How to set up and run a small business

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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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No matter how successful your business has been with just you working in it, if you want to grow you will need to take on employees.

There are innumerable benefits of having employees. The right people will ease the workload on you and allow you take holidays. Good staff keep your business running day to day, so you can focus on the most important part of your role as the leader: growing the business.

But being an employer brings with it a wide range of responsibilities that are driven by statutory requirements. The law places certain obligations on employers to ensure the rights of their staff are adhered to. And you have a general ethical responsibility to look after your team and ensure they are fit, well and happy at work.

The majority of these responsibilities start from day one of employment and continue for the lifetime of the employment relationship. When you hire staff, some of your main responsibilities as an employer are;

Continue…

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Small businesses often begin when an entrepreneur brings an idea to life on a laptop at the kitchen table. At this point, the entire IT infrastructure of the business is likely to be the computer and the software it’s running. But things can grow very quickly.

As your startup grows, the size and complexity of your business increases. An integrated and functional IT system can help you manage this transition, improving productivity, security and also saving money. And best of all, because of developments in hardware and software, it doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated to manage.

Using cloud services, a functioning virtual network can be created simply and quickly for your business in a matter of moments online. In fact, creating the network is the simple bit – to make it function properly and securely, you’ll need to gain some insight, do some planning and potentially get some external support.

Here, we share some practical hints and tips to help you manage your business’s IT as you grow and develop. Continue…

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It doesn’t matter how many presentation skills training courses we’ve been on or how many truly terrible presentations we’ve seen, we all end up falling into the same old traps when we present, pitch or speak in public.

To help you avoid making yawn-inducing presentation mistakes we asked Steve Bustin, author of The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking to reveal the top ten presenting sins and how you can avoid them: Continue…

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Let’s start with a sobering statistic: Retailers opened the lowest number of new stores in the last 5 years in the first half of 2016. What’s more, 15 stores pulled down their shutters for the last time every day. Altogether, that means nearly 2000 more stores were closed than opened in that six-month period.

Today, as bricks and mortar shops seem to struggle more than ever before, embracing online has become all the more important. Even retail giant IKEA, who for a long time stuck to their bricks and mortar roots and resisted expanding its online presence for years, has recently announced that they will be launching a Click & Collect solution.

So how can smaller retailers take advantage of the changing ways we shop? Continue…

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The inbox has changed from an exciting place where anyone from anywhere in the world can reach you within seconds to a daily burden where tasks disappear under the onslaught of new emails coming in.

Email productivity experts agree that dealing with emails instantly as they appear in our inboxes, decreases productivity. New emails can be dangerously distracting and research suggests that we need to turn off new-email notifications.

But this alone is not enough to curb distraction. It is maybe even more important that we sort our incoming emails into various categories. So how do you handle your inbox productively? Continue…

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Understand how to shape the customer journey and convert browsers into buyers.

The more relevant you make your website for each visitor, the longer they’ll stay, the more they’ll do, the more they’ll spend, and the more they’ll tell other people. And a great way to do this is to make the experience more personal.

Many small online retailers are missing out on the benefits personalisation can bring, so we asked Christer Holloman, author of How to Sell Online to reveal how you can take advantage of the opportunities it offers; Continue…

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One in three customers do not buy your complete range of products and services. Why? Well the answer is very simple! It’s because they don’t know you offer them!

So is your business unknowingly falling victim of this profit-crushing statistic?

A thought-provoking question, isn’t it? Continue…

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For many small employers, providing a workplace pension, because of Automatic Enrolment, will be brand new territory. With a wide range of providers to choose from, where do you begin? How do you narrow it down and make your selection?

It’s a similar process to hiring a new worker or signing up a new supplier. You look for signs of quality, assess whether they’re suitable for your company and a ‘good fit’ for your team.

So if you are looking to choose a pension provider for your new auto-enrolment pension scheme, here are five things to bear in mind when making your decision; Continue…

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A standard approach to the resolution of business problems is to ‘brainstorm’ a range of possible solutions. The problem is that the method doesn’t work!

