How to set up and run a small business

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As long as brands have existed, consumers have loved to talk about them. While 90% of conversations about brands are happening offline, today millions of people talk about companies on social media, and these online conversations now offer a new dimension in marketing.

Whether consumers are aware of it or not, these branded conversations are increasingly being watched by businesses.

Being faced with so many conversations happening in real time can be a daunting prospect, particularly for small businesses, but ignoring them can be a huge missed opportunity to influence how the world sees your brand.
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Every business – even yours – has a brand.

One common misconception is that your brand is your logo. Your logo is a single visual representation of your brand, but it is not your brand. Continue…

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In recent years, the number of businesses embracing social media has grown rapidly, and this trend is set to continue in the coming years.

The businesses that are successfully using social media as a promotional tool have recognised the importance of delivering valuable content on a regular basis, and the value of stimulating, and engaging with online conversations around their brand.

With the opportunity to connect with such a vast online audience, social media integration is no longer a choice for business owners but indeed a necessity. To help you on the way, here are 5 tips to help your business succeed with social media;
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As a small business owner you may not have lots of money sloshing around. You know your staff are your most important asset, but you may not be able to afford to give them a pay rise.

So how can you be an attractive company to work for, motivate and reward staff and promote loyalty without increasing your pay bill?

Believe it or not, introducing employee benefits may be the answer. There is a range of benefits which won’t be a cost to your company and will actually provide savings by reducing your tax liability. These are known as salary sacrifice schemes.
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Social media is widely hailed as the latest big thing in brand perception and reputation management. With the number of people using social media growing by the day, more and more businesses are recognising the need to connect with this audience.
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This week marks the launch of Apple’s latest attempt at changing the way we interact with technology, as Apple Pay, the company’s version of mobile contactless technology, debuts in the US.

Whilst this launch is currently limited to the US, the chances are if all goes to plan it will launch in the UK within the next 6 months.

But what exactly is Apple Pay? And is it going to affect your small business?

There’s a slim chance it could be another fad which flops, but it could also be the system which pushes widespread adoption of mobile payments. So the question is, as a small business, should you look into preparing for Apple Pay?
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Ever since social media became so prominent, companies have seen a huge online fan base as something of a marketing holy grail, with the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers becoming a benchmark for success.

Unfortunately, lots of companies jump into social media with energy and enthusiasm but quickly get disappointed or frustrated when the results aren’t quite as big as their ambitions.

The road to building an online fan base that is both big, and crucially, of value, is a long and winding with very few shortcuts, but here are five steps to think about in order to succeed: Continue…

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It’s all too easy to get to the end of a project and feel completely exhausted. Sapped of all energy and enthusiasm we can miss what’s really important.

To overcome this, change leader, Ian Coyne reveals a new approach to project management which will help you to manage projects and hit deadlines without grinding yourself into the ground.
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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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Whether it’s in a business situation or home environment, procrastination is a true monster that takes away confidence and ultimately undermines self-worth. It also saps vital energy, stifling you and your business.

Every time you delay something, you add imaginary weight onto your shoulders while the item joins the long queue of “to do” items: a burden of a promise you need to fulfil.

Over time this burden grows and grows and your self-worth shrinks in its shadow. You drag along a big suitcase of things you can’t seem to get around to doing, but which you want to, or think you need to, get done soon.
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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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“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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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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