How to set up and run a small business

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Taking on your first employee should be an exciting time. It means your business idea is working and you need help to expand. But while employees will help your business grow, they will also bring new stresses you may not have encountered before.

There are all sorts of costs that you must take into account. Plus the way your business runs with just you and any business partner, may not continue to be appropriate when employees are on board.

This guide will help you identify the true cost of an employee, and build a plan to manage the impact on your business. Continue…

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In June 2014, flexible working requests became a universal right. Anyone with 26 weeks of continuous employment can now ask to work flexibly for any reason. The repercussions for small businesses, in which each employee may be vital to day-to-day operations, could be significant. Continue…

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Good publicity can help to propel your small business to another level. Sadly many small businesses don’t make any effort to get any press coverage because they think it’s impossibly difficult to do so.

However, it is really simple to get free publicity for your business. In fact, the reason that many businesses get it wrong is because they try to over-complicate things. Here are the five powerful and unbreakable rules you must follow when trying to get free publicity for your business:
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The second instalment of our two-part guide to writing a business plan for business angels, examines each of the main chapters in detail, highlighting the areas that need particular attention if you are to successfully attract funding from a business angel or private investor. Continue…

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This guide has been written for ByteStart by John Courtney of Beer & Partners Ltd.

There are many books on writing business plans – all the banks provide a handy checklist for example. Yet business plans should always be written with the audience in mind. This guide is therefore aimed at helping you put your message across to one particularly critical audience – the business angel.

We see nearly 2000 plans a year and we know what our angel investors are looking for; more importantly perhaps we also know the pitfalls and howlers to be avoided. Continue…

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“Networking is always important when it’s real, and it’s always useless when it’s fake.” – Seth Godin

When I decided to investigate how some of the most successful networkers operated both online and offline, I was desperate to know the “differences”.

Some of the greatest teachers of our time encourage their followers to look for the distinctions in life – the greater your knowledge of these distinctions, the greater your capability to deal with life’s challenges.

Interestingly, regardless of whether the experts I interviewed were using offline events, clubs and conferences to build their networks, or whether they were joining digital communities and groups online, their actions were underpinned by the same operating principles and many of the same activities.

From interviews with leading business experts, I’ve identified their Top 10 tips for networking success. I’ve called them the “Magic 10″ because they kept appearing in interview after interview, seemingly from out of nowhere. If you can integrate these tips into everything you do, you will have a thriving business network in no time. Continue…

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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?
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The path from initial interest to confirmed sale hardly ever runs smoothly, especially in today’s tough marketplace.

Even though the buds of economic recovery are finally beginning to surface, failing to close is still a growing issue; a recent Silent Edge study has shown that only 49% of businesses are successfully closing deals, and that’s not the only problem. Continue…

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International bodies seem to be falling over themselves to upgrade their growth forecasts for the UK. The IMF recently hiked its predictions to 2.9% this year and the OECD to 3.2%. This is all good news. But what does it mean for business owners?

An interesting phenomenon occurs as economies race out of deep recessions; there is a rush for new and innovative products as buyers and consumers seek radical new solutions. This comes at exactly the time many companies are still in ‘recession mode’; blinkered, inwardly focused and slow, so creates a great opportunity for nimble and brave businesses. Continue…

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Public liability insurance will protect your business if you cause an injury to a member of the public, or property belonging to another business or individual.

You should consider taking out public liability insurance if members of the public visit you at your place of work, or if you perform work at places of work owned by third parties.
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Becoming a sole trader is the simplest way to get your new business off the ground.

Once you have told HMRC of your intention to become self employed, you can start trading immediately, subject to any industry-specific licences you might need.

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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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.

If you are starting a new business, freelancing for the first time, or simply wondering whether you should take out a professional indemnity insurance policy, this concise guide will help explain how this type of insurance works and whether it’s relevant to you.
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Marketing your business should be fun and simple. Surely there can be no better way to spend a day than working on something which is going to help you achieve your objectives more quickly?

Sadly many business owners don’t see marketing that way. They see it as a necessary evil; something that “must be done” rather than something to look forward to and clear time for.

Often this is because they’re not really sure where they should be spending their time and marketing spend.

If this is you, you need a plan. And the good news is you don’t have to spend hours on it. You can put together a very good marketing plan for your business in just 60 minutes. It’s just a case of answering a few simple questions, doing a little bit of thinking, then adding the magic ingredient: Continue…

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Few people start a new business so they can do paperwork. Spending time adding up receipts or pushing invoices around a desk is nobody’s idea of fun (unless you’re starting up as a book-keeper or accountant!).

Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil and something you need to stay on top of in your new business. Being disorganised and putting off paperwork just isn’t an option.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will fine you if you’re late getting essential information to them. And the longer you leave it, the worse the problem gets. So here’s what every small business owner needs to know about book keeping.
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The Summer holidays are fast approaching and if you are an employer, you may soon be inundated with holiday forms from your workforce, as staff begin to prepare for their holidays.

Although a lot of businesses have a workforce structure that enables adequate cover during holiday season, there are some that struggle due to the lack of staff and or financial resources to provide cover, during the holidays.
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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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With an estimated 2.1 million businesses based at home (a number which is growing fast), many of them operating in a family environment, more and more small business owners are torn between concentrating on a successful career and meeting the needs of a family.

Many small businesses are successfully started up from home, and there are huge advantages of doing this while you get your business off the ground.

The biggest benefit for a small business is that you do not have to fork out on the cost of premises in the early days. You also save huge amounts of time in looking for premises. Another advantage is that you can create more time to work on your business because your commute will be taking a few steps from the kitchen!

But the downsides are huge too. Continue…

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There’s no doubt that entrepreneurs need spark, grit, creativity and a huge amount of drive and commitment. However, adversity can be a helpful companion to an entrepreneur: it may be the catalyst for that light-bulb moment or it may create resilience. Continue…

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How do you define leadership? There are thousands of books, resources, classes and experts, together forming what might be described as a leadership industry. So it’s not surprising that leadership definitions abound.

Most definitions of leadership are likely to combine a number of words or ideas, such as: vision; belief; action; motivation; inspiration; intuition; or charisma. But how many would use the words legacy or loyalty?

Thinking about leadership in these terms implies an upside-down interpretation of what it means to lead.
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Small businesses, and the individuals who run them, are subject to a wide array of taxes – from Corporation Tax to National Insurance. Here is an overview of the main taxes you will encounter as a small business owner, together with links to our more in-depth guides.
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