How to set up and run a small business

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As a small business, one of the biggest threats to your information assets resides within your operatin. The insider threat, intentional or otherwise, is now one of the major concerns in cybersecurity, and with good cause.

So what exactly are the insider threats to small businesses, and how can you mitigate the dangers? We asked Jamie Graves, Co- Founder and CEO of ZoneFox to explain;

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Once a contract of employment is in place, notice has to be given by either party to the contract to end it. There are two types of notice periods; statutory notice and contractual notice.

As an employer, if you fail to give the correct notice when terminating an employment contract, you are in breach of contract. This could result in an appearance before the employment tribunal and you having to pay damages.

To help small business owners understand the law regarding notice periods, we asked HR expert, Peter Done of Peninsula Business Services to explain what employers’ need to know about giving notice to end an employment contract; Continue…

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Security breaches and cybercrime incidents hit the headlines in 2016, as high-profile news of data breaches, malware, DDoS attacks and compromised systems became mainstream news.

The news reports inevitably focused on cyber-attacks on major corporations, such as the data thefts from TalkTalk, Three and Tesco Bank, as well as the extraordinary autumn story of the attack on Dyn, which made use of IoT-enabled household devices, such as fridges and toasters, to form a botnet that successfully brought down an enormous number of websites, both large and small.

Whilst the past year was eventful, to say the least, in terms of cybersecurity threats, it’s likely that cyber-related incidents will continue to grow in 2017, both in the sheer number of attacks and the level of sophistication used in those attacks.

It’s therefore vital that business owners take steps to educate themselves, and their workforce, on the type of threats they could potentially experience. In this article, we examine some of the key trends for 2017 in the cybersecurity / small business world. Continue…

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It is vitally important for business owners and managers to understand their duty to comply with UK fire safety regulations, as the consequences are potentially very serious.

All legislation regarding fire safety in business (non-domestic) premises in England and Wales are incorporated in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005. It provides clear guidance for those responsible for implementing safety precautions and procedures, including fire risk assessments and fire safety equipment.

Here, we look at who is ultimately responsible for fire safety on business premises, and lay out the steps that a ‘responsible person’ is obliged to take by law. Continue…

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If you’re running your own small business, or thinking about starting one, then chances are that you’re already creative and putting your ideas into practice.

But as any business owner knows that your initial idea is often just the start. Ongoing creativity is also not an optional extra for companies. It is a crucial component of a successful business. This is because creativity is really about change. It is about thinking differently and challenging the status quo. It is about having the same conditions as other people but coming up with something fresh.

And it is this new thinking and innovation that helps secure the future for businesses big and small, and keeps individuals relevant in a fast-paced changing world.

With creativity being so crucial to business success, we asked Claire Bridges, author of, In Your Creative Element to explain how to harness the creativity, within yourself and your team, to fuel your business growth;

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Business owners and leaders looking to get the best out of themselves and their team will frequently spend a lot of time and effort searching for, and trying to improve on their weaknesses.

However, this is a completely counter-productive approach that can lower employee engagement and ultimately damage a business’ chance of success.

Here Jan Mühlfeit, Former Chairman of Microsoft Europe and author of The Positive Leader: How Energy and Happiness Fuel Top-Performing Teams explains why business leaders and owners need to stop focussing on fixing weaknesses; Continue…

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As smaller businesses prepare to put their plans for 2017 into practice, there’s one thing that should be on almost every small employer’s radar. I’d say auto enrolment is one of the most important things that employers right around the UK must deal with in 2017, it’s both a legal duty and an important staff benefit.

So what should be part of your auto enrolment thinking in the new year? We asked Paul Budgen of NEST, which has been set up by the government especially for auto enrolment, to share his insight and advice at this crucial time. Continue…

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When you are starting a business, you will need to answer many questions. However, one of the most fundamental questions any business owner will be asked is, what is the purpose of your business?

So what would your answer be?

How you answer the question, has a significant bearing on whether your business is likely to succeed, so we asked Jim McGrath, author of The Little Book of Big Management Wisdom to reveal what your answer should be; Continue…

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Your new venture might have first spread its wings in the comfort of your own home, but most start-ups need to fly the nest at some point.

Whilst sending emails from your sofa in your onesie undeniably has its charms, there comes a time when moving your business forward requires giving it its own four walls.

Moving into a proper office can make what you do seem a whole lot more real – but it’s a daunting move to make, and with more options available than ever before, it’s unsurprising that many small business owners make the wrong decisions, or delay the move from home entirely.

To help you choose the best route for your business, we compare the more traditional option of renting an office on a commercial lease and the serviced office option. We look at what each one gives you and highlight the benefits and drawbacks of both, so you can come to the right decision.
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Nearly all employers are aware of the legal requirement to give new employees a statement of their main terms once they start working for you.

For some small businesses this may be the only documentation they give staff, after all this meets their legal requirements. However, many employers can find that well-drafted and implemented employee handbooks are essential to safeguard their business.

To help you understand how an employee handbook can help both employers and employees, here’s what every small business owners needs to know about them; Continue…

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SEO has become an integral part of online marketing. If you want your business to be seen online, the general consensus is that SEO is absolutely essential.

Committing to a high quality SEO campaign can take up a lot of time and make demands on a startup’s budget that not everyone can meet. But seeking cheaper alternatives could mean you soon find yourself facing a Google penalty (the worst of which is your website being complete removed from their index), which can put your entire online presence in jeopardy.

The good news is that SEO need not always be a lengthy commitment and if you have some in-house capacity, it is possible to take on a large portion of the work yourself.

This in-depth guide explains what you can expect from a SEO campaign, and will help you determine if you can do some of the work yourself or whether you’ll be better off outsourcing everything from the start. Continue…

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Nearly 6,000 retail sites were recently compromised by credit-card theft, after attackers injected malicious JavaScript code into their e-commerce websites to steal payment card data.

While compared to the 500 million user details breached at Yahoo it may seem but a small number, however this hack has highlighted the significant risk that cybercrime poses to small businesses.

The latest Government Security Breaches Survey has highlighted the fact that small businesses are at increased risk from cyber-attacks, with nearly three-quarters of small firms reporting a security breach in 2015; a year-on-year increase from the 2013 and 2014 surveys. So what can small business owners do to protect themselves? Continue…

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As a business owner you are your own best marketing tool. Presenting in public not only highlights your business, it also establishes your credibility, makes your listeners trust you (and people prefer to do business with those they trust) and generates leads.

But, even if you have a stunning presentation with fabulous visuals, you can still fail to connect if you are speaking to the wrong audience.

Advance planning will help you tailor your presentation to the audience who needs and wants to hear it; and they will be more receptive if you address their concerns and challenges and offer them a solution.

It’s never too soon to start planning. As soon as you are invited to speak at an event, ask yourself these 5 questions: Continue…

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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;

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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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Why 1 in 3 Customers don’t buy your full range of products or services

November 17, 2016

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?

5 things to consider when choosing a pension scheme for your business

November 11, 2016

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. […]

How to out-think your business competition

November 10, 2016

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 […]

How happy employees can boost your bottom line – 5 Happiness strategy stories

November 8, 2016

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 […]

A small business guide to carrying out effective staff appraisals

November 7, 2016

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 […]

Learning to lead your leaders

November 1, 2016

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 […]

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 […]

Work Experience & Internships – A Guide for small businesses

October 18, 2016

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. […]

6 common team challenges – How to overcome them and grow your team

October 17, 2016

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 […]

Customer Power: Real world examples of why it’s crucial to get the balance right

October 7, 2016

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 […]