to submit your return.

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Cut corporation tax with R&D tax reliefCash 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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In recent years, co-working space or a small office in a serviced office environment has been where many young businesses establish themselves. But for those who are outgrowing space with new staff and new capital, it may be time to look towards a permanent office address.

So where do you start? What do you look for in an office, and how can you make it the best home for your brand?

We asked Morgan Lovell to provide some practical tips and advice to anyone thinking of looking for new business premises. Continue…

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How to dispose of old electronicsThe digital age is showing no signs of slowing down and there is now a greater range and scope of technology on the market than ever before.

As the demand for and the production of the latest technology increases, so does the need for efficient and eco-friendly disposal methods of old electronic equipment.

This is just as important for small businesses as it is for large businesses. If you’re a small organisation wanting to understand how you can get rid of your electronic waste efficiently and cost-effectively, read on to discover the world of WEEE recycling and disposal. Continue…

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Setting up a support network for your startup businessStarting up and growing your own business can be extremely exciting and exhilarating, but it can also at times be quite lonely and overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have a business partner to share the experience with.

When you are sitting alone at your desk it can be hard to know where to turn for advice and support.

The good news is there is fantastic solution to this. That is to create your own support team that you can call on whenever you need to for help and advice, and even sometimes simply for encouragement and motivation and a friendly chat.

Here’s how to do it: Continue…

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Making a contractual job offer to new employeeFollowing a successful recruitment and selection process, employers will be able to identify which candidates they wish to employ.

Making a job offer to the successful candidate appears to be a straightforward area of law, however, there are several factors that employers should consider to put themselves on the best path. Continue…

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Whatever industry you’re in, Health & Safety is a critical part of running a business. And with substantial fines if you get it wrong, it’s not something to be taken lightly.

In 2015/16 alone, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and – in Scotland – the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) prosecuted 696 businesses, and of those cases almost all (95%) were convicted, amounting to a grand total of £38.3m worth of fines. The average fine? A potentially business-breaking £58,000.

Many of the HSE and COPFS’s prosecutions stemmed from material breaches uncovered during HSE inspections where a Fee for Intervention (FFI) was charged. To help you steer clear of nasty fines, we asked Health & Safety experts Citation to put together an in-depth guide on all things FFI. Continue…

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digital marketing tools

For many small business owners, the term ‘digital marketing’ could very well generate a concerned or baffled look, and the temptation to turn around and hide in a darkened room.

As an established small business, or even someone setting up a new business, you might know all about offline marketing like posters and billboards, flyers and direct mail, and word-of-mouth advertising, but when it comes to promoting your business online, it’s unchartered territory.

So to help you safely navigate the online marketing landscape, conquer new marketing activities and promote your business in the digital world, here’s a small business guide to the basics of digital marketing; Continue…

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How to choose the right till system for your business

September 11, 2017

Point of sales systems have been around for hundreds of years, and for most of that time they were not much more than a cash drawer and calculator. That was until now – huge leaps in technology have taken the humble till a long way forward in the last few years. Today, point of sale […]

A guide to Personal Liability Notices (PLNs) for company directors

September 8, 2017

Personal Liability Notices or PLNs first came into effect in April 2009. Originally, PLNs were predominantly used by HMRC to tackle “phoenixism”, where the assets and the operations of an insolvent business that has run up significant tax debts are transferred to a new company operated by the same management team that has a history […]

What can you learn from Industry Awards?

September 7, 2017

No matter what industry you’re in, there are organisations that recognise and reward those that excel above the competition. When you’re concentrating on finding your feet as a business, you may think that awards should be put on the back-burner. However, you can learn a lot by paying attention to industry awards.

The real business case for inclusion

September 6, 2017

As a small business owner, you may think ‘inclusion’ is an issue for big corporates, with large HR departments. This misperception assumes that inclusion is a cost, when in fact, done properly, inclusion is one of the best free resources available to smaller businesses. Here’s how being an inclusive business can help you succeed and […]

What I learned from going bust

September 5, 2017

Every business owner can learn valuable lessons from studying how successful businesses are born and grow. Looking out for, and replicating, key drivers of success in other businesses, can help to drive our own business forward. However, vital insight can also be gained from business failures. In many cases, what we can learn from terminal […]

Which types of insurance must your business have?

August 31, 2017

As with owning a car, you are legally required to take out certain insurances when running a business. If you don’t you can be fined heavily and could put your entire operation at risk. It’s also sensible to have some of the many optional business insurance policies available to cushion you from nasty shocks. With […]

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

August 29, 2017

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 […]

A guide to HMRC’s Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs)

August 24, 2017

Government measures announced last year by the Chancellor to tackle tax avoidance schemes appear to be paying off. A recent illustration of this is HMRC’s high profile win in the Supreme Court against Rangers FC and its use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) to pay staff. More than £47m was paid to dozens of staff […]

The 3 Pillars of a successful promotional video

August 21, 2017

Video is a potent and wildly effective marketing tool, but only when it is part of a measured and considered content strategy. It is no easy task to succinctly and effectively communicate your brand values and core messaging to an audience in a way that is original and compelling. Before you even begin you need […]

Managing staff sickness absence – A Guide for small businesses

August 18, 2017

It is virtually impossible to eradicate staff sickness absence entirely. However, for small businesses, the costly nature of absenteeism can be extremely disruptive to the day to day running of the business. There are many costs associated with staff being off sick, including compensation to the absent employee, the additional expense of finding temporary workers […]

Salary Sacrifice Schemes – What small businesses need to know about the new rules

August 15, 2017

Significant changes to UK salary sacrifice schemes have now been implemented. Affecting both employers and employees, these changes essentially remove the tax incentives of many of the benefits in kind (BiK) offered under salary sacrifice arrangements. With, the new salary sacrifice rules reducing the tax benefits of salary sacrifice schemes, here’s what small businesses need […]

How to find a niche in the market and stand out from the competition

August 14, 2017

If your new business is going to be operating in a competitive marketplace, it’s crucial that you find a way to differentiate your business from all the competitors out there. In short, why should customers choose your products or services over what’s already available? If you can’t answer that question, then you need to read […]

Building your influencing skills and mastering the art of persuasion

August 10, 2017

Start-ups and small businesses have to be prudent in their go-to-market activities. There isn’t the budget to splash out on extensive marketing campaigns, or the time for spray and pray customer targeting. As a business owner, you are often the face of the business at every turn. Whether you’re dealing with customers, suppliers, partners or […]

The way to get paid – 12-Step Action Plan to stop customers from paying you late

August 7, 2017

Dealing with late payment can be tricky for small and medium sized businesses. Handle it wrong and a customer could be lost, ignore the issue and it can stifle business growth, have a huge impact on cash flow and even cause a company to go bust. Staggering figures published in a government paper, revealed that […]

Using mindfulness to navigate uncertainty and unlock creativity in your business

August 4, 2017

Now more than ever, creative thinking and the ability to come up with innovative solutions to today´s challenges is crucial for business success. With mindfulness being increasingly used to unlock creativity throughout businesses we’ve asked author Palma Michel, to share practical tips on how you can use mindfulness to improve your business:

The Beauty of selling your business with a Management Buyout (MBO) – And what to look out for

August 2, 2017

Many small businesses, up to 20 employees, are run in a very hands-on manner by their owners. This can work well for everyone and hopefully provide the proprietors with a good level of income. When it comes to the moment they want to move on, or retire, however, their future financial independence will depend on […]