How to set up and run a small business

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If you have set up in business via a limited company, there are a number of duties you will have – as well as legal and financial responsibilities – if you are a director of the company. This article provides an overview of what to expect as a company director.


How to lead inclusively

October 25, 2016

Your ability to be your most effective and successful is fueled by how inclusive you are as a leader in all aspects of your business – your supply chain, your workforce and how you take your products and services to market.

It’s likely that you have based your success to date on your intuitive grasp of key business issues, but if you rely on intuition alone, you could reach a plateau that will stunt your progress, and may well limit the level of creative and innovative thinking around you.

This isn’t a great recipe for sustainable business success, so here’s how you can avoid this stagnation and drive your business forward. Continue…


So you’re in charge: perhaps you started the company, maybe you’ve taken it over, or you were handed the top job and told to run the show. What next?

Every company is different. But while scale of the demands placed on the chief executive of a listed multinational may be different to those a small business owner faces, many of the major challenges business leaders face are similar.

After discussing such challenges with a wide range of entrepreneurs, investors, executives and analysts, I suggest they boil down to eight essential “acts” of leadership. Continue…


The difference between entrepreneurs who succeed, and those who spend time just thinking about it, is taking action. Specifically, it’s about taking the right action at just the right time.

You might not realise it but, if you’re starting a business, you can gain a lot from using some age-old Buddhist philosophies. One particular Buddhist concept, called the Noble Eightfold Path, gives a very practical and useful framework to take a startup idea from its genus and genesis through to successful delivery. It’s also a graceful way to move forward with in life.

But, there’s no need to become a practicing Buddhist, or ‘Anything-ist’, to benefit from the principles of mindfulness. Here, Tom Evans, author of ‘The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness’ explains how you can help turn your business dreams into reality with these 8 mindfulness hacks;



The US Marines are world-famous for their exacting standards and ruthless efficiency. The conditions they operate under might be very different from those we see in the commercial world, but there are very valuable lessons that businesses can learn from the Marines.

Here, James Bowen and Brian MacNeice, authors of Powerhouse – Insider accounts into the world’s greatest high performance organisations – explain what your business can gain by studying the strategies and tactics of the US Marines. Continue…


Many companies are enthusiastic about creating opportunities for younger people to gain business experience and skills in shorter placements, often labeling these as work experience or internships.

While larger businesses frequently put internship schemes in place, many smaller businesses can be put off offering these opportunities because they view them as an extra administrative burden.

Many small business owners hold the misconception that they would take up large amounts of time, money and effort but this is not always the case. In fact, providing such opportunities can bring tangible benefits for smaller employers.

Here’s what every small business owner needs to know about offering work experience and internships; Continue…


As a business owner, you will no doubt, face some of the common team challenges experienced by many businesses today. When you do face these problems, you will need to know how to overcome them if you want your team to deliver.

We all know that dysfunctional teams are not successful. They will become de-motivated and in turn deliver poor results.

So, here’s how to take the pain out of meetings, handle tricky conversations and solve those perennial communication problems once and for all. Continue…


Experience tells me that one of the reasons why people start up their own business is to be their “own boss”, and that means they don’t want to be constrained by petty, bureaucratic, small mindedness being meted out every minute of their working lives.

The reality is that we all need rules. In the words of Al Murray (“The Pub Landlord”) “Where would we be without rules? France!”

I am not going to inflict upon you here a doctrine of rule-bound obedience leading to business success, but rather propose a Ten Commandments of Behaviour which are intended as a benchmark against which to measure yourself.

You can use them when you feel that perhaps you’ve ‘missed the mark’ or, better still, use them today, right now, and see how a change in behaviour might benefit your business. So here are the 10 Commandments of Behaviour tablets, delivered to your door; Continue…


If you can create a culture of learning, not blaming, in your business, you are more likely to see your business grow and flourish.

