How to set up and run a small business

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Nobody goes into business to make staff redundant. However, it is a task that many business owners will need to undertake at some point

Redundancy is a potentially fair reason to dismiss an employee, but it is vital that you get this procedure right as failure to do so could result in an unfair dismissal claim at the employment tribunal.

Here’s a step by step guide to the redundancy process, and how to negotiate it safely.
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New start-ups and small businesses often fail to give much thought to their standard “Terms and Conditions of Business” (T&Cs). That is, until there is a dispute with a customer, by which time it may be too late.

Business owners who are unaware of the importance of T&Cs can even find that they are conducting business on their customer’s Terms and Conditions of Business. This can happen when a customer successfully substitutes their own T&Cs for yours. If this is the case, you could be in for a very nasty shock when a customer complains.

To help make sure you protect your business, and only work on the basis of your Terms and Conditions of Business, we asked Sheren Thiara, of Wright Hassall Solicitors, to explain why T&Cs are so crucial for businesses and to give some practical advice on how you make sure the work you do is under your standard T&Cs.
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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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It’s a jungle out there in the big, bad world of ecommerce. You’re having a hard enough time bringing potential customers to your website in the first place, what with your competitors striving to undercut your prices and outrank you in Google searches. That means when people do visit your site, you want to do everything you can to encourage them to stay there – and ultimately, to convert.

Fortunately, there are a few techniques – some tried and trusted, others a little more advanced – that you can adopt to boost your conversion rate. Read on for our top five tips to transform your website into a deadly selling tool; Continue…

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Statutory flexible working rights become available widely to all employees when they complete 26 weeks of continuous employment.

Previously, a request to work flexibly had to be made for the purposes of taking care of dependants e.g. children, however, this requirement has now been removed, giving all employees the right to request flexible working regardless of their care responsibilities.

This means that all of your employees, provided they meet the length of service criteria, can potentially seek to exercise their statutory rights to request flexible working.

Here’s what every small business owner needs to know about flexible working rights, and how to handle flexible working requests from staff so that you don’t end up in front of an Employment Tribunal; Continue…

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Who do you call if a pipe is leaking? A plumber, right? You don’t call an electrician. And when he turns up, you don’t expect him to build a hypothetical model of the structure of your pipework and work on that, leaving you to sort out the actual problem yourself. You expect him to get stuck in and repair the pipe – don’t you?

Yet this is exactly what business owners often do when tackling the issue of building their teams. Continue…

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Technology is the modern day malaise. On the one hand it has helped businesses become more efficient, but on the other it often means people are switched on 24/7 – something business owners need to overcome to improve productivity.

The Chartered Institute of Management (CIM) suggested in a report called the, ‘The Quality of Working Life’ that the ‘long-hours culture’ has now been replaced with an ‘always-on culture’ – with devices such as smart phones and tablets allowing people to be at work all the time, checking emails, answering calls wherever they are. Continue…

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No longer uniquely the home of shaky phone cam footage of comedy pets, YouTube has become a truly global broadcasting powerhouse. Sure, there are still grainy home videos aplenty, but these days YouTube is as much about film trailers, news channels, comedy sketches and even dedicated web series.

With one billion unique visitors every single month, it’s also an invaluable marketing tool, capable of reaching the kind of audiences that TV ads sandwiched between slabs of prime time soap can only dream of.

Of, course, if it were as simple as plastering the web with marketing videos and waiting for your inbox to fill with sales enquiries, everyone would be enjoying the fruits of their YouTube labours.

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From 1st April, 2016 all employers will need to comply with the new National Minimum Wage regulations.

To help you understand exactly what the National Living Wage is, and what you need to do to comply with the new legislation, here’s a guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners;

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When you start and run your own business, your company inevitably means more to you than anybody else.

As a business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in everything and become frustrated with staff that don’t understand ‘your’ business like you do. This mindset can lead to you spending too much time and effort battling with employees, and this is not good for business. Continue…

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Uber has a new logo. And many people don’t like it. There are things we don’t mind changing – seasons, governments, underpants – but most of the time, most of us resist change.

For every innovation, from skinny jeans to a black Bond, there are plenty of us instinctively asking why? Why change? Why do the bus timetables have to change? Why do we need another damned software upgrade? Why can’t fat-free yogurt and smoothies still be good for us?

The questions may vary, but the subtext is constant: Why can’t things stay familiar, and safe? Continue…

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Despite every effort, even the best-run businesses may encounter disciplinary problems with employees from time to time.

Although it is always best to focus on effective management practice and preventative measures, having clear and fair disciplinary procedures is a good first step in avoiding difficult employment tribunals.

Here’s what you need to consider, the procedures you need to put in place and the steps to follow when it comes to disciplinary matters;

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A key part of any business development goal is creating an efficient sales strategy that gets your products or services in front of the right people and invites them to make a purchase.

Successful business leaders understand that the sales process is the lifeblood of the company. Without an efficient, productive means of making sales, even brilliant ideas will fail, so it’s vital for every business owner to find the sales process that work bests for their company.

The quicker you can do this, the better your chances of growing your business, and the more likely you are to succeed. With so much at stake, William Buist reveals the sales strategy secrets that will help you make sustainable sales.

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A recent survey about mental resilience of almost 2,000 workers found that nearly a third of UK employees feel unsure about who to talk to or where to find help or support regarding mental health.

And, nearly 40% of people find it hard to talk to or open up about their mental health to anyone.

So how can businesses help to break down these barriers and help to address how we view and approach mental health in the workplace? We asked Fiona Lowe of Westfield Health to outline some ideas; 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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It can be exasperating when staff don’t use their initiative, or they go about solving problems in a seemingly baffling way, but often workers donning their stupid hats as they clock-in can be because of how you act as their boss.

If you regularly find yourself cursing the stupidity of your employees, then you really need to take a look in the mirror because your actions and behaviour could well be the root cause of this. To help you understand more about how you could be inadvertently stifling your workforce, let’s look at five common reasons for staff not fulfilling their potential; Continue…

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In the world of marketing, Word of Mouth has great, well … word of mouth.

According to WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association), word of mouth marketing is considered to be more effective than traditional marketing by 64% of marketers.

You may be thinking they would say that, wouldn’t they, but their survey is backed up by research from Nielsen that revealed 84% of us trust recommendations from people we know; and research from Market Share that found marketing impact can be increased by up to 54% by social voice (i.e. online & offline word of mouth).

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As all businesses and traders selling to consumers should know, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) came into force on 1 October 2015 and overhauled the UK’s legislation on selling goods and services to consumers.

It also introduced legislation on the sale of digital content for the first time (distinguishing digital content from goods and services) and re-clarified contractual terms that could be considered unfair when dealing with consumers.

In response to the Consumer Rights Act, all businesses should be updating their terms and conditions to ensure they reflect the new legislation. Other key points those selling to consumers need to consider, include;

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Firing staff is never easy. But if you have decided to run your own business then this will be part of what you will be required to do.

Here’s how to conduct positive feedback conversations with staff and effectively manage employees that aren’t performing satisfactorily; Continue…

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This guide explains exactly what a trade mark is, how you can use one to protect your business and how to go about registering a trade mark for your business;

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Ecommerce trends: What does 2016 have in store for e-tailers?

February 24, 2016

Ecommerce enjoyed a big year in 2015, with preliminary eMarketer figures indicating that online retail sales in the UK topped £60 billion over the 12 months. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with purchasing a wide range of products and services online, and with smartphone-based shopping expected to surge, the coming years are looking even brighter […]

Avoiding discrimination against employees with mental health problems

February 23, 2016

Mental health problems are often misunderstood, but as an employer it’s your responsibility to ensure that your employees are treated fairly. Some people may recover from a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, or it may only have a minor effect, but if an employee’s mental health issues are severe enough to count […]

6 Tips to help you implement contactless payments in your business

February 22, 2016

Since its introduction in the UK just af ew years ago, contactless payments have quickly become a popular way to make low value purchases on debit and credit cards. In October 2015, more than 10 per cent of all card transactions were made by contactless cards ; a year before, the figure was less than […]

The new business laws affecting small businesses in 2016

February 19, 2016

Whether you’re just starting up or currently running a small business, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the issues that you face on a daily basis. With so much to do, one area that is often neglected by many is the law. A report last year found that 25% of SME’s have no idea they’re […]

The 4 Rs of getting more business from your existing customer base

February 16, 2016

Marketing is about getting more business – and that includes getting more value out of your existing customer base – through delivering them multiple times the value you get. If all you did was chase new clients, then you would be regularly losing the ones you already have, which means you would need to be […]

7 Common HR Mistakes small businesses need to avoid making

February 15, 2016

Running a successful small business is a balancing act, which requires business owners to be in five different places all at once, whilst also mastering the art of embodying multiple roles in order to service all aspects of their business. Whilst, unfortunately this is just a fact of life for many small business owners, the […]

How winning an award can get your business noticed, PLUS 5 ways to reap your prize’s full potential

February 11, 2016

One of the time-tested ways of establishing yourself as a standard in your industry is to win an award. An industry-recognised award serves as an independent endorsement of your company’s quality. And more importantly it’s an evaluation that potential customers are more likely to trust, than any marketing material you can produce. We know that social […]

A guide to dealing with workplace bullying

February 10, 2016

Workplace bullying can take on different forms, including verbal or written, cyber bullying. In a survey conducted by the charity Family Lives, almost three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed who had experienced bullying at work said that the bullying was verbal and included threats, while a similarly high proportion (60%) felt the bullying was social, for example being excluded, […]

Why skilled negotiators don’t look to ‘win’ a negotiation but are driven by ‘profit maximisation’

February 5, 2016

Negotiating is a fundamental part of how business gets done and takes place millions of times a day around the world. But that doesn’t stop many business owners from avoiding it. If you can take control of yourself, your values and prejudices, your need for fairness, and your ego, you can start achieving the best […]

A Practical guide to Content Marketing for small business owners and start-ups

February 4, 2016

When you are looking for ways to promote your new start-up or small business you will, without doubt, soon hear the words, “content marketing”. There’s a lot of buzz about content marketing at the moment, but what does it actually mean and how can small business owners use content to help grow their business? This […]