How many times have you sat through a brainstorming session and thought ‘I could have produced that list of solutions on my own?’ How many times has the most senior or dominant person in the group railroaded everyone else into accepting their solutions at the expense of potentially good ideas from quieter or less senior participants?

So, if you want to out-smart your competitors, you need to start using some smart thinking techniques. Continue…

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Today, more young professionals are making alternative choices to the standard roles assumed by their parents’ generation. As a result, the landscape of work has changed dramatically for this generation, and for generations to follow.

Why?

It’s simple. We want more from our jobs than just a salary. We also want to be happy in the place we spend 70% of our waking hours.

This may be surprising, but for small business owners and start-ups, this is actually really great news. Even if we’re not a multi-national company, we can still compete for talent by offering a happier workplace than our big business counterparts.

So how do you create a fun culture and put happiness at the core of your small business? Here are five examples of companies that are focusing on employee happiness and reaping the benefits; Continue…

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When staff appraisal or review time rolls around, many small business owners view this as a waste of their valuable time. This is not the case, however, and employers who spend the time and effort to make these meetings are a success will often get much more out of staff appraisals than they put into them.

In this guide, we look at staff appraisals and outline how smaller employers can reap the benefits of an effective employee appraisal scheme;

Continue…

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As a business owner, you’re also a business leader. And therefore, in order for your start-up to grow and develop beyond a one-man-band, there will come a time when you need to be able to lead other leaders within your business.

To do this successfully, you’ll need to develop a whole new set of skills and ways of operating because leading leaders is not simply a question of knowing what needs to be done and telling others to do it.

Instead, you will have to guide those leaders and inspire them to inspire their teams to deliver the results you need. When you can do that – you are a Super Leader.

To help you become a leader of leaders, in this article, Jean Gamester reveals 3 key steps, you’ll need to take; Continue…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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‘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…

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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…

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If your new business needs staff straight away, then you may find choosing the right office space difficult. In this guide, we look at the benefits a serviced office could provide and give some tips on things to watch out for when you’re trying to find an office.
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5 Top small business tools that will save you time, hassle and money

September 27, 2016

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 […]

5 steps to kick-starting growth in your business

September 22, 2016

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 […]

Respecting equality and diversity in leadership

September 21, 2016

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 […]

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 […]

What is workplace diversity, why is it important, and what are the benefits to businesses?

September 2, 2016

Workplace diversity is a term which relates to the people who work for an organisation. It is often spoken about with reference to equal opportunities, and the two are intrinsically linked, but have varying perspectives. Providing equal opportunities means ensuring that no individual is treated less favourably on the basis of who they are – […]

How to design an effective incentive scheme for your small business

August 30, 2016

An effective incentive scheme is an important way for small businesses to motivate their staff in order to improve performance and boost profits. Responding to incentives is part of human nature and employees like (and deserve) to be rewarded for their hard work. For startups and small businesses who have a limited budget, designing a […]

6 Easy steps to get better results from your small business website

August 25, 2016

We live in a connected age where you can purchase pretty much anything you want at the touch of a button on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer. With this in mind, you may find it surprising to learn that not all businesses are tapping into this, or even quite know how to.

Auto-Enrolment – 5 Common small business questions, answered

August 18, 2016

Many small business owners are now tackling Auto-Enrolment for the first time. The subject is throwing up lots of questions, and with deadlines looming, small businesses need to ensure they get their Auto-Enrolment Pension Scheme in place in time. To help, we asked Paul Budgen of NEST, which has been set up by the government […]

5 Ways data analytics can help you generate more leads and get the most out of your marketing spend

August 17, 2016

Lead generation is absolutely crucial to identifying potential customers that are interested in you business’s products and services. With online leads coming from various sources such as search engines, email marketing, banner advertising and social media, you need to take an informed approach so you can reduce waste and focus your marketing budget on the […]

How to attract customers from heaven – not clients from hell!

August 8, 2016

You’ve done your market research, you’ve got a solid business plan, you’ve registered your company and pulled together funding, suppliers and everything else you need to start your new business. You’re ready to trade – you just need some customers. However, not all customers are created equal; some are a delight to deal with, while […]