If you allow a blame culture to take hold in a business, staff will tend to hide, or even cover up, any mistakes. This attitude can often compound problems further. On the other hand, a learning culture encourages errors to be highlighted so everybody can learn lessons from them.

To help explain the benefits a learning culture brings to your business, and how you can instil such behaviour in your team, we asked Justin Hughes, author of The Business of Excellence: Building high-performance teams and organisations to share his experiences and to explore a few of the key issues around a learning culture; Continue…


If you were to survey a group of entrepreneurs about why they started their business, I’m sure you would get a huge variety of interesting answers. Of course many of them will have been motivated by money, but I would bet that one of the most popular reasons would be a desire to create something meaningful for themselves.

The prospect of taking control of your own destiny and being your own boss is a powerful motivator. I personally spent years as a Wall Street trader but found that the money I earned and lost just became numbers that had very little meaning to me.

Chasing money felt like an empty pursuit, and deep down I really wanted to start and run my own business, be the boss, and build stuff that I could actually point at. Continue…


The inspiration to start a business can come anywhere at any time: in the pub, in the shower, in the supermarket, walking the dog. How many times has someone you know announced they’ve had a great business idea? And how many of those eureka moments ended up getting no further than a few notes on a napkin?

Why was this? Too much hard work involved? Concerns over starting a business being too risky? Worries about it needing too much commitment?

But those aren’t barriers to every business idea taking off; some ideas do make it from conceptualisation to conclusion. The difference? Dedication and passion. And perhaps necessity. Continue…


Customer-centricity is one of the hottest topic in business today. Across the world, companies of all sizes are looking for new ways to become more customer-centric in order to give themselves a competitive advantage in a decreasingly loyal marketplace.

Unfortunately, however, for many businesses the phrase “give them an inch; they’ll take a mile” is all too appropriate when it comes to customer-centricity. By striving to accommodate their customers wants and needs they leave themselves open to a proportion of their clients who will take advantage.

Get the balance wrong and give customers too much power and you will find yourself in a situation that is completely unsustainable in the long-term. Continue…


‘If you think training is expensive, try ignorance’

This oft-quoted phrase, attributed to Peter Drucker, is frequently used when businesses say they ‘can’t afford’ to train or develop their staff.

So it’s worth asking yourself how much ‘untrained ‘or ‘undeveloped’ staff are costing your business – now and, potentially, in the future? Continue…


As we approach the fourth anniversary of auto enrolment, it seems that smaller employers are, for the most part, smoothly adapting to providing workplace pensions. However, some small businesses are struggling with some aspects of how auto enrolment works.

To help make sure you don’t get caught out by the common auto enrolment problems, we asked Paul Budgen of NEST, which has been set up by the government especially for auto enrolment, to share his advice on the five auto enrolment issues that business owners are asking about. Continue…


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.


An entrepreneur with a super power memory would be able to easily remember important business related facts & figures to demonstrate that they are the go-to “expert” in a particular field.

This person would also be able to smoothly pitch for business and give presentations from memory without notes to be more persuasive. While the ability to effortlessly recall anecdotes would allow them to quickly build rapport with clients.

A business owner like this would also great at networking because of their ability to remember the names of everyone that they meet, and important things about these people. While valuable new qualifications could be quickly gained because exam material would be easy to master.

The great news is that you can become this business person with a super power memory! You actually already have an amazing memory and with the memory training tips in this article, I’m going to help you unlock your full memory potential. Believe it or not, this is also going to be easy and a lot of fun!



We’ve all been in business meetings where we’re clock watching and wondering how long it will go on for, worrying about our to-do lists which are not getting any shorter. This is especially true in start-ups, where time is especially precious for everybody in a small team..

When it comes to meetings, especially internal ones, it can be difficult to enforce the discipline needed to get the most out of them. This includes starting and finishing on time and sticking to the agenda. Meetings should have a purpose and a definite outcome, otherwise they can be an unproductive use of time for all involved.

