How to set up and run a small business

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Automatic enrolment is looming large on the horizon for hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the UK.

With many small firms unfamiliar with company pensions, tackling auto enrolment (AE) can feel daunting, so this guide has been designed to help small business owners get to grips with the subject.

It outlines they key issues for small businesses, including what auto enrolment is, what’s happening, the implications for you and your employees and the steps you need to take to ensure you comply with the new rules.


For every service business, ensuring your customers have a great experience is paramount. Whether you’re a small start-up cafe or a global hotel chain, customer satisfaction needs to be a top priority if you are to succeed.

To help you put in place the foundations for a thriving service business, we asked Michael Heppell, the author of, “5 Star Service – How to deliver exceptional customer service”, to reveal the key issues you need to get right, before you can start wowing your customers; Continue…


If Alexander Armstrong gave 100 business owners 100 seconds to name words describing the kind of boss they are, the chances are, “cruel” would be a pointless answer.

But some of the 100 would be wrong. Why? Because many well-intentioned business owners continue to employ some members of staff who, because of their results and/or attitude, quite simply shouldn’t be there.

Here, HR expert and author of Fire Well, Sue Ingram, explains to ByteStart how a small business owner should deal with problem staff and how letting an employee go, can be the most considerate action an employer can take;



Being a business owner, and your own boss, is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life, but it can come with some drawbacks such as long hours, stress and a poor work/life balance.

If you’re running your own business and want to stay on top of your game for the long-term, you need to look at the way you integrate work into your life. If you work too hard, you can run yourself into the ground and actually end up damaging the business, you so desperately want to succeed.

So here are 9 thing you can do to help strike the right work/life balance while running your own business; Continue…


It’s estimated that almost one in every three small businesses maintain their own website, and with that comes a whole host of potential challenges to overcome.

Alongside the usual cost of building a new website, getting the right designer and managing your hosting prices, there are other factors which many small business owners do not consider when managing or monitoring their website.

In fact, there are a number of common mistakes which SMEs often make, but which are easy enough to overcome.

Here are the seven errors we most often see with websites designed for startups and small businesses.


If you decide to recruit your first employee for your small business, one of your legal obligations is to present all staff members with a written statement of employment particulars.


When a member of your staff takes a holiday, do you feel like you’re the one having a break? While they’re away, does your time at work feel less stressed? Do things run more smoothly? Is being at work just more enjoyable? And does the workplace in general seem lighter? Do the people around you seem more contented, even though they’re taking on the workload of their vacationing associate?


That can’t be right.

Well it’s not. And you need to do something about it. Otherwise, you’re effectively paying someone to sabotage your business. But how do you fix it? Continue…


A lot of thought goes into choosing the right company cars, or vehicles for your business. In finding the right vehicle for your needs, you need to take into account a whole host of factors, including, cost, availability, reliability, your brand image, and emissions.

In recent years electric cars have become more and more commonplace for environmentally aware drivers. Boasting zero emissions, a silent cockpit and advanced technology, they certainly possess some attractive qualities – but are they right for the day-to-day needs of you and your business?

If you’ve found yourself asking this question, these are some of the key issues for you to weigh up if you are considering buying an electric company vehicle: Continue…


Small business owners look to technology to help them achieve their goals and grow their business. They expect it to help them speed up the way they work, make operations more efficient, reduce costs and generally enable them to do more things better. Technology should and really does help achieve these things. However, on the flipside it can also be confusing, expensive, restrictive and require ongoing maintenance.

It’s a vexing problem for the small business owner or entrepreneur. They may not be an IT expert and may not want to be. This year’s DNA of an Entrepreneur survey revealed that Britain’s entrepreneurs are planning to spend much more on innovation over the coming year but, from the constantly evolving technology smorgasbord, how do they decide what to pick and what to leave? Continue…


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

When sales targets are high and prospects are scarce, it’s essential for salespeople to hone their skills and fine tune their approach for a successful close.

There are many organisational challenges facing salespeople, but most of these can be whittled down to three main root causes;

  1. A lack of sales staff motivation,
  2. Failure to maximise sales capability, and
  3. Inefficient management of the sales pipeline.

To help you close that sought-after sale, here are three key areas to focus on; Continue…


Working is a balancing act. Whether its deadlines or internal demands, we all have plates to spin. This is particularly so in small businesses where there are fewer resources to draw on when the pressure is on.

Being busy at work is the norm for most of us, and often leads to an imbalance between work and life. Letting this equilibrium tip more towards work is not good for our wellbeing and can have negative effects on health and performance at work.

With recent news reporting that 40% of employees are suffering from “brownout”, a milder form of burnout, and are consequently disengaged and demotivated at work, businesses need to think how they can get the best out of employees, including allowing them to re-energise themselves. Continue…


One of the big problems for businesses today is that fewer than 20% of employees are fully engaged at work. This is, of course, a huge waste; for the individual, the team and the company.

As a company, you pay for 100% of employees agreed work time. If your employees are not fully engaged, this means you are only getting a small part of their paid-for capability – and they are not fully valuing their own time.

So how can you improve employee engagement in your business and what benefits will it bring?


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…


It’s fair to say that the digital landscape has given us all a platform to air every thought that warrants sharing, and also many that don’t!

Unfortunately for businesses, customers will often bypass customer services and immediately go online to air their views. While channels such as Facebook allow you to brush criticism under the carpet (not advised, angry customers will usually respond), reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor and Google can blemish your name on a longer-term basis.

While your customers will always have scope to poorly portray your business online, there are some simple ways to monitor and respond to criticism in a proactive and timely manner.

Here are 6 things you can do to protect your brand and enhance your business reputation on social media; Continue…


A recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management (iLM) suggested more than a third of UK workers (37%) were hoping to leave their current job inside 12 months, and that a quarter of people planning to change jobs were doing so because they felt underappreciated by their current employer.

Other studies have shown that many UK employees feel undervalued at work and often it’s the small things that count. Last year recruitment website found 58% of British workers don’t believe employees are thanked enough in the workplace, with 54% saying this left them feeling unappreciated and 41% feeling demotivated as a result.

So what can small business owners do to help ensure staff are motivated to do a good job and want to stay with you for the long-term? Continue…


In an increasingly competitive business world, nurturing your existing staff can help you avoid a high turnover rate. If you’re constantly losing employees you find yourself spending a lot of valuable time training new staff, but not reaping the rewards down the line.

In any small or start-up business, one of the most important aspects is to find the right staff for the company. Employees need to be a good fit for any business, and in a start-up environment staff need to have the drive, innovation and determination to ensure that they make any venture a success.

While training may be a big upfront cost, it is vital to retaining new employees and ensure that the investment you make in recruitment and training are not drained from the business as employees leave the company.

So what staff benefits can you introduce to help you draw high-calibre employees to your start-up or small business? Continue…


If you’re starting a business then chances are money is tight – so anything you can do to increase sales without spending a fortune is worth looking at.

It’s easy to imagine that you need to employ a crack sales team – but the truth is, if you’ve made one sale, then you already have one sales person – that customer. And more often than not, the best people to sell your products and services are your customers.

Customers have already gained benefit from you and because they are impartial, they can provide legitimate social proof. So how do you get your customers selling for you? Continue…


If you’re launching a new business, or looking to grow your existing business, then the chances are you’ll need to do some cold calling at some stage.

However, despite its importance within their business and the doors it can open, many business owners shy away from cold calling and find it extremely stressful.  To help you overcome such cold-calling anxieties, here are six techniques that can help you become a more confident, far less stressed, and much more effective cold caller:



A change is afoot for the UK’s self-employed workers, and it’s good news for some 1.7million one-man bands!

From 1st October 2015, if you are self-employed and your work activity poses no potential risk to the health and safety of other workers or members of the public, then Health and Safety law will not apply to you.

So are you one of the sole traders that no longer has to worry about complying with Health & Safety legislation? Continue…


When you are starting a business, sitting down and grappling with Health & Safety legislation isn’t one of your top priorities. It’s fair to say that it’s not one of the more exciting parts of running your own business, and it doesn’t bring in any money.

However, with the average fine for Health & Safety prosecutions being over £30,000, it can be very costly if you don’t stay on the right side of the law. With so much at stake, we asked Louise Hosking of Hosking Associates to explain what small businesses need to do; Continue…


How setting up a salary sacrifice scheme can cut the tax bills for both employees and employers

September 29, 2015

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 […]

What small businesses can do to manage the extra costs of the National Living Wage

September 28, 2015

In April 2016 the National Living Wage legislation will come in to force. From this date all employers will be required to pay staff over the age of 25, a minimum rate of £7.20 per hour. With experts suggesting that National Living Wage (NLW) could be a step into the unknown, many business owners are […]

The best way to make business networking work for you

September 18, 2015

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 […]

Reducing the cost of back pain for employees and employers

September 17, 2015

Poor posture at work can lead to serious long-term health problems for many individuals, often triggering severe stress and anxiety in sufferers. There is compelling evidence to indicate people who sit for more than four hours at a time are at greater risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes – a condition that has risen […]

Can you fire an employee and get thanked by them for doing it?

September 14, 2015

The short answer is yes. But most business owners and managers seem to think that it is currently impossible to fire anyone, let alone be thanked for doing so. Too many owners and managers hold these two beliefs about firing staff:

The risks and rewards of being a unique business

September 8, 2015

Apple, Netflix, Nike. Leaders in very different industries. They didn’t get there by doing what everyone else was doing. Apple adds crafted design to desirable functionality and makes it fashionable. Netflix goes beyond being a digital LoveFilm and creates high quality, polished, original programming that goes toe-to-toe with Game of Thrones and Mad Men at […]

How to structure your press release to grab attention and get free press coverage

September 2, 2015

Good public relations are essential for any business, but especially so, for small and start-up businesses. If you can persuade editors to run a story about your business, it’s worth a dozen adverts or mailshots. And there’s also the huge added benefit of it not costing you anything! However, writing a press release isn’t as […]

How to prepare for and handle an employee grievance

September 1, 2015

Being an employer comes with all manner of responsibilities, not least ensuring the happiness and safety of your staff. So when an employee approaches you, or the person responsible for HR within your organisation, with a problem or complaint (a grievance) you need to ensure you have the necessary procedures in place to resolve the […]

How to plan and implement a successful email marketing campaign

August 28, 2015

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 […]

10 ways small businesses can cut the cost of office printing

August 27, 2015

The cost of printing, scanning, and copying can quietly mount up for small businesses. But by making some straightforward adjustments to the way your business approaches printing you can save money, reduce environmental impact and increase staff productivity. Here are ten ways small businesses can save money by making a few simple changes.