What’s more, poor meetings aren’t only wasting our valuable time, they are also having an impact upon our bodies. Research has shown that spending long hours sitting down can play a significant role in the development of chronic diseases, so it’s imperative that you, as an employer, implement changes to protect the health, wellbeing and productivity of your employees.

It’s time to transform the standard routine and be more creative and active with work meetings, not only to breathe more life into them, but reinvigorate your colleagues too. Here’s how you can achieve more from meetings, eliminate wasted time, improve your health and potentially have some fun in the process: Continue…


If you are starting your own business, you can’t hope to succeed in today’s commercial world without employing good, time-saving technology.

Fortunately, there are plenty of low-cost, or even, free tools out there that help small businesses to do those everyday tasks that much quicker and simpler. But, faced with dozens of different tools, the biggest problem is usually trying to work out which one offers the best solution.

So to help small business owners find the best time and money-saving tech tools, we asked Martin Bailey, author of The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos and Apps, to share five of his favourite small business utilities that can give you the edge over your competition. Continue…


You’ve established a company, it’s successful, and everything is running smoothly. Congratulations, that’s a fantastic feat. But…

… at some point every company will find that its growth has plateaued. Although things are stable, stimulating growth becomes an issue and the company isn’t climbing to the next level.

When this happens to you, do not panic, take these five steps and you’ll kick-start your business growth strategy.



In years gone by, equality and diversity haven’t always been at the forefront of business owners’ minds. However, in recent years more and more business leaders are recognising that respecting equality and diversity make good business sense.

So, what makes equality and diversity increasingly vital when you are setting up and running a business? We asked entrepreneur and author, Jackie Arnold to explain; Continue…


How small business owners can tackle difficult conversations with employees

September 20, 2016

Having to carry out difficult conversations is an inevitable consequence of owning a business and being an employer. When most business owners start employing staff they often haven’t thought of the reality of becoming an employer and having to tackle workplace issues as they arise. Employers often don’t have the confidence to successfully carry out […]

5 tips to help you make good decisions when you’re surrounded by uncertainty

September 19, 2016

Change is inevitable. And with change comes uncertainty. So, how can people in business, particularly those running a start-up or small business, which are often more sensitive to change, ensure they make the best decisions they can when so little is certain? Here, John Reynard, author of ‘The Spiritual Route to Entrepreneurial Success” highlights 5 things […]

Health & Safety Plans for Startups – How to write one for your business

September 16, 2016

It’s safe to say that writing a health & safety plan isn’t one of the most exciting parts of starting a business. In fact, it’s something that many new business owners neglect to do. A health and safety plan is a plan which outlines how health and safety protocol will work in your business. In […]

5 Ways to unlock finance for your startup business

September 15, 2016

Everybody 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 […]

Copycats: Why the best business ideas come from copying what others are doing

September 14, 2016

Have you ever heard the saying: “There is no such thing as an original idea?” Like many things that live in the public imagination, it is there because there is some truth behind it. There are some ideas that come like a bolt of lightning out of the blue, or so they seem. But when […]

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

September 12, 2016

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 go […]

How to create business cards that make a big impression

September 9, 2016

Most business cards are about as much use as a scrap of paper with a name and number scribbled on it. That’s fine if you are looking for a date, but not so good for showcasing your business. With a little thought, however, it’s easy to create a business card that packs a real promotional […]

Why the best leaders do less

September 8, 2016

How do you describe yourself? Are you an entrepreneur, a technical expert, someone who is good at a specific task or a manager? Or are you a leader? Whether you describe yourself as a leader or not, the chances are that your business needs you to show leadership at every stage of its development. So […]

10 tips for starting a business at university (from someone who did it themselves)

September 7, 2016

A number of the world’s largest companies were founded by ambitious and determined university students who weren’t afraid to dream. Most people know that Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room, but were you aware that FedEx, the global courier service, was first imagined by Frederick W. Smith in an undergraduate paper while […]

Which types of insurance must your business have?

September 5, 2016

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